SAG Awards Preview: ‘Lincoln,’ ‘Les Miserables’ & ‘Argo’

(Photo Credit: MGN Online)

(Photo Credit: MGN Online)

By Alan Duke, CNN

LOS ANGELES (CNN) — The drama that is Hollywood’s awards season reaches its midpoint Sunday night with the 19th annual Screen Actors Guild honors — the only industry awards that solely recognize performers.

Will Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” regain its best picture front-runner status lost when Ben Affleck’s “Argo” won at the Golden Globes two weeks ago?

Who will take the best actor SAG trophy — “Lincoln” star Daniel Day-Lewis or Hugh Jackman for “Les Miserables”? Both men won best-actor Golden Globes this month.

The SAG Awards, which are decided exclusively by actors, are distinguished from the Globes, which are chosen by a group of about 80 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

The five film SAG awards traditionally set the stage for the Oscars, voted by about 8,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, to be handed out four weeks later.

The SAG ceremony at the Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles also includes eight primetime television categories, a followup to the Globes and last fall’s Emmys.

The live telecast aired on TNT and TBS should offer emotional moments, especially when Carl Reiner and Alec Baldwin present television legend Dick Van Dyke with the SAG 49th Life Achievement Award.

The race for best picture

A win by “Lincoln” or “Les Miserables” in SAG’s top category — officially known as “Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture” — would create important buzz for the film in the Academy Awards best-pic battle. “Les Miserables,” a big-screen adaptation of the smash Broadway musical, was given the Golden Globe for best comedy or musical movie, although “Lincoln” lost to “Argo” in the Globe’s best drama film competition. If “Argo” upsets again this weekend, it could influence Oscar voters when they cast ballots next month.

Best lead film actor

“Lincoln” and “Les Miserables” also hold center stage in race for best lead actor after the Globes. Daniel Day-Lewis, who portrayed Abraham Lincoln, and Hugh Jackman, who acted and sang as Jean Valjean, claimed the best-actor Globes for drama and musical films, respectively. Their SAG competitors are Denzel Washington for “Flight,” Bradley Cooper for “Silver Linings Playbook” and John Hawkes for “The Sessions.”

Best lead film actress

This category pits Jessica Chastain, who played the CIA analyst who helped track down Osama bin Laden in Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” against Jennifer Lawrence, nominated for the romantic comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” Chastain and Lawrence won the best drama and comedy actress Globes, respectively. Naomi Watts, who played a mother who survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in “The Impossible,” is also in the running for the SAG and Oscar best actress honors. Marion Cotillard — “Rust and Bone” — and Helen Mirren — “Hitchcock” — round out the SAG competition but were not nominated for an Oscar.

Best supporting actor in a film

All five supporting-actor nominees already own acting Oscars, including Tommy Lee Jones, who is nominated for his portrayal of Congressman Thaddeus Stevens in “Lincoln.” The others in this well-stocked SAG category include Philip Seymour Hoffman, who plays a spiritual leader in “The Master,” Alan Arkin, for his role as a Hollywood film producer in “Argo,” Robert De Niro for “Silver Linings Playbook,” and Javier Bardem for his role in “Skyfall,” the latest James Bond movie. Bardem is the only one in this category not also competing for an Oscar this year.

Best supporting actress in a film

Anne Hathaway, honored with the Globe for best supporting actress for her performance in “Les Miserables,” faces tough competition for the SAG and Oscar awards from Sally Field, who portrayed first lady Mary Todd Lincoln in “Lincoln.” The other nominees are Helen Hunt for “The Sessions,” Nicole Kidman for “The Paperboy” and Maggie Smith for “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

Primetime Television

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Kevin Costner, “Hatfields & McCoys”

Woody Harrelson, “Game Change”

Ed Harris, “Game Change”

Clive Owen, “Hemingway & Gellhorn”

Bill Paxton, “Hatfields & McCoys”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Nicole Kidman, “Hemingway & Gellhorn”

Julianne Moore, “Game Change”

Charlotte Rampling, “Restless”

Sigourney Weaver, “Political Animals”

Alfre Woodard, “Steel Magnolias”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”

Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”

Louis C.K., “Louie”

Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”

Eric Stonestreet, “Modern Family”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”

Tina Fey, “30 Rock”

Amy Poehler “Parks and Recreation”

Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family”

Betty White, “Hot in Cleveland”

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

“30 Rock”

“The Big Bang Theory”

“Glee”

“Modern Family”

“Nurse Jackie”

“The Office”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

Claire Danes, “Homeland”

Michelle Dockery, “Downton Abbey”

Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Asylum”

Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”

Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Steve Buscemi, “Boardwalk Empire”

Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”

Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”

Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”

Damian Lewis, “Homeland”

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

“Boardwalk Empire”

“Breaking Bad”

“Downton Abbey”

“Homeland”

“Mad Men”