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Last Updated:  Monday, 10 March, 2003, 07:05 GMT
Chicago gets actors' vote
Renee Zellweger holds the best actress and best ensemble awards
Renee Zellweger: The night belonged to Chicago
Lavish musical Chicago has led the winners at the Screen Actors Guild awards - the last Hollywood prize ceremony before the Oscars.

Stars Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones won best actress and best supporting actress respectively, for their roles as murderous showgirls in the adaptation of the 1975 Broadway show.

The film as a whole won the best ensemble award at the Los Angeles ceremony - the equvivalent to the Oscars' best picture category.

Chicago's success on Sunday and in other awards ceremonies in the run up to the Oscars makes it a favourite for the Academy Awards, where it is nominated in 13 categories.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards in particular are seen as a key indicator as to who will win in the main categories.

Best actor: Daniel Day Lewis, Gangs of New York
Best actress: Renee Zellweger, Chicago
Best ensemble: Chicago
Supporting actor: Christopher Walken, Catch Me If You Can
Supporting actress: Catherine Zeta Jones, Chicago (above)

Daniel Day-Lewis won best actor for his role in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, his first film in five years.

Christopher Walken was named best supporting actor for playing teenage con man Leonardo DiCaprio's father in Catch Me If You Can.

'Long necks'

Renee Zellweger said she was shocked to win her award over competitors such as Nicole Kidman for The Hours and Julianne Moore for Far From Heaven.

"When you start out, you kind of hope that you'll get enough work so you don't have to schlep the long necks any more," she said, referring to her days as an waitress.

"But I never imagined that I would be standing here tonight in such esteemed company."

Zeta Jones - who is expecting her second child with husband Michael Douglas next month - said the dance numbers in Chicago led to the cast being "bruised and iced frequently".

"If I wasn't pregnant, I'd do it all over again, I promise you," she said.

Richard Gere
Richard Gere accepted the ensemble prize
Richard Gere - who lost out on the lead actor prize to Daniel Day-Lewis - praised his co-stars when he received the best ensemble prize.

"From day one, we were a family," he said.

"There was such love in this production."

Meanwhile, Clint Eastwood was given a lifetime achievement award.

"I hope this doesn't mean I'm supposed to collect my pension and head off down the road," he joked.

Oscar tips

The Screen Actors Guild also honours television performances.

James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, both of the mafia series The Sopranos, won best actor and best actress in a drama series.

Nominations are chosen by the 4,200 randomly selected members of the guild, with the full membership of 98,000 eligible to vote for the final winners.

Daniel Day Lewis
Daniel Day Lewis won for Gangs of New York
Now the awards spotlight will finally shift to the Oscars, which will be held on 23 March.

While the SAG awards will no doubt influence Academy members, they are by no means a definitive guide to who will win Oscars.

Last year's best actress SAG winner, Halle Berry, went on to win the equivalent Oscar.

But Denzel Washington took the best actor Oscar in place of the SAG's choice, Russell Crowe, and A Beautiful Mind won the best film Oscar, while the SAG picked Gosford Park.

Sopranos scoop actors' awards
10 Mar 03 |  Entertainment

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