SAG Awards 2012: ‘The Help,’ ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and ‘Modern Family’ Become Big Winners

“The Help” won the top film prize for cast performance at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night at the Shrine Exposition Hall in Los Angeles. On the TV side, “Boardwalk Empire” won the award for a TV drama ensemble, and “Modern Family” won for TV comedy series ensemble.

'The Help' was the big winner, taking home three awards for motion picture -- cast of a motion picture, female actor in a leading role (Viola Davis) and female actor in a supporting role (Octavia Spencer). Photo: Umar Mahmood Khan/Flickr

‘The Help’ was the big winner at the 18th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, taking three awards many had expected to go to ‘The Artist.’ The ensemble win for the drama about racism in the South in the early 1960s was a surprise.

Many thought the honor would go to the black-and-white silent film ‘The Artist,’ which had been on a seemingly unstoppable roll going into the show.

Also taking home a prize for her role in The Help: Octavia Spencer, who was recognized for her work as Minny Jackson the maid, her first SAG award, reports People.

“Thank you for putting me in a category with so many beautiful women I know and love,” she said, dedicating her award to “the down-trodden, the under-served, the underprivileged [and the] over-taxed, whether emotionally, physically or financially.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire topped the television side with two honors, while ABC’s Modern Family took home ensemble in a comedy series.

American Horror Story, 30 Rock, Too Big to Fail and Mildred Pierce were the other shows represented on awards night; five winners repeated from last year.

In another upset, a little-known French comic actor beat out some of Hollywood’s biggest names — Clooney, Pitt and DiCaprio.

Jean Dujardin, who is a big star in France but is far from a household name here, walked off with outstanding male actor in a leading role for “The Artist.”

The first award, male actor in a supporting role for motion picture, went to veteran actor Christopher Plummer of Beginners, marking his first-ever SAG honor.

“I just can’t tell you what fun I’ve had being a member of the world’s second oldest profession,” he told the audience while accepting the award. “Actors are gregarious and wacky, are they not? But when they honor you, it’s like being lit by the Holy Grail.”

Backstage, Plummer joked when asked if he would like to win an Oscar, an honor so elusive during his esteemed 60-year career that he did not even receive his first Academy Award nomination until two years ago, for “The Last Station.”

“No, I think it’s frightfully boring,” Plummer said. “That’s an awful question. Listen, we don’t go into this business preoccupied by awards. If we did, we wouldn’t last five minutes.”

On the television side, 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin was the recipient of the male actor in a comedy series award, winning over The Office’s Steve Carell and taking home his sixth award in a row.

Female actor in a comedy series went to Betty White, a recipient of SAG’s Life Achievemnt Award, of Hot in Cleveland, who received a standing ovation; she won the award last year for the same role.

“You can’t name me without naming those other wonderful women on Hot in Cleveland,’ the 90-year-old said. “This nomination belongs to four of us. Please, please know that I’m dealing them right in with this. I’m not going to let them keep this, but I’ll let them see it.”

Female actor in a TV movie or mini went to Kate Winslet, who was not present to accept her award, for her part in Mildred Pierce. She had also won an Emmy and Golden Globe.

Female actor in a drama series went to American Horror Story’s Jessica Lange, beating out the likes of Julianna Margulies and Kyra Sedgwick.

The awards show, which gives actors a chance to honor their peers in a ceremony that often sheds light on who will go home with an Oscar next month, was also an evening of firsts.

According to The Huff Post, the winners at the SAG ceremony often go on to earn Oscars. All four acting recipients at SAG last year later took home Oscars – Colin Firth for “The King’s Speech,” Natalie Portman for “Black Swan” and Christian Bale and Melissa Leo for “The Fighter.”

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