"Doubt" tops SAG film nominees amid strike talk

Thu Dec 18, 2008 8:37pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Film drama "Doubt" led all nominees for Screen Actors Guild awards on Thursday with five nominations overall, including for best ensemble cast, even as talk of a possible strike cast a cloud over the awards.

Joining "Doubt," about a Catholic priest and nun engaged in a battle of wits over charges of sexual abuse, in the race for best ensemble cast were "Milk," about slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk, and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," which tells of a man who ages backward. Those movies each earned three SAG award nods.

"Slumdog Millionaire," a tale of romance and money set in India, and "Frost/Nixon," which recounts the interviews of disgraced former U.S. President Richard Nixon by British TV host David Frost, also saw their actors land in the race for best ensemble cast and pulled down two nominations apiece.

The Screen Actors Guild represents some 120,000 film and television actors, and winning a SAG award at the group's January 25 ceremony can give actors momentum heading toward February's Oscars, the world's top film honors which are given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

But overshadowing this year's race for awards is talk of a possible strike by SAG actors against the major studios.

Current contract talks between the two groups have stalled, and SAG leaders, including President Alan Rosenberg, have called for a vote to authorize a possible work stoppage in the hope that such an authorization would restart negotiations.

In recent days, leading actors, including Russell Crowe and Robert Redford, have become the latest big-name celebrities urging SAG members to vote "no" on the authorization. Still, other major stars like Mel Gibson back SAG leaders in their drive to obtain a strike authorization. Voting begins January 2.

"I'll be honest, I'm not as optimistic as I'd like to be, but we're getting there," Rosenberg told reporters about rallying SAG members to vote "yes." He strongly defended the strike authorization as a necessary "tool" for bargaining.   Continued...

<p>Amy Adams arrives for a screening of the film "Doubt" in New York December 7, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>