8:01 Why do I love S. Epatha Merkerson so much? Happily, she makes up for Patricia Heaton.
8:02 People can say what they want about Thandie Newton's acting, but is there any real argument about how gorgeous she is?
8:03 Also sssssssmoking tonight: Patrick Dempsey (duh), and Catherine Keener
8:04 I'm so done with hearing the whole Crash trope about "people who reside in the same city but only touch accidentally"; if Match Point hadn't rolled up with that unbearable and relentless tennis metaphor, it would easily be the most overdone conceit of the year.
8:05 Where is Nina Garcia when you need her to trim the ribbon off the front of Eva Longoria's otherwise lovely dress?
8:06 ACTRESS (TV - DRAMA) Doesn't Patricia Arquette always look like she's about to retract her head back into her shell? Prediction: Oh; Win: Oh, who can't walk in her shoes but looks real purty. And I'm always about the group shout-outs, even if none will ever be as good as Camryn Manheim's "This one's for the fat girls!"
8:09 Is Ted Danson blushing about Felicity Huffman's joke about wanting to flirt with him? I mean, look at that shit-eating grin. I feel so sad for him.
8:11 ACTOR (TV - DRAMA) Prediction: Laurie; Win: Sutherland, who not only remains preternaturally handsome from year to year, but is always beautifully dressed and always exceptionally gracious in his speeches. Seriously, did anyone watching Flatliners or The Lost Boys see this dapper re-incarnation anywhere on the horizon?
8:15 For months, Cinderella Man has been evincing the single most desperate save-this-flop ad campaign I've ever seen. Now, on this ad for Cinderella Man on ComCast pay-per-view, they actually exhort you to "Rent the movie today, and pause or fast-forward during all your favorite knockout scenes!" Wtf? What if I want to pause at the moment when Renée Zellweger opens her eyes?
8:17 I am really psyched about the Hustle & Flow Ensemble Cast nomination; if the Capote cast weren't so exceptionally smart, subtle, and well-coordinated, I'd vote Hustle no question.
8:21 ENSEMBLE CAST (TV - DRAMA) Prediction: Lost; Win: Lost, who clearly knew this was coming
8:24 SUPPORTING ACTRESS (FILM) Chris Cooper prefaces this category by citing Renée Zellweger in Cold Mountain and Judi Dench in Chocolat as past winners, thus immediately squelching any appeal this award could possibly have. I'm so glad that Amy Adams' clip includes her priceless split-second impression of a meerkat. I'm less sure about including Michelle Williams saying "Jack Nasty," and I'm extremely unsure why Williams seems to have graduated from the Zellweger Academy of frowny and awkward awards-show expressions. Prediction: Williams; Win: Weisz, happily emerging as the front-runner in this derby, and even more happily freed of that sarcophagus of makeup that encased her at the Globes.
8:27 Must awards-show directors always cut to the Desperate Housewives, even when they're just inanely sitting there? Say, with Eva Longoria sitting on Marcia Cross' lap?
8:32 Fuckin' Shatner. Now I can't even enjoy these interviews with commercial actors without being distracted by how much I've hated the two episodes I've ever seen of Boston Legal, and how appalled I was by his performances in them.
8:36 ACTRESS (TV - COMEDY) Naveen Andrews and Yurtle the Arquette look, sound, and are boring, and so too are these nominations, though I'm impressed with the one-housewife quota. I do, however, love how Huffman's clip, set in a loud barroom, makes it sound like the actual SAG crowd is cheering for her. I love that Allison Janney wants Mary-Louise Parker to win. Prediction: Huffman; Win: Huffman, whose win sure pisses off Ray Romano. Why?? And why didn't Felicity and Marcia figure out they were wearing the same color? Hey, Alfre's in lavender, too! One more question: I love love, love being in love, love other people in love, love it allso why am I always so put off by the unique kind of bubblehead Felicity Huffman becomes whenever she talks about her husband?
8:43 ACTOR (TV - COMEDY) Prediction: Shatner (&$#%); Win: Sean Hayes???? I guess he's been enormously stretched by his last season of work on W&G. I do think he looks very nice. Love the tie. It's sad when his rhetoric backfires: "To all the actors who thought this actor had an ounce of talent, I thank you." What if they didn't mean that nicely?
8:44 ENSEMBLE CAST (TV - COMEDY) What need has the world of Ellen Pompeo? Prediction: Everybody Loves Raymond; Win: Desperate Housewives, of whom Alfre Woodard is the most gorgeous by a mile. Oh, look, there are some men in this show, too! Who is this kid talking? Is he in the cast? I know we are all presumed to know this, but help me out here.
8:47 Reese Witherspoon has special sensors implanted in the back of her head that alert her whenever a camera, even a distant one with a zoom lens, is on her face.
8:54 SAG president Alan Rosenberg pumps up a room of actors about the awesomeness of actors. But I wonder.... even Rob Schneider? Even Bridget Moynahan? Even Jessica Alba?
