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Guilds sharpen Oscars picture

'Brokeback' picks up momentum with nominations by actors and directors organizations. Spielberg gets 10th directors' nod.

January 06, 2006|Susan King | Times Staff Writer

Accolades were once again heaped on "Brokeback Mountain" and George Clooney on Thursday as two of the movie industry's top guilds announced their award nominations -- with the lion's share going to small, independent films instead of major Hollywood productions.

The nominations for the Directors Guild of America Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards bring into sharper focus the potential contenders for the Academy Awards.

Ang Lee, 51, received a DGA nomination for directing "Brokeback Mountain." The elegiac western also dominated the SAG nominations with four nods: outstanding male performance for Heath Ledger, supporting male performance for Jake Gyllenhaal, supporting female performance for Michelle Williams and outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture.

Clooney picked up his first DGA award nomination for "Good Night, and Good Luck," the historical drama about the clash between CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow and firebrand senator Joseph McCarthy. On the acting front, Clooney, 44, earned a SAG nomination for outstanding male supporting performance for "Syriana" and as a member of the ensemble of "Good Night, and Good Luck." (Clooney also received a Writers Guild nomination earlier in the week for his screenplay for "Good Night, and Good Luck.")

Thursday's nominations carry plenty of clout. More than 4,000 members of SAG chose this year's nominees, and their sheer numbers alone give them some sway when they cast their votes for the Academy Awards. What's more, the DGA award is considered one of the most accurate bellwethers on who will win the best director Academy Award. Since the DGA award's inception in 1949, the guild's winner has gone on to receive the Oscar 51 out of 57 times.

Competing for the DGA award for outstanding directorial achievement with Lee and Clooney are Paul Haggis for "Crash," Bennett Miller for "Capote" and Steven Spielberg for "Munich."

Coincidentally, Lee and Spielberg are among the exceptions. Spielberg won the DGA award for 1985's "The Color Purple," but failed to receive an Oscar nomination for best director. Lee won the DGA award for 2000's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and earned an Oscar nod but lost the Academy Award to Steven Soderbergh for "Traffic."

"Munich" is the 10th DGA nomination for Spielberg. He also won for 1993's "Schindler's List" and 1998's "Saving Private Ryan" and received the guild's lifetime achievement award in 2000. Spielberg is also nominated for a Golden Globe for "Munich."

Spielberg said the DGA nomination for "Munich" -- his controversial take on Israel's response to the murder of its athletes during the 1972 Olympic Games -- is particularly rewarding because of "the risks all of us took to broach this very tender subject."

He said he never really considered the movie's viability during the awards season: "The movie was directed to raise the level of discussion about something I feel is very important. So this was sort of an added bonus."

Like Clooney, Haggis and Miller are also first-time DGA nominees. "Crash" marked Haggis' feature directorial debut. Miller's previous directorial credit was the documentary "The Cruise."

"I am stunned," said Haggis, who also received Writers Guild Awards and Producers Guild Awards nominations earlier in the week. "The person who called me [with news of the DGA award announcement], I made him read it three times. Wow."

"I honestly wasn't expecting it," said Miller, who added that he'd pitched "Capote" for years with little luck. "It was really difficult to describe the potential appeal and we had a lot of difficulty getting it financed."

The winners will be announced at the 58th Annual DGA Awards dinner Jan. 28 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. The next evening, the 12th annual SAG Awards ceremony will be held in Los Angeles in a two-hour ceremony telecast simultaneously on TBS and TNT.

SAG movie nominations

Other SAG nominations announced Thursday for movies:

Outstanding male lead: Heath Ledger, "Brokeback Mountain"; Russell Crowe, "Cinderella Man"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"; Joaquin Phoenix, "Walk the Line"; David Strathairn, "Good Night, and Good Luck."

Outstanding female lead: Judi Dench, "Mrs. Henderson Presents"; Felicity Huffman, "Transamerica"; Charlize Theron, "North Country"; Reese Witherspoon, "Walk the Line"; Ziyi Zhang, "Memoirs of a Geisha."

Male actor in a supporting role: George Clooney, "Syriana"; Don Cheadle, "Crash"; Matt Dillon, "Crash"; Paul Giamatti, "Cinderella Man"; Jake Gyllenhaal, "Brokeback Mountain."

Female actor in a supporting role: Amy Adams, "Junebug"; Catherine Keener, "Capote"; Frances McDormand, "North Country"; Rachel Weisz, "The Constant Gardener"; Michelle Williams, "Brokeback Mountain."

Cast of a theatrical motion picture: "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote," "Crash," "Goodnight, and Good Luck" and "Hustle & Flow."

Other SAG TV nods

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