'American Hustle' wins top honor at SAG awards

David O. Russell's "American Hustle" has won the Screen Actors Guild award for outstanding cast, setting up the con-artist comedy as the film to beat at the Academy Awards.

The other nominees Saturday night at the ceremony at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium were "12 Years a Slave," "Dallas Buyers Club," "August: Osage County" and "Lee Daniels' The Butler." Because actors making up the largest branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the SAG Awards are considered one of the most predictive tea leaves of the Oscars.

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."

Coming two days after Academy Award nominations, the SAG Awards are particularly monitored for predicting Oscar momentum. The outstanding cast category, the night's top honor, was perhaps a showdown between "American Hustle" and "12 Years a Slave." The two very different films were kept separated by drama and comedy categories at the Golden Globes.

Nyong'o won for supporting actress for her performance as the singular slave Patsy in Steve McQueen's historical drama. 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."

The Kenyan actress, who has been hailed for her red-carpet grace this awards season, recalled her celebratory phone call to her father when she got the part - her first feature film.

"'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.'"

Leto was honored for supporting actor for playing the gaunt transsexual Rayon, alongside McConaughey's Texas cowboy. He dedicated the award to those who have died of AIDS and to "the Rayons of the world."

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.

"I am not here without Matt Damon," said Douglas, after making a gay sex pun that made his co-star wince.

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. It's the sixth SAG Award for the former "Seinfeld" star, whose "Enough Said" co-star James Gandolfini was nominated posthumously for his supporting performance.

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.

SAG and the academy don't always agree: Neither "August: Osage County" nor "The Butler" were nominated for best picture, and "The Butler" was snubbed entirely. The effects-heavy, sparsely peopled "Gravity" was predictably overlooked by SAG (except for a best actress nomination to Sandra Bullock), while it garnered 10 Oscar nods.

The SAG Awards are one of the more collegial stops on the awards circuit, with winners almost uniformly express gratitude for an honor chosen by their peers. A good speech (like Nyong'o's) can help stoke Oscar support.

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."

---

Associated Press writers Beth Harris and Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

---

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: HTTP://TWITTER.COM/JAKE-COYLE

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

or Subscribe now so you can share your opinion! It’s only a penny for a month trial.

'Planet of Apes' continues its rule at theaters
'Planet of Apes' continues its rule at theaters

The summer box office continued to lack mojo, as the R-rated "Sex Tape" failed to turn on moviegoers over a weekend where…

VIDEO: James Garner's most memorable roles
VIDEO: James Garner's most memorable roles

Legendary actor James Garner died at age 86 Saturday of natural causes. In celebration of his long career, here’s a look back at some…

Movie sparks disturbing online
Movie sparks disturbing online "purges"

Teens post risqué or obscene photos and malicious comments on social media in reaction to a film opening Friday.

10 times robots in movies turned on us
10 times robots in movies turned on us

No R2-D2 on this list! In honor of the 10th anniversary of "I, Robot," check out this list of 10 other times movie robots turned…

'Planet of the Apes' thumps chest with big debut
'Planet of the Apes' thumps chest with big debut

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" roared to $73 million on its opening weekend, one of the summer's best debuts, according to…

Ford's injury to halt 'Star Wars' for 2 weeks
Ford's injury to halt 'Star Wars' for 2 weeks

Harrison Ford's injury will cause production on "Star Wars: Episode VII" to be suspended for two weeks.

'Transformers' tops 'Tammy' over weak weekend
'Transformers' tops 'Tammy' over weak weekend

The Fourth of July went off like a dud at the box office, as the Michael Bay sequel "Transformers: Age of Extinction" and…

'Transformers' unearths $100M debut weekend
'Transformers' unearths $100M debut weekend

The fourth installment in the Transformers series earned $100 million in North America during its opening weekend, making it the biggest…

Lifetime making 'Saved By the Bell' cast movie
Lifetime making 'Saved By the Bell' cast movie

Lifetime is going back to the 1990s with a TV movie on the Saturday morning show "Saved By the Bell."

Saving the heart of a community, all over again
Saving the heart of a community, all over again

A movement by Clifton residents to save a local grocery store by having the community buy it through shares has strong connections to another…