- Associated Press - Sunday, January 29, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The “Harry Potter” finale has earned some love from Hollywood’s top acting union, winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for best big-screen stunt ensemble Sunday.

The win for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” was a final triumph for the fantasy franchise that concluded last summer after a run of eight blockbusters.

Winning the TV stunt ensemble prize was “Game of Thrones.” The stunt awards were announced on the arrivals red carpet before the show began.

Among the early arrivals to the cheers of enthusiastic fans on a sunny and warm afternoon were Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray of the old “Dallas” TV series, soon to be the new “Dallas” TV series on TNT. Meanwhile, Glenn Close was looking very unlike her “Albert Nobbs” character for which she received a SAG nomination as she posed for fans in a sleek black gown.

For the main event, Sunday’s 18th annual SAG ceremony is heavy on actors playing illustrious real-life figures.

Among them: Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady”; Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover in “J. Edgar”; and Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe and Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier in “My Week With Marilyn.”

Streep won a Golden Globe for “The Iron Lady” and is considered a favorite for the SAG prize and for her third win at the Academy Awards, which are set for Feb. 26.

The front-runners for the other SAG awards are actors in fictional roles, though, among them George Clooney as a dad in crisis in “The Descendants” and Jean Dujardin as a silent-film star fallen on hard times in “The Artist.” Both are up for best actor, and both won Globes _ Clooney as dramatic actor, Dujardin as musical or comedy actor.

Octavia Spencer as a brassy Mississippi maid in “The Help” and Christopher Plummer as an elderly dad who comes out as gay in “Beginners” won Globes for supporting performances and have strong prospects for the same honors at the SAG Awards.

The winners at the SAG ceremony typically go on to earn Oscars. All four acting recipients at SAG last year later took home Oscars _ Colin Firth for “The King’s Speech,” Natalie Portman for “Black Swan” and Christian Bale and Melissa Leo for “The Fighter.”

The same generally holds true for the weekend’s other big Hollywood honors, the Directors Guild of America Awards, where Michel Hazanavicius won the feature-film prize Saturday for “The Artist.” The Directors Guild winner has gone on to earn the best-director Oscar 57 times in the 63-year history of the union’s awards show.

SAG also presents an award for overall cast performance, a prize that’s loosely considered the ceremony’s equivalent of a best-picture honor. However, the cast award has a spotty record at predicting what will win best picture at the Oscars.

While “The King’s Speech” won both honors a year ago, the SAG cast recipient has gone on to claim the top Oscar only eight times in the 16 years since the guild added the category.

Airing live on TNT and TBS from the Shrine Exhibition Center in downtown Los Angeles, the show features nine television categories, as well.

Receiving the guild’s life-achievement award is Mary Tyler Moore. The prize was to be presented by Dick Van Dyke, her co-star on the 1960s sit-com “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

Story Continues →