McConaughey, Blanchett and 'American Hustle' take home top SAG awards

AFP, Sunday 19 Jan 2014

The race for the Oscars continues with Hollywood's Screen Actors Guild awards

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The cast of 'American Hustle' on stage after winning the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Crime caper American Hustle won the top film prize at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards on Saturday, earning another big boost in Hollywood's all-important Oscars race.

Australian Cate Blanchett won best actress for her role in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, while Matthew McConaughey took home best actor for AIDS activist movie Dallas Buyers Club.

Jared Leto won best supporting actor for his role in Dallas Buyers Club and best supporting actress went to Lupita Nyong'o in the harrowing drama 12 Years a Slave.

On the small screen, best drama went to cult series Breaking Bad and best comedy to Modern Family.

The SAGs, the latest show in Hollywood's glitzy annual awards season, are seen as one of the better indicators of prospects for the Academy Awards, Tinseltown's most coveted honors, which will be held on March 2.

American Hustle, based on a 1970s FBI sting operation known as ABSCAM, topped the winners at last weekend's Golden Globes with three awards and has 10 Oscar nominations.

On Saturday in Los Angeles it added to its growing acclaim with Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture -- the SAGs equivalent of best film.

Meanwhile Blanchett is increasingly seen as the Oscar best actress frontrunner for playing a Manhattan socialite struggling to cope after her swindler husband kills himself and she is forced to go and live with her poor sister in San Francisco.

"For those who voted for me, I thank you, and for those who didn't, better luck next year," Blanchett said in her acceptance speech Saturday.

McConaughey also further boosted his Oscar hopes with his role in Dallas Buyers Club, based on the true story of a homophobic rodeo hustler who gets HIV and becomes an activist for early anti-HIV drugs in the 1980s.

"I've been able to recently find some characters I could humble myself to their humanities and then get feverishly drunk on their obsessions," said McConaughey, who won the best actor Golden Globe last weekend.

In the television categories, Michael Douglas won best actor in a miniseries or TV movie for his portrayal of flamboyant entertainer Liberace in Behind the Candelabra, with Matt Damon as his young gay lover.

Britain's Helen Mirren won the female equivalent for HBO's Phil Spector, in which she played the lawyer for the erratic music producer on trial for murder, played by Al Pacino.

"I was terrified of working with Al Pacino," Mirren said backstage afterwards.

She added: "Showtime and HBO are great channels. And Netflix. The whole landscape is changing. I'm very happy to be working at the time it's changing.

"It's a wonderful, exciting moment for television drama and television film."

Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston won best actor in a drama series for his take on a chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin, while Briton Maggie Smith won best actress for hit period drama Downton Abbey.

Ty Burrell, one of the stars of Modern Family, swept up the best comedy actor prize. Julia Louis-Dreyfus won best actress for her vice-presidential role in Veep.

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