The Help leads Screen Actors Guild award nominees

Deep South drama The Help has scored the most nominations

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Deep South drama The Help has scored the most nods in the film categories at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards.

As well as best ensemble cast, Viola Davis is up for best female with co-stars Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer receiving supporting honours.

Sitcom Modern Family led the field in the television categories, also securing four nominations.

British actresses Emily Watson, Dame Maggie Smith and Kate Winslet dominated the TV movie/miniseries category.

Davis will be up against Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady, Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs, Tilda Swinton for We Need To Talk About Kevin and Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn on the best film actress shortlist.

Silent movie The Artist also received three nods for its actors, including best ensemble cast in a film.

The male lead acting nominations went to Demian Bichir for A Better Life, George Clooney for The Descendants, Leonardo DiCaprio for J. Edgar, Jean Dujardin for The Artist and Brad Pitt for Moneyball.

Kenneth Branagh is also nominated for best supporting male for his role as Laurence Olivier opposite Williams in My Week With Marilyn.

Dame Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey Dame Maggie Smith is nominated for her role in Downton Abbey

Dame Maggie is recognised for her role in ITV1's Downton Abbey, Winslet is up for period drama Mildred Pierce and Watson is shortlisted for her part in the Fred West drama Appropriate Adult.

The trio will go up against Diane Lane for HBO's Cinema Verite and Betty White for CBS' Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Lost Valentine.

White also scored a second nomination for best female in a comedy series for her role in Hot In Cleveland.

Modern Family stars Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara are recognised in the best male and female categories, with the sitcom is in the running for best ensemble cast in a comedy.

The casts of 30 Rock, The Big Bang Theory, Glee and The Office will also compete in that category.

Best male in a TV movie/miniseries nominees include Laurence Fishburne, Paul Giamatti, Greg Kinnear, Guy Pearce and James Woods.

Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Good Wife and Game of Thrones will compete to win best ensemble in a drama.

The SAG awards ceremony is due to take place in Los Angeles on 29 January.

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