SAG Awards smackdown: Annette Bening vs. Hilary Swank (the rematch!)
Annette Bening("The Kids Are All Right") must've let loose a shocking howl when Hilary Swank("Conviction") defied pundits' predictions and snuck into the lead actress race at the SAG Awards. Everybody has been saying that Bening's chief rival to win the Screen Actors Guild trophy and Oscar is Natalie Portman("Black Swan"). Now here comes Bening's worst kudos nightmare – the star who has spoiled her Oscar dreams twice and crushed her at their last SAG Awards bout.
Bening is ridiculously overdue to win the Oscar. She's lost three times ("The Grifters," "American Beauty," "Being Julia"). Swank is undefeated, winning two for two academy nominations ("Boys Don't Cry," "Million Dollar Baby").
In 1999, it looked like Bening had the Oscar in the bag because she starred in the academy's and Golden Globe's best picture, "American Beauty." However, she got trounced at the Globes by Swank, who had swept the film critics' awards earlier that derby season. When they faced a rematch at the SAG Awards, Bening rallied, crushing Swank. That was an excellent omen that Bening would prevail ahead. However, at the Oscars, "American Beauty" swept many other top awards – best picture, director, screenplay and lead actor – but lost lead actress.
Five years later, Bening was back in the derby with "Being Julia," which is still the greatest performance of her impressive career. Swank returned too, though, and starring in Oscar best picure champ "Million Dollar Baby." Both of them won Golden Globes because "Being Julia" was pushed into the comedy/musical classification, giving "Million Dollar Baby" an easy win in the drama race.
It was at the SAG Awards in 2004 that Swank finally avenged her earlier guild loss to Bening and emerged invincible heading into their Oscar bout.
Now what must Bening think now about their third rematch? Yes, most pundits say that Swank has no prayer of winning for "Conviction," but didn't they say she had no chance of being nominated?
-- Tom O'Neil
UPDATE 12/17: An earlier draft of this article incorrectly stated that "American Beauty" won best supporting actor.
Left photo: Annette Bening in "The Kids Are All Right." Credit: Focus Features
Right photo: Hilary Swank in "Conviction." Credit: Fox Searchlight