American Hustle Wins Top Honour At SAG Awards
The cast of American Hustle have taken the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, setting up the film as the one to beat at the Oscars.
The con-artist comedy from director David O Russell won the award for outstanding cast, although it won no individual acting awards and only Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for her supporting role.
Bradley Cooper accepted the award on behalf of the cast, and praised the director with whom they had all worked previously.
"He is an actor's director," said Cooper. "That notion is tossed around; he is the embodiment of it. He's the reason why all of us wanted to become actors when we were children."
On the small screen, best drama went to cult series Breaking Bad and best comedy to Modern Family.
There was British success for Dame Helen Mirren, who was named best actress in a TV movie or miniseries for her role as a lawyer in the biopic Phil Spector.
Dame Maggie Smith, who plays Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downtown Abbey, won the prize for best actress in a TV drama series.
Dame Helen joked her male statue trophy was sexy and she didn't "feel at all saggy", adding: "I feel quite perky".
Cate Blanchett won best actress for her movie role as a socialite who suffers a reversal of fortune in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, while best actor went to Matthew McConaughey for his portrayal of an unlikely Aids activist in Dallas Buyers Club.
"It really shines a great light on this bull ride we call acting," said McConaughey. "I've been able to recently find some characters that I can humble myself to their humanities and get feverishly drunk on their obsessions."
Both actors are the clear front-runners for best acting Oscars after winning Golden Globes last week.
McConaughey's co-star Jared Leto won best supporting actor for his turn as his transsexual sidekick, while another first-time winner, Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o, was recognised for her supporting role as the hardworking slave Patsey in 12 Years A Slave.
Nyong'o thanked British director Steve McQueen "for taking a flashlight and shining it underneath the floorboards of this nation and reminding us what it is we stand on".
She also recalled her 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!' And he said, 'I don't know him personally, but I'm glad you got a job'."
Actress Rita Moreno, 82, who won an Oscar in 1962 for her iconic portrayal of Anita in West Side Story, received the lifetime achievement award and dropped an expletive as soon as she stepped onto the stage to accept it.
"I am so ******* thrilled. I hope the man with the button was there on time."
The awards are seen as one of the better indicators of prospects for the Academy Awards, Tinseltown's most coveted honours, which will be held on March 2.
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:: You can also watch the Oscars live on Sunday, March 2 on Sky Movies from 11:30pm.
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