Bardem takes SAG award for 'No Country for Old Men'


Javier Bardem
Javier Bardem

Spanish actor Javier Bardem accepts the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role for his work in "No Country for Old Men," at the 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2008, in Los Angeles.

Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press
Published: Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 9:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 9:14 p.m.

LOS ANGELES - Javier Bardem won the supporting-actor prize for "No Country for Old Men" and "The Sopranos" swept the TV drama categories Sunday at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which could be the highlight of Hollywood's film-honors season if the writers strike undermines the Oscars.

With the SAG awards usually a reliable forecast for who will win at the Academy Awards, the victory may establish Bardem as the favorite there. He had kind words for Joel and Ethan Coen, who directed "No Country" and adapted the screenplay from Cormac McCarthy's novel.

"Thank you, guys, for hiring me, and thank you for taking the hard work of choosing the good takes instead of the ones where I really sucked," said Bardem, who won for his chilling role as a relentless killer tracking a fortune in missing drug money.

Though it wrapped several months ago, "The Sopranos" took all three TV drama categories to open the ceremony, with James Gandolfini and Edie Falco taking both lead-acting prizes and the entire ensemble joining them to accept the award for overall cast performance.

"Ten years ... I wish for everybody in every walk of life, but particularly for actors, to have the opportunity to have a work experience like I have had with my family here," Falco said. "You're not supposed to get this attached because it's a transient business. I have fallen in love with these people and I don't know how you walk away from that."

Minutes before, Gandolfini took the first trophy of the night in a star-studded ceremony something of an anomaly in this strike-hobbled awards season.

"This is our last official act as Sopranos together," Gandolfini said. "Here's to you guys. Thank you very much. It's been 10 years. It's been an honor. That's all I can say."

The guild's first-ever prizes for best stunt ensemble went to "The Bourne Ultimatum" for films and "24" for TV before the ceremony began.

Normally a lesser cousin to the Golden Globes and Oscars, the SAG Awards could end up being the biggest celebration this time around: The swanky Globes were canceled because of a strike by the Writers Guild of America, which refused to let its members work on the show, and the fate of the Oscars on Feb. 24 is in question because of the same labor quarrel.

Not so for the SAG honors. The actors union has been steadfast in support of striking writers, who in turn gave their blessing to the SAG ceremony.

Instead of the debacle for the Globes, which were curtailed to a star-free news conference after actors and filmmakers made it clear they would not cross writers' picket lines, the SAG ceremony came off with a full complement of Hollywood A-listers.

Early arrivals included Debra Messing and Christina Applegate, who ran right into each other on the red carpet. Ellen Page, nominated for an Oscar for her star turn as a pregnant schoolgirl in "Juno," chatted with reporters about her breakout year. And Adrian Grenier of "Entourage" turned the lens on his own entourage, photographing a friend with a small video camera he carried.

"We're really proud of the solidarity we've built with the Writers Guild," said Alan Rosenberg, SAG president. "Our members have understood that and taken it to heart. I was really moved by their decision not to go to the Golden Globes, our nominees. It's tough times, but it's been gratifying, as well."

Plans for the SAG Awards included a bit more gloss than usual, with the ceremony marking the union's 75th anniversary. The show will feature chandeliers, arches, wallpaper and other decor harking back to the 1930s, when the guild was founded.

But the event wasn't without its issues the weather. Heavy rain soaked a section of the red carpet before organizers could get a clear, plastic tent around it to protect the cadre of stars that began arriving more than an hour before showtime. The rain let up, however, and rays of the setting sun began peeking through the storm clouds.

"No Country for Old Men" also was nominated for overall cast performance, along with the Western "3:10 to Yuma," the crime tale "American Gangster, the musical "Hairspray" and the road drama "Into the Wild."

On Saturday, "No Country for Old Men" won top honors at the Directors Guild of America Awards for the Coen brothers. The winner there usually goes on to take home the directing Oscar.

If it also wins the cast prize from the actors guild, "No Country for Old Men" could emerge as the favorite to win best-picture at the Oscars.

As with the Golden Globes, the Writers Guild has made it clear that its members would not be allowed to work on the Oscars. While stars generally have said they would skip the show rather than cross picket lines, Oscar organizers insist their telecast will take place as scheduled.

Amy Ryan, a SAG and Oscar supporting-actress nominee for "Gone Baby Gone," said at the Directors Guild awards Saturday that she would not cross a picket line to attend the Oscars.

"I hope it ends but, more, I hope the writers get their due," Ryan said. "I think that, at the end of the day, is more important than a party. But I really hope it works out because I'd like to go to the party."

Many in Hollywood hope a new contract recently negotiated by the Directors Guild of America might help jump-start a deal between producers and writers, who went on strike Nov. 5 over their share of revenue from programming on the Internet and other new media.

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