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12 Years a Slave tops SAG Award contender list

Historical saga receives four nominations to cement place as Oscar prospect


Los Angeles: Steve McQueen’s historical saga 12 Years a Slave topped the nominations list for the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Wednesday, cementing it as a solid Academy Awards prospect with four nominations.

John Wells’ dysfunctional family adaptation August: Osage County, which hits US cinemas on Christmas Day and features an all-star cast including Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, also picked up awards-season momentum with three nominations, including outstanding performance for the cast.

The SAG nominations are one of Hollywood’s first major announcements on the long road to the March 2 Oscars. Also key are the Golden Globe nominations, which will be revealed on Thursday morning.

Noticeably absent from Wednesday’s SAG lineup were Spike Jonze’s futuristic computer love story Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Ethan and Joel Coen’s folk scene-focused dark comedy Inside Llewyn Davis. Richard Linklater’s raw and romantic Before Midnight. and Martin Scorsese’s stockbroker story The Wolf of Wall Street, which features performances by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill.

Robert Redford, as a resourceful sailor in All is Lost, was also snubbed, as was Ryan Coogler’s numbing injustice tale Fruitvale Station and the film’s lead actor, Michael B. Jordan.

Joining the SAG list for outstanding cast performance were Jean-Marc Vallee’s AIDS drama Dallas Buyers Club and the sweeping White House servant tale Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Both films topped the list with three nominations each.

Also nominated for cast performance was David O. Russell’s 1970s con-artist romp American Hustle. And the film scored an individual supporting nomination for Jennifer Lawrence.

In addition to its cast honours, 12 Years a Slave attained individual acting nominations, including male lead for Chiwetel Ejiofor as a free African-American man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery, Michael Fassbender for supporting actor as a ruthless slave owner and Lupita Nyong’o for female support as a favored fieldworker.

August: Osage County had individual nominations for Streep for female lead as the conflicted matriarch in the adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning play, and Roberts for supporting female actor as the domineering daughter.

Additional best-actress nominees included Cate Blanchett as a fallen socialite in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, Sandra Bullock as a brave astronaut in Alfonso Curaon’s lost-in-space odyssey Gravity, Judi Dench as a woman in search of her son in Philomena and Emma Thompson as author P.L. Travers in the Disney comedy Saving Mr. Banks.

June Squibb, as a spitfire in Alexander Payne’s small-town comedy Nebraska, and Oprah Winfrey, as the bold Gloria Gaines in The Butler, also received supporting role nominations.

Dallas Buyers Club scored nominations for best actor for Matthew McConaughey as a HIV-positive rodeo-lover and Jared Leto for supporting actor as a transgender. Forest Whitaker received the lead actor nomination for his portrayal of a long-time White House butler in Lee Daniels’ The Butler.

Others bringing in lead-actor nominations included Bruce Dern for his portrayal of an ageing dreamer in Nebraska and Tom Hanks, who plays the title role in Paul Greengrass’ Somali pirate story Captain Phillips.

Ron Howard’s Formula One tale Rush earned two nominations, including stunt ensemble and a supporting actor bid for Daniel Bruhl.

Among TV ensemble contenders were HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, AMC’s Breaking Bad, PBS’s Downton Abbey and Showtime’s Homeland for drama, and NBC’s 30 Rock, Netflix’s Arrested Development, CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, ABC’s Modern Family and HBO’s Veep in the comedy category.

Jeff Daniels, who stars as a scarred New York anchorman in HBO’s The Newsroom, was overlooked in the dramatic lead category, while New Girl star Zooey Deschanel, Mindy Kaling of The Mindy Project and Louie creator and star Louis C.K. were all snubbed in the comedy field.

The SAG Awards will be presented on January 18 in Los Angeles.