December 10, 2014 / 2:27 PM / in 3 years

Dark showbiz comedy 'Birdman' leads SAG film award nominations

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (Reuters) - The cast of dark existential comedy “Birdman” led the Screen Actors Guild film award nominations on Wednesday, earning four nods from its peers in the kick-off of the Hollywood awards season.

Director Alejandro Inarritu (3rd R) poses with actors Amy Ryan (L), Edward Norton (2nd L), Emma Stone (3rd L), Michael Keaton (2nd R) and Andrea Riseborough (R) during the photo call for the movie "Birdman or (The unexpected virtue of ignorance)" at the 71st Venice Film Festival August 27, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

“Birdman” was followed by coming-of-age chronicle “Boyhood,” biographical drama “The Theory of Everything” and World War Two drama “The Imitation Game,” with three nominations each.

Those films, along with the Wes Anderson comedy “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” each scored a nomination for best ensemble cast, the top film prize handed out by the organization.

Notable omissions were the World War Two story “Unbroken” and the Martin Luther King biopic “Selma.”

“Birdman,” about a has-been Hollywood star bent on reviving his career on the stage, netted nominations for Michael Keaton (best actor), Emma Stone (best supporting actress) and Edward Norton (best supporting actor).

“An ensemble like this hardly ever comes around, and all of us made this very unique film work - (led) by our maestro, director Alejandro Inarritu,” Keaton said in a statement.

Early Oscar favorites Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) and Reese Witherspoon (“Wild”) earned best actress nominations along with Jennifer Aniston (“Cake”).

Golden Globe nominations will be announced on Thursday.

More than 100,000 actors vote on the SAG Awards, which will be handed out on Jan. 25 in Los Angeles.

They are one of the most closely watched honors because actors comprise the largest voting bloc for February’s Academy Awards.

British actor Benedict Cumberbatch earned a best actor nod for his role as World War Two code-cracker Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game,” while co-star Keira Knightley received a best supporting actress nomination.

Director Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” which was shot over a dozen years, scored nominations for Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette for supporting actor and actress.

British actor Eddie Redmayne was nominated for best actor for his role as physicist Stephen Hawking in biopic “The Theory of Everything.” Co-star Felicity Jones also earned a best actress nomination for her role as Hawking’s wife, Jane Wilde Hawking.

“Foxcatcher,” a biographical drama about DuPont heir John du Pont, who murdered the brother of Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz, picked up nods for best actor for Steve Carell and best supporting actor for Mark Ruffalo.

In the television category, ABC’s irreverent comedy “Modern Family” earned the most nominations with four, including best cast in a comedy series.

Editing by Mary Milliken and Lisa Von Ahn

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