With the Golden Globes behind us and the Academy Awards still to come, the buzz surrounding Chicago and The Hours has made them virtually old standards on nominee lists. The Screen Actors Guild list of nominees, announced this morning, is no exception; Chicago has five nominations and The Hours four.
That's not to say that SAG, known for honoring performances that the other major kudos-giving organizations tend to ignore, has broken with its long-standing tradition of putting less-awarded--yet truly great--performances in the spotlight. This year, the recipients of that largess are Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina, nominated for lead actress and supporting actor respectively for their work in Frida; Michelle Pfeiffer in the supporting actress category for White Oleander; and Christopher Walken in the supporting actor category for Catch Me If You Can.
Chicago's main players, Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger, received nods in the lead acting categories, while supporting nods went to Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah. Given that, it's not surprising that the film was nominated in the best ensemble category as well.
As for the much-touted performances in The Hours, Nicole Kidman snagged a nomination in the lead category, while Julianne Moore and Ed Harris got supporting nods. (Moore also competes against costar Kidman in the lead category for her work in Far From Heaven.)
And where, you might ask, is Meryl Streep? Nowhere on this list--not for her performance in The Hours, though the ensemble cast is nominated, and not for her supporting work in Adaptation, whose ensemble also made the list.
In fact, Streep is probably the biggest SAG snub this year, with the possible exception of Edward Norton and Barry Pepper, whose work in Spike Lee's 25th Hour has gone largely unnoticed during awards show season.
In the television arena, Globe winners Tony Shalhoub and Kim Cattrall also got SAG nominations, Cattrall in the lead actress category this time, since there are no SAG awards for supporting performances in TV. Cattrall shut out her costars, even the ubiquitous Sarah Jessica Parker, who wasn't nominated for the first time since 2000.
Other than that, the TV nominees are pretty much the usual suspects--The West Wing, The Sopranos and Friends all made the list as expected, although the inclusion of Lily Tomlin in the lead acting category for The West Wing may come as a bit of a shock. Of course, her costar, perennial nominee and sometime winner Allison Janney, is on the list, too, though Stockard Channing isn't. She'll be around, though, since her work on the TV movie The Matthew Shepard Story has been honored.
The full list of movie and television nominees follows:
Adrien Brody, The Pianist
Nicolas Cage, Adaptation
Daniel Day-Lewis, Gangs of New York
Richard Gere, Chicago
Jack Nicholson, About Schmidt
Salma Hayek, Frida
Nicole Kidman, The Hours
Diane Lane, Unfaithful
Julianne Moore, Far From Heaven
Renee Zellweger, Chicago
Chris Cooper, Adaptation
Ed Harris, The Hours
Alfred Molina, Frida
Dennis Quaid, Far From Heaven
Christopher Walken, Catch Me If You Can
Kathy Bates, About Schmidt
Julianne Moore, The Hours
Michelle Pfeiffer, White Oleander
Queen Latifah, Chicago
Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries
Albert Finney, The Gathering Storm, HBO
Brad Garrett, Gleason, CBS
Sean Hayes, Martin & Lewis, CBS
William H. Macy, Door to Door, TNT
John Turturro, Monday Night Mayhem, TNT
Actress in a TV Movie or Miniseries
Kathy Bates, My Sister's Keeper, CBS
Stockard Channing, The Matthew Shepard Story, NBC
Helen Mirren, Door to Door, TNT
Vanessa Redgrave, The Gathering Storm, HBO
Uma Thurman, Hysterical Blindness, HBO
Actor in a Drama Series
Michael Chiklis, The Shield, FX
James Gandolfini, The Sopranos, HBO
Martin Sheen, The West Wing, NBC
Kiefer Sutherland, 24, Fox
Treat Williams, Everwood, WB
Actress in a Drama Series
Lorraine Bracco, The Sopranos, HBO
Amy Brenneman, Judging Amy, CBS
Edie Falco, The Sopranos, HBO
Allison Janney, The West Wing, NBC
Lily Tomlin, The West Wing, NBC
Actor in a Comedy Series
Sean Hayes, Will & Grace, NBC
Matt LeBlanc, Friends, NBC
Bernie Mac, The Bernie Mac Show, Fox
Ray Romano, Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS
Tony Shalhoub, Monk, USA
Actress in a Comedy Series
Jennifer Aniston, Friends, NBC
Kim Cattrall, Sex and the City, HBO
Patricia Heaton, Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS
Jane Kaczmarek, Malcolm in the Middle, Fox
Megan Mullally, Will & Grace, NBC
Ensemble in a Drama Series
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS
Six Feet Under, HBO
The Sopranos, HBO
The West Wing, NBC
Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS
Sex and the City, HBO
Will & Grace, NBC
Lifetime Achievement Award
Told from the perspective of one innocent maid Mary Macearchran (Kelly MacDonald) the story starts as she arrives at the magnificent country estate of Gosford Park. On this particular weekend host Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) and his wife Lady Sylvia (Kristin Scott Thomas) have invited an eclectic group to the house for a shooting party. The guests include Sylvia's two sisters (Geraldine Somerville Natasha Wightman) their respective loser husbands (Charles Dance Tom Hollander) her cantankerous aunt Constance (Maggie Smith) for whom Mary works British matinee idol Ivor Novello (Jeremy Northam) and his American friend Morris Weisman (Bob Balaban) a film producer who makes Charlie Chan movies. As the upper-crust guests bicker about money and power the ranks of house servants personal maids and valets below make sure their charges are well taken care of under the guidance of the head butler Jennings (Alan Bates) head housekeeper Mrs. Wilson (Helen Mirren) and head cook Mrs. Croft (Eileen Atkins). Through Mary's eyes we see that the glamour of the upstairs patrons and the seeming precision downstairs are not all they seem. The two worlds are destined to collide and when they do it leads to only one thing--murder.
One of the joys of an Altman movie is his uncanny ability to take a huge ensemble cast of really good actors and carve out a film from their personal stories. This style can also work to the film's detriment however and in Gosford Park the mostly British cast melds together almost too well. Often you can't even tell who's who. Still with all the talent involved there are at least a few bright moments: Smith as the wisecracking Constance an old lady who's very used to being waited on hand and foot gets all the best lines and delivers them flawlessly and veteran actress Mirren is also brilliant as the staunch Mrs. Wilson. She turns in one of the film's only heartbreaking scenes as her character grieves for the son she gave away long ago in the name of servitude. Also good are MacDonald as the young Mary Clive Owen as the valet Robert Parks who carries more than just a chip on his shoulder and Emily Watson as the headstrong chief housemaid Elsie. Northam too shows off his musical abilities as the suave piano-playing singing Novello. The rest all blend together except unfortunately the two American actors--Balaban comes off as annoying and Ryan Phillippe playing an actor pretending to be Morris' valet is in way over his head.
Interestingly the film is taken from a story idea dreamt up by Altman and Balaban. One wonders if perhaps the two were inspired to create Park after watching an episode of the classic '70s British television drama Upstairs Downstairs which was about a wealthy British household whose servant class had just as many dramas as the people they served (hmm sounds familiar). Sure it's conceivable that two Americans sitting around talking about making a distinctly British movie (and a period piece to boot) could pull it off and with a tremendous talent like Altman attached you'd think it would work. But Park misses the mark. The Altman-esque qualities are all there--the way he interweaves his characters' stories and shows real people with real emotions--but maybe just maybe Altman is simply out of his element. You enjoy the ride but it's not a ride through appealing territory and you're definitely watching from the window as the characters live a life you never really become a part of.