Oscar predictors, put away your crystal balls. Gaze instead at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which often foretell Oscar winners.
The 18th annual SAG Awards will be presented at 6 p.m. today at the Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles. The show will be simulcast on TNT and TBS. A live digital pre-show from the red carpet begins before the ceremony on TNT.tv, TBS.com and PEOPLE.com.
Last year, recipients of SAG Awards for male and female actors in leading and supporting roles went on to win Academy Awards: Colin Firth for "The King's Speech" and Natalie Portman for "The Black Swan" in leading roles, and Christian Bale and Melissa Leo for supporting roles in "The Fighter."
And although SAG doesn't give out an award for Best Picture, it honors the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Last year's winner was the cast of "The King's Speech," which went on to win the Best Picture Oscar.
This year's SAG Award nominees for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture are "The Help," "The Artist," "Bridesmaids," "The Descendants" and "Midnight in Paris."
A handful of movie stars could take home two awards tonight.
Three are nominated for their lead roles and for their work in a film cast: George Clooney in "The Descendants," Viola Davis in "The Help" and Jean Dujardin in "The Artist."
Four are nominated for their supporting roles and for their work in a film cast: Berenice Bejo in "The Artist," Jessica Chastain in "The Help," Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids" and Octavia Spencer in "The Help."
The SAG Awards also honor television acting. Nominees are chosen by separate film and television nominating committees, each consisting of randomly selected SAG members from around the country. Unlike the Golden Globes or the Oscars, the SAG Awards focus solely on acting and stunt work, so no awards are presented to cinematographers, costume designers, directors or those in other categories. Their trophies are called Actors.
Three actresses could take home awards for both their film and television performances: Kathy Bates for her work in the cast of "Midnight in Paris" and for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series for "Harry's Law"; Glenn Close as a female lead actress in "Albert Nobbs" and for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series for "Damages"; and Ellie Kemper for her work in the cast of "Bridesmaids" and as part of the ensemble cast in "The Office."
"Modern Family," ABC's comedy series depicted in "mockumentary," or mock-documentary, style, is well-positioned to win multiple honors as it is nominated five times in three television categories. The show could win Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series; in addition, Ty Burrell and Eric Stonestreet are both nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series, and Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara will vie for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series.
Julianna Margulies, who holds the Screen Actors Guild record with eight Actors, is up for two more awards for her role in CBS' "The Good Wife." Margulies won six Actors between 1996-1999 while appearing on the show "ER."
Renowned actress, producer and humanitarian Mary Tyler Moore will receive the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, to be presented by her former co-star, Dick Van Dyke. The award honors her career achievement and humanitarian endeavors. Moore created "a new paradigm for female leads in television," according to the Screen Actors Guild. She has won top honors for her performances in film, television and on stage.
First-time SAG nominees Kyle Chandler, Judy Greer, Maya Rudolph and Octavia Spencer will be among the award presenters. Other presenters include Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, Larry Hagman, Armie Hammer, Ed Helms and Natalie Portman.
Regina King, star of TNT's drama series "Southland," is the social-media ambassador for the SAG Awards. Through posts on Twitter and Facebook, King has been giving viewers access to behind-the-scenes moments during the weeks leading up to the show, and she will continue to post updates from the red carpet.