SAG Award Winners Include Ledger, Streep, Penn, “30 Rock” And “Slumdog Millionaire”

The SAG Awards picked their winners last night and, in the usual run up to the Oscars, the favorites are making a dash for the grandest prize in the entertainment industry.

Because The SAG awards are voted on by actors, the results are given the greatest weight of all the ceremonies leading up to the Academy Awards. If last night was any indication, Meryl Streep is in line for a third Oscar and Heath Ledger will be the first posthumous winner since Peter Finch bagged the prize from beyond the grave in 1976 for his unforgettable performance in “Network.”

Let’s have a look at the results:

Although Meryl Streep won easily for her role in “Doubt” and Sean Penn was a shoo-in for his portrayal of slain gay-rights advocate Harvey Milk, the real story was the continued breakaway success for the low budget indie film “Slumdog Millionaire” which rocked the Golden Globes as well.

In a fairy tale story that mimics the original, Slumdog Millionaire took top honors for ensemble cast, a virtually unknown group of actors at Christmastime who are now poised to sweep the Oscars when they are announced on February 22. The little picture with a big heart is up for 10 Academy Awards. Accepting the award, co-star Anil Kapoor dedicated the prize to the children in the cast. “They deserve this award. They set our performances,” he said. “It’s the children who’ve done it, not us.”

Meryl Streep, clearly resigned to being the bridesmaid once again (she’s been nominated for 15 Oscars, winning just the pair) was so surprised by the win she breathlessly admitted “I didn’t even buy a dress!” Streep looked stunning nonetheless in her tastefully tailored black pantsuit.

Sean Penn, rolling with the flow set by the Golden Globes, couldn’t resist the soapbox when he gave his take on the critical success for “Milk” commenting, “As actors, we don’t play gay, straight. We don’t play any of these kinds of people. We play human beings, and this movie is something that all of us involved are so proud of. This is a story about equal rights for all human beings.”

Gaining real momentum was the outpouring of sentimentality attached to the posthumous win by Heath Ledger for his face melting performance as The Joker in “The Dark Knight.”  With a Golden Globe and now a SAG award, Ledger is seen as an emotional favorite come Oscar night. Accepting for Ledger was close friend and co-star Gary Oldman. “I’m quite emotional,” Oldman said. “It is a great honor to be asked to accept this on behalf of Heath. He was an extraordinary young man with an extraordinary talent, and it is wonderful that you have acknowledged that and honored that talent tonight.”

TV had it’s share of David vs Goliath winners with the Ensemble Drama award going to the cast of “Mad Men.” As if to hammer home the point, Jon Hamm, accepting for the group, thanked “the dozen people who watched” but the steamroller that is forging the cable tv breakout continued as top awards went to the HBO period piece “John Adams.” Both leads, Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney went home with statuettes.

Stoking the “30 Rock” lovefest, SAG awarded the top comedy prizes for ensemble and both actor awards, with Tina Fey scoring again alongside co-star Alec Baldwin. Taking the win in stride, Tina couldn’t resist a jab at producers who’ve been reluctant to share internet profits. Joking about the day her daughter will be old enough to stream reruns of “30 Rock” on sites like your very own Fancast, Fey quipped, “she’ll look up at me and say, `what do you mean you don’t get residuals for this?”

The program, known for its brisk pacing and megawatt presenters, kept tightly to the schedule with no overruns and included many presenters up for awards themselves. Among them were Christina Applegate, Jon Hamm, Anthony Hopkins, John Krasinski, Amy Poehler, Susan Sarandon, Kyra Sedgwick, Marisa Tomei and William Shatner.

So get ready for the Academy Awards when they air on February 22 to see if Heath Ledger wins The Triple Crown.

We’ll be watching on Fancast.

Here’s a complete list of winners:


Cast in a Motion Picture: Slumdog Millionaire

Male Actor in a Leading Role: Sean Penn, Milk

Female Actor in a Leading Role: Meryl Streep, Doubt

Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Kate Winslet, The Reader


Ensemble in a Drama Series: Mad Men

Ensemble in a Comedy Series: 30 Rock

Male Actor in a Drama Series: Hugh Laurie, House

Female Actor in a Drama Series: Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters

Male Actor in a Comedy Series: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

Female Actor in a Comedy Series: Tina Fey, 30 Rock

Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Paul Giamatti, John Adams

Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Laura Linney, John Adams

Life Achievement Award: James Earl Jones

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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