merylstreeppic.jpgThe Screen Actors Guild Awards are not the most popular nor are they the highest rated award shows to be broadcast on TV. The Golden Globes kick off the season and the Academy Awards bring the conclusion, as well as the highest ratings. But as awards shows go, I like the S.A.G.’s best.
Sally Field, who’s obviously come a long way from her “You really, really like me” moment of Oscar past, proclaimed the following about her field: “Actors: we inspire, we provoke, and we entertain and never ever has that been needed more in this country than it is right now.” I’m not sure I’d go that far, but she was correct in naming part of why we so love movies and television when they’re done well, and why we have such a connection to the actors.
Here are five reasons why I like the S.A.G.’s best among award shows:
1. The Ensemble awards. Most shows only focus on the main actor or perhaps a supporting role. The “ensemble cast” award for both TV and movies gives credit to all of the individuals involved as well as to the chemistry which makes a TV show or movie so likeable or compelling.

2. Spontaneous applause. So much of what happens on TV is programmed and rehearsed, even on awards shows. There’s just a rhythm and a pattern that is conformed to by most. But among the core of actors gathered, there are times when they just decide to applaud each other without a cue. At this year’s show, the team of Frank Langella and Michael Sheen (from “Frost/Nixon”) were the benefactors, as well as Meryl Streep, who was so over-the-top excited about winning.
3. Graciousness and Candor. I haven’t gone back and watched the recording but I’m pretty sure that every single winner paid tribute (or at least mention) towards the others nominated in their category. And Meryl Streep came right out and said “There’s no greatest living actor in our time” and “there’s no ‘best’ Actor” for the year. Sean Penn called the TV prognosticators “idiots” who prognosticate dog-fights between the actors in their race for Oscar.
4. The opening! So many shows have cheesy, uncomfortable and awkward forced moments. The S.A.G. show usually focuses on the art and profession of acting in a natural way. This year, several actors told of how they got started in acting. Mixing the power of story with the fellowship and esprit de corps they share, we feel invited into the camaraderie, the crowd, the gang.
5. Brevity. The S.A.G.’s employ the “no emcee” strategy. This show gets it done before it drags without making anyone feel rushed. Nicely done.
Frank Langella at

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