Hollywood actors snub Brokeback Mountain

Capote star Philip Seymour Hoffman, Reese Witherspoon and the drama Crash stole top honours at Sunday’s Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, dealing a blow to Oscar favourite Brokeback Mountain.

Witherspoon won best actress for her role as singer June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, while Hoffman was named best actor for his portrayal of United States author Truman Capote at the awards, seen as a key bellwether for the acting Oscars.

Director Paul Haggis’s racially-charged urban drama Crash snatched the best ensemble cast award—SAG’s version of a best picture honour—from the frontrunner for that statuette, Ang Lee’s gay cowboy romance Brokeback.

The best supporting actor statuettes went to Paul Giamatti for his role as a boxing trainer in Cinderella Man, and to Britain’s Rachel Weisz for playing a doomed activist in Fernando Meirelles’ thriller The Constant Gardener.

Hoffman, seen as the frontrunner for the best actor Oscar when it is awarded on March 5, praised his co-stars in Bennett Miller’s Capote, saying he owed his award partially to them.

“Actors can’t act alone. The only way to act well is when you know the other actor has your back. And these actors had my back and I hope they know that I had theirs,” Hoffman said at the awards show in Los Angeles.

Crash, about four people from different ethnic backgrounds whose lives accidentally collide, depicts racial tensions in multi-cultural Los Angeles.

“It’s a film that doesn’t end when the credits roll,” said one of its stars, Don Cheadle.

“It’s a discussion that we’ve all heard out in the world many, many times.
It’s great that [the film] sort of started a dialogue about things that people on the surface really seemed to not want to talk about,” he said.

But the controversial Brokeback Mountain—the early leader in the race for the Academy Awards, nominations for which will be unveiled on Tuesday—went into the SAGs with a leading four nominations, but lost out all of them.

Its star Heath Ledger ceded the best actor award to Hoffman, as did Joaquin Phoenix for his role as country singer Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, Russell Crowe for Cinderella Man and David Strathairn for George Clooney’s drama about freedom of the press, Good Night, and Good Luck.

Then the best supporting actor award went to Sideways actor Giammati, instead of to Brokeback cowboy Jake Gyllenhaal or the other hopefuls, including Clooney for Syriana, while Michelle Williams, Ledger’s on-screen wife in Brokeback, lost out on the best supporting actress going to Weisz.

Witherspoon took the best actress honour from under the noses of former Oscar winners Charlize Theron, nominated for playing a miner in North Country, and Judi Dench, who won her nod for the comedy Mrs Henderson Presents, as well as Chinese star Zhang Ziyi, nominated for Memoirs of a Geisha.

“She was just an incredible woman,” Witherspoon said of June Carter.

“She was not only a very accomplished musician who played many instruments, she was a wonderful wife who supported her husband and an unbelievably giving mother and a great friend.

“And I’m just really honoured to bring her out of a certain shadow and to light with this performance. She really deserves it,” said the star of Legally Blonde, who is now the strongest contender for the best actress Oscar.

In SAG’s television section, veteran screen star Paul Newman won the award for best actor in a television movie or miniseries for Empire Falls.

Another star of 2004’s Sideways, Sandra Oh, won best actress in a drama for the medical show Grey’s Anatomy, while Kiefer Sutherland won best dramatic actor for the crime show 24.

The twin best actor in a comedy series awards went to Sean Hayes, who plays Jack on Will and Grace, and Felicity Huffman for the global hit Desperate Housewives.

Desperate Housewives, the antics of the women of Wisteria Lane, also won the best ensemble cast in a comedy award, while Lost, about survivors of a plane crash,” won the same award for a drama. - AFP

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