Jones, Hathaway win SAG supporting prizes
By DAVID GERMAIN
AP Movie Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Tommy Lee Jones of "Lincoln" and Anne Hathaway of "Les Miserables" claimed the first prizes of the night Sunday at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, winning supporting-acting honors that boost their prospects for the Academy Awards.
Hathaway won for her role as a doomed single mother forced into prostitution in the adaptation of the stage musical based on Victor Hugo's epic novel. Her win came over four past Oscar recipients - Sally Field, Helen Hunt, Nicole Kidman and Maggie Smith.
"I'm just thrilled I have dental," Hathaway said. "I got my SAG card when I was 14. It felt like the beginning of the world. I have loved every single minute of my life as an actor. ... Thank you for nominating me alongside incredible women and incredible performances."
Jones, who was not at the show, won for his turn as abolitionist firebrand Thaddeus Stevens. The win improves his odds to become a two-time Academy Award winner. He previously won a supporting-actor Oscar for "The Fugitive."
On the television side, with "30 Rock" ending its run, its stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin won the SAG awards for best comedy performers. It was Baldwin's seventh-straight win, while Fey earned her fifth SAG prize.
"Oh, my God. It's ridiculous," Baldwin said. "It's the end of our show, which is sad. Everybody is sad about that. It was the greatest experience I've ever had."
Fey gave a plug for the show's finale airing Thursday, noting that it's up against "The Big Bang Theory."
"Just tape `The Big Bang Theory' for once, for crying out loud," Fey said.
"Modern Family" won for best overall cast in a TV comedy show. Accepting for the cast, "Modern Family" co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson offered thanks to the makers of "30 Rock" and another departing series, "The Office," saying "you all have set the comedy bar so high."
Ferguson joked that if the "30 Rock" or "The Office" stars need jobs, they should contact the "Modern Family" casting director.
The TV drama acting awards went to Claire Danes of "Homeland" and Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad."
"It is so good to be bad," Cranston said.
Julianne Moore's turn as Sarah Palin in "Game Change" earned her the TV prize for best actress in a movie or miniseries. Kevin Costner won for best actor in a movie or miniseries for "Hatfields & McCoys."
Fey, who memorably spoofed Palin herself in "Saturday Night Live" sketches, said backstage that Moore's performance was "incredible. She really disappeared into the character, she did a real film acting job. You wouldn't want a sketch acting job in that movie."
Earlier, the James Bond adventure "Skyfall" and the fantasy series "Game of Thrones" picked up prizes for best stunt work, honors announced on the red carpet before the official SAG Awards ceremony.
JoBeth Williams and Scott Bakula announced the winners, noting the value of stunt players, who often are overlooked for their contributions to film and television.
"The stunt men and women of our union are critical to the work that gets done," Bakula said. "They keep us healthy, they keep us alive, they keep us working. They keep our shows working."
The SAG honors are the latest show in a puzzling Academy Awards season in which Hollywood's top prize, the best-picture Oscar, looks up for grabs among several key nominees.
Honors from the actors union, next weekend's Directors Guild of America Awards and Saturday night's Producers Guild of America Awards - whose top honor went to "Argo" - typically help to establish clear favorites for the Oscars.
But Oscar night on Feb. 24 looks more uncertain this time after some top directing prospects, including Ben Affleck for "Argo" and Kathryn Bigelow for "Zero Dark Thirty," missed out on nominations. Both films were nominated for best picture, but a movie rarely wins the top Oscar if its director is not also in the running.
Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" would seem the Oscar favorite with 12 nominations. Yet "Argo" and Affleck were surprise best-drama and director winners at the Golden Globes, and then there's Saturday's Producers Guild win for "Argo," leaving the Oscar race looking like anybody's guess.
The SAG honors at least should help to establish solid front-runners for the stars. All four of the guild's individual acting winners often go on to receive the same prizes at the Academy Awards.
Last year, the guild went just three-for-four - with lead actor Jean Dujardin of "The Artist" and supporting players Octavia Spencer of "The Help" and Christopher Plummer of "Beginners" also taking home Oscars. The guild's lead-actress winner, Viola Davis of "The Help," missed out on the Oscar, which went to Meryl Streep for "The Iron Lady."
The guild also presents an award for overall cast performance, its equivalent of a best-picture honor. The nominees are "Argo," "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," "Les Miserables," "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook."
Yet the cast prize has a spotty record at predicting the eventual best-picture recipient at the Oscars. Only eight of 17 times since the guild added the category has the cast winner gone on to take the best-picture Oscar. "The Help" won the guild's cast prize last year, while Oscar voters named "The Artist" as best picture.
Such past guild cast winners as "The Birdcage," "Gosford Park" and "Inglourious Basterds" also failed to take the top Oscar.
Receiving the guild's life-achievement award was Dick Van Dyke, who presented the same prize last year to his "The Dick Van Dyke Show" co-star, Mary Tyler Moore.
After waiting on stage for a prolonged standing ovation to end, Van Dyke said, "That does an old man a lot of good."
Associated Press writers Beth Harris, Christy Lemire and Anthony McCartney contributed to this report.
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