Universal Pictures' ABeautiful Mind emerged as the bigwinner at the weekend's final awards shows before the Academy Awards onMarch 24. Russell Crowe looks like a shoo-in for the best actor Oscar having added theScreen Actors Guild (SAG) award for best actor to the British Academy Award andGolden Globe, while director Ron Howard won the Directors Guild Of America(DGA) trophy over competition from Peter Jackson, Baz Luhrmann, Christopher Nolan andRidley Scott.
Meanwhile in an upset at theSAG awards, Halle Berry took home the best actress award for Monster'sBall, beating Sissy Spacek who isconsidered the Oscar frontrunner for In The Bedroom.
Ian McKellan was named bestsupporting actor for playing Gandalf in The Lord Of The Rings: TheFellowship Of The Ring and HelenMirren was named best supporting actress for Gosford Park. The ensemble cast of Gosford Park won best ensemble film cast SAG award or"actor".
Both the DGA and SAG awardsare considered accurate foretellers of the Oscars, although this year has beenso unpredictable that anything goes at this stage. Howard had previously wonthe DGA award in 1995 for Apollo 13,yet wasn't even nominated for the acting Oscar in that year. But two ofthe best director Oscar nominees this year - Robert Altman and DavidLynch - weren't nominated for the DGA award, again showing howunclear the Oscar race still is. Last year, for example, Ang Lee won the DGAaward but Steven Soderbergh clinched the Oscar.
Crowe,however, looks set to win back-to-back best actor Oscars having taken home thetrophy for Gladiator last year. He could join Spencer Tracy and Tom Hanks asonly the third actor in history to achieve such a feat.
The SAG awards are voted onby the 98,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild. In the TV categories, BenKingsley won best actor in a movie made for TV or miniseries for Anne Frank, while Judy Davis won best actress for Me And MyShadows: Life With Judy Garland. MartinSheen was named best actor in a TV drama series and Allison Janney best actressfor The West Wing, which also wonthe TV drama ensemble cast award. Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes won the comedyacting prizes for Will & Grace,while Sex And The City took homethe TV comedy ensemble cast award.