'The Help' Gets Oscar Boost

Los Angeles, Feb 1 (TAG) – Civil rights drama 'The Help' got a leg up in the Oscar race when the film won three awards from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), including best cast in a surprise over silent movie romance 'The Artist.'

'The Help,' which came into the show with four nominations, more than any other films, also earned its star Viola Davis the SAG award for the best actress, while Octavia Spencer named top supporting actress. They both played maids who face discrimination in the film set in Mississippi.
The film is an ensemble piece about a young white woman, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, and her relationship with two black maids during civil rights era America in the early 1960s. Eugenia is a journalist who decides to write a controversial book from the point of view of the African-American maids (known as the Help) of the white families for which they work, and exposing the racism they are faced through on a daily basis.
Viola thanked another African-American actress, Cicely Tyson, who inspired her as a child and was in the audience. Viola talked of dreaming big as a child when she wanted to become an actress. She encouraged others to do so, too. "Dream big and dream fierce," she said.
Viola also took opportunity to remind the celebrities in attendance, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Meryl Streep, as well as TV audiences, that change is still necessary in current U.S. culture.
"The stain of racism and sexism is not just for people of color or women," she said. "It's all of our burden. All of us, and we can, absolutely all of us, we can inspire change."
Meanwhile silent movie "The Artist" could only claim one trophy. It's about George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a your dancer set for a big break.
Jean Dujardin was named best actor in a drama for his role as a fading screen star at the end of the talkies who is ultimately saved by love. Jean, who beat out Clooney and Brat Pitt in the category, seemed genuinely surprised as he held his statue and thanked SAG. 
Like Viola, Jean noted that as a kid he was always a dreamer and said his teachers called him "Jean of the moon." "I was always dreaming," he said. "I realize now that I never stopped dreaming. Thank you very much."
Others winning SAG film honors included Christopher Plummer for supporting actor. Christopher , 82, who plays an elderly man who reveals his homosexuality, much to the chagrin of his family, thanked his fellow actors from the stage, calling them a wacky but wonderful bunch of artists.
SAG's film awards are closely watched for their impact on Oscars because actors make up the biggest voting group at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which picks winners. The Academy Awards take place in Los Angeles on February 26.[]

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