The Screen Actors Guild has split nominations for its annual awards among a variety of film actors and has held several surprises as Hollywood's annual awards season counted down to the Oscars. Film fantasy The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, horse-racing saga Seabiscuit, and crime thriller Mystic River all received a nomination on Thursday for Best Acting by an Ensemble--SAG's highest award. All three of those films have received wide acclaim this year, but SAG gave nods for ensemble acting to two independent films that largely had been left out of the awards race, dramas In America and The Station Agent.Station Agent and Mystic River were the most-nominated films, each claiming three nods. Two other independent film dramas, 21 Grams and Thirteen, in addition to Seabiscuit, followed with two nominations apiece. SAG nominations are widely seen as an important precursor to the Academy Awards; many actors and actresses belong to both groups. Winners of this year's awards from the Screen Actors Guild, the trade union representing film and television actors and actresses, will be announced at a ceremony in Los Angeles on February 22 and televised on cable TV network TNT.
Peter Dinklage, playing a society misfit looking for a sense of place in Station Agent, picked up a nomination for Best Actor in a Film. Joining him were Bill Murray for Lost in Translation, Ben Kingsley in House of Sand and Fog, Sean Penn for Mystic River, and Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Patricia Clarkson, also of Station Agent, was nominated for Best Actress in a Film along with Diane Keaton for Something's Gotta Give, Charlize Theron (as lesbian multiple murderer Aileen Wuornos) for Monster, Naomi Watts in 21 Grams, and newcomer Evan Rachel Wood for Thirteen. Supporting Actor nominations went to Alec Baldwin for The Cooler, Chris Cooper in Seabiscuit, Benicio Del Toro in 21 Grams, Tim Robbins in Mystic River, and Ken Watanabe for The Last Samurai. Supporting Actress nominees were Maria Bello for The Cooler, Keisha Castle-Hughes in Whale Rider, Patricia Clarkson in Pieces of April, Holly Hunter in Thirteen, and Renee Zellweger for Cold Mountain.