SAG Awards: 'Manchester by the Sea' Leads Film Nominees

Manchester By The Sea - Casey Affleck -still 1 - H 2016
Courtesy of TIFF

In addition to 'Manchester,' ensemble cast nominees include 'Moonlight,' 'Captain Fantastic,' 'Fences' and 'Hidden Figures.'

The grief-stricken drama Manchester by the Sea, with four nominations, led the list of film nominees for the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, announced Wednesday by SAG-AFTRA. In addition to a nomination for its ensemble cast, the pic earned individual citations for lead actor Casey Affleck and supporting actress and actor Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges.

But the actors guild really opened up this season’s developing awards race with several of its other best film cast nominations. In addition to Manchester and Moonlight, both of which received Golden Globe best drama nominations earlier this week, SAG also boosted the fortunes of three films that had been overlooked in the top categories by the Globes, giving outstanding cast nominations, the equivalent of best picture noms, to Captain Fantastic, the story of an unconventional family that has been living off the grid; Fences, the screen adaptation of August Wilson’s drama about a black family in 1950s Pittsburgh; and Hidden Figures, the account of three black women mathematicians who joined the NASA space program in the 1960s.

Moonlight, which follows a young gay black man coming of age in a tough Miami neighborhood, earned a total of three noms, with its supporting actor and actress Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris also earning mentions. And Fences collected three total noms as well, with Denzel Washington, who directed the film, picking up a lead actor nom and Viola Davis, who plays his character's wife, earning a supporting actress mention.

Although the musical La Land Land, another of this season's critical favorites, didn't collect an ensemble nomination since it focuses so much on just the two main players in its boy-meets-girl love story, its stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone were both recognized with outstanding lead actor and actress noms.

In addition to Affleck, Washington and Gosling, the nominees for outstanding lead actor also included Andrew Garfield, who plays a conscientious objector who goes to war in Hacksaw Ridge, and Viggo Mortensen, who stars as the free-wheeling dad in Captain Fantastic

The nominees for outstanding lead performance by a female actor included a number of actresses who've already appeared on other lists of the year's best, such as Stone, Amy Adams in Arrival, Natalie Portman in Jackie and Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins. But the SAG-AFTRA voters tossed in one major surprise: Emily Blunt, who plays a hard-drinking witness to foul play in the thriller The Girl on the Train.

In addition to Moonlight's Ali and Manchester's Hedges, the supporting actor list also found room for Jeff Bridges, who plays a Texas lawman in Hell or High Water; Hugh Grant, who plays a supportive husband in Florence Foster Jenkins; and Dev Patel, who stars as an adopted man searching for his birth mother in Lion.

Joining Fences' Davis, Manchester's Williams and Moonlight's Harris in the supporting actress lineup were Nicole Kidman, who appears as the adoptive mom in Lion, and Octavia Spencer, who is one of the trio of math whizzes in Hidden Figures.

As far as the film nominees go, Ali was the most lauded, since he also appears in the cast of Hidden Figures, and so in addition to his supporting nom for Moonlight, he shared in both the Moonlight and Figures ensemble noms.