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Actors opt for Chicago at the SAG awards



Article: Jack Foley

ROB Marshall’s Chicago is rapidly emerging as the hot favourite for this year’s Oscars after stealing the limelight at the Screen Actors Guild awards - the last Hollywood prize ceremony before the Academy’s showpiece event.

Stars Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones were named best actress and best supporting actress, respectively, for their roles in the film, which is an adaptation of the 1975 Broadway show.

In what proved a busy night for the film, it also walked off with the best ensemble award at the Los Angeles ceremony, which is the equivalent to the Oscars' best picture category.

The awards haul means that Chicago has completed a rare double recently, as first-time director, Rob Marshall, was also named best director by the Director’s Guild of America (DGA) earlier this year.

He defeated the likes of Martin Scorsese and Roman Polanski to land the prestigious accolade, placing him as the hot favourite for the Oscar statue.

The 42-year-old described the triumph as ‘overwhelming’ and unexpected and said he would have to buy another flat in order to store the statuette.

The victory is all the more impressive, given that the film was completed in a mere 60 days, with a relatively small budget of $45m.

Returning to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards, however, and there was more success for the British contingent, when Daniel Day-Lewis was named best actor for his role in Gangs of New York, his first film in five years.

He said he was honoured to have been picked in what is proving to be a ‘fine year’ for roles and paid tribute to both the combined talents of Scorsese and co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio, whom he had the privilege to work with during the making of the epic.

Elsewhere, Christopher Walken was named best supporting actor for his role as DiCaprio's father in Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can.

A lifetime achievement award was also presented to Unforgiven star and director, Clint Eastwood, prompting the screen veteran to quip: "I hope this doesn't mean I'm supposed to collect my pension and head off down the road."

The nominations for the SAG awards are chosen by 4,200 randomly selected members of the guild, with the full membership of 98,000 eligible to vote for the final winners. While they are seen as a strong indication of which films will triumph at the Oscars, however, they are by no means a guarantee of success.

Last year, the awards honoured Russell Crowe as best actor for A Beautiful Mind (which went to Denzel Washington at the Oscars), while Gosford Park was named best film.

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