where the writers are

For the third year, here is my ballot for this year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards. I consider 2011 an incredible year of cinema. And I believe several folks and films in each category should be considered for their specific awards. Let me explain:

OUTSTANDING MALE: George Clooney (The Descendants)

George Clooney should win in a narrow victory over Jean Dujardin (The Artist) and Leornardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar). The Artist is a critcal darling, and I agree, it has a fine cast; while Oscar voters completely snubbed J. Edgar. Clint Eastwood’s picture deserved a better fate in my estimation. That said, Clooney is magnificent in a well-written part.

OUTSTANDING FEMALE: Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)

Michelle Williams edges out Viola Davis (The Help), since she captures the very essence of Marilyn Monroe’s frailties. This is not your stereotypical Monroe performance you might find among impersonators along Hollywood Blvd. Not once, did I see Michelle Williams acting; she completely immersed herself in the role as the Norma Jean Baker-counterpart. Meryl Streep’s 17th nomination (The Iron Lady) is quite an Oscar accomplishment, but pitted against other roles in her career, it simply doesn’t add up in a sub-par motion picture.


Jonah Hill will NOT win this award, but he should. Everyone in cinema wants to see Christopher Plummer (Beginners) receive a career-achievement award, and it’s hard to argue. In 2011, Plummer was also riveting in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; and he sumptuously narrated a TCM special on the history of Hollywood, from the Silent Era through its Golden Age. I truly appreciate the work of Christopher Plummer in any given year. I just feel strongly that Jonah Hill stole Moneyball from the rest of the cast with a tender, perfect-pitch performance (excuse the pun).


I’m on the Minnie-bandwagon. Octavia Spencer is the fire-and-brimstone of The Help, and she is the perfect compliment to Viola Davis’ heartfelt character. Spencer is the clear winner this year. A dark-horse in this category is Berenice Bejo from The Artist.


I enjoyed each motion picture I saw this year. My Week With Marilyn is not nominated in this category; a well-written tale, and my personal favorite of the year. But, The Artist is a really close second. There’s a lot to like: The ensemble cast… the sets… the story… the score. This movie could have failed fifteen different ways. Instead, it’s a masterpiece of filmmaking. Audiences can now understand the magic of the Silent Era. Norma Desmond was correct in Sunset Blvd… “I AM BIG. It’s the pictures that got small.” The Artist is a BIG success, and it deservedly gets my nod!

My Top 10 films in order (award-worthy): 1. My Week With Marilyn 2. The Artist 3. The Help 4. The Conspirator 5. Midnight in Paris 6. The Descendants 7. Hugo 8. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 9. Moneyball 10. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The SAG Awards will be broadcast on January 29th on TNT. We’ll see how I do this year…


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