Pirates, Monster rule Screen Actors Guild Awards

Associated Press

Los Angeles, February 23

Depp was the surprise best-actor winner for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ at the 10th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held on February 22, Hollywood’s last major film honours before next weekend’s Academy Awards.

Depp, who did not attend the awards ceremony, beat out Sean Penn, who had been the favourite to win for ‘Mystic River’.

The guild’s other film prizes went to the Oscar front-runners: Charlize Theron as best-actress for the serial-killer drama ‘Monster’, Tim Robbins as supporting actor for the dark murder thriller ‘Mystic River’ and Renee Zellweger as supporting actress for the Civil War epic ‘Cold Mountain’.

‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ considered a shoo-in for Sunday’s best-picture Oscar, won the guild’s ensemble-acting award, the union’s equivalent of a best-picture honour.

“This film deserves every award it can possibly get. This is the most enormous undertaking, I think, in film history,” said John Rhys-Davies, who played the dwarf Gimli in director Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy.

Among the guild’s TV awards, ‘Sex and the City’ won for comedy-acting ensemble on the same night the series ended its six-year run. The cast won the same prize two years ago and star Sarah Jessica Parker won the comedy-actress honour in 2001.

With final ballots due from Oscar voters by today, the guild’s movie winners gained a last-minute push for Hollywood’s biggest awards. Though Penn lost, he still has momentum from last month’s Golden Globe win as best dramatic actor, while Depp faces a handicap at the Oscars, which historically leans toward meaty drama such as ‘Mystic River’ over broad comedy like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.

Theron said she hoped ‘Monster’ and such dark dramas as ‘Monster’s Ball’, which earned Halle Berry an Oscar two years ago, will lead to more opportunities for actresses to play harsher roles.

“I’m saddened by the fact that there aren’t a lot of conflicted female characters out there,” Theron said, noting that male performers such as Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro have had ample opportunities to play darker roles.