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Home Movie CraftsActors + Actresses Freida Pinto & Dev Patel: SAG Awards Definite Oscars Precursor?

Freida Pinto Dev Patel: Surprising SAG Awards' Best Cast winners
Freida Pinto and Dev Patel: SAG Awards’ Best Cast winners. Danny Boyle’s sleeper hit Slumdog Millionaire marked the feature film debut of British actor Dev Patel and Indian model Freida Pinto; the former plays a slum denizen with a seemingly inexplicable ability to get all the right answers in India’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The latter plays the woman of his dreams, with whom he had lost touch years earlier. Dev Patel and Freida Pinto’s fellow Best Cast SAG Award winners were Indian cinema celebrities Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan. Freida Pinto and Dev Patel photo: Kevin Mazur / © SAG Awards.

SAG Awards’ South Asian talent surprise: Best Cast winners Freida Pinto & Dev Patel + Irrfan Khan & Anil Kapoor

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

In the motion picture categories, the biggest surprise by far at the 2009 SAG Awards (see list of winners and nominations further below) was the Screen Actors Guild voting members’ Best Cast selection: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, and Irrfan Khan for Slumdog Millionaire.

Featuring no big names in the United States – Irrfan Khan and Anil Kapoor are big in India and in countries where Bollywood movies are popular – the “ethnically South Asian”* cast of the Danny Boyle-directed, Mumbai-set drama beat the better-known ensembles – e.g., Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, James Franco, Frank Langella, Philip Seymour Hofman – in Doubt, Milk, Frost/Nixon, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

In the SAG Awards’ individual big-screen categories, the winners were the expected names:

  • Two-time Best Actress (or Female Actor) winner Meryl Streep for her self-righteously envious nun in John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt. Individually, Streep had been shortlisted for five motion picture SAG Awards, always in the Best Actress category, in addition to having won Best Actress in a Television Movie or Miniseries for Angels in America.
  • First-time Best Actor winner Sean Penn for playing the title character – openly gay San Francisco Board of Supervisors Member Harvey Milk – in Gus Van Sant’s Milk. Individually, Penn had been shortlisted for three motion picture SAG Awards, always in the Best Actor category.
  • Best Supporting Actress Kate Winslet for her lead role in Stephen Daldry’s Holocaust-themed The Reader. Winslet had previously won in the same category for Ang Lee’s 1995 period romantic drama Sense and Sensibility.
  • Posthumous Best Supporting Actor Heath Ledger for bringing to life The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Individually, Ledger had been shortlisted for the 2005 Best Actor SAG Award for Brokeback Mountain.

Veteran James Earl Jones, a Best Actor Academy Award nominee for Martin Ritt’s The Great White Hope (1970) and the voice of Darth Vader in the earlier Star Wars movies (and in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith), was the recipient of this year’s Life Achievement Award.

* Yes, we’re aware that South Asia has dozens of ethnic, cultural, and linguistic groups; hence the quotation marks.

Oscar predictor?

In the individual categories, the SAG Awards this century have been a reliable – albeit hardly infallible – indicator of the Academy Awards, at least in the lead categories. Out of eight Best Actor/Best Actress Screen Actors Guild winners, seven male (including Benicio Del Toro, shortlisted in the Academy Awards’ Best Supporting Actor category) and six female performers were also handed Oscar statuettes.

This year, expect Sean Penn and Heath Ledger to top their respective categories, while Kate Winslet is the shoo-in Best Actress for The Reader. With Winslet out of the way in the Best Supporting Actress race, that particular Oscar statuette should then go to Penélope Cruz for her Anna Magnani-esque performance in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

It should be noted that unlike the Oscars, the SAG Awards take a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to its listings. If a performer is submitted in the supporting categories, no matter how large their role they will be in contention for the Screen Actors Guild’s Best Supporting Actress/Best Supporting Actor trophy.

Dev Patel Freida Pinto Irrfan Khan Anil Kapoor SAG Awards: Biggest surprise
Anil Kapoor, Freida Pinto, Dev Patel, and Irrfan Khan: SAG Awards’ Best Cast winners. Surprisingly, South Asian (and related) talent topped the Best Cast category at this year’s SAG Awards: London-born newcomer Dev Patel (whose parents are Gujarati Indians), Mumbai-born newcomer Freida Pinto, and experienced Indian cinema performers Anil Kapoor (Karma, Mr. India) and Irrfan Khan (The Warrior, The Namesake), the four stars of Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. Simon Beaufoy adapted the Anglo-Indian-American co-production. Anil Kapoor, Freida Pinto, Dev Patel, and Irrfan Khan photo: Kevin Mazur / © SAG Awards.

