Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, Fences dominate Screen Actors Guild nominations

Actors Michelle Williams (left) and Casey Affleck pose for photographers at a Gala screening of their film Manchester by the Sea at the 60th BFI London Film Festival in London, Britain on Oct 8, 2016.
Actors Michelle Williams (left) and Casey Affleck pose for photographers at a Gala screening of their film Manchester by the Sea at the 60th BFI London Film Festival in London, Britain on Oct 8, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Manchester by the Sea led the Screen Actors Guild award nominations on Wednesday (Dec 14), pitting the gritty drama against Moonlight, Fences, Hidden Figures and Captain Fantastic for best film cast ensemble, the group's top prize.

Manchester by the Sea, about a working-class family dealing with multiple tragedies, got four nominations, including for lead actor Casey Affleck and supporting stars Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges.

Independent drama Moonlight, about an impoverished black boy grappling with his sexuality, and Fences, a tense drama about an African-American family in the 1950s, scored three nominations each.

Captain Fantastic, a comedy about an unorthodox family, and Hidden Figures, about three black female mathematicians helping the US government in the 1960s space race, also received nods in the best ensemble category.

Musical romance La La Land, the current front-runner in Hollywood's awards season, was shut out of SAG's best ensemble category, which favours large casts, but it scored nominations for Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.

Other notable omissions on Wednesday included comedy 20th Century Women, which stars Annette Bening as a free-spirited single mother in the 1970s, and Loving, the real-life story of a couple who changed interracial marriage laws in Virginia.

The SAG list followed Monday's Golden Globe nominations, where La La Land and Moonlight led the race, and precedes January's Oscar nods.

The top SAG winners often go on to win Academy Awards. Spotlight, which took the best ensemble award earlier this year, was named best picture at the Oscars.

More than 100,000 actors vote on the annual SAG awards. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Jan 29.

Affleck and Gosling will face Andrew Garfield for Hacksaw Ridge, Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic and Fences star Denzel Washington for best actor.

Stone will vie for best actress alongside Amy Adams for Arrival, surprise nominee Emily Blunt for The Girl on the Train, front-runner Natalie Portman for Jackie and Meryl Streep for Florence Foster Jenkins.

In the television best drama race, HBO's hit medieval fantasy series Game of Thrones and sci-fi western Westworld will compete against the final season of British period drama"Downton Abbey and new Netflix shows The Crown, a British royal period drama, and 1980s sci-fi mystery Stranger Things.

In the best comedy series, CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory faces ABC's Modern Family and "black-ish," Netflix's Orange is the New Black and HBO's Veep.