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With SAG win, 'Hustle' has Oscar look of 'Argo'

20th Annual SAG Awards - Show

Hollywood loves a sequel, and this awards season is shaping up to be one.

Just as "Argo" emerged as the unlikely victor over "Lincoln" last year, another 1970s-set crowd-pleaser is turning into the Academy Awards favorite over a solemn historical epic about slavery.

David O. Russell's "American Hustle" took the Screen Actors Guild Awards' top honor for outstanding cast on Saturday night, beating out Steve McQueen's acclaimed "12 Years a Slave." Because actors make up the largest branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the SAG Awards (which last year picked "Argo") are considered one of the best indicators of the Oscars.

Just days ago, the Academy Awards nominations set up a trio of front-runners, bestowing 10 nods on "American Hustle" and "Gravity," and nine on "12 Years a Slave." But though no actor was individually honored by the guild for "American Hustle," the Abscam tale now appears to have an edge over its Oscar rivals.

Speaking for a cast that includes Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper credited Russell as the epitome of the actor's director.

"He makes you feel like you're part of the family, whether you're Robert DeNiro or you're Patty Mack," Cooper said at the Shrine Auditorium ceremony in Los Angeles. "You are part of the family."

In addition to last year's "Argo," SAG cast awards have lined up with such past Oscar best-picture winners as "The King's Speech," "Slumdog Millionaire" and "No Country for Old Men." But the guild has also diverged with picks like "The Help," "Inglourious Basterds" and "Little Miss Sunshine."

Saturday's awards were a somewhat low-key affair with a few memorable speeches but no earthquakes in a rapidly solidifying award season. The night's acting winners - Matthew McConaughey ("Dallas Buyers Club"), Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine"), Lupita Nyong'o ("12 Years a Slave") and Jared Leto ("Dallas Buyers Club") - are each probably the favorites of their categories.

"It really shines a great light on this bull ride we call acting," said McConaughey, honored for lead actor in the Texas HIV drama. "I've been able to recently find some characters that I can humble myself to their humanities and get feverishly drunk on their obsessions."

One of the night's biggest winners was Nyong'o, who won supporting actress over Lawrence. Though "12 Years a Slave" is only her feature film debut, the Kenyan actress has been hailed for her red-carpet style and grace this awards season. Her speech was both composed and emotional - the kind of display that can turn Oscar voters' heads.

She thanked McQueen "for taking a flashlight and shining it underneath the floorboards of this nation and reminding us what it is we stand on." And she recalled the celebratory phone call to her father when she got the part.

"`Daddy, do you know who Brad Pitt is? I'm going to be in a movie with him!'" recalled Nyong'o. "And he said, `I don't know him personally, but I'm glad you got a job.'"

The "Breaking Bad" victory lap continued as the show took honors for outstanding dramatic cast and for lead actor Bryan Cranston. For his indelible performance as teacher-turned-meth dealer, Cranston added his second lead actor SAG Award, to go with his recent Golden Globe win and his numerous Emmys.

"We have the nicest bunch of white supremacist Nazis I have ever worked with," said Cranston, looking over his former cast mates. "I swear to you I would kill you all over again."

Two big-screen veterans won awards for TV films: Michael Douglas for HBO's Liberace drama "Behind the Candelabra," and Helen Mirren for the biopic "Phil Spector," also on HBO.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been a mainstay at award shows recently, both for her acclaimed HBO series "Veep" (for which she won an Emmy) and the romantic comedy "Enough Said" (for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe). She won a SAG trophy for female actor in a comedy series for "Veep," and slyly mocked the award season crush by first thanking the Hollywood Foreign Press and then the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

"It's hard you know because it's awards season and things get confusing, much like elections," said Louis-Dreyfus.

The ABC sitcom "Modern Family" enjoyed another round of awards, winning for ensemble in a comedy series and taking the male actor in a comedy series honor for Ty Burrell.

Emma Thompson, a surprise snub in Thursday's Oscar nominations for the "Mary Poppins" making-of tale "Saving Mr. Banks," was just as much the witty, winning award-show attendee she's been all season. As a presenter, the lead actress nominee noted the show's cheesy elevator music soundtrack: "Is this music available on CD?"

SAG's lifetime achievement award was given to Rita Moreno, the 81-year-old "West Side Story" actress whose career has spanned Broadway, television and music. Introduced by Morgan Freeman, the much-honored Latina legend danced to the podium before a standing ovation and let out a gleeful expletive.

"I hope the man with the button was there," she said. (He was.)

Moreno serenaded the SAG audience with a few bars from "This Is All I Ask":

"And let the music play/ As long as there's a song to sing/ And I will stay younger than spring."

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croshatch January 20 2014 at 1:39 AM

Good movie but I disagreed with their pick of Argo and disagree with this pick. But, hey, whatever.

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Rachele January 19 2014 at 11:58 PM

Interesting all the comments on The SAG awards results.. American Hustle was a well acted movie that deserves it's time in the limelight but I don't feel it changed anything or will be remembered years from now.. 12 years a slave was a piece of history that will be talked about for years to come. 12 years a slave had so many pivotal scenes that left me thinking, crying and sometime breathless.. The SAG awards, The Academy and any other award doesn't define the impact a movie has on it's audience.. I am a fan of Award season and will probably continue to watch but now I watch for the wardrobe rather then the The Best performances being honored.

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jekam26 January 19 2014 at 10:54 PM

After 51 minutes I walked OUT -- couldn't figure out what was going on

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Walt January 19 2014 at 10:45 PM

I don't know anyone who saw 12 years.....I am glad it didn't win....there is too much racism already in this country, we don't need these types of films anymore.....

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1 reply to Walt's comment
svhrtc January 19 2014 at 10:58 PM

You are truly an idiot, 12 years a slave shows a mans struggle after being kidnapped by two loosely called gentleman for twelve years of his life, and you state we dont need these types of films anymore. Amazing.

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gcigna January 19 2014 at 10:38 PM

AH totally was a very boring movie so I am shocked that it won. Really no one knows that this was about the distaste many of us have for the director of AH, David O Russell. Yeah Bradley can go on and on about how he makes everyone feel like family-when he abuses his actors and gets into fistfights with them (Christian Bale and also George Clooney) and berates them. And completely lies to the press about them and twists their words to make them look bad to the crew and fans of their other hit blockbuster(Jenn Lawrence). Last night was very awkward for two reasons, AH should not win over 12 Years A Slave and the cast of AH was trying to evade questions that everyone was dying to ask Jenn Lawrence about the comments Russell just stated (made up) in the NY Daily News interview this week.
I love the cast even though I hated the movie-and I really am sick of Hollywood and stars having to bow down to the likes of scum like Russell!

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Kimberly January 19 2014 at 10:27 PM

Ironically I loved most of the actors in this flick (Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale) but the movie was boring as heck! 2 hours in we were like how much longer can this go on? Can't really believe it's nominated and winning all these awards, but it's great for Bradley Cooper's resume.

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suesuzyp January 19 2014 at 10:18 PM

I guess i have to see that movie again..I went there thinking I was going to love it ..and walked out disappointed. thought it sucked..sorry.

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2 replies to suesuzyp's comment
Kimberly January 19 2014 at 10:28 PM

I don't think I could sit through it a second time all the way through. Life's too short for that.

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fitnescraz January 20 2014 at 12:04 AM

It appears ALTHOUGH the people who watched the film thought it blah.....and it received 2/5 stars.. HOLLWYOOD loves it....

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bdyftns January 19 2014 at 10:14 PM

We saw this movie...at least part of it. We walked out with most of the rest of the people. Horrible movie.

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1 reply to bdyftns's comment
croshatch January 20 2014 at 1:43 AM

That's not a valid comment if you walked out, bdyftns. There's a great twist at the end.

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pbesmer January 19 2014 at 10:08 PM

Trash movie, rip off of the sting, does not comapre to 12 years a slave, or even capt phillips. Not we're confusing good looks with good acting

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rufus January 19 2014 at 10:00 PM

its all politics anyway.

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