SAG Awards’ Best Cast vs. Academy Awards’ Best Picture

When it comes to the Best Cast category, the SAG Awards-Academy Awards correlation gets iffier.

SAG members tend to select ensemble pieces – e.g., Apollo 13, The Birdcage, The Full Monty, Traffic, Gosford Park, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Sideways, Crash – but these don’t necessarily win Best Picture Oscars. In fact, since the first SAG Awards (honoring 1995 releases), only six Best Cast winners have gone on to win Best Picture.†

This year, however, things look different. Considering the fact that Dev Patel was the only Slumdog Millionaire cast member shortlisted in the SAG Awards’ acting categories and that this awards season’s sleeper hit has received few mentions in the acting categories elsewhere, it seems clear that the Anglo-Indian-American production was the Screen Actors Guild’s Best Cast pick because of the movie itself.

Once one factors in the disproportionate weight of the Academy’s extensive Actors Branch, that translates into … Slumdog Millionaire for the Best Picture Oscar.

† SAG Awards’ Best Cast / Academy Awards’ Best Picture winners: John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love (1998), Sam MendesAmerican Beauty (1999), Rob Marshall’s Chicago (2002), Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Paul HaggisCrash (2005), and Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men (2007).

SAG Award presenters

As announced by the Screen Actors Guild, this year’s SAG Award presenters included:

Amy Adams. Eric McCormack. Kristin Scott Thomas. Marisa Tomei. Dev Patel. Freida Pinto. Ralph Fiennes. Susan Sarandon. Emile Hirsch. James Franco.

Evan Rachel Wood. Michael Sheen. Viola Davis. Katie Holmes. Christina Applegate. John Krasinski. Amy Poehler. Forest Whitaker. Anthony Hopkins.

Jon Hamm. Claire Danes. Kyra Sedgwick. William Shatner. Frank Langella. Josh Brolin. Taraji P. Henson. Emily Blunt. Taye Diggs.

Veteran Best Actor Academy Award winner Ernest Borgnine (Marty, 1955).

Check out: “How to Make-Up? Oscars’ Artists & Hairstylists Show How.”

Kate Winslet Freida Pinto: SAG Awards' expected + surprising winnersKate Winslet and Freida Pinto: SAG Awards. Kate Winslet, this year’s Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture SAG Award winner, poses with Best Cast co-winner Freida Pinto. Winslet won for her – lead role – in Stephen Daldry’s The Reader. Freida Pinto was a Best Cast co-winner for playing Dev Patel’s love interest in Danny Boyle’s sleeper hit Slumdog Millionaire. Kate Winslet and Freida Pinto photo: Kevin Mazur / © SAG Awards.

SAG Awards: Winners & nominations

Motion Pictures

Best Actress
Anne HathawayRachel Getting Married.
Angelina JolieChangeling.
Melissa LeoFrozen River.
* Meryl Streep – Doubt.
Kate Winslet – Revolutionary Road.

Best Actor
Richard Jenkins – The Visitor.
Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon.
* Sean Penn – Milk.
Brad Pitt – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler.

Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin – Milk.
Robert Downey Jr. – Tropic Thunder.
Philip Seymour HoffmanDoubt.
* Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight.
Dev Patel – Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams – Doubt.
Penélope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Viola Davis – Doubt.
Taraji P. Henson – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
* Kate Winslet – The Reader.

Best Cast
Doubt: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Viola Davis.
Frost/Nixon: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Matthew Macfadyen, etc.
Milk: Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna, James Franco, etc.
* Slumdog Millionaire: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Irrfan Khan, Anil Kapoor.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, etc.

Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award
James Earl Jones.


Best Actress in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Laura Dern – Recount.
* Laura LinneyJohn Adams.
Shirley MacLaineCoco Chanel.
Phylicia Rashad – A Raisin in the Sun.
Susan Sarandon – Bernard and Doris.

Best Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Ralph Fiennes – Bernard and Doris.
* Paul GiamattiJohn Adams.
Kevin SpaceyRecount.
Kiefer Sutherland – 24: Redemption.
Tom WilkinsonJohn Adams.

