- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2005

LOS ANGELES - The road-trip comedy “Sideways” led contenders yesterday for the Screen Actors Guild Awards with four nominations, including honors for lead actor Paul Giamatti and the ensemble cast.

Four other films followed with three nominations: The Howard Hughes film biography “The Aviator”; “Finding Neverland,” tracing the creative roots of J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan”; “Hotel Rwanda,” the real-life tale of an innkeeper sheltering refugees from genocide; and the boxing saga “Million Dollar Baby.”

All five films earned nominations for their overall casts, the equivalent of a best-picture prize for the guild, which represents Hollywood actors. Because of a tie in voting, the guild nominated a sixth film for best cast, the Ray Charles film biography “Ray.”

Besides a nomination among the “Ray” cast, star Jamie Foxx earned three other honors: as a lead-actor nominee for the title role in “Ray,” supporting actor for the hit-man thriller “Collateral” and best actor in a TV movie or miniseries for the prison drama “Redemption.”

Mr. Foxx, considered a front-runner to win the best-actor Academy Award, also has three nominations at this Sunday’s Golden Globes, for “Ray,” “Collateral” and “Redemption.”

Besides Mr. Foxx and Mr. Giamatti — who plays a loser with a fresh chance at love in “Sideways ” — the guild’s best-actor film nominees are Don Cheadle as hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina in “Hotel Rwanda,” Johnny Depp as Mr. Barrie in “Finding Neverland” and Leonardo DiCaprio as Mr. Hughes in “The Aviator.”

Nominated for best actress are Annette Bening as a 1930s London stage diva in “Being Julia,” Catalina Sandino Moreno as a Colombian woman who takes on a perilous job as a drug mule in “Maria Full of Grace,” Imelda Staunton as a housekeeper who moonlights as an abortion practitioner in 1950s Britain in “Vera Drake,” Hilary Swank as a boxer whose life turns tragic in “Million Dollar Baby,” and Kate Winslet as a woman who has erased memories of her ex-boyfriend in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

Miss Moreno was a surprise nominee, overlooked in most earlier Hollywood honors. The supporting categories also produced some surprise picks, including Cloris Leachman as a boozy grandma in “Spanglish,” Sophie Okonedo as Mr. Rusesabagina’s wife in “Hotel Rwanda,” and 12-year-old Freddie Highmore as a boy who inspires Mr. Barrie in “Finding Neverland.”

Joining Miss Leachman and Miss Okonedo in the supporting-actress category are Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn in “The Aviator,” Laura Linney as the wife of sexuality researcher Alfred Kinsey in “Kinsey,” and Virginia Madsen as a waitress romanced by Mr. Giamatti in “Sideways.”

Along with Mr. Foxx and Freddie Highmore, supporting-actor nominees are Thomas Haden Church as Mr. Giamatti’s randy buddy in “Sideways,” Morgan Freeman as a former boxer in “Million Dollar Baby,” and James Garner as a man trying to jog his ailing wife’s memories in “The Notebook.”

SAG contenders could get a last-minute boost for Oscar nominations, whose balloting ends Saturday.

In the television categories, Patricia Heaton earned three nominations, for best actress in a comedy series for CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond,” as a member of that show’s overall cast, and for actress in a movie or miniseries for “Neil Simon’s The Goodbye Girl” on cable’s TNT.

HBO’s “The Sopranos” led TV shows with four nominations, for its cast and for actor James Gandolfini and actresses Drea de Matteo and Edie Falco.

Awards will be presented Feb. 5 in a ceremony televised on TNT. SAG nominations are chosen by 4,200 randomly chosen members of the union. The guild’s full membership of 98,000 is eligible to vote for winners.

A complete list of nominees is posted on the guild’s Web site, www.sagawards.com.



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