On Sunday night, it's the actors' turn. Many critics groups and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. have already weighed in with their favorite films and performances of the year, and now the time has come for the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Oscar enthusiasts will be closely watching how the thespians vote for the guild's motion picture cast prize.
Competing for the actors' equivalent of a best picture Oscar are "Argo," "Lincoln," "Les Miserables," "Silver Linings Playbook," and "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."
In the past, how SAG voted was a strong predictor of how the best picture Oscar race would lean, but in the past two years, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has changed its rules to accommodate five to 10 best picture nominees, the SAG results have aligned less frequently.
For example, last year the 1960s Southern-set drama "The Help," won SAG's ensemble prize but went home on Oscar night empty-handed in the best picture category. (Of its four nominations, "The Help" scored only a supporting actress trophy.)
In 2011, SAG and the academy aligned on "The King's Speech.," The previous year, "Inglourious Basterds" took home the ensemble prize but lost out on the best picture Oscar to "The Hurt Locker."
The nominations for male actor in a leading role include Bradley Cooper for "Silver Linings," Daniel Day-Lewis for his role as the 16th president in "Lincoln," John Hawkes for his performance as a polio victim in "The Sessions," Hugh Jackman for "Les Miserables" and Denzel Washington as an alcoholic pilot in "Flight."
In the female actor in a leading role category, "Zero Dark Thirty's" lead actress Jessica Chastain will vie for the prize against Marion Cotillard for her performance in the film "Rust and Bone," Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook," Helen Mirren for her part as Alfred Hitchcock's wife in "Hitchcock" and Naomi Watts in "The Impossible."
For actor in a supporting role, the nominees are Alan Arkin for his role in "Argo," Javier Bardem for his villainous Silva in "Skyfall," Robert De Niro as the neurotic father in "Silver Linings Playbook," Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Master" and Tommy Lee Jones for his role as Thaddeus Stevens in "Lincoln."
In the female supporting actress race, Sally Field will compete for her role as Mary Todd Lincoln in "Lincoln" against Anne Hathaway in "Les Miserables," Helen Hunt in "The Sessions," Nicole Kidman in "The Paperboy," and Maggie Smith in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."
SAG-AFTRA, the union behind the SAG awards, is a 160,000-member group made up primarily of actors, but also featuring recording artists and broadcasters. At least 100,000 members of the union, those who are current on their dues, will vote for the winners.