8:56 And so, with a whisper of what looks like sequined linen, and with a Shirley Temple doll in her hand, the era of Dakota Fanning as awards-show presenter began. But hey, she's way better at it than Robin Williams. In fact, she does much the best job of anyone we've seen tonight. May I admit, though, that whenever I see clips of old Shirley Temple movies, the only thought I can muster is how glad I am that I wasn't alive then.
9:00 CULTURAL/HISTORICAL INANITY OF THE EVENING The "friendship" between toddler Shirley Temple and Mr. Bojangles, her tap-dancing manservant, three generations older than herself, is held up as a model of racial harmony. I wonder how this played at the Hustle & Flow table. (I would wonder about the Crash table, too, but something makes me ask myself if Paul Haggis even got how strange this is.)
9:03 Jamie Lee Curtis! Always a gift. Always well done-up.
9:04 How come the scripters never reflect that underlining the "natural" and "believable" screen presence of someone like Shirley Temple is rather akin to admitting that she, um, wasn't really acting. I have no doubt that she is a fine and accomplished person in all other departments, including her massive celebrity. But Lifetime Achievement in Acting? Call Gena Rowlands. Call Donald Sutherland.
9:11 Isn't that Jim Gaffigan in the Sierra Mist ad? Perhaps SAG could include a featurette where actors who once headlined their own short-lived sitcoms are now overjoyed to be paying the bills with soda commercials?
9:12 I'll say it again: Catherine Keener looks fabulous. Even better than 40-Year-Old Virgin fabulous. Admittedly, she's not very good at this. And In Cold Blood isn't a novel. And it hurts when we overhear Hoffman saying to Keener, albeit with the best of intentions, "well-done."
9:14 SUPPORTING ACTOR (FILM) Zhang Ziyi looks fantastic, sounds uncomfortable, and experiences yet a new pronunciation of her name over the intercom. Prediction: Dillon; Win: Giamatti. Which, I'm sorry, but the hoopla behind this performance is completely ridiculous. Not bad work, but it shouldn't have any bearing in an awards race. Clooney, Dillon, and Gyllenhaal would all have been better choices, but they all at least have the consolation that they. are. total. foxes.
9:17 Samuel L. Jackson sees dead people. I know I'm going to tear up again at Anne Bancroft. I always did like Barbara Bel Geddes, too. At least half of these people, I've never heard of. Maybe two-thirds. Boy, did I love Teresa Wright, though. And Piglet! And Ruth Hussey! I can't say I loved Shelley Winters, but I'm still sad knowing she's gone.
9:22 Overheard in a commercial: "Ask yourself, is your shampoo designed specially for you?" Um, no. "Designed to give you a special, unique style each and every time?" Still no. Should it be?
9:23 Dammit, is Paul Giamatti really going to get an Oscar nomination for that role? [Still sinking in.]
9:26 The SAG Awards are now padding out their own show with flubbed takes from last year.
9:28 "Please welcome David Stritharin!" Really, it's not that hard a name.
9:29 ACTRESS (TV MOVIE OR MINISERIES) Amy Adams and Benjamin Bratt are both looking sharp in black. Prediction: Woodward; Win: Merkerson, who always gives good speech, so let's hear it! The public shout-out to her divorce lawyers is hilarious.
9:34 ACTOR (TV MOVIE OR MINISERIES) Angela Bassett, gorgeously overdoing it as always, literally stuns William H. Macy into forgetful silence with the sheer muscle of her vOWels and her KoNSoNaNTS! Prediction: Newman; Win: Newman, Hottest Man Alive Emeritus, who is 81 years and 3 days old. Happy birthday, Paul!
9:40 Heath Ledger, drunk, cocks his hand sassily on his left hip. Both men giggle and stutter through their introduction, clearly because the prose they are reading is so purplethough I must say, it might be nice to prevent TV audiences from thinking that the storyline they are narrating is the joke. Again, clearly unintentional, but I can't shake the feeling that they're reading this exactly the same way that two homophobic party boys would.
9:42 ACTRESS (FILM) Pierce Brosnan, as in all the worst student essays, begins with a reference to a dictionary definition. Prediction: Witherspoon; Win: Witherspoon, allowing me a piquant foretaste of how glum I will feel when this happens again in a month. "Sometimes I just can't shake the feeling that I'm just a little girl from Tennessee."
9:47 ACTOR (FILM) Hilary Swank, busy in front and too tanned. "Strathairn," at least, gets its due as a name. Prediction: Ledger; Win: Hoffman, seeming less and less beatable. Behind him as he stands, you can see how excellent Patricia Clarkson looks in buttery yellow. Hoffman gives a gracious speech about actor solidarity, and gets extra points for singling out Clifton Collins, Jr., even though balloting period is already over. Oh, by the way, who stinks at predicting? ME.
9:57 ENSEMBLE (FILM) Morgan Freeman, in a bold spectrum of purples. Prediction: Brokeback Mountain; Win: The Penguins. Just kidding. Crash. A total Brokeback shutout, but still a boring show. And TBS picks exactly the wrong space-hogging font for those of us trying to peer behind the credits in order to see who's hobnobbing. Whatever. I'll be taping over this pronto.