LOS ANGELES — Thanks to a waiver from the writers union, Sunday night’s SAG awards show should be packed with stars.
The ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium could be one of the only star- studded awards events Hollywood will host this year, thanks to the lingering Writers Guild of America strike that has already forced the cancellation of the Golden Globe Awards and is threatening the Academy Awards.It was largely overlooked by Oscar, but Sean Penn’s wilderness tale “Into the Wild” leads the list of nominees heading into Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Award ceremony, with four nods including best actor for Emile Hirsch and best ensemble cast in a motion picture.
Penn’s tale of a young man’s effort to escape civilization by trekking across the country and into the Alaskan wilderness, will compete in the best motion picture ensemble cast category with the Western remake “3:10 to Yuma,” starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe; “American Gangster,” led by Denzel Washington; “Hairspray,” featuring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and Queen Latifah; and “No Country for Old Men,” with Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin.
“Into the Wild,” which was written and directed by Penn, also earned supporting actor and actress nods, respectively, for Hal Holbrook and Catherine Keener. But Holbrook was the only actor from the film to receive an Oscar nomination.Cate Blanchett has two SAG nominations for her lead role in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” and her supporting turn as singer Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There.”
Other best actress nominees include Julie Christie for “Away From Her,” Marion Cotillard for “La Vie en Rose,” Angelina Jolie for “A Mighty Heart” and Ellen Page for “Juno.”
Along with Hirsch, the best actor nominees are George Clooney for “Michael Clayton,” Daniel Day-Lewis for “There Will Be Blood,” Ryan Gosling in “Lars and the Real Girl” and Viggo Mortensen for “Eastern Promises.”
Bardem and Jones are both nominated in the supporting actor category for their work in the Coen brothers’ modern-day Western “No Country for Old Men.” Tom Wilkinson is nominated for “Michael Clayton,” along with Holbrook for “Into the Wild” and Casey Affleck for his role as a timid youth-turned- killer in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.”
Blanchett and Keener will vie for supporting actress honors against Ruby Dee of “American Gangster,” Amy Ryan for “Gone Baby Gone” and Tilda Swinton for “Michael Clayton.”
In the television categories, the casts of “Boston Legal,” “The Closer,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Mad Men” and “The Sopranos” are nominated for best ensemble among drama series. For comedies, the best ensemble nominees are “30 Rock,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Entourage,” “The Office” and “Ugly Betty.”
For their show’s final season, James Gandolfini and Edie Falco are each nominated for their lead acting roles in “The Sopranos.”
Gandolfini will square off against Michael C. Hall of “Dexter,” Jon Hamm of “Mad Men,” Hugh Laurie of “House” and James Spader of “Boston Legal.”
Falco, meanwhile, will have to compete with some big-name talent in her category, including five-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close from “Damages,” double Oscar winner Sally Field from “Brothers & Sisters,” Oscar winner Holly Hunter of “Saving Grace” and Golden Globe winner Kyra Sedgwick of “The Closer.”
But Falco is no slouch herself — she has three Emmys and two Golden Globes under her belt for her role as Carmela Soprano.
“30 Rock,” which won the Emmy Award for best comedy, also has lead acting nods for Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey.
Baldwin, who is trying to repeat as a SAG Award winner, is nominated along with Steve Carell of “The Office,” this year’s Emmy-winner Ricky Gervais of “Extras,” Jeremy Piven of “Entourage” and Tony Shaloub of “Monk.”
Competing with Fey for best comedy actress honors are Christina Applegate of “Samantha Who?,” America Ferrera of “Ugly Betty,” Mary-Louise Parker of “Weeds” and Vanessa Williams of “Ugly Betty.”
In the television movies/miniseries categories, the nominees for best actor are Michael Keaton (“The Company”), Kevin Kline (“As You Like It”), Oliver Platt (“The Bronx is Burning”), Sam Shepard (“Ruffian”) and John Turturro (“The Bronx is Burning”).
Nominated for best actress are Ellen Burstyn (“Mitch Albom’s For One More Day”), Debra Messing, (“The Starter Wife”), Anna Paquin (“Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”), Queen Latifah (“Life Support”), Vanessa Redgrave (“The Fever”) and Gena Rowlands (“What if God Were the Sun?”).
Character actor Charles Durning will receive the guild’s 44th annual Life Achievement Award during the SAG Awards ceremony. Durning received an Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in the 1983 film “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” and a second nomination a year later for “To Be or Not To Be.”
For the first time, the Screen Actors Guild will also recognize the work of stunt performers and coordinators. The stunt ensembles for “300,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “I Am Legend,” “The Kingdom” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” were nominated in the movie category.
On the television side, nominations went to the stunt ensembles of “24,” “Heroes,” “Lost,” “Rome” and “The Unit.” The winners will be announced on the SAG Awards red carpet on Jan. 27.
Since the Screen Actors Guild Awards were first presented in 1995, 34 recipients of the Actor, as SAG’s award is called, have gone on to win Oscars, compared to 31 Golden Globe winners during the same span.