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'The King's Speech,' 'The Fighter' each get 4 SAG award nominations

Nicole Sperling and Melissa Maerz
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LOS ANGELES — "The King's Speech" and "The Fighter" continued to build Oscar momentum Thursday as each film picked up four Screen Actors Guild award nominations. Jeff Bridges and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld received nods for "True Grit" as did Robert Duvall for "Get Low" after those films were ignored in Tuesday's Golden Globes nominations, but neither movie made the cut for the actors group's top award.

"The Social Network" received two nominations, one for lead Jesse Eisenberg and the other for cast, seen by many as SAG's version of best-picture Academy Award. "Black Swan," "The Fighter," "The Kids Are All Right" and "The King's Speech" rounded out the cast category.

The guild handed out nominations to the three main stars of "The King's Speech" — lead Colin Firth, supporting male actor Geoffrey Rush and supporting female actor Helena Bonham Carter. SAG also gave three acting nominations to three supporting stars of "The Fighter," Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo.

"Fighter" lead actor Mark Wahlberg, who was nominated for an actor Golden Globe on Tuesday, didn't make the cut in that category for SAG. Joining Bridges, Eisenberg, Firth and Duvall in the lead-actor category was James Franco for his role in Danny Boyle's "127 Hours."

For actress, the actors guild primarily stuck to the script choosing Annette Bening ("The Kids Are All Right"), Nicole Kidman ("Rabbit Hole"), Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone") and Natalie Portman ("Black Swan"). The one big surprise in the category was Hilary Swank, who earned a nod for her role as a woman fighting to free her brother from prison in the based-on-a-true-story drama "Conviction."

"It feels so good because (this nomination) is from your peers. Actors know what goes into creating a character and all that's behind it," said Swank, still a bit bleary-eyed from the early morning news. "That makes it so huge, that they will watch a performance and say, 'Wow, I know what went into that.' "

Steinfeld, who just turned 14, said: "I'm so excited to be nominated for this award. ... I can't help but think back to when I heard I got the role of Mattie Ross in 'True Grit' and remember feeling like I had won the lottery. This is a real honor."

Even though "True Grit," a Western directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, received much more attention from SAG than it did from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in its Globes nominations, the movie's omission from the cast category seems to bode poorly for its best-picture Oscar prospects. The SAG awards are considered a bellwether for how the Academy will vote, considering actors make up more than 20 percent of the total membership. For the last 15 years, no film that has been omitted from the SAG cast shortlist has gone on to win the best-picture Oscar.

For supporting actor, in addition to Bale and Rush, John Hawkes was recognized for his role in "Winter's Bone," as was Jeremy Renner for "The Town." Mark Ruffalo, who was snubbed by the Globes on Tuesday, also received recognition for his role in "The Kids Are All Right." (Globes voters opted for Michael Douglas in "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" and Andrew Garfield in "The Social Network" over Ruffalo and Hawkes.)

In the supporting female actor category, SAG and the Hollywood Foreign Press were almost in sync with both groups nominating Adams, Leo, Bonham Carter and Mila Kunis for "Black Swan." But SAG chose Steinfeld, whereas the foreign press went with Jacki Weaver for her role in the Australian crime drama "Animal Kingdom."

History shows it's possible for actors overlooked by SAG to land Academy Award nominations, but it's highly rare for them to come away with the Oscar statuette. Only Marcia Gay Harden in 2000's "Pollock" has won an Oscar without being nominated for a SAG award. That doesn't bode well for Ryan Gosling or Michelle Williams, both of whom received Golden Globe nominations for their starring roles in "Blue Valentine" but were omitted from SAG's list.

SAG afforded Christopher Nolan's "Inception" one nomination, in the category of outstanding performance by a stunt ensemble in a motion picture. It joined "Green Zone" and "Robin Hood" in the category.

On the television side, Betty White defended her title as America's No. 1 Wisecracking Grandma, receiving the nod for best female actor in a comedy, joining Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie"), Tina Fey ("30 Rock"), Jane Lynch ("Glee"), and Sofia Vergara ("Modern Family").

White's TV Land show "Hot in Cleveland" was also honored for ensemble in a comedy. Maybe its plot hit home with voters: The show centers on three former entertainment industry vets from Los Angeles.

Otherwise, picks for the 17th annual SAG awards, which will be simulcast live on both TNT and TBS on Jan. 30, offered few surprises. SAG regulars "30 Rock," "Glee," "Mad Men," and "Modern Family" led the nominations with three each.

SAG's usual suspects Steve Carell ("The Office"), Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock"), Glenn Close ("Damages"), Mariska Hargitay ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"), Juliana Margulies ("The Good Wife") and Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer") were all tapped along with recent Golden Globe nominees Chris Colfer ("Glee") and Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men"), and "Modern Family" stars Ty Burrell and Ed O'Neill. O'Neill has been famously overlooked by both the Emmys and the Globes.

HBO actors earned nine nominations, including nods for Al Pacino, John Goodman and Susan Sarandon of "You Don't Know Jack," Claire Danes, Catherine O'Hara and Julia Ormond of "Temple Grandin," and Steve Buscemi and the cast of "Boardwalk Empire." "Boardwalk Empire" and "Hot in Cleveland" were the only first-year shows to be recognized, and Buscemi was the only new face among previous dramatic actor nominees Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad"), Michael C. Hall ("Dexter") Jon Hamm ("Mad Men") and Hugh Laurie ("House").

There was no attention for HBO's popcorn vampire hit "True Blood" or the final season of "Lost." Could supernatural forces be to blame for both snubs?

———

(Times staff writer Amy Kaufman contributed to this report.)

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