LOS ANGELES — “American Hustle” took the top prize Saturday night at the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, receiving the trophy for cast in a motion picture – the guild’s equivalent to a best picture Oscar.

The 1970s con-man comedy solidified its status as one of the top contenders for that coveted Academy Award, as the SAG awards are considered one of the more reliable indicators of Oscar gold.

The same front-runner status has also been bestowed on Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett.

Both performers have won the lion’s share of trophies this awards season, and their streak continued Saturday night.

Blanchett won the trophy for lead female actor in a film for “Blue Jasmine,” as a mentally troubled widow. And McConaughey picked up the honor for lead male actor in a film for his role as a homophobic engineer who discovers he has AIDS in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

The SAG honors TV as well as film, with “Breaking Bad” and “Modern Family” both winning two awards apiece.


The AMC drama about a ruthless meth kingpin earned the top honor for a television drama series at the SAG Awards.

“What a way to go out in style,” Bryan Cranston said as he accepted the honor for an ensemble in a TV drama series. Moments earlier, Cranston had topped off his Emmy and Golden Globe wins for playing the ruthless kingpin Walter White with the prize for male actor in a TV drama series at the SAG Awards.

The actor was in high spirits, acknowledging show creator Vince Gilligan with an “I love you, honey” and even breaking out into song. But that was nothing to 82-year-old Rita Moreno, who moments earlier got bleeped as she took the stage.

The veteran actress who is one of Hollywood’s rarest birds – an EGOT, a winner of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and Tony award – relished her moment in the spotlight as she received the prestigious Life Achievement Award.

“I’m so (bleeping) excited,” Moreno said after doing a victory dance around the stage in accepting the honor from her “Electric Company” co-star, Morgan Freeman. She sang, she flirted with Brad Pitt and Jeremy Renner, and earned herself a standing ovation.

Earlier in the evening, another acting veteran – Michael Douglas – celebrated a win for the role of a lifetime, playing Liberace.


Douglas will always be remembered for his Oscar-winning role as Gordon Gekko, of course, in 1987’s “Wall Street.” But his daring turn as the flamboyant gay showman in HBO’s “Behind the Candelabra” has been a revelation.

It earned him the Emmy and the Golden Globe. And at the SAG Awards, he won the trophy for male actor in a television movie or miniseries.

And as has been the routine this awards season, he has had nothing but praise for his co-star, who played the pianist’s much younger lover. “The truth is, I am not here without Matt Damon,” Douglas said. “This is yours, too.”

Earlier in the evening, “Modern Family” won its fourth consecutive honor for top comedy series. Sofia Vergara was chosen to accept the award for the show’s ensemble because of her assets – comedic and otherwise. But hers wasn’t the only funny acceptance speech of the night.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the SAG award for female actor in a TV comedy role for HBO’s “Veep” and had the audience at the Shrine Exposition Center in downtown Los Angeles laughing with an acceptance speech that riffed off her role as the ambitious vice president. And Ty Burrell was even funnier. The male actor in a TV comedy role for ABC’s “Modern Family” accepted the honor with a speech that included his five simple rules for failing his way to success.

Meanwhile, the Cinderella story continued for Lupita Nyong’o.


She won the first award handed out at the awards on Saturday night for the first feature film performance of her career, in Steve McQueen’s harrowing drama “12 Years a Slave.”

“Being recognized by your fellow actors is an honor of the highest order,” she said as she picked up the trophy for female actor in a supporting role. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Steve McQueen.” The win catapults her to front-runner status heading into the Oscars on March 2.

However, it was the only award it won Saturday night, despite coming off of two best picture wins in the past week: The historical look at slavery in America earned the best dramatic film award last Sunday at the Golden Globes, and won the top prize Thursday night at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. Still, “12 Years a Slave” also received nine Academy Award nominations Thursday morning including for film and director, as well as three in the acting categories.

In other awards handed out Saturday evening, Helen Mirren won the trophy for female actor in a television movie or miniseries for HBO’s “Phil Spector.” Maggie Smith won the statuette for female actor in a TV drama series for PBS’ “Downton Abbey.”

And Jared Leto won the SAG award for a male actor in a supporting role for his performance playing a transgender woman with AIDS in “Dallas Buyers Club.” The win also makes him the one to beat heading into the Oscars. Leto dedicated his honor to those living with AIDS and HIV, and said he shared it with the member of the transgender community.

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