Best Actress in a Drama Series
* Sally FieldBrothers & Sisters.
Mariska Hargitay – Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Holly HunterSaving Grace.
Elisabeth Moss – Mad Men.
Kyra Sedwick – The Closer.

Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Christina Applegate – Samantha Who?.
America Ferrera – Ugly Betty.
* Tina Fey30 Rock.
Mary-Louise Parker – Weeds.
Tracey Ullman – Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union.

Best Actor in a Drama Series
Michael C. Hall – Dexter.
Jon Hamm – Mad Men.
* Hugh Laurie – House.
William Shatner – Boston Legal.
James Spader – Boston Legal.

Best Actor in a Comedy Series
* Alec Baldwin30 Rock.
Steve CarellThe Office.
David Duchovny – Californication.
Jeremy Piven – Entourage.
Tony Shalhoub – Monk.

Best Cast in a Drama Series
Boston Legal.
* Mad Men.
The Closer.

Best Cast in a Comedy Series
* 30 Rock.
Desperate Housewives.
The Office.

Stunt Ensembles

Best Motion Picture Stunt Ensemble
* The Dark Knight.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Iron Man.

Best Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series
Friday Night Lights.
* Heroes.
Prison Break.
The Unit.
The Closer.

Laura Linney SAG Awards: Abigal Adams portrayer beats veteran Shirley MacLaineLaura Linney: SAG Awards. The SAG Awards’ Best Actress in a Television Movie or Miniseries, Laura Linney plays Abigail Adams in Tom Hooper’s miniseries John Adams, starring Linney’s fellow SAG Award winner Paul Giamatti in the title role – one of the so-called Founding Fathers of the United States, the second U.S. president, and Abigail’s husband. Kirk Ellis’ teleplay was based on David McCullough’s book. Laura Linney photo: Michael Buckner / © SAG Awards.
Penélope Cruz Meryl Streep SAG Awards: 2x Best Actress winner TV + movies
Penélope Cruz and Meryl Streep: SAG Awards. SAG Awards loser – but likely Oscar winner – Penélope Cruz (see below) is seen next to two-time SAG Award winner Meryl Streep, the female star of John Patrick Shanley’s drama Doubt. Streep had five previous SAG Award nominations in the theatrical motion picture categories, all as Best Actress: The River Wild (1994), The Bridges of Madison County (1995), One True Thing (1998), Music of the Heart (1999), and The Devil Wears Prada (2006). Penélope Cruz and Meryl Streep photo: Dimitrios Kambouris / © SAG Awards.
Penélope Cruz Kate Winslet: Twist of fate ends Best Supporting Actress competition
Penélope Cruz and Kate Winslet: SAG Awards. Best Supporting Actress SAG Award competitors Penélope Cruz and Kate Winslet won’t have that one-versus-the-other issue at the Oscars: SAG Award winner Winslet is in the running – and is expected to win – in the Best Actress category for Stephen Daldry’s The Reader. Penélope Cruz is also expected to win – as Best Supporting Actress – for Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Penélope Cruz and Kate Winslet photo: Lester Cohen / © SAG Awards.
Sally Field Shirley MacLaine SAG Awards: Veteran winner + Coco Chanel loserSally Field and Shirley MacLaine: SAG Awards. In movies since the 1950s (Artists and Models, Some Came Running), veteran Shirley MacLaine received her very first SAG Award nomination for her portrayal of French fashion designer and businesswoman Coco Chanel. She lost to Laura Linney for John Adams. In movies and on TV (Gidget, The Flying Nun) since the early 1960s, Sally Field was the Best Actress in a Drama Series winner for Brothers & Sisters. Sally Field and Shirley MacLaine photo: Kevin Mazur / © SAG Awards.
Jeremy Piven: Entourage actor is SAG Awards double nominee
Jeremy Piven: SAG Awards. Though featured in more than 40 theatrical motion pictures since the mid-1980s (The Grifters, Serendipity), Jeremy Piven is best known for his television work, e.g., Ellen, Cupid, and the long-running comedy series Entourage. This year he was a double SAG Award nominee for Entourage – as its leading man and as a cast member. Jeremy Piven photo: Kevin Mazur / © SAG Awards.
Angelina Jolie Brad Pitt: Partners in life + SAG Awards' nominees
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt: SAG Awards. Mr. & Mrs. Smith co-stars and real-life partners Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were both in the running for this year’s SAG Awards: Jolie was a Best Actress in a Motion Picture nominee for Clint Eastwood’s Changeling; Pitt was a double nominee for David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – as Best Actor in a Motion Picture and as a member of the film’s cast. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt photo: Kevin Mazur / © SAG Awards.
Susan Sarandon Emile Hirsch: The Sean Penn + SAG Awards connectionSusan Sarandon and Emile Hirsch: SAG Awards. Susan Sarandon, this year’s Best Actress in a Television Movie or Miniseries nominee for Bernard and Doris, and her Speed Racer co-star Emile Hirsch, last year’s Best Actor in a Motion Picture nominee for Into the Wild and this year’s Best Cast (member) nominee for Milk, have a Sean Penn-SAG Awards connection: Penn is Hirsch’s Milk co-star and the director of Into the Wild. He was also Susan Sarandon’s co-star in Tim Robbins’ 1995 death penalty drama Dead Man Walking. Sarandon won the SAG Award that year; Penn was nominated. Susan Sarandon and Emile Hirsch photo: Kevin Mazur/ © SAG Awards.

