`Sideways' leads nominees for Screen Actors awards

Tuesday, January 11th 2005, 11:22 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The road-trip comedy ``Sideways'' led contenders Tuesday for the Screen Actors Guild Awards with four nominations, including honors for lead performer 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 of those 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, selected 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.''

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

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

Nominated for best actress were 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.''

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 Rusesabagina's wife in ``Hotel Rwanda''; and Freddie Highmore as a boy who inspires Barrie in ``Finding Neverland.''

Joining Leachman and Okonedo in the supporting-actress category were 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 Giamatti in ``Sideways.''

Along with Foxx and Highmore, supporting-actor nominees were Thomas Haden Church as 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 TV categories, Patricia Heaton earned three nominations, for best actress in a comedy series for ``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.''

``The Sopranos'' led TV shows with four nominations, for its cast, 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.