While not as raucous as the Golden Globes or as glitzy and prestigious as the Oscars, the Screen Actors Guild Awards are how actors pat each other on the back with a fast-paced, straightforward ceremony that exclusively lauds actors and ensembles in TV and film.
Going into the night, all eyes were on the big prize: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, which went to Argo. The film, which stars and is directed by Ben Affleck, beat out Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Les Misérables and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. In the past, this award has been a good (but not surefire) predictor of which film will win Best Picture at the Oscars – perhaps that’s why Affleck looked a bit stunned during his acceptance speech.
Despite losing the highest honor, Lincoln still had the best showing of any film, with Daniel Day-Lewis winning Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role and Tommy Lee Jones triumphing for his supporting role. Day-Lewis beat out the likes of Bradley Cooper, Hugh Jackman, Denzel Washington and John Hawkes; while Jones, who was one of many no-shows sick with the flu, overtook Robert De Niro, Alan Arkin, Javier Bardem and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
In TV, 30 Rock picked up the most awards, though Downton Abbey had the most unexpected win of the night, surprising seemingly everyone – including the cast – by taking Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble over Homeland, Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire. When picking up the statue, star Phyllis Logan exclaimed: “Shut the French windows . . . we were so not expecting this.”
30 Rock‘s wins were valedictory for Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, who walked away with statues as the series comes to an end after seven seasons. Baldwin made it a clean sweep, winning his seventh Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series award for his portrayal of Jack Donaghy. Meanwhile, Fey won for a fifth time, besting Betty White, Sofia Vergara, Edie Falco and Amy Poehler in her category. Fey said of fellow SNL alum Poehler, “I’ve stolen so many of your moves . . . and I’ve known you since you were pregnant with Lena Dunham,” alluding to the pair’s co-hosting duties at this year’s Golden Globes. She also pushed for viewers to watch the series finale this Thursday, which airs against ratings juggernaut The Big Bang Theory. “Just tape Big Bang for once, for crying out loud,” she jokingly pleaded.
Despite the wins, though, 30 Rock lost in the ensemble category. That accolade went to the cast of Modern Family, also leaving The Big Bang Theory, Glee, Nurse Jackie and The Office empty-handed.
In other TV categories, Bryan Cranston picked up a trophy for his role in Breaking Bad, Claire Danes won for Homeland and Julianne Moore won her first SAG statue, her 10th nomination, for her portrayal of Sarah Palin in HBO’s made-for-TV movie Game Change.
Rounding out the night in film were wins for Jennifer Lawrence, who almost flashed the camera walking up the stairs when her dress unexpectedly separated, for her lead role in Silver Linings Playbook and Anne Hathaway for her supporting role in Les Misérables. Going into the night, Lawrence was seemingly neck and neck with Zero Dark Thirty’s Jessica Chastain for the prize, but now appears to be in the lead for picking up her first Oscar. When Hathaway won, she thanked her mother, Kate McCauley Hathaway, who played Fantine in the first U.S. tour of Les Misérables. “Thanks, mom, for voting for me – at least she better have,” she quipped.
Also notable, Dick Van Dyke received the Life Achievement Award.
SAG-AFTRA, the union behind the awards, is primarily made up of actors, and some 100,000 members cast their votes for the winners. The ceremony is one of the most-watched by the industry during awards season, as actors make up the largest block of voters for the Oscars, which will air on February 24th. See the full list of SAG winners here.