Last night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards shook up the Oscar race insofar as it was able to be shaken up. Sure bets in the supporting categories Octavia Spencer (The Help) and Christopher Plummer (Beginners) cleaned up again, while frontrunning lead actors George Clooney (The Descendants) and Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) were dethroned.
The beneficiaries were Jean DuJardin, star of The Artist, and Viola Davis of The Help. Both Best Actor and Best Actress races remain occluded going into the Oscars. Mr. DuJardin’s speech was charming but Benignivian in its loose grip on the English language, making him an uncompelling threat for the biggest trophy despite the fact that he’s already won a Golden Globe. Ms. Davis’s speech was brief and moving–dealing with her lifelong dream of acting and her late-in-life breakthrough–but may not be enough to push her ahead of Meryl Streep. (Ms. Davis, a friend and former castmate of Ms. Streep, paid her particular homage–she was inescapable even in her defeat.)
At the moment, Ms. Davis appears to be leading Harvey Weinstein’s two candidates in the Best Actress field–Ms. Streep and Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn. Mr. Weinstein has little about which to worry–Mr. DuJardin’s victory means that even if he can’t top George Clooney, the Weinstein Company film in which he stars, The Artist, is stronger than can be fathomed. The Help‘s win for Best Ensemble poses little threat there.