"Trumbo" tops the list of SAG Awards nominees for 2016,...

"Trumbo" tops the list of SAG Awards nominees for 2016, with three nominations. Here, Bryan Cranston stars as Dalton Trumbo in the drama based on the Hollywood blacklist during the Red Scare of the 1940s. Credit: AP / Hilary Bronwyn Gayle

“Trumbo” led the 22nd annual Screen Actors Guild award nominations Wednesday morning with three nods, including lead actor for Bryan Cranston and outstanding ensemble cast.

The modestly budgeted “Trumbo,” starring Cranston as the blacklisted Hollywood writer Dalton Trumbo, made a surprisingly strong showing, outpacing awards-season front-runners including the lesbian romance “Carol,” the journalism drama “Spotlight” and the transgender biopic “The Danish Girl.”

With its nomination for outstanding ensemble — an award sometimes cited as a predictor of the best picture Oscar — “Trumbo” appears to have improved its chances in the Academy Award race. The movie’s cast includes Helen Mirren, a double nominee for supporting actress in “Trumbo” and lead actress in “Woman in Gold.”

Among the other surprise nods: Lead actress Sarah Silverman in the indie drama “I Smile Back,” and the ensemble cast of “Straight Outta Compton,” a biopic about the members of the rap group N.W.A.

Behind “Trumbo,” several other films jockeyed for second place with two nominations each. “Spotlight,” the true story of The Boston Globe reporters who uncovered the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal, received nods for supporting actress Rachel McAdams and ensemble cast. “Room,” about an imprisoned mother and her young son, earned nominations for lead actress Brie Larson and 9-year-old supporting actor Jacob Tremblay. Lead actor Eddie Redmayne and supporting actress Alicia Vikander were tapped for “The Danish Girl.”

“Carol” received nods for Cate Blanchett as lead actress and Rooney Mara as supporting actress. Christian Bale was nominated for supporting actor in “The Big Short,” Adam McKay’s comedy-drama about the 2008 housing crisis, which is also up for outstanding cast. Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet received lead and supporting nods, respectively, for “Steve Jobs.”

Johnny Depp received a lead acting nod as the Boston crime figure James “Whitey” Bulger in “Black Mass.” His competition includes Leonardo DiCaprio as frontiersman Hugh Glass in “The Revenant.” Saoirse Ronan was nominated as lead actress in the Irish-immigrant drama “Brooklyn.”

In the TV category, old favorites including “Downton Abbey,” “Homeland,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family” dominated the nominations.

The SAG Awards will be handed out on Jan. 30.

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