POSTED: 10:48 p.m. HST, Dec 14, 2011
The Hawaii film "The Descendants" is nominated for a Screen Actors Guild cast award and its star George Clooney is also up for best actor.
The ensemble prize at the SAG Awards is one of the most reliable prophets of Academy Award glory, and while Wednesday's Screen Actors Guild nominations clarified the front-runners for the best picture Oscar race.
Last season, all five of SAG's ensemble nominees earned nominations in the best picture Oscar race, with SAG and the academy choosing "The King's Speech" as the year's top film. But while SAG selects five nominees for its ensemble award, there can be up to 10 nominees for the best picture Academy Award.
The 2,100 nominating voters in the actors union picked "The Help," "The Artist," "The Descendants," "Midnight in Paris" and "Bridesmaids" for its cast award, SAG's honor for the year's top production.
While "Bridesmaids," a raunchy comedy, was a mild surprise, the other four selections were favorites. George Clooney will face Demian Bichir for his role in "A Better Life," Leonardo DiCaprio from "J. Edgar," Brad Pitt from "Moneyball" and Jean Dujardin from "The Artist."
Missing out in the supporting-actress category was Clooney's young "Descendants" co-star Shailene Woodley, who delivers a breakout performance as a troublesome teen.
The civil rights drama "The Help" collected the most nominations, with four, while "The Artist" — a black-and-white silent film — was second with three.
Awards-watchers are now waiting to see how those films fare with Golden Globes nominations, which will be announced Thursday morning by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
The SAG Awards will be handed out Jan. 29. Oscar nominations will be announced Jan. 24, and the Academy Awards will be presented Feb. 26.