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'The Help' Leads Screen Actors Guild Awards Nominations

UPDATED: "The Artist," "Bridesmaids," "The Descendants" and "Midnight in Paris" score ensemble noms.

The Help
"The Help"

The Help triumphed as nominations were announced Wednesday morning for the 18th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. The DreamWorks production about race relations in the '60s South scored four nominations, earning a leading role nomination for Viola Davis who plays the maid Aibileen Clark, supporting noms for Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer, and a motion picture ensemble nom

The other films nominated for best motion picture ensemble are the silent movie The Artist, the bawdy comedy Bridesmaids, the family drama The Descendants and the romantic comedy Midnight in Paris.

COMPLETE LIST: 2012 SAG Awards TV and Film Nominees

Among the television nominations, ABC's Modern Family led the field with five nominations, followed by NBC's 30 Rock and Showtime's Dexter with three each.

Davis, who was previously nominated by SAG for her work in Doubt, will find herself competing in the lead actress category against her Doubt costar Meryl Streep, nominated this year for playing Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. The category's other nominees are Tilda Swinton for playing a mother struggling with a difficult child in We Need to Talk About Kevin; Michelle Williams, for portraying Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn; and Glenn Close for her cross-dressing performance in Albert Nobbs. Close also was recognized with a nomination for best TV dramatic series actress for her fierce attorney Patty Hewes in Damages.

PHOTOS: SAG Awards Nominees

The SAG voters made room for a new name in the category of leading male film actor, that of the Mexico City-born Demian Bichir, who plays an East L.A. gardener in Summit's A Better Life. They also welcomed French star Jean Dujardin for The Artist. A trio of leading men round out the field: George Clooney for The Descendants, Leonardo DiCaprio for J. Edgar and Brad Pitt for Moneyball.

A number of the leading men were also joined by their costars in the supporting categories: J.Edgar's Armie Hammer and Moneyball's Jonah Hill, and, for supporting actress, Berenice Bejo for The Artist.

Also nominated for supporting actor are Kenneth Branagh, who plays Sir Laurence Olivier in Marilyn, Nick Nolte, who appears as the father of brawling brothers in Warrior, and Christopher Plummer, who portrays a widower who comes out late in life in Beginners.

In addition to The Help's Chastain and Spencer and The Artist's Bejo, the supporting actress line-up includes BridesmaidsMelissa McCarthy and Albert NobbsJanet McTeer.

On the strength of its three individual acting nominations as well as an ensemble nom, The Help made the strongest showing, with four nominations; The Artist scored three, while NobbsDescendantsJ. EdgarMoneyball and Marilyn all picked up two.

Thanks to noms for Artist, Marilyn and Iron Lady, the Weinstein Co. led the distributor listings with six noms, followed by DreamWorks/Disney and Universal with four each.

On the television side, Modern Family, last year's best comedy ensemble winner, proved equally popular with SAG voters this year. It picked up another comedy ensemble nomination and will compete with 30 Rock, The Big Bang Theory, Glee and The Office.

The show's Ty Burrell and Eric Stonestreet earned best male actor in a comedy series noms, while Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara were nominated in the female actor in a comedy series category.

The other comedy series actor nominees are Alec Baldwin, a six-time SAG Award winner, for 30 Rock; Steve Carrel for The Office and Jon Cryer for Two and a Half Men.

Rounding out the female comedy series actor nominees are Eddie Falco for Nurse Jackie, Tina Fey for 30 Rock and Betty White for Hot in Cleveland.

HBO's Boardwalk Empire, which took home the TV drama ensemble award last year, was also nominated again, along with Breaking Bad, Dexter, Game of Thrones and The Good Wife.

And Boardwalk's Steve Buscemi, who also won last year, scored a repeat nomination for best drama series actor, where he will face off against Patrick J. Adams for Suits, Kyle Chandler for Friday Night Lights, Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad and Michael C. Hall for Dexter.

The Good Wife's Julianna Margulies, who also took home a SAG Award last year, could also repeat since she was nominated again, along with Kathy Bates for Harry's Law, Close for Damages, Jessica Lange for American Horror Story and Kyra Sedgwick for The Closer.

White, who drew a standing ovation when she received a SAG Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, continues to be popular with her peers. In addition to her comedy series nomination, she popped up in the TV movie/miniseries category with a nomination for Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Lost Valentine. That category also includes: Diane Lane, Cinema Verite; Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey; Emily Watson, Appropriate Adult; and Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce.

Mildred Pierce also was represented in the best TV movie/miniseries actor race where Guy Pearce earned a nom. That category also includes two actors from the financial saga Too Big to Fail, Paul Giamatti and James Woods, along with Laurence Fishburne for Thurgood and Greg Kinnear for The Kennedys.

While Modern Family dominated the TV noms with five, 30 Rock and Dexter both collected three, while the shows that registered two noms are Boardwalk, Breaking, Thrones, Wife, Office, Too Big to Fail and Mildred Pierce.

HBO was the dominant player on the TV side with 11 nominations, followed by NBC with six.

SAG also announced nominees for stunt ensemble honors Wednesday.

In film, they are The Adjustment Bureau, Cowboys & Aliens, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and X-Men: First Class, while in TV they are Dexter, Thrones, Southland, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and True Blood.

SAG president Ken Howard was on hand at the early-morning announcement at the Pacific Design Center, where Regina King and Judy Greer unveiled the nominations. He is expected to announce a campaign on behalf of the SAG/AFTRA merger at the SAG Awards, which will take place Jan. 29 at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center and be broadcast live by TNT and TBS.

"It will be such an important event in the history of our union, so it makes sense that Ken will announce the merger campaign at the awards," Jobeth Williams, SAG Awards committee chair told THR. "The merger has to happen. I'm a member of both unions. We can't have our union fighting our sister union."

"I hope we have some good news to announce that night," Howard added.

Jonathan Handel contributed to this report.

For a complete list of SAG Awards nominations, go to the next page.