The Screen Actors Guild Awards, airing this Sunday, January 25, aren't as high-profile as some of the other awards shows clamoring for your attention throughout January and February. Indeed, awards fatigue from the People's Choice, Critic's Choice, and Golden Globes may keep you from watching, or maybe you're just saving up your red-carpet energy for next month's Grammys and Oscars.
Still, for sheer entertainment value, it's hard to beat the SAGs. Like the Globes, they honor celebrities from both TV and film while plying the winners and losers with liquor. Like the Oscars, they're voted on by actual movie professionals. And like the MTV Movie Awards, they're often irreverent, mercifully brief, and scheduled to air more than once in case you don't catch them live. For viewers at home, they offer the best elements of all awards shows and none of the worst. If you watch the SAGs this Sunday, here's why you may find it superior to this season's other star-studded self-congratulatory celebrations.
1. The SAGs have been around for 21 years. That's long enough to be taken seriously but not so long as to have become stodgy and formulaic.
2. The SAGs are given only to actors. No sitting through awards for people you don't care about, like costume designers, animators, directors, or writers.
3. Each year, the ceremony begins with a handful of actors, from rising ingenues to beloved veterans, revealing how they got into the business. Which is sort of fascinating, occasionally funny, and often touching.
4. The SAGs are surprisingly irreverent, even the annual lifetime achievement awards. Recall Betty White's salty acceptance speech a few years ago, or Rita Moreno's lively turn last year. This year's winner is Debbie Reynolds, who'll be introduced by her daughter, Carrie Fisher. So it should be an especially witty, funny, risqué occasion.
5. It's probably the only awards show this season where you'll see "Boyhood" kid Ellar Coltrane, "Grand Budapest Hotel" lobby boy Tony Revolori, "Orange Is the New Black" breakout Laverne Cox, Kravitz, and Rashida Jones as presenters.
6. The awards are voted on by members of the Screen Actors Guild, so it's actors voting for their peers. That means the voters are people who are actually experts in the field; it's not classical musicians voting for rappers, or cinematographers voting for sound effects editors, or faux part-time journalists voting for actual industry professionals.
7. There are 165,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild, which makes for a large and broad voting sample. So statistically speaking, the awards are more valid than the Emmys (about 15,000 voters), the Oscars (6,124 voters), the Tonys (868 voters), the Critic's Choice Awards (250 voters), or the Golden Globes (90 voters).*
8. No musical numbers.
9. Unlike the Golden Globes, the SAGs still pay tribute to beloved actors who've died in the last 12 months by compiling an "In Memoriam" montage. And because they're actors, they're all people you've probably heard of.
10. They honor stuntmen and stuntwomen. How cool is that? Alas, they don't give out those prizes during the televised ceremony, but you can catch them during the online pre-show, which is being simulcast at sagawards.tntdrama.com, sagawards.org, and people.com.
11. They're on both TNT and TBS. You know, in case you can't find 'em.
12. The awards don't run a minute over two hours. They can't, since TNT and TBS rerun them immediately.
13. Speaking of, if you miss 'em live at 8 p.m. ET, they're on again at 10 p.m.
*The SAGs probably have more voters than the Grammys, too, but Moviefone couldn't confirm the number of National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences members who vote for the Grammys. We placed an inquiry to NARAS, which failed to respond by press time.