'Doubt' emerges as actors awards front-runner
Fri, Dec 19, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - - Powerful religious drama "Doubt" topped the nominations on Thursday for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards, a key indicator of likely contenders at next year's Oscars.

The adaptation of the successful Broadway play scored five nods, including best actress for Meryl Streep, best supporting actor for Phillip Seymour Hoffman and best ensemble cast, the equivalent of the Oscars' best picture.

The acclaimed movie revolves around a nun, played by Streep, who confronts a priest (Hoffman) at a New York Catholic school in the 1960s who she suspects of molesting a student.

Along with "Doubt," the nominees for the best ensemble cast award included three other period dramas "Frost/Nixon," "Milk" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." The fifth nominee was "Slumdog Millionaire."

The Screen Actors Guild awards, which take place on January 25 next year, are regarded as an important form guide heading into the Academy Awards, held roughly a month later on February 22.

Actors form the biggest single group amongst the roughly 5,800 entertainment industry figures who decide the Oscars, accounting for roughly 1,200 voters.

Elsewhere Thursday, late Australian star Heath Ledger cemented his status as the favorite for the awards season's best supporting actor honors, earning yet another nomination for his portrayal of Batman's cackling arch-enemy the Joker in summer blockbuster "The Dark Knight."

Ledger, who died of a drug overdose in New York in January aged 28, has already secured a posthumous Golden Globes nomination for his performance and is regarded as favorite to land an Oscar.

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