Iran hostage crisis drama Argo won the best film drama prize at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards on Sunday, in yet another boost for its prospects at next month’s all-important Oscars.
Steven Spielberg’s top-tipped presidential drama Lincoln also scored successes with best actor for Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role and supporting actor Tommy Lee Jones.
Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence took the best actress SAG award for her role in romcom Silver Linings Playbook, while Anne Hathaway took best supporting actress for her singing performance in musical Les Miserables.
On the small screen, Downton Abbey and Modern Family were the big winners in the drama and comedy categories respectively, while television-themed hit comedy series 30 Rock — about to end its last season — won two top awards.
For Ben Affleck, who directed and starred in Argo, it was the second top prize in as many days after his film won the Producers Guild of America award, a key bellwether for Oscars glory, on Saturday night.
Argo caused a surprise by winning best picture and best director for Affleck at this month’s Golden Globes and is nominated in seven categories for the Oscars on Feb. 24.
It tells the story of a daring CIA mission to rescue six US diplomats who took refuge at the Canadian embassy in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis, bringing them out disguised as crewmembers for a Hollywood science-fiction film.
Day-Lewis’ SAG success will only increase his already strong chances of winning the best actor category at the Oscars, while Lawrence’s success adds a dimension to her star status from worldwide blockbuster Hunger Games.
The British-Irish actor, who won the best actor Globe for his role as the US’ 16th president, joked about having hesitated before accepting the role of such a political icon.
“It occurred to me it was an actor that murdered Abraham Lincoln ... and therefore it’s only fitting that every now and then, an actor tries to bring him back to life again,” he said, to laughter from his fellow acting professionals.
Asked backstage about his hopes for winning an Oscar this year — in what would be a record third best actor Academy Award for one person — he joked: “Members of the Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] love surprises.”
Affleck took to the stage shortly after Day-Lewis accepted his award at the end of the two-hour SAG show.
“I can’t believe I’m standing in the place where Daniel Day-Lewis just was. I feel like maybe I’ll be a better actor, just from the radiation,” he joked.
On the small screen, multiple Emmy-winning British historical drama Downton Abbey won best drama series cast, while Modern Family took the cast prize in the comedy category. Best TV drama actor went to Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad, while Claire Danes won best drama actress for spy series Homeland.
Best TV comedy series actor and actress prizes went to the stars of 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey, whose show is about to finish after seven successful seasons.