‘Country’ takes top SAG film award

Day-Lewis, Christie win best actor, actress

In a kudos season that has been anything but normal, the red carpet at Sunday’s 14th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards remained a bastion of traditional glamour and celebration.

Neither the relentless rain nor the writers strike could dampen the SAG kudocast as an awards-starved Hollywood gathered at the Shrine auditorium, where Miramax-Paramount Vantage’s “No Country for Old Men” picked up the guild’s top film trophy.

The WGA strike and SAG’s role in it were barely mentioned, although SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg gave a special welcome to WGA prexy Patric Verrone, who sat in the audience, speaking of “treasured solidarity” as SAG celebrated its 75th anniversary.

On the television side, though HBO’s “The Sopranos” is off the air it wasn’t at all forgotten. The show swept the major TV series categories Sunday, winning the top ensemble prize for a drama series, while James Gandolfini and Edie Falco won in their respective acting categories.

NBC’s “The Office” was voted top comedy series in its second consecutive win.

Stunt performers and coordinators were honored for the first time this year by SAG in a new awards category. Receiving the award for outstanding stunt ensemble in a film was Universal’s “The Bourne Ultimatum.” On the television side, Fox’s “24” picked up the prize.

The kudocast took on a higher profile this year since it was allowed to proceed with a waiver from the striking Writer’s Guild of America. The Golden Globes show was cancelled after being denied a waiver, with actors saying they wouldn’t cross a WGA picket line to attend the show.

Thus, Sunday’s ceremony marked a chance for Hollywood to revel in some familiar kudos hoopla, with scores of television entertainment channels feasting on the celebrity – and fashion – buffet. Even Tom Cruise showed up to present the top award.

“This is the most glamorous and exciting ceremony in the history of the world,” Steve Carell quipped as the show opened.

Charles Durning was presented with SAG’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

“There is nothing more fitting than getting an achievement award from one’s peers,” he said.

The mood within the Shrine switched from light to somber as Daniel Day-Lewis dedicated his actor prize to Heath Ledger, who died in his Gotham loft last week.

“In `Monster’s Ball’ that character he (Ledger) created almost seemed to be an unformed being,” Day-Lewis said. “He was unique. And in `Brokeback Mountain,’ he was perfect.”

Day-Lewis and Julie Christie both added to their awards haul this season by picking up SAG’s top film acting prizes. Lewis won for Paramount Vantage-Miramax’s “There Will Be Blood,” while Christie won for Lionsgate’s “Away From Her.”

Earlier this month, Day-Lewis won the Globe; his perf in “There Will Be Blood” also has earned praise from top critics’ groups.

Christie also has been earning plenty of attention for her performance in “Away From Her,” directed and written by Sarah Polley. Her wins include the Golden Globe and the National Board of Review.

“No Country” beat “3:10 to Yuma,” “American Gangster,” “Hairspray” and “Into the Wild” for the ensemble cast prize. The pic also scored in the supporting actor category with a win by Javier Bardem.

Josh Brolin poked fun at co-star Bardem for his strength in the supporting actor race, remarking that the SAG award was his “497th” win.

With the wins, “No Country” gained momentum as the Oscars approach. The Coen brothers’ film nabbed eight Oscar noms last week, including best pic and supporting actor for Bardem. The tale of a Texas drug deal gone bad also won the top directing prize Saturday from the Director’s Guild of America.

In five of the past 12 years, the winning SAG pic has gone on to grab the Oscar, although that wasn’t the case last year, as “Little Miss Sunshine” won the SAG prize, but the Oscar went to “The Departed.”

Complete list of winners…
Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
WINNER: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl
Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises

Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
WINNER: Julie Christie, Away From Her
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en rose
Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart
Ellen Page, Juno

Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
WINNER: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Tommy Lee Jones, No Country for Old Men
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton

Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There
WINNER: Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Catherine Keener, Into the Wild
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
3:10 to Yuma
American Gangster
Into the Wild
WINNER: No Country for Old Men

Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
WINNER: The Bourne Ultimatum
I Am Legend
The Kingdom
Pirates of the Caribbean:
At World’s End

Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
WINNER: James Gandolfini, The Sopranos
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House
James Spader, Boston Legal

Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Glenn Close, Damages
WINNER: Edie Falco, The Sopranos
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
WINNER: Alec Baldwin,30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Ricky Gervais, Extras
Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Tony Shaloub, Monk

Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
WINNER: Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty

Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Boston Legal
The Closer
Grey’s Anatomy
Mad Men
WINNER: The Sopranos

Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
30 Rock
Desperate Housewives
WINNER: The Office
Ugly Betty

Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Michael Keaton, The Company
WINNER: Kevin Kline, As You Like It
Oliver Platt, The Bronx Is Burning
Sam Shepard, Ruffian
John Turturro, The Bronx Is Burning

Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Ellen Burstyn, Mitch Albom’s For One More Day
Debra Messing, The Starter Wife
Anna Paquin, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
WINNER: Queen Latifah, Life Support
Gena Rowlands, What if God Were the Sun?
Vanessa Redgrave, The Fever

Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series
The Unit