The 15th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony was held last night, January 25, 2009, in Los Angeles. Honorees in film and television were chosen from among the 100,000 active members of the Screen Actors Guild. Following the presentation of iconic Actor® statuettes to many talented recipients, a Post-Awards Gala was hosted by PEOPLE magazine on the back lot of the Shrine Exposition Center. This event supports the philanthropic efforts of SAG members, and benefits the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.

Award nominations had overlapped a great deal with those of the recent Golden Globes. However, the actual recipients differed somewhat. Slumdog Millionaire won for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Motion Picture, again proving its widespread popularity. Kate Winslet enjoyed another honor for her role in The Reader, with an award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. In a switch from the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep was awarded with a statuette for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for her performance in Doubt. Sean Penn received the male counterpart for the title role in Milk.

Poignantly, Heath Ledger repeated his posthumous Golden Globes win with an award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role. The Dark Knight also received an award for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture. Though Ledger was conspicuously absent from an In Memoriam tribute, a SAG publicist explained that it was due to the fact that he had been included last year, shortly after his death.

James Earl Jones was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award and a filmed tribute, presented by Forest Whitaker. Another notable occurrence was a filmed salute to performances that were considered “Trailblazers” either in their casting or subject matter.

As the Academy Awards ceremony approaches, many can’t help but wonder what these results indicate in terms of Oscar predictions. It seems like Slumdog Millionaire, Heath Ledger and Kate Winslet are shoo-ins for their respective awards, but there could always be some surprises in store. The SAG Awards are proof that a near-duplicate list of nominees doesn’t necessarily guarantee an identical list of winners.