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‘Hustle’ has the Oscar look

SAG win gives it a boost pre-awards

  • From left, Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Rohm, Colleen Camp, Alessandro Nivola, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, David O. Russell, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Paul Herman pose in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for “American Hustle” at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

    From left, Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Rohm, Colleen Camp, Alessandro Nivola, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, David O. Russell, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Paul Herman pose in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for “American Hustle” at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

  • Lupita Nyong'o poses with the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role for “12 Years a Slave” in the press room at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

    Lupita Nyong'o poses with the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role for “12 Years a Slave” in the press room at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

  • Cate Blanchett poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role for “Blue Jasmine” at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

    Cate Blanchett poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role for “Blue Jasmine” at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

  • Matthew McConaughey poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role for “Dallas Buyers at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

    Matthew McConaughey poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role for “Dallas Buyers at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

  • Rita Moreno, left, and Morgan Freeman arrive at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)

    Rita Moreno, left, and Morgan Freeman arrive at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)

  • From left, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Dean Norris accept the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series for "Breaking Bad" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)

    From left, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Dean Norris accept the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series for "Breaking Bad" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)

  • Kerry Washington arrives at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

    Kerry Washington arrives at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

  • Jared Leto poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role for "Dallas Buyers Club" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

    Jared Leto poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role for "Dallas Buyers Club" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

  • Matt Walsh, left, joins Julia Louis-Dreyfus on stage as she accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series for "Veep" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)

    Matt Walsh, left, joins Julia Louis-Dreyfus on stage as she accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series for "Veep" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)

  • Matt Damon and Michael Douglas arrive at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

    Matt Damon and Michael Douglas arrive at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

  • Sofia Vergara arrives at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

    Sofia Vergara arrives at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

  • From left, Rico Rodriguez, Julie Bowen, Ariel Winter, Sofia Vergara, Ed O'Neill, Sarah Hyland, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Nolan Gould and Ty Burrell accept the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series for "Modern Family" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)

    From left, Rico Rodriguez, Julie Bowen, Ariel Winter, Sofia Vergara, Ed O'Neill, Sarah Hyland, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Nolan Gould and Ty Burrell accept the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series for "Modern Family" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)

  • Morgan Freeman, right, presents Rita Moreno with the Screen Actors Guild 50th Annual Life Achievement Award at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)

    Morgan Freeman, right, presents Rita Moreno with the Screen Actors Guild 50th Annual Life Achievement Award at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)

  • From left, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston pose in the press room with their awards for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series for "Breaking Bad" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

    From left, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston pose in the press room with their awards for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series for "Breaking Bad" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

  • From left, Robert De Niro, Michael Pena, Alessandro Nivola, Jeremy Renner, Colleen Camp, Elisabeth Rohm, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams and Paul Herman accept the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for “American Hustle” at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)

    From left, Robert De Niro, Michael Pena, Alessandro Nivola, Jeremy Renner, Colleen Camp, Elisabeth Rohm, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams and Paul Herman accept the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for “American Hustle” at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)

  • From left, Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Rohm, Colleen Camp, Alessandro Nivola, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, David O. Russell, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Paul Herman pose in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for “American Hustle” at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
  • Lupita Nyong'o poses with the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role for “12 Years a Slave” in the press room at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
  • Cate Blanchett poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role for “Blue Jasmine” at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
  • Matthew McConaughey poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role for “Dallas Buyers at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
  • Rita Moreno, left, and Morgan Freeman arrive at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)
  • From left, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Dean Norris accept the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series for "Breaking Bad" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)
  • Kerry Washington arrives at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
  • Jared Leto poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role for "Dallas Buyers Club" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
  • Matt Walsh, left, joins Julia Louis-Dreyfus on stage as she accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series for "Veep" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)
  • Matt Damon and Michael Douglas arrive at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
  • Sofia Vergara arrives at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
  • From left, Rico Rodriguez, Julie Bowen, Ariel Winter, Sofia Vergara, Ed O'Neill, Sarah Hyland, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Nolan Gould and Ty Burrell accept the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series for "Modern Family" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)
  • Morgan Freeman, right, presents Rita Moreno with the Screen Actors Guild 50th Annual Life Achievement Award at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)
  • From left, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston pose in the press room with their awards for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series for "Breaking Bad" at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
  • From left, Robert De Niro, Michael Pena, Alessandro Nivola, Jeremy Renner, Colleen Camp, Elisabeth Rohm, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams and Paul Herman accept the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for “American Hustle” at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)

Hollywood loves a sequel, and this awards season is shaping up to be one.

Just as Argo emerged as the unlikely victor over Lincoln last year, another 1970s-set crowd-pleaser is turning into the Academy Awards favorite over a solemn historical epic about slavery.

David O. Russell’s American Hustle took the Screen Actors Guild Awards’ top honor for outstanding castSaturday night, beating out Steve McQueen’s acclaimed 12 Years a Slave. Because actors make up the largest branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the SAG Awards (which last year picked Argo) are considered one of the best indicators of the Oscars.

Just days ago, the Academy Awards nominations set up a trio of front-runners, bestowing 10 nods on American Hustle and Gravity, and nine on 12 Years a Slave. But though no actor was individually honored by the guild for American Hustle, the Abscam tale now appears to have an edge over its Oscar rivals.

Speaking for a cast that includes Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper credited Russell as the epitome of the “actor’s director.”

“He makes you feel like you’re part of the family, whether you’re Robert DeNiro or you’re Patty Mack,” Cooper said at the Shrine Auditorium ceremony in Los Angeles. “You are part of the family.”

In addition to last year’s Argo, SAG cast awards have lined up with such past Oscar best-picture winners as The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire and No Country for Old Men. But the guild has also diverged with picks like The Help, Inglourious Basterds and Little Miss Sunshine.

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.”

One of the night’s biggest winners was Nyong’o, who won supporting actress over Lawrence. Though 12 Years a Slave is only her feature film debut, the Kenyan actress has been hailed for her red-carpet style and grace this awards season. Her speech was both composed and emotional – the kind of display that can turn Oscar voters’ heads.

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.” And she recalled the celebratory phone call to her father when she got the part.

“ ‘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.’ ”

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.”

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,” Louis-Dreyfus said.

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