LOS ANGELES >> The Hollywood blacklist drama "Trumbo" scored a leading three Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations on Wednesday, and sleeper contenders "Beasts of No Nation" and "Straight Outta Compton" entered the awards conversation in a real way when both were nominated for best ensemble drama.
"Beasts of No Nation" star Idris Elba was also nominated for best supporting actor, as well as for his role in TV's "Luther." Other best ensemble nominees included "Spotlight," which is emerging as the strongest candidate for best picture so far this season; "Trumbo"; and the housing bubble dramedy "The Big Short."
The 22nd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards honoring the best film and television performances of the year will be presented Jan. 30.
Starry ensemble casts left out of the SAG nominations included Ridley Scott's "The Martian," Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight" and David O. Russell's "Joy."
While "Straight Outta Compton" was a box office and critical hit, its award season prospects were unknown. On Monday, the African-American Film Critics Association named the N.W.A drama their best of the year, but it's been mostly overlooked by other critics' awards.
The nominations helped bring a murky awards season into a bit more focus, and SAG's choices highlighted a few underdog performances.
Leading female performance nominees included Cate Blanchett ("Carol"), Brie Larson ("Room") and Saoirse Ronan ("Brooklyn"), all of whom have dominated awards buzz, but also Sarah Silverman for the depression indie "I Smile Back," and Helen Mirren for "Woman in Gold," about an elderly Jewish woman looking to reclaim art once stolen by the Nazis. Mirren was also nominated for a supporting performance for "Trumbo."
The lead actor nominees were a bit more expected, with recognition for Bryan Cranston ("Trumbo"), Johnny Depp ("Black Mass"), Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Revenant"), Michael Fassbender ("Steve Jobs"), and Eddie Redmayne ("The Danish Girl").
In the supporting category, Christian Bale was nominated for "The Big Short," Mark Rylance for the Cold War thriller "Bridge of Spies," Michael Shannon for playing a predatory real estate agent in "99 Homes" and young star Jacob Tremblay for playing a child in captivity in "Room."
Supporting actress contenders included Rachel McAdams ("Spotlight"), Kate Winslet ("Steve Jobs"), Alicia Vikander ("The Danish Girl") and Rooney Mara ("Carol"). Mara and Vikander both have significant onscreen time in their respective movies, which has led some awards prognosticators to criticize their "supporting actress" campaigns.
Nominees are selected by separate movie and TV nominating panels, each made up of over 2,000 randomly selected SAG members.
Many members of the SAG movie panel also vote for the Academy Awards and as a result, the SAG nominees have traditionally served as a helpful indicator of potential Oscar acting nominees.
In a year when Hollywood's lack of diversity has become of critical concern following last Oscar's all-white acting slate, the individual performance nominees for movies remained largely monochromatic, save for Elba's supporting nominations.
On the television side, the political drama "House of Cards" led with three nominations including best drama ensemble, best male performance for Kevin Spacey, and best female performance for Robin Wright.
There were more diverse individual nominees in television than film, though, thanks in part to the fact that TV divides nominees into comedy and drama, allowing for more inclusion overall. In addition to Elba's nomination, other nominees included Queen Latifah for "Bessie," Uzo Aduba for "Orange is the New Black" and Viola Davis for "How to Get Away With Murder."
The Jan. 30 Screen Actors Guild Awards will be broadcast live from Los Angeles on TNT and TBS.