- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2001

LOS ANGELES Five movies each grabbed three nominations yesterday for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, leaving this year's wide-open movie awards season as cloudy as ever.

The Roman epic "Gladiator," the rock 'n' roll memoir "Almost Famous," the political drama "The Contender," the French fairy tale "Chocolat" and the British dance flick "Billy Elliot" each took three nods.

Three other films the legal saga "Erin Brockovich," the Marquis de Sade epic "Quills" and the drug-war drama "Traffic" received two nominations apiece.

"Almost Famous," "Billy Elliot," "Chocolat," "Gladiator" and "Traffic" were nominated for their overall casts.

Nominated for best actress were: Joan Allen, "The Contender"; Juliette Binoche, "Chocolat"; Ellen Burstyn, "Requiem for a Dream"; Laura Linney, "You Can Count On Me"; and Julia Roberts, "Erin Brockovich."

Actor nominees were: Jamie Bell, "Billy Elliot"; Russell Crowe, "Gladiator"; Benicio Del Toro, "Traffic"; Tom Hanks, "Cast Away"; and Geoffrey Rush, "Quills."

Contenders for supporting actress were: Judi Dench, "Chocolat"; Kate Hudson, "Almost Famous"; Frances McDormand, "Almost Famous"; Julie Walters, "Billy Elliot"; and Kate Winslet, "Quills."

Nominees for supporting actor were: Jeff Bridges, "The Contender"; Willem Dafoe, "Shadow of the Vampire"; Albert Finney, "Erin Brockovich"; Gary Oldman, "The Contender"; and Joaquin Phoenix, "Gladiator."

The guild's nominations are the last major awards announcement before Oscar nominations Feb. 13. Unlike most years, no one film has emerged as an Oscar front-runner.

The guild also picked nominees in eight TV categories. The group will present its seventh annual awards March 11 in a ceremony airing on TNT.

The show will include the guild's lifetime achievement honor, for husband-wife acting team Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.

The guild's nominations are chosen by 4,200 randomly selected members of the union. The union's full membership of 98,000 is eligible to vote.

The awards have been fairly accurate in predicting the eventual Oscar winners for lead actor and actress. Ten of the 12 past guild winners in top movie acting categories went on to capture Academy Awards.

Last year, Kevin Spacey won both the guild award and Oscar for "American Beauty." Annette Bening won the guild honor for best actress for "American Beauty," while Hilary Swank received the Oscar for "Boys Don't Cry."

In the supporting categories, seven of 13 guild winners went on to receive Oscars. They include Kim Basinger for "L.A. Confidential," who tied for the guild supporting-actress honor with Gloria Stuart of "Titanic" for 1997.

Last year, Angelina Jolie ("Girl, Interrupted") and Michael Caine ("The Cider House Rules") won supporting honors at both the guild awards and the Oscars.

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