- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 23, 2010

LOS ANGELES | Three is the lucky number at the Screen Actors Guild Awards — that’s how many nominations the leading contenders in film and television have coming into Saturday’s ceremony.

“Inglorious Basterds,” ”Precious” and “Up in the Air” lead film nominees, while “Dexter,” ”30 Rock” and “The Closer” are the top TV competitors.

“Basterds” earned nods for its cast and supporting stars Christoph Waltz and Diane Kruger. “Precious” was also nominated for outstanding performance by a film cast, along with nods for star Gabourey Sidibe and supporting actress Mo’Nique. “Up in the Air” collected nominations for star George Clooney and supporting actresses Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick.

Other films competing for best cast — SAG’s equivalent of a best-picture prize — include “The Hurt Locker,” ”An Education” and “Nine,” which also earned a nod for supporting actress Penelope Cruz.

“Dexter” and “The Closer” are up for best performance by a cast in a drama series, along with “Mad Men,” ”The Good Wife” and “True Blood.”

Michael C. Hall, who plays Dexter, is nominated for best actor and the show’s stunt team is up for outstanding performance by a stunt ensemble on TV. “The Closer” earned nods for its stunt team and star Kyra Sedgwick.

“30 Rock” collected nominations for its cast and stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. Other comedies up for cast honors are “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” ”Modern Family,” ”Glee” and “The Office.”

Last year, SAG’s movie cast award was presented to “Slumdog Millionaire,” which went on to win the Best Picture Oscar. However, this year, one of the season’s strongest Best Picture contenders, “Avatar,” was not nominated in any SAG category, all of which are for acting, perhaps because “Avatar’s” best performances were computer-assisted.

The actors union will present 13 awards during the two-hour dinner-party ceremony: Eight in television, five in film and a lifetime achievement award to 88-year-old Betty White, who starred in the TV comedy series “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls.”

“Our show is so special compared to other awards shows,” said SAG Awards executive producer and director Jeff Margolis. “The fact that it is a show for actors, and it’s actors voting for actors for doing good work. It’s just different from the other shows, so we take great pride in keeping it different and special.”

The Screen Actors Guild Awards often are an accurate predictor of success at the Academy Awards because actors constitute the largest voting bloc for the Oscars.

Last year the cast award went to “Slumdog Millionaire,” which went on to win the Best Picture Oscar. However, this year one strong Best Picture contender, James Cameron’s “Avatar,” was not nominated in any SAG category.

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On the Net:

www.sagawards.org

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