SAG Awards bask in 'Sunshine'

Ensemble feted; several Golden Globe winners on top again

If it were not for the comedy "Little Miss Sunshine," which topped off Sunday evening by scooping up the award for outstanding performance by a motion picture cast at the 13th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, the ceremony might have been mistaken for a replay of the Golden Globe Awards, which took place two weeks ago (HR 1/29).

While no one film has dominated the best picture race this awards season, there appears to be a developing unanimity about the year's best actors. As if taking a cue from the Globes, the winning quartet at the SAG Awards, held at the Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles, consisted of Forest Whitaker for "The Last King of Scotland," Helen Mirren for "The Queen" and Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson for "Dreamgirls."

Two TV series that also came Globes-certified led the television field with a pair of wins each. ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" was hailed for best dramatic ensemble and picked up an award for best female in a drama series, which went to Chandra Wilson, who plays the bossy Miranda Bailey. HBO's "Elizabeth I" copped two awards, for stars Mirren and Jeremy Irons.

NBC's "The Office" prevailed as the best comedy ensemble, while Hugh Laurie of Fox's "House," Alec Baldwin of NBC's "30 Rock" and America Ferrera of ABC's "Ugly Betty" all picked up acting awards. Among the networks, ABC edged ahead of the competition with three awards.

"Sunshine's" win was not entirely without precedent; last weekend, the Fox Searchlight release took home the top film award at the Producers Guild of America's annual awards dinner. But because it had gone 0-for-2 at the Globes, the comedy's win was not a sure thing.

Mirren repeated the royal flush she executed at the Globes by handily snaring two awards: for female actor in a leading role for "Queen" and female actor in a telefilm or miniseries for "Elizabeth I."

His performance as James "Thunder" Early in the Paramount Pictures release of the DreamWorks musical brought Murphy his first SAG win.

Murphy began his remarks in appropriately respectful terms, saying, "What a tremendous honor to be recognized by one's peers," then lapsed into a slight British accent before breaking character and laughing, "It's just when British people come and get the awards, it's so smooth." By contrast, he nearly whooped, "I feel goofy up here 'cause I don't be winning stuff."