Anglo-Indian-American co-production tops PGA Awards

Slumdog Millionaire, Man on Wire, and WALL-E were the three big-screen winners of the 2009 Producers Guild of America Golden Laurel Awards, announced at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles on Jan. 24.

Having also topped the SAG Awards’ Best Cast category – for stars Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Irrfan Khan, and Anil Kapoor – Slumdog Millionaire is definitely the movie to beat at the 2009 Academy Awards.

In the Oscars’ Best Documentary Feature and Best Animated Feature categories, the same goes for, respectively, James Marsh’s Man on Wire, about daring/maddening tightrope walker Philippe Petit, and Andrew Stanton’s Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Film winner WALL-E, about a lonely robot in a deserted planet who falls in love with a visiting probe. Their producers are, respectively, Simon Chinn and Jim Morris.

The PGA Awards’ other theatrical motion picture winner was Gus Van Sant’s biopic Milk, about slain San Francisco Board of Supervisors Member Harvey Milk. Written by WGA Award winner Dustin Lance Black, and starring SAG Award winner Sean Penn, Milk earned producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen the Stanley Kramer Award, named after the director/producer whose films (e.g., Judgment at Nuremberg, Ship of Fools, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner) tackled significant social themes.

Producers Guild Awards: Winners & nominations (partial list)

The Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Kathleen Kennedy & Frank Marshall, Ceán Chaffin.
The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven & Emma Thomas.
Frost/Nixon, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard & Eric Fellner.
Milk Dan Jinks & Bruce Cohen.
* Slumdog Millionaire, Christian Colson.

Producer of the Year Award in Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures
* Man on Wire, Simon Chinn.
Standard Operating Procedure, Julie Bilson Ahlberg & Errol Morris.
Trouble the Water, Carl Deal & Tia Lessin.

Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures
Bolt, Clark Spencer.
Kung Fu Panda, Melissa Cobb.
* WALL-E, Jim Morris.

David L. Wolper Producer of the Year Award in Long-Form Television
24: Redemption.
Bernard and Doris.
* John Adams.
A Raisin in the Sun.

Milestone Award
Brian Grazer & Ron Howard.

David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures
Michael Douglas.

Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television
David Chase.

Visionary Award
Jeff Skoll.

The Stanley Kramer Award
Milk, Dan Jinks & Bruce Cohen.

Screen Actors Guild website.

Producers Guild of America website.

“Freida Pinto & Anil Kapoor + Meryl Streep & Kate Winslet: SAG Awards + PGA Winners” last updated in October 2018.

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soap -

Susan Sarandon ‘s a sexy granny :)?

Clive Rosengren -

I just finished watching a little indie film called “That Evening Sun.” Isn’t it about time SAG honored Hal Holbrook with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Long overdue, in my opinion

Slide -

Susan = Great? Role Model for Women – Clever, Caring, Beautiful – got a lot of Integrity too. Love her.

Rik -

I do not understand the Winslet nominations. She should be Best Actress for The Reader. Revolutionary Road was a dud all around.
If you haven’t seen Frozen River, DO — it was the standout at the Seattle Intl Film Festival, and deserved way more notice than it got.

Daniel Rivas Pacheco -

Sally Field and Shirley MacLaine. Great! Maybe two of the best actress in Hollywood. And they are so pretty.


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