Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening were named top film actor and actress by the Screen Actors Guild Sunday night, as “American Beauty” continued its dazzling awards-season performance. The cast won best film ensemble, too.
The powerful showing by DreamWorks’ dark satire at the 6th annual SAG ceremonies solidifies pic’s status as the Oscar front-runner, and it could win as many as eight Academy Awards on March 26. The victories add to the pic’s momentum, as “Beauty” director Sam Mendes won the Directors Guild of America award on Saturday and the Writers Guild of America’s original screenplay award went to Alan Ball last week.
An effusive Spacey dedicated his award to actors in local motion-picture retirement homes, adding, “We have not forgotten you.” Of Mendes, he said, “I thank God for the ground you walk on.”
Bening, who is pregnant, offered extensive thank-yous and concluded by saying, “To all you actresses out there, don’t wait to have a baby.”
The only “Beauty” nominee not to win was Chris Cooper, who lost to Michael Caine for his supporting turn in “The Cider House Rules.” Caine may now have the inside track for his second Oscar, to be paired with the one he nabbed for “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986).
In the only pic category without an “American Beauty” nom, Angelina Jolie won best supporting female for “Girl, Interrupted,” a role that earlier landed her a Golden Globe. It marked the second consecutive victory at the SAG awards for Jolie, who won the female telefilm trophy last year for “Gia.”
On the television side, HBO’s “Sopranos” dominated by winning all three dramatic series awards: cast; best actor, James Gandolfini; and best actress, Edie Falco, who topped castmates Nancy Marchand and Lorraine Bracco. “The Sopranos” became only the third show to win the cast award, joining “ER,” which has captured the prize four times, and “NYPD Blue,” which won in 1995.
“I don’t think any of us expected that many people would watch a show about a bunch of lunatics from New Jersey,” Gandolfini said.
For the second year in a row, Michael J. Fox took home the award for best male in a comedy series for his role in “Spin City.” Fox earlier this year announced he was leaving the show at season’s end because of his battle with Parkinson’s disease.
But Fox added that he will be making guest appearances next season — “probably during sweeps” — and plans to announce the launch of a foundation dealing with the disease in May. “I need to step back and pick and choose,” Fox said of doing more acting. “I’m taking the kids to school and just having fun.”
Lisa Kudrow of “Friends” won her first best actress award for comedy series after three nominations. And “Frasier” took home the cast award for the first time in six nominations. “The writers have expanded what everyone in the cast gets to do,” David Hyde Pierce said.
Jack Lemmon took the award for best actor in a telefilm for “Tuesdays With Morrie,” and Halle Berry won as best actress for HBO’s “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.” Lemmon also said he will provide narration in the upcoming movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance.”
Sidney Poitier received the guild’s 36th annual lifetime achievement award and said, “Because of my traveling companions, the world is better than it was, and because of many of you, I am confident, it will be better than it is.”
The awards were held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Kevin Spacey — “American Beauty”
Annette Bening — “American Beauty”
Michael Caine — “The Cider House Rules”
Angelina Jolie — “Girl, Interrupted”
“American Beauty” — Annette Bening, Wes Bentley, Thora Birch, Chris Cooper, Peter Gallagher, Allison Janney, Kevin Spacey, Mena Suvari
MALE IN A TV MOVIE OR MINISERIES
Jack Lemmon — “Oprah Winfrey Presents: Tuesdays With Morrie”
FEMALE IN A TV MOVIE OR MINISERIES
Halle Berry — “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge”
MALE IN A DRAMA SERIES
James Gandolfini — “The Sopranos”
FEMALE IN A DRAMA SERIES
Edie Falco — “The Sopranos”
MALE IN A COMEDY SERIES
Michael J. Fox — “Spin City”
FEMALE IN A COMEDY SERIES
Lisa Kudrow — “Friends”
DRAMA SERIES ENSEMBLE
“The Sopranos” — Lorraine Bracco, Dominic Chianese, Edie Falco, James Gandolfini, Robert Iler, Michael Imperioli, Nancy Marchand, Vincent Pastore, Jamie Lynn Sigler, Tony Sirico, Steven Van Zandt
COMEDY SERIES ENSEMBLE
“Frasier” — Peri Gilpin, Kelsey Grammer, Jane Leeves, John Mahoney, David Hyde Pierce
LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD