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 to the Hollywood awards season.
"Birdman" was followed by coming-of-age chronicle "Boyhood," biographical drama "The Theory of Everything" and historical 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.
"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).
The SAG awards, which are voted on by more than 100,000 actors, honor film and television acting. They will be handed out on Jan. 25 in Los Angeles.
The SAG awards are one of the most closely watched 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 11 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.
Top TV drama nominees include the actors for HBO prohibition tale "Boardwalk Empire," PBS Edwardian period drama "Downton Abbey," HBO medieval fantasy "Game of Thrones," Showtime counter-terror thriller "Homeland" and Netflix political thriller "House of Cards."
Best comedy cast nominees also include CBS geek series "The Big Bang Theory," Fox cop show "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," Netflix's dark jailhouse comedy "Orange Is the New Black" and HBO political satire "Veep."
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)