By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The actors of drama "Lincoln," musical "Les Miserables" and comedy "Silver Linings Playbook" led nominations for the Screen Actors Guild film awards on Wednesday, winning four nominations apiece, including best ensemble cast.
Joining them among nominees for best movie cast - the organization's top prize - were the actors of Iranian hostage drama "Argo" and British comedy "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."
Thriller "Zero Dark Thirty" about the U.S. hunt for Osama bin Laden was left out of the best ensemble cast picks but Jessica Chastain was nominated best actress for her performance as a CIA agent.
The awards from the Screen Actors Guild, or SAG, are among the most-watched honors during Hollywood film awards season leading up to the Academy Awards because actors make up one of the largest voting groups for the Oscars.
As a result, SAG nominees usually figure prominently on many ballots by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscars in February.
The SAG awards will be given out in Los Angeles on January 27 in a live telecast on the TBS and TNT networks.
"Lincoln," director Steven Spielberg's movie about U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's battle to outlaw slavery, brought nominations on Wednesday for lead actor Daniel Day-Lewis and supporting actors Sally Field as his wife, and Tommy Lee Jones.
Hugh Jackman was nominated for best actor while Anne Hathaway was chosen for her supporting role in the movie adaptation of hit stage musical "Les Miserables."
Other actors nominated on Wednesday included the stars of quirky comedy "Silver Linings Playbook" - Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro - and John Hawkes and Helen Hunt for the independent movie "The Sessions" about a disabled man and his sex therapist.
One of the biggest surprises was "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," the story of a group of elderly Britons who retire to a ramshackle Indian hotel. The film, which stars Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy, had two nominations - best ensemble and best supporting actress for Maggie Smith.
Smith also was nominated in SAG's television category for her role as a sarcastic aristocrat in period drama "Downtown Abbey." The show also was among the picks for ensemble acting in the TV category.
Other TV drama nominations went to the casts of "Boardwalk Empire," "Homeland," "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad."
In TV comedy, old favorites "30 Rock," "Glee," "The Big Bang Theory," "Modern Family," "Nurse Jackie" and "The Office" were nominated.
(Editing by Xavier Briand and Bill Trott)