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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."

Join the discussion

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Paul Anthony January 19 2014 at 8:45 AM

All of these award shows are stupid and mean nothing. I stopped watching them years ago but remember the commericals as the best part, and I despise commericals.

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2 replies
cbatmansions Paul Anthony January 19 2014 at 8:51 AM

so positive ,,,(or not)

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dj446688 Paul Anthony January 19 2014 at 8:51 AM

Yet you take the time to go to an article about them and comment on them. You'll deny it but SAG and AOL are accomplishing their goals through you....you're still talking about them and any publicity (or conversation) serves their purpose.

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alzeke44 January 19 2014 at 9:42 AM

anita!! west side story a movie so great they cant redo it

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David January 19 2014 at 9:33 AM

I love movies and I have always enjoyed the Oscar and Emmy and Grammy awards.....Is it just me or is there an award show now every week or so? It has just gotten to be ridiculous. These people must spend half of their time acting and the other half accepting awards.

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1 reply
mal723 David January 19 2014 at 9:58 AM

I know! Although I don't watch any of these shows any longer-I used to watch the Academy Awards but haven't done so in a long time, never really watched the Grammy or Emmy awards. I guess they need to keep someone in business: dress designers, trophy makers, photographers, bow-tie and tuxedo makers, jewelry people, hair stylists, etc. etc. the list goes on. Plus since the producers don't need to pay any of the actors-I guess they just get them a free ticket to a dinner of rubber chicken, along with free wine and drinks plus dessert? Plus as you say, these entertainment people just love to see themselves, talk about how wonderful they all are, how important they all are. Lastly, i guess here is an audience out there, pining for a better life, sitting in front of their 55 inch TV sets with their glass of wine or two or three, who'd want to be part of that crowd. I guess it's also free advertising for the shows and movies being nominated, and the resulting reviews of all these awards shows-who is best, who is worst, etc. Oh, and then you have the "best dressed, worst dressed, etc." shows and pics. I guess Joan Rivers now has a permanent job!

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jneal11254 January 19 2014 at 9:12 AM

I just don't understand the fascination with "Hustle." While the acting was excellent, and I loved the 70s ambience, the plot was so murky it was virtually impossible to follow. I don't see how it could have been the best picture of the year unless this was a lousy year.

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JIM January 19 2014 at 9:04 AM

I think they are overdoing these ego award shows. I wouldn't care but they preempt other shows.

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pegcobane January 19 2014 at 10:11 AM

I meant so many other people.

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don 1 January 19 2014 at 9:59 AM

OK, first off everyone should remember this is The Screen Actors Guild Awards. Thus it is their vote and therefore their opinions. Some appear to confuse this with the Peoples Choice Awards. Try to remember this!!!

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1 reply
bdgrizcp don 1 January 19 2014 at 10:17 AM

As if it matters. It doesn't. There are far too many award shows. It's a media thing. The growth of award shows is directly proportional to the increase in the mass of the media. It's a bloated mess right now. It has practically nothing whatever to do with the viewing public.

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1 reply
JP Samm bdgrizcp January 19 2014 at 10:42 AM

Did you ever think they have these awards one after the other because of convenience????? This way all the celebs can come to town for this period of time to present/receive and mingle and after go home to wherever.. its' like the superbowl for a city... not just one day... but events happening for a whole week :)

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richard.ramos28 January 19 2014 at 8:53 AM

Just like college football bowl games. Too many movie award shows.

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mrspc January 19 2014 at 9:39 AM

I want to be Rita Moreno when I'm 82!

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jlpjrcar43 January 19 2014 at 9:42 AM

I thought the movie American Hustle more than entertained me and the effort to see it was well worth it.

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