David O. Russells 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 make 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.
Saturdays awards were a somewhat low-key affair with a few memorable speeches but no earthquakes in a rapidly solidifying award season. The nights acting winners – Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Lupita Nyongo (12 Years a Slave) and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) – are each probably the favorites of their categories.
Nyongo won for supporting actress for her performance as the singular slave Patsy in Steve McQueens 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.
Leto was honored for supporting actor for playing the transsexual Rayon, alongside McConaugheys Texas cowboy. He dedicated the award to those who have died of AIDS.
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.
Two big-screen veterans won awards for TV films: Michael Douglas for HBOs 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.
Its hard you know because its awards season and things get confusing, much like elections, said Louis-Dreyfus.
SAG and the academy dont 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, while it garnered 10 Oscar nods.
SAGs lifetime achievement award was given to Rita Moreno, the 81-year-old West Side Story actress whose career has spanned Broadway, television and music.