The World War II rewrite "Inglourious Basterds" and the Harlem story "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire" are competing for the guild's overall cast prize, along with the 1960s British drama "An Education," the Iraq War tale "The Hurt Locker" and the musical "Nine."
The corporate-downsizing tale "Up in the Air" was shut out of that category but scored a lead-actor nomination for Clooney as a frequent-flyer whiz and two supporting-actress slots, for Vera Farmiga as his new love and Anna Kendrick as his new protege.
Kruger picked up a supporting-actress honor as a German movie star and Allied spy in "Inglourious Basterds," which also earned a supporting-actor slot for Christoph Waltz as an exuberantly ruthless Nazi.
"Precious" earned a lead-actress honor for Gabourey Sidibe as an illiterate, abused teen determined to make a better life. Mo'Nique was nominated as supporting actress as the teen's despicable mother.
"Precious" Red Carpet
The Unlikely Story of "Precious"
Sapphire: from "Push" to "Precious"
Learning from "Precious"
Casting Gabourey Sidibe
A Surreal Premiere
Mo'nique Strikes It Big
For best actor, Clooney is up against Jeff Bridges as a boozy country singer in "Crazy Heart," Colin Firth as a grieving gay academic in "A Single Man," Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela in "Invictus" and Jeremy Renner as a daredevil bomb technician in "The Hurt Locker."
Along with Sidibe, nominated for best actress are Sandra Bullock as foster mom for a future NFL star in "The Blind Side," Helen Mirren as the wife of Leo Tolstoy in "The Last Station," Carey Mulligan as a teen involved with an older man in "An Education," and Meryl Streep as chef Julia Child in "Julie & Julia."
Penelope Cruz joined Farmiga, Kendrick, Kruger and Mo'Nique in the supporting-actress field, playing a filmmaker's needy mistress in "Nine."
Besides Waltz, supporting-actor picks are Matt Damon as a South Africa rugby player in "Invictus," Woody Harrelson as a military next-of-kin notifier in "The Messenger," Christopher Plummer as aging author Tolstoy in "The Last Station" and Stanley Tucci as a serial killer in "The Lovely Bones."
The SAG Awards will be handed out Jan. 23.
The guild prizes are a predictor for which actors might take home an Academy Awards. Three of the four guild recipients last year - Sean Penn for "Milk," Heath Ledger for "The Dark Knight" and Kate Winslet for "The Reader" - went on to win Oscars. Most members of the academy's acting branch are also members of SAG.
"Slumdog Millionaire," which earned the guild's cast honor, wound up dominating at the Oscars, winning best picture and other key awards.
Film and TV nominees were chosen by two groups of 2,100 people each, randomly chosen from the guild's roughly 100,000 members. The guild's full membership is eligible to vote for winners.
The show will include the guild's life-achievement award for Betty White.