In Hollywood, the movie award season went into high gear as nominees for this year's Academy Awards were honored at a luncheon Monday. The winners of recent industry honors are favored to win Oscars, but say they are not taking anything for granted.

Saturday, director Ron Howard earned the top award from the Directors Guild of America for his film A Beautiful Mind. That makes him the favorite for the Oscar for best director.

Howard told reporters that, like everyone in the business, he has dreamed of having the chance to thank the movie academy for an Oscar. "I've given the speech in the shower over the years many times," he said, "and I can't remember the speech. Now that there's a possibility I might need it, I can't remember the hook that I've had in the shower over the years. So I'll have to start afresh.

A Beautiful Mind tells the story of a brilliant mathematician, John Forbes Nash, who suffered from schizophrenia.

Find a truly original idea, and it is the only way I will ever distinguish myself.
It is the only way I will ever matter.

The film is nominated for eight Oscars, including best actor. Star Russell Crowe now leads the list of nominees in that category after winning the top male acting award from the Screen Actors Guild Sunday.

Other contenders for the Oscar for best actor are Sean Penn for I am Sam, Will Smith for Ali, Denzel Washington for Training Day and Tom Wilkinson for In the Bedroom.

Crowe said in view of that competition, he doesn't count on winning. "We'll just see what happens," he said. "There's no guarantees in any of this, and that's really the fun of it. I think every single person that's nominated has given a magnificent performance. Hey, you know, it's anybody's."

Sunday, the Screen Actors Guild honored Halle Berry as best actress for her role in Monster's Ball. Now proclaimed an Oscar favorite, she said she still has no idea if she will win an Oscar. "I was so in that moment last night and feeling the importance of my peers selecting me and what that meant, I have not a clue what that means for the Oscar or anything else," she said.

Will Smith, a contender for the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, says that win or lose, he is enjoying his experience as an Oscar nominee. "The period of being a nominee is the most incredible period of an actor's career, more than winning or losing. If you lose the award, everyone is saying, 'oh damn, he lost.' It was a good performance, but he lost. If you win, then people expect something from you," he said. And then, the actor said, the pressure is on to give another Oscar-winning performance.

Smith jokes that he doesn't care who wins this year. He is just happy he to be at the party. That party will get underway Sunday evening, March 24, as the motion picture academy reveals the Oscar winners.