Los Angeles: The 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards gave David O Russell`s con-man comedy `American Hustle` the top prize, making it the front-runner for Oscar gold.
The comedic film, loosely based on the Abscam scandal of the late `70s, received just two nominations at the awards, but it won the big one: outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture.
Its star Bradley Cooper, practically yelling his approval, paid tribute to director David O Russell for the film.
`Hustle` and `12 Years a Slave` are among the leading Oscar nominees, and at the SAG Awards the two films faced off for outstanding ensemble -- the SAG Awards` equivalent of Oscar`s best picture.
`12 Years`, about a freeman forced into slavery in 19th-century America, led all SAG Awards nominees with four nominations.
Matthew McConaughey of `Dallas Buyers Club` took home the Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role. He plays an AIDS-afflicted man in the film.
Cate Blanchett, who also won a Globe, won the SAG Award for lead female actor for her role in Woody Allen`s `Blue Jasmine`.
Lupita Nyong`o and Jared Leto led off the awards by winning prizes for supporting female actor and supporting male actor, respectively.
Leto, who stars as a transgender woman in `Dallas Buyers Club`, paid tribute to those who have been victims of AIDS, "that terrible disease."
Nyong`o, who plays a slave terrorised by a plantation owner in `12 Years a Slave`, won over competition that included Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels` `The Butler`) and Jennifer Lawrence (`American Hustle`).
Rita Moreno accepted the Screen Actors Guild`s Life Achievement Award.
She and presenter Morgan Freeman fell into their old `Electric Company` roles, pronouncing out "SAG-AFTRA."
In the television categories, `Modern Family` won comedy series ensemble. It is the show`s fourth straight SAG Award.
`Veep`s` Julia Louis-Dreyfus and `Modern Family`s` Ty Burrell won the honours for their performances in TV comedies.
Michael Douglas (`Behind the Candelabra`) and Helen Mirren (`Phil Spector`) also took home trophies.
`Breaking Bad` won drama series ensemble and star Bryan Cranston took home the award for male actor in a drama.
`Downton Abbey` star Maggie Smith won an award for female actor in a drama series.