LOS ANGELES — Cate Blanchett won the supporting-actress honor Saturday at the Screen Actors Guild Awards for her role as Katharine Hepburn in the Howard Hughes epic “The Aviator.”
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Blanchett thanked co-star Leonard DiCaprio and especially “The Aviator” director Martin Scorsese. Looking at her trophy, a statue of a performer holding the comedy and tragedy masks that symbolize actors, Blanchett said, “I think the head, shoulders, knees and toes of this belong to Martin Scorsese, who led us all and brought us great courage.”
The win gave Blanchett an Academy Awards boost just as voting gets under way for Hollywood’s top honors. Oscar ballots were mailed Wednesday to academy members, with voting scheduled to end Feb. 22, five days before the ceremony.
Triple nominee Jamie Foxx lost his first competition, as Geoffrey Rush took the prize as best actor in a TV movie or miniseries for the title role as the late comic genius in “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.”
“Thank you, Peter Sellers, for the extreme pleasure of being able to watch all of your movies,” Rush said.
Glenn Close won for best actress in a TV movie or miniseries for “The Lion in Winter,” a role originated on the big screen by Hepburn.
Foxx, who had been nominated for “Redemption,” was the guild and Oscar front-runner to win the best film actor prize for the Ray Charles saga “Ray.” He also was contending for supporting film actor for the hitman thriller “Collateral,” a role that earned him a second Oscar nomination, as well.
The 11th annual guild awards provided a warmup bout for “The Aviator” and “Million Dollar Baby” before they duke it out for best-picture at the Oscars. The Howard Hughes biography and the boxing drama were among nominees for best performance by a movie’s cast, considered the guild’s equivalent of a best-picture prize.
The two films are in a dead heat for the top prize at the Oscars on Feb. 27. The winner of the SAG cast-performance prize has gone on to receive the top Oscar four times in the nine years since the guild added that category.
Other guild nominees for best cast performance were the road-trip comedy “Sideways,” which led contenders with four nominations, “Ray” and “Finding Neverland,” the tale about “Peter Pan” author J.M. Barrie.
The ceremony by the main union representing Hollywood actors is one of the last major awards shows before the Oscars. The guild has a solid track record at forecasting eventual Oscar winners, including 2003 recipients Charlize Theron for “Monster,” Renee Zellweger for “Cold Mountain” and Tim Robbins for “Mystic River.”
Along with Foxx, other key acting nominees for the guild honors included Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman of “Million Dollar Baby,” DiCaprio of “The Aviator,” Annette Bening of the theater farce “Being Julia,” and Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church of “Sideways.”
Among TV nominees, “The Sopranos” led dramatic contenders with four nominations, while “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Will & Grace” topped the comedy field with three nominations each.
The guild was presenting its lifetime-achievement award to James Garner, who also was a film nominee for supporting actor in “The Notebook.”
Guild nominees were chosen by 4,200 randomly selected union members. The union’s full membership of 98,000 was eligible to vote for winners.
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