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Viola Davis, Jean Dujardin: SAG Awards Surprises

The Help, Viola Davis Abilene, Octavia Spencer
Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, The Help

"To be an actor means everything to me," said American Horror Story Actor winner Jessica Lange at the 2012 SAG Awards ceremony, which was held this evening at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. For the most part, the SAG Awards were a replay of the Golden Globes: Lange, Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer for Tate Taylor's The Help, Best Supporting Actor Christopher Plummer for Mike Mills' Beginners, Kate Winslet as Best Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series for Todd Haynes' Mildred Pierce.

But there were several differences as well. The most dramatic one was the announcement of The Help's Viola Davis, instead of The Iron Lady's Meryl Streep or My Week with Marilyn's Michelle Williams, as the Best Actress winner. Somewhat surprising was The Artist's Jean Dujardin winning the Actor for Best Actor, reprising an equivalent win at the Golden Globes – Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. Surely The Descendants' George Clooney, the Golden Globe winner in the Motion Picture - Drama category, had been the favorite at the SAG Awards.

The Help won for Best Cast as well. A surprise for those expecting Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist (backed by awards-savvy The Weinstein Company) to win in that category. But whereas The Artist relies heavily on Dujardin's acting abilities, The Help is truly an ensemble movie. In addition to Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, its extensive cast includes Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, and Cicely Tyson.

Presenters at the 2012 SAG Awards included Jayne Mansfield's Car/X-Men: First Class' Kevin Bacon, Midnight in Paris/Misery/Harry's Law's Kathy Bates, The Artist's Bérénice Bejo, My Week with Marilyn/Henry V's Kenneth Branagh, Friday Night Lights' Kyle Chandler, The Help/The Debt/Coriolanus/The Tree of Life's Jessica Chastain, Hotel Rwanda/Crash/Flight's Don Cheadle, 30 Rock/Date Night's Tina Fey, and The Descendants/The Ides of March/Gravity's George Clooney.

Also, Albert Nobbs/Damages/Dangerous Liaisons' Glenn Close, Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston, The Good Wife's Matt Czuchry, Doubt/The Help's Viola Davis, Dallas' Patrick Duffy, The Artist/OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies/Little White Lies' Jean Dujardin, Hidden Moon/Dallas' Linda Gray, Love and Other Drugs/Playing the Field's Judy Greer, I Dream of Jeannie/Dallas' Larry Hagman, J. Edgar/Mirror Mirror/The Social Network's Armie Hammer, and The Hangover Part II's Ed Helms.

Plus Southland/Ray's Regina King, Hugo/Gandhi's Ben Kingsley, The Office's John Krasinski, The Good Wife's Julianna Margulies, Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy, Moneyball/The Tree of Life's Brad Pitt, Black Swan/Thor's Natalie Portman, Bridesmaids/Grown Ups' Maya Rudolph, Avatar/The Words' Zoe Saldana, and Man on a Ledge/The Closer's Kyra Sedgwick.

And finally, The Help's Octavia Spencer, The Iron Lady/Great Hope Springs/The Devil Wears Prada' Meryl Streep, My Week with Marilyn/Brokeback Mountain/Blue Valentine's Michelle Williams, Midnight in Paris/Wedding Crashers' Owen Wilson, Bridesmaids/Imogene's Kristen Wiig, and The Descendants' Shailene Woodley.

SAG President Ken Howard didn't present anything, but made a speech about the possible marriage of the two largest actors/entertainers' unions in the United States, SAG and AFTRA.

Viola Davis/Octavia Spencer/The Help photo: Dale Robinette / DreamWorks / Disney Enterprises

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