SAG Awards Continue Christian Bale, Natalie Portman Winning Streak

'The Fighter' star Melissa Leo and 'The King's Speech' actor Colin Firth also rack up awards.

The Hollywood awards season continues to trek along, and on Sunday night (January 30), the performers honored their leading lights at the 17th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. In an evening of few upsets, 2011 awards-season darlings like Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Colin Firth and Melissa Leo continued to cement their status as names to watch along the road to Oscar.

Bale was joined onstage by real-life inspiration Dicky Eklund when he scored Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for “The Fighter.” Bale also dished out advice to aspiring actors, saying that it helps that he finds people fascinating, but added, “Bumping into Mark Wahlberg ain’t bad.”

Check out photos from the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Natalie Portman extended her awards-show winning streak by nabbing Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for “Black Swan.” Swathing her budding baby bump in a white Azzaro gown, the former child star expressed gratitude for being able to finish her education and shouted out her parents for instilling in her that she “can never be an a–hole.”

Colin Firth also sprinkled some heartfelt humor into his speech when he accepted the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role. “The King’s Speech” actor joked about once hoping his SAG card would land him “female attention” and entry into nightclubs and, after sizing up the A-list talent in the room, thanked security for letting him into the building.

When Leo nabbed Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for her role in the “The Fighter,” she hugged her co-star and fellow nominee Amy Adams and gleefully bolted toward the stage in a glittery gown, which she briefly tripped on as she reached for the award. The actress aptly took the win to pump up the importance of the guild, saying, “Unions make this country great, because it gives a voice to the working people.”

Alec Baldwin and Betty White gave the first statuette of the evening to Steve Buscemi for his portrayal of a gleefully corrupt Prohibition-era politician on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” The star looked visibly touched during his first SAG win, and shouted out “Empire” director Martin Scorsese, imploring the legendary film architect — who has recently fallen ill — to “please come back.” The entire “Empire” cast later headed back onstage when they took home Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.

“Desperate Housewives” siren Eva Longoria, rocking a silvery Georges Hobeika gown with a plunging neckline, and “Glee” jock Cory Monteith handed over the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series trophy to Julianna Margulies for “The Good Wife.” Accepting her second consecutive SAG win for the role, she thanked the Teamsters for digging everyone out of the snow on the show’s set.

Amy Poehler introduced the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series category by saying she likes her actors, and her sandwiches, “real,” “warm” and “heavy on the meat.” Baldwin walked away with the meaty win for his fifth consecutive “30 Rock” win.

First-time SAG winner Betty White looked genuinely surprised when she accepted the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series award and received a standing ovation. After speaking about how she was “so lucky to be 89″ and still working, she tossed in some cheeky humor by briefly fondling the nude statuette’s backside and wrapping her fingers around its groin area.

One of the few actors in the room able to boast more experience than White was 94-year-old Oscar-winning legend Ernest Borgnine, who accepted the SAG Life Achievement Award following an introduction from his “McHale’s Navy” co-star Tim Conway and fellow “Red” actor Morgan Freeman. The guild also saluted late stars like Leslie Nielsen, Lynn Redgrave and Lena Horne in the “In Memoriam” segment.

The event also lauded actors who have made a big impact within the short span of a television commercial with a montage that celebrated everyone from the bubbly chick in the Progressive insurance ads to Clara Peller’s inescapable Wendy’s catchphrase “Where’s the beef?”

All the A-listers in “The King’s Speech” were honored with the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, but Geoffrey Rush took the opportunity to spotlight some of the cast’s younger actors, pointing out the brief performance of a stammering student.

Other winners included Claire Danes for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for “Temple Grandin”; “You Don’t Know Jack” star Al Pacino for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries; and the cast of “Modern Family” for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. While many of the 2011 awards-season champions like Portman, Bale and Leo were honored, other fan and critical favorites like “The Social Network” and “Glee” went home empty-handed.

What did you think of this year’s SAG Awards? Let us know in the comments!

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