My Week with Marilyn's Michelle Williams was a stunning lady in red when she introduced the night’s first award, Outstanding Male Actor in a Supporting Role. The actor went to Christopher Plummer who thanked his fellow nominees, cast and daughter Amanda Plummer.
Octavia Spencer delighted the crowd when she won for Outstanding Female Actor in a Supporting Role for her role as the oh-so-sassy, cake baking Minny in The Help. Octavia thanked the women who work as domestic helpers, like her character in the film, who made it possible for be there tonight. She said, "By honoring me, you honor them." She also thanked an unsung hero in the film, slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers and his family. She dedicated the award to the down trodden, downsized and overtaxed.
Funny ones Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) and Betty White (Hot in Cleveland) also walked away with the actor for Outstanding Comedy Series. Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon took to the stage to present the award for home Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series to the cast of Modern Family. The show’s young stars Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriguez and Ariel Winter proved the W.C. Field’s adage, "never work with kids or animals" untrue – when they took turns making jokes about children and animals in the cast’s acceptance speech.
Oscar winner Kate Winslet won for Outstanding Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries for Mildred Pierce but was not there to accept her award. Likewise, Paul Giamatti was unable to accept his Outstanding Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries Award for Too Big to Fail, however presenter Armie Hammer joked he would now be taking the Actor home with him.
Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy lit up the stage when they presented their nominated film Bridesmaids and also introduced the audience to their drinking game called Scorsese from the Bridesmaids set – in which one must take a drink any time someone says "Scorsese." Subsequently, the women took turns slipping the famed director’s name into their intro and forcing each other to drink, a joke which recurred throughout the show.
Presenting Mary Tyler Moore with the Screen Actor’s Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Dick Van Dyke received a standing ovation when he came onstage, to which the icon retorted: “I’m what’s left of Dick Van Dyke. Van Dyke then welcomed his former Dick Van Dyke Show costar, Mary Tyler Moore, who told a story about having to change her name from Mary Moore to Mary Tyler Moore when she joined the Screen Actor’s Guild at the age of 18.
Jessica Lange received the Actor for Outstanding Female Actor in a Drama Series for her turn in American Horror Story, and Steve Buscemi (who made it a point to up the drinking game ante by saying Martin Scorsese’s name several times in his acceptance speech) won Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama Series. The cast of Boardwalk Empire won the actor for Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series.
In one of the night’s big surprises, a dazzling Natalie Portman presented the award for Outstanding Male Actor in a Leading Role to French actor Jean Dujardin for his celebrated performance in the silent film The Artist. Sir Ben Kingsley took to the stage to present Outstanding Female Actor in a Leading Role to Viola Davis for her role as a domestic helper in The Help. In her emotional speech, Viola Davis thanked Cicely Tyson and Meryl Streep for inspiring her to act both as a child and in college. She also implored those watching, "To dream big and dream fierce." In the final award of the night, Money Ball’s Brad Pitt presented the Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture award to The Help.