‘The Help’ wins big at the SAG Awards

The 18th annual Screen Actors Guild went down tonight and added, well, nothing to the conversation. Okay, maybe a little something. But before getting to the Best Actor surprise of the evening…

I had thought maybe — just maybe — Melissa McCarthy and all that TV love (though not enough love to yield a separate nod for “Mike & Molly”) could provide an interesting Johnny Depp moment for her and her “Bridesmaids” performance. It wasn’t to be.

Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer kicked off the evening with largely expected wins in the supporting actor and supporting actress categories for “Beginners” and “The Help,” respectively. Most expect that they’ve sewn up their Oscar glory, but I think in the case of the former, the presence of Max Von Sydow in Best Picture nominee “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” makes things a bit more interesting than that, but for the most part, I do agree that the course is (and really has been) set.

The big surprise, though, came with Jean Dujardin winning the lead actor prize for “The Artist” (the film’s only award of the evening). Does this move the needle for him on Oscar? Perhaps a little, though the smart money still remains on George Clooney there (who, by the way, remains without a SAG Award to his credit, save for the four years in a row that “E.R.” won the ensemble prize for drama television). I don’t think Dujardin will turn the trick with the Oscars, but I’m certainly not certain of that. It’s an interesting development.

In the end, though, it was “The Help” that enjoyed a massive and a hell of a night. The film won three awards, with Viola Davis and the entire ensemble joining the aforementioned Spencer in lapping up the goodwill. I thought things might be spread out a bit more than that, but that’s a strong showing. If the film had a director and/or editing nomination at the Oscars, I’d expect it to be quite formidable. But this looks like it may be the height of the season for the film.

In addition, Mary Tyler Moore was honored with the guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by Dick Van Dyke, and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” won the stunt ensemble prize on the red carpet prior to the ceremony.

Once again, check out the winners of the 18th annual Screen Actors Guild awards below. Onward.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: “The Help”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role: Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role: Viola Davis, “The Help”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Octavia Spencer, “The Help”

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”

Remember to keep track of the ups and downs of the 2011-2012 film awards season via The Circuit.

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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