TV favourites like Modern Family, Downtown Abbey and Breaking Bad joined the likes of David O. Russell's film Silver Linings Playbook and Steven Spielberg's Lincoln on the list of Screen Actors Guild nominees, announced early Wednesday morning.

Administered by the performer's union, the annual awards are considered a significant precursor to further honours — including the Oscars, with actors comprising one of the largest voting blocks within the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Key nominees, announced by actors Taye Diggs and Busy Philipps from Los Angeles, include:

  • TV comedy ensemble: 30 Rock; The Big Bang Theory; Glee; Modern Family; Nurse Jackie; The Office (there are six nominees due to a tie).
  • TV drama ensemble: Boardwalk Empire; Breaking Bad; Downton Abbey; Homeland; Mad Men.
  • Motion picture cast: Argo; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Les Misérables; Lincoln; Silver Linings Playbook.

The SAG nominees for outstanding cast of a film are often considered key frontrunners for the Oscars. Last year, four of the five SAG film-cast nominees (The Help, The Artist, The Descendants and Midnight in Paris) were subsequently contenders for the Academy Award for best picture.

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Daniel Day-Lewis has earned much praise for his turn as Abraham Lincoln in the film Lincoln. (David James/Twentieth Century FoxDreamWorks/Associated Press )

Three of this fall's most high-profile films tied with a leading four nominations: Spielberg's presidential portrait Lincoln, the star-studded musical theatre epic Les Misérables and Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, which was the People's Choice winner at the Toronto International Film Festival and lauded for its nuanced portrayal of people struggling with mental health issues and their families.

Daniel Day-Lewis has been universally acclaimed by critics for his remarkable turn in Lincoln as the 16th president. For the SAG best actor trophy, his rivals are Silver Linings' Bradley Cooper, Hugh Jackman of Les Mis, John Hawkes for the sex-surrogate drama The Sessions and Denzel Washington as a troubled airline pilot in Flight.

Cooper's Silver Linings co-star Jennifer Lawrence is up for the best actress honour, though she faces serious competition from four acclaimed peers: Helen Mirren (nominated for Hitchcock), Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) and Naomi Watts (The Impossible).

Veteran actress Maggie Smith was also a leading SAG nominee on Wednesday, with four nods due to her roles on both TV and film. She's a contender for best supporting actress in a film for the surprise movie comedy pick The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which was also nominated for its ensemble cast. Among the small screen nominees, the British actress is vying for the title of best actress in a TV drama for her portrayal of a dowager countess on Downton Abbey and also shares in the popular period piece's best TV drama ensemble nomination.

Bryan Cranston was similarly acknowledged. He earned three nominations: one for being an ensemble cast member of the Iran hostage thriller Argo and two (including actor, TV drama and TV drama ensemble) for his role as a chemistry teacher-turned-drug kingpin in Breaking Bad.

Remaining acting nominees include:

  • Supporting actor, film: Alan Arkin, Argo; Javier Bardem, Skyfall; Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook; Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master; Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln.
  • Supporting actress, film: Sally Field, Lincoln; Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables; Helen Hunt, The Sessions; Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy; Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
  • Stunt ensemble, film: The Amazing Spider-Man, The Bourne Legacy, The Dark Knight Rises, Les Misérables, Skyfall.
  • Actor, TV drama: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire; Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad; Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom; Jon Hamm, Mad Men; Damian Lewis, Homeland.
  • Actress, TV drama: Claire Danes, Homeland; Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey; Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Asylum; Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife; Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey.
  • Actor, TV comedy: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock; Ty Burrell, Modern Family; Louis C.K., Louie; Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory; Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family.
  • Actress, TV comedy: Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie; Tina Fey, 30 Rock; Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation; Sofia Vergara, Modern Family; Betty White, Hot in Cleveland.
  • Actor, TV movie or miniseries: Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys; Woody Harrelson, Game Change; Ed Harris, Game Change; Clive Owen, Hemingway & Gellhorn; Bill Paxton, Hatfields & McCoys.
  • Actress, TV movie or miniseries: Nicole Kidman, Hemingway & Gellhorn; Julianne Moore, Game Change; Charlotte Rampling, Restless; Sigourney Weaver, Political Animals; Alfre Woodard, Steel Magnolias.
  • Stunt ensemble, TV: Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead.

The guild also revealed that actor Dick Van Dyke, whose roles over the past six decades have spanned lighthearted fare such as Mary Poppins to the TV procedural Diagnosis: Murder, will receive its lifetime achievement honour.

The 19th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be broadcast live from the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center on Jan. 27, 2013.

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Taye Diggs, left, and Busy Philipps announced the nominees for the Screen Actors Guild Awards early Wednesday. Maggie Smith, onscreen at right, is nominated in four categories. (Jason Redmond/Reuters)