By Piya Sinha-Roy and Nichola Groom
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - With awards darling "La La Land" out of the running for the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards on Sunday, the musical romance that has charmed Hollywood may find a strong contender in the race to the Oscars next month.
"La La Land," which picked up a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations this week, was shut out of the best ensemble SAG award, the category that often cements the frontrunner for the best picture Oscar.
Instead, independent drama "Moonlight," African-American family tale "Fences," grief drama "Manchester by the Sea," female empowerment tale "Hidden Figures" and unorthodox family dramedy "Captain Fantastic" will vie for best ensemble.
"Manchester by the Sea," about a working-class family dealing with multiple tragedies, leads SAG nominees on Sunday with four nods, including best actor for Casey Affleck.
"Moonlight," about an impoverished black boy grappling with his sexuality, and "Fences," based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, scored three nominations each.
Voted for by more than 120,000 U.S. actors, the two-hour televised SAG awards show often anoints top Oscar winners as actors comprise the largest body within Oscar voters.
Last year, "Spotlight" took home the best ensemble SAG award while Brie Larson and Leonardo DiCaprio won best actress and actor respectively at the SAG awards. All went on to win Oscars in their respective categories.
Amy Adams, who has garnered praise for her role as a linguist in the sci-fi alien film "Arrival," was one of the biggest surprise snubs in the Oscar best actress race this year, but she will be vying for the SAG accolade.
She will be competing against "La La Land" star Emma Stone, Meryl Streep for "Florence Foster Jenkins," Natalie Portman for "Jackie" and Emily Blunt for "The Girl on the Train."
In SAG's best actor race, Affleck, the current front-runner, will face "La La Land" star Ryan Gosling, Andrew Garfield for "Hacksaw Ridge," Viggo Mortensen for "Captain Fantastic" and "Fences" star Denzel Washington.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)