SAG voters put the brakes on the “Brokeback Mountain” awards express Sunday, snubbing the cowboy romance at the 12th Annual SAG Awards and opting instead for an eclectic mix for its five feature trophies.
The cast of Lionsgate’s “Crash” won the ensemble trophy for their portrayal of racial tension in Los Angeles while Philip Seymour Hoffman took the lead actor award for Sony Classics’ “Capote” as novelist Truman Capote. And Reese Witherspoon won the lead actress trophy for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in Fox’s “Walk the Line.”
The SAG shutout for “Brokeback” came a night after the Focus Features release had seemingly cemented its status as awards season front-runner thanks to a DGA Award for director Ang Lee. “Brokeback” had also won the Producers Guild Award and four Golden Globes — though none for its actors — in the past two weeks.
Though “Brokeback” had received four SAG noms, more than any other film, its momentum didn’t translate to wins at the Shrine Auditorium. It lost out in ensemble cast, lead actor nominee Heath Ledger, supporting actor candidate Jake Gyllenhaal and supporting actress nominee Michelle Williams.
In addition to topping “Brokeback” for the SAG ensemble award, the “Crash” cast beat out “Capote,” “Good Night, and Good Luck” and “Hustle & Flow.”
Rachel Weisz took the supporting actress award as the mysterious lover in Focus’ “The Constant Gardener” and Paul Giamatti won the supporting actor award for portraying Jim Braddock’s trainer Joe Gould in Universal’s “Cinderella Man.”
Hoffman, Witherspoon and Weisz all won Golden Globes for the same roles Jan. 16. Giamatti was nominated last year by SAG for “Sideways” but shut out from an Oscar nom. George Clooney won the supporting actor Golden Globe for “Syriana” two weeks ago.
Hoffman topped Ledger, Russell Crowe for “Cinderella Man,” Joaquin Phoenix for “Walk the Line” and David Strathairn for “Good Night, and Good Luck.” In his acceptance speech, he singled out Strathairn as both a boyhood and current idol.
“It’s important to say actors can’t act alone,” he added. “Actors have to have each other’s backs because it’s the only way to act.”
Witherspoon won over Felicity Huffman for “Transamerica,” Judi Dench for “Mrs. Henderson Presents,” Charlize Theron for “North Country” and Ziyi Zhang for “Memoirs of a Geisha.”
“Sometimes, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m really just a little girl from Tennessee,” said Witherspoon at the start of her acceptance speech. She singled out castmate Phoenix, saying, “Without your John, there was no June.”
ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” took home two of the eight TV awards, copping best comedy series ensemble for the second straight year while Felicity Huffman won for comedy series actress, a year after castmate Teri Hatcher took that trophy.
ABC’s “Lost” won the ensemble drama series award while Sandra Oh of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and Kiefer Sutherland of Fox’s “24” won the individual drama series awards. It was the second SAG trophy for Sutherland, who also won two years ago.
Sean Hayes of NBC’s “Will & Grace” won the male comedy series trophy — his third individual SAG award, following wins in 2002 and 2003. Hayes generated big laughs when he arrived at the podium and said, “I’d like to thank Ang Lee for taking a chance on me. Clearly, I did not fail him, because I’m here.”
HBO won both the trophies in the telepic category with Paul Newman for “Empire Falls” and S. Epatha Merkerson for “Lackawanna Blues,” respectively. He’d been nommed twice previously for “Our Town” and “Nobody’s Fool”; she’d received 10 ensemble noms as a “Law & Order” cast member.
Jamie Lee Curtis presented Shirley Temple Black with the guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
SAG Awards, voted by the 120,000 members of the Guild, provide significant indications of Oscar sentiment but have fallen well short of being thoroughly reliable, particularly in the ensemble category. SAG’s ensemble winners have matched the best picture Oscar in only five of the 11 years, and diverged last year when SAG selected “Sideways” while the Oscar went to “Million Dollar Baby.”
SAG’s actor winners have matched the Oscar winner in seven of 11 years, including last year when Jamie Foxx took both for “Ray,” but the two awards diverged in the four previous years. SAG’s actress award has matched the Oscar winner in eight of the 11 years, including last year’s victories by Hilary Swank for “Million Dollar Baby.”
SAG’s supporting actor winners have matched the Oscar winners in six of the 11 years, including last year’s victories by Morgan Freeman for “Million Dollar Baby.” SAG’s supporting actress category has also matched in six of the 11 years, including last year’s victories for Cate Blanchett in “Aviator.”
The actors branch is the largest in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences with 23% of Oscar votes.
Philip Seymour Hoffman — “Capote” (UA/Sony Pictures Classics)
Reese Witherspoon — “Walk the Line” (20th Century Fox)
Paul Giamatti — “Cinderella Man” (Universal)
Rachel Weisz — “The Constant Gardener” (Focus Features)
“Crash” — Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe, Larenz Tate (Lionsgate)
Actor in a Telefilm or Miniseries
Paul Newman — “Empire Falls” (HBO)
Actress in a Telefilm or Miniseries
S. Epatha Merkerson — “Lackawanna Blues” (HBO)
Actor in a Drama Series
Kiefer Sutherland — “24” (Fox)
Actress in a Drama Series
Sandra Oh — “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC)
Actor in a Comedy Series
Sean Hayes — “Will & Grace” (NBC)
Actress in a Comedy Series
Felicity Huffman — “Desperate Housewives” (ABC)
“Lost” — Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Naveen Andrews, Emilie De Ravin, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia, Maggie Grace, Josh Holloway, Malcolm David Kelley, Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim, Evangeline Lilly, Dominic Monaghan, Terry O’Quinn, Harold Perrineau, Michelle Rodriguez, Ian Somerhalder, Cynthia Watros (ABC)
“Desperate Housewives” — Roger Bart, Andrea Bowen, Mehcad Brooks, Ricardo Antonio Chavira, Marcia Cross, Steven Culp, James Denton, Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Brent Kinsman, Shane Kinsman, Eva Longoria, Mark Moses, Doug Savant, Nicollette Sheridan, Brenda Strong, Alfre Woodard
Life Achievement Award
Shirley Temple Black