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SAG Awards: Demián Bichir, Armie Hammer among surprise nominees

December 14, 2011 |  6:55 am

Demian Bichir was suprisingly nominated for a best actor award at the SAGs
Demián Bichir, a 48-year-old Mexican actor little-known to American moviegoers, scored a surprise best actor nomination at the SAG Awards on Wednesday morning.

Bichir, who plays an illegal immigrant pursuing the American dream in "A Better Life," beat out a couple of projected favorites in the category, including "Shame's" Michael Fassbender and Gary Oldman from "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." Directed by Chris Weitz, "A Better Life" has only grossed $1.8 million at the U.S. box office.

The foreign star was only one of a handful of actors to receive a nomination who had not graced the lists of awards prognosticators. In the lead actress category, nearly all of the nominees were considered shoo-ins, namely Meryl Streep for "The Iron Lady" and Michelle Williams from "My Week with Marilyn," though it was slightly unexpected that Glenn Close earned a nod for her cross-dressing turn in "Albert Nobbs."

Photos: SAG Awards top nominees

In the supporting actor group, 25-year-old Armie Hammer garnered a nomination for his role as J. Edgar Hoover's rumored lover Clyde Tolson in "J. Edgar. His co-star Leonardo DiCaprio had been widely considered a front-runner for a best actor nod, but Hammer had not been mentioned as frequently. Meanwhile, 27-year-old Jonah Hill was also nominated in the category for his first serious part in "Moneyball." Nick Nolte, who plays an alcoholic father to two mixed martial arts fighters in "Warrior," also earned a unforseen nomination. The three actors beat out favorites like "Drive's" Albert Brooks, who picked up a slew of critics' awards over the last week, as well as Sir Ben Kingsley from "Hugo."

The supporting actress category did not have as many unexpected turns, as Shailene Woodley -- the 20-year-old who plays the daughter of George Clooney's character in "The Descendants" -- was the only performer to be snubbed. Instead, Jessica Chastain -- who starred in a half-dozen movies this year -- was nominated for playing a ditzy Southern woman in "The Help."


The complete list of nominees

Movie Review: 'A Better Life'

Demián Bichir is feeling playful

'A Better Life's' Demian Bichir: Time for his moment in Oscar spotlight

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Demián Bichir stars in "A Better Life." Credit: Summit Entertainment