Fassbender, Nyong'o, Ejiofor in '12 Years a Slave'
Fassbender, Nyong'o, Ejiofor in '12 Years a Slave'
Julia Roberts in "August: Osage County"
Julia Roberts in "August: Osage County"

It was a good day for some and a bad day for many as the Screen Actors Guild--a more populist group than the more rarified Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences--announced the nominees for the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (full list below). 

Two nominating panels — one for television and one for film — each comprised of 2,200 randomly picked union members from across the country, chose this year’s nominees. Integrity Voting Systems, the Awards’ official teller, mailed the secret nomination ballots on Wednesday, Nov. 20, with voting was complete by noon on Monday, Dec. 9. This means that late entries "American Hustle" and "The Wolf of Wall Street," especially, may not have been seen by all the voters. "American Hustle" managed to squeeze in an ensemble nomination as well as a supporting nod for hot-as-flapjacks Jennifer Lawrence, but Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" scored zip.  

Not getting a SAG nomination doesn't necessarily mean you are out of the running for an Oscar--it just doesn't help you get there. It could be a sign of weakness with the Academy's largest voting branch. SAG shutouts and critics' favorites "Inside Llewyn Davis" and "Her," for example, will likely be cited by the Academy outside the acting categories. And I will lay odds that snubbed New York Film Critics Circle Best Actor Robert Redford--giving a silent performance in a small indie that isn't thriving at the box office --will be one of the Oscar five, probably at the expense of Forest Whitaker of "The Butler."

My guess is that "The Butler," a well-liked box office hit backed by The Weinstein Co. that did not do well with critics' groups last week, may not get as much respect from the Academy. It landed an ensemble nomination. SAG supporting actress Oprah Winfrey should easily land an Academy nod, however. Weinstein scored the most SAG noms of any company, seven, followed by Fox Searchlight with five. TWC landed a coveted ensemble nomination for "August: Osage County" as well as Meryl Streep for Best Actress and Julia Roberts for supporting (although Chris Cooper and Margo Martindale did not make the cut), which shows that while critics may not adore it, "August" is an actors' picture. 

"12 Years a Slave" proved its actor bonafides by landing in four categories: ensemble, Best Actor Chewitel Ejiofor, Supporting Actress Lupita Nyong'o and Supporting Actor Michael Fassbender. Searchlight had a good day as the late James Gandolfini also landed a supporting nod for "Enough Said." 

The five Best Actress nominations will likely be the same for the Oscars. SAG Nominee Sandra Bullock responded:

"Had I known being locked in a light box and dangling from a ceiling for hours on end would land me in the company of these extraordinary women, I would have done it years ago."

Bullock will be up against formidable competition from "Blue Jasmine" star Cate Blanchett. 

Among the surprises were Focus Features' "Dallas Buyers Club" among the ensemble nods, along with the expected recognition for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. "Nebraska" landed nominations for both seniors Bruce Dern and June Squibb. Young Somali emigre Barkhad Abdi scored a first time Supporting Actor nod for "Captain Phillips," as did veteran Best Actor Tom Hanks, but he did not land a supporting nom for "Saving Mr. Banks," and neither film wound up in the ensemble circle. Two films that have been well-received on the awards circuit, "Out of the Furnace" and "Lone Survivor," were overlooked by SAG voters, because there's so much competition. "Furnace" star Christian Bale, competing with himself in "American Hustle," came up empty-handed. 

The complete list of nominations for the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards follows.