Little Miss Sunshine: Comedy Gains Momentum with Top SAG Award (SAG and Oscar)

Fox Searchlight’s offbeat family comedy, Little Miss Sunshine, which premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, won SAG’s top trophy Sunday night.

It competed against “Babel,” “Bobby,” “The Departed” and “Dreamgirls” for the ensemble prize at the 13th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium.

This triumph places “Little Miss Sunshine” at the forefront of the best picture Oscar race, adding to the film’s’s momentum following its Jan. 20 Producers Guild of America win.

Following Crash’s Success

SAG has matched the Oscar Best Picture five times in 11 years, including last year, when “Crash” took both awards.

With actors compsoing about one fourth of voters at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the SAG Awards are a closely watched indicator of Oscar sentiment.

The “Sunshine” victory underlined the wisdom of studio spending on screeners. Fox Searchlight sent “Sunshine” screeners to all 110,000 SAG members (a disc costs $5), following the successful “Crash” strategy last year. SAG members also received screeners of Warner’s “The Departed” and Miramax’s “Venus.”

“Sunshine” won only the single, but important, award. In the supporting categories, Alan Arkin and Abigail Breslin, who portrayed the grandfather-granddaughter in “Sunshine,” lost out to the “Dreamgirls” duo of Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson, who also won the Golden Globes earlier this month.

SAG and the Oscars

The SAG Awards have offered a reliable read on the top acting categories, with the SAG lead actor matching the Oscar actor in eight of the 12 years, including Philip Seymour Hoffman last year for “Capote.”

The SAG award and the Oscar for actress have gone to the same thesp in nine of the 12 years, including Reese Witherspoon for “Walk the Line” last year.