The 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards looked an awful lot like the Golden Globe awards except there was no Ricky Gervais.
Nearly all of the winners of tonight's SAG awards had already picked up the same honor at last Sunday's Golden Globes ceremony hosted by Gervais.
One big exception: While James Cameron's blockbuster "Avatar" won the Globe for best dramatic film, it was overlooked by the Screen Actors Guild. Instead, director Quentin Tarantino's World War II epic "Inglourious Basterds" won the top prize Saturday night at the Shrine Exhibition Hall, taking home the Screen Actors Guild award for outstanding ensemble.
Though the SAG and the Oscars have disagreed over the years, the guild honors are a strong bellwether for the Academy Awards. If history holds true, tonight's honor makes "Inglourious Basterds" -- about a squadron of Jewish soldiers fighting the Nazis -- a front-runner for several Oscar nominations, including best film.
In that vein, Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Christoph Waltz and Mo'Nique might want to make some room on the mantle for Oscar.
All four took home their very first SAG awards tonight, honors that position them as strong Oscar contenders.
Televised on TBS and TNT from the Shrine Exhibition Hall in downtown L.A. the guild bestowed its highest honor the Life Achievement Award and two standing ovations on 88-year-old Betty White.
Her gracious acceptance speech was tinged with a few zingers and her trademark comic timing. Looking out at the star-studded crowd, she remarked that she worked with quite a few of them over the years and "maybe had a coupleAnd you know who you are." On a more serious note, she fought back tears as she said, "I should be presenting an award to you for the privilege of working in this businessyou still can't get rid of me. I just turned 88 last Sunday and I still have lots to do.This is the highest point of my entire professional life.thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Another standing ovation greeted Bridges, who won best actor for playing as a boozy country singer in "Crazy Heart," which also earned him a Golden Globe. Picking up his SAG trophy, Bridges said "My God, this is a heavy thing!...this means so much to me."
Bullock, who won last week for her dramatic role in "The Blind Side," was named best actress. In her acceptance speech, she recalled stepping off the career path several years ago because she thought she wasn't doing good work, and decided to hold out and audition for more meatier roles. She thanked the guild for allowing her to do that, and addressed her husband Jesse James from the stage: "I love you so much and you're really hot."
Playing a nasty Nazi has been good to Waltz. He won the SAG award in the supporting actor category for "Inglourious Basterds." The Austrian actor has dominated the category this awards season, winning nearly every honor possible, including the Globe. Also dominating the supporting actress category: Mo'Nique. Best known for her comedic roles, Mo 'Nique has collected nearly all the key honors for her performance as a cruel, abusive mother of a teen-age girl in "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire." This evening, she earned the SAG making her the one to beat come Oscar night on March 7.
On the television side, there were also several Globe winners who repeated tonight: The cast of "Mad Men" won the ensemble award for dramatic series. Michael C. Hall won male actor in a drama series for "Dexter." Julianna Margulies won female actor in a drama for "The Good Wife." Fox's cheerful musical "Glee" won for outstanding ensemble in a comedy series. Alec Baldwin won for best actor in a comedy series for "30 Rock." Drew Barrymore won for female actor in a TV movie or miniseries for "Grey Gardens." And Kevin Bacon won male actor in a TV movie or miniseries for "Taking Chance."
Only one SAG winner on the television side Tina Fey was not a repeat victor from last week's Golden Globes.
Not that it mattered: The writer-creator-star of NBC's "30 Rock" won for outstanding female actor in a comedy series, a category she's won twice before.