You see, the actors' branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences accounts for 1,183 of the 6000-plus member votes that decide the Oscars, making them overwhelmingly the largest branch of the Academy. And it's a safe bet that any actor distinguished enough to have Academy voting rights is a member of SAG. Based on that, here are five things that we learned from the SAG Awards.
1. Seventy-five percent of the Oscar acting awards are wrapped up.
Jean Dujardin, Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer can go ahead and make room on their respective mantels or rumpus room shelves or mailbox ornaments or wherever it is that one puts Oscars after they are taken home. OK, maybe Dujardin still has a little room for concern -- Brad Pitt and George Clooney are popular folk -- but the Oscar track record of SAG winners in his category is really strong. (Also: Best Supporting Actress used to be the category in which upsets were commonplace, but this hasn't really been the case for quite some time.)
2. Best Actress is the only Oscar acting category up for grabs.
So, former shoo-in winner Meryl Streep in no longer a shoo-in. Actually, she's now the underdog to Viola Davis. Poor Meryl, she hasn't won an Oscar since 1982, yet there seems to be a general consensus that Meryl wins every year. I think it's now safe to say that people take Meryl Streep for granted. Put it this way: if any other actress had given the same performance the Streep gives in The Iron Lady, it would be a done deal. Unfortunately for Streep, the consensus seems to be, "Oh, she's always good. Let's give it to someone new." The last Female Actor in a Leading Role SAG winner not to win an Oscar? That would be Meryl Streep for Doubt in 2008.
Which leads us to...
3. As you read this, Harvey Weinstein is on his phone.
Yeah, Harvey did not leave the SAG Awards a happy fella. Sure, Dujardin left with an award, but The Help won Outstanding Ensemble over The Artist. Now, the relationship between Outstanding Ensemble and the Oscar's Best Picture is sporadic -- Inglourious Basterds, Little Miss Sunshine and Sideways are all recent non-Oscar winners -- but add that to Davis winning Female Actor in a Leading Role and you can bet Harvey is on the phone with somebody, calmly discussing this very issue right now.
4. The Help gained a lot of momentum on Sunday night.
No matter what magic Weinstein can pull off, it's hard to ignore that The Help won three of the five major film categories tonight. The Artist is still the favorite to take home Best Picture, there's no doubt about that, but The Help is definitely part of the conversation.
5. Dick Van Dyke is one popular guy.
Dick Van Dyke received a well-deserved standing ovation before he presented Mary Tyler Moore with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Earlier in the evening, Betty White took home a SAG for Female Actor in a Comedy. If Van Dyke wants it -- he probably doesn't -- he could have the same type of victory lap that White is currently enjoying.
Mike Ryan is the senior writer for Moviefone. He has written for Wired Magazine, VanityFair.com, GQ.com, New York Magazine and Movieline. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter