"The King's Speech" and "The Fighter" led all films in nominations for the 17th annual Screen Writers Guild Awards, which were announced on Thursday morning in Los Angeles. The two films picked up four nominations each, including nods in in the Best Ensemble category.
In nominations that awarded most of the usual suspects but overlooked some of the toughest performances, "Black Swan" and "The Kids Are All Right" received three nominations, while "The Social Network," "True Grit" and "Winter's Bone" received two.
On the television side, "Modern Family" was the leading nominee with four, followed by "30 Rock," "Dexter," "Glee," "Mad Men," "Temple Grandin" and "You Don't Know Jack," with two each.
The nominations solidified "The King's Speech" as a top awards contender always likely to draw its strongest support from the Hollywood guilds rather than the critics. They also reinforced the move of "The Fighter" into the top ranks.
The results did not materially harm the chances of the prohibitive critics' favorite, "The Social Network," which was always at something of a disadvantage at SAG because of its almost entirely male cast.
"Black Swan," "The Fighter," "The Kids Are All Right," "The King's Speech" and "The Social Network" will compete in the Best Ensemble category, while the Best Actor and Best Actress categories include Coln Firth, Jesse Eisenberg, James Franco, Annette Bening, Natalie Portman and Jennifer Lawrence.
In the television categories, the Best Ensemble in a Drama Series nominees are "Boardwalk Empire," "The Closer," "Dexter," "The Good Wife" and "Mad Men." The comedy ensemble category consists of "30 Rock," "Glee," "Hot in Cleveland," "Modern Family" and "The Office."
In the Best Perfomance by an Actor in a Leading Role category, Colin Firth ("King's Speech"), James Franco ("127 Hours") and Jesse Eisenberg ("Social Network") will compete against Jeff Bridges for "True Grit" and Robert Duvall for "Get Low."
In the Best Actress category, contenders are Natalie Portman ("Black Swan"), Annette Bening ("The Kids Are All Right"), Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone"), Nicole Kidman ("Rabbit Hole") and Hilary Swank ("Conviction").
Hailee Steinfeld, who was placed in the Best Actress category by the Golden Globes and did not receive a nomination, received a SAG nod in the Supporting Actress category.
The biggest surprise is the choice of Swank over Michelle Williams from the tough, acclaimed indie drama "Blue Valentine." Williams' costar Ryan Gosling was overlooked in the Best Actor category as well.
Other presumed contenders that were overlooked include Javier Bardem for "Biutiful," Aaron Eckhart for "Rabbit Hole" and Lesley Manville for "Another Year." In the supporting categories, omissions include actresses Jacki Weaver for "Animal Kingdom," Dianne Wiest for "Rabbit Hole" and Miranda Richardson for "Made in Dagenham" and actors Sam Rockwell for "Conviction" and Matt Damon for "True Grit."
Halle Berry, who received a surprise Globe nomination for "Frankie & Alice," was not recognized by SAG voters.
While Mila Kunis was initially considered less of a Supporting Actress contender than her "Black Swan" costar Barbara Hershey, a SAG nod on top of Tuesday's Golden Globe nomination makes her the hottest member of that film's supporting cast.
One oddity in the television categories: all three of the nominations for the HBO movie "Temple Grandin" came in the same category, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. Claire Danes, Catherine O'Hara and Julia Ormond were all recognized.
SAG nominations are chosen by two 2,100-member nominating committees (one for film, one for television) made up of randomly-selected members. The final awards are voted on by the entire membership, which numbers more than 100,000.
Over the past 10 years, more than 80 percent of the SAG acting nominees have gone on to receive Oscar nominations as well. Last year, all four Oscar winners — Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Christoph Waltz and Mo'Niqe — had already won the SAG Award. In the past decade, about 65 percent of the guild winners have triumphed with the Academy as well.
Winners of the SAG ensemble award have won the Best Picture Oscar four times during that stretch. Though the figures don't exactly bear out its importance, the award was deemed a significant Oscar precursor in 2006, when it was virtually the only guild or critics award that went to Oscar champ "Crash," have gone on
The 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will take place on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at the Shrine Exposition Center in downtown Los Angeles. The show will be simulcast live on TNT and TBS.