Well, it sure didn't matter that Paramount and Columbia spent a pile sending DVD screeners of "Up in the Air" and "Julie & Julia" to nearly all 100,000 SAG Awards voters. George Clooney and Meryl Streep lost to Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock even though Fox Searchlight and Warner Bros. didn't blitz Screen Actors Guild members with discs of "Crazy Heart" and "The Blind Side."
That tells us Oscarologists what formidable candidates Bridges and Bullock are as they head toward the Oscars. It's clear that one of them — Bridges — now looks like an inevitable Oscar champ. Maybe Bullock too, but her bout with Meryl Streep isn't over yet. Maybe SAG voters ventured from Streep this year because they just hailed her with their lead-actress prize last year ("Doubt"). Streep hasn't won an Oscar for 27 years and academy members know that she's overdue. She may hold the record for most nominations (15), but she's only won one and a half times ("Sophie's Choice" in lead, "Kramer vs. Kramer" in supporting).
Obviously, two other SAG victories tonight made future Oscar wins inevitable too: Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") and Mo'Nique ("Precious"). Or are they? Remember, upsets happen most often in those tricky supporting races.
But what should we think of the victory of "Inglourious Basterds" as best ensemble? That's the prize that sometimes foretells the film that will best picture at the Oscars. At least it's done so seven times in 14 years, twice hinting at major upsets ahead: "Crash" and "Shakespeare in Love." But beware: Two films weren't nominated in the SAG ensemble category that are formidable rivals for best picture at the Academy Awards: "Avatar" and "Up in the Air."
Speaking of "Inglourious Basterds," its most famous star wasn't present to claim his ensemble trophy. Hmmm, Brad Pitt was also absent from the recent Golden Globes where "Basterds" was nominated for best drama picture. There were reports that he skipped the Globes to watch the New Orleans Saints play football. Maybe there's truth to tabloid tattle that he's not only busted up (again) with Angelina Jolie, but that they just signed a multi-million-dollar split deal that grants them joint custody of the kids.
Did you notice that another nominee was missing tonight — a chap over in the TV races? Tabloid darling Charlie Sheen.
Photo: "The Blind Side" (Warner Bros.)