'The Help' Rules the Day at the 2012 Screen Actors Guild Awards

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"The Artist" and "The Descendants" may want to take a beat before practicing Oscar speeches. "The Help" just gained some major steam.

The period drama just dominated the 18th annual Screen Actors Guild, taking home the trophies for Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for Viola Davis and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for Octavia Spencer.

The selection of Davis over Meryl Streep, who previously won the Golden Globe for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady," was a minor upset, throwing the race for the Best Actress Oscar wide open.

And that wasn't the only surprise of the evening, as "The Artist's" Jean Dujardin topped presumptive Oscar frontrunner and Golden Globe winner George Clooney in the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role category.

Meanwhile, Christopher Plummer solidified his position as an Oscar favorite, winning Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for his turn in "Beginners." Plummer and Spencer previously won Golden Globes in the same categories earlier this month, making them all but shoo-ins for the top prizes at the Oscars on Feb. 26 barring a sudden asteroid impact.

"It was really a privilege to work on a film that gave voice to so many women," Spencer said in an emotional acceptance speech. "These women represent our mothers and grandmothers. By honoring me, you're honoring them."

Also finally getting honored? "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," which finally got some much delayed award season love thanks to its victory in the Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture category.

First presented in 1995, the Screen Actors Guild Awards have quickly come to be considered among the most prestigious awards an actor can receive, as only fellow actors and guild members are allowed to vote.

A full list of winners, including television categories, can be found here.