LOS ANGELES — “Birdman” soared this weekend, taking two top prizes, including the Screen Actors Guild Award on Sunday evening for ensemble, the guild’s equivalent of best film of the year.
The dark comedy starring Michael Keaton as a washed-up movie superhero seeking redemption has been picking up honors throughout the awards season, though has been overshadowed at times by critics darling “Boyhood.” But on Saturday night, it won the top prize at the Producers Guild Awards. That, combined with its win Sunday at the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards, solidifies its position as a front-runner heading into the Academy Awards next month.
Other big winners Sunday night were Julianne Moore, who took female actor in a leading role for “Still Alice.” Eddie Redmayne took male actor in a leading role for his channeling theoretical physicist suffering with ALS in “The Theory of Everything.”
Redmayne dedicated the honor “to those who have lost their lives to this brutal disease.” As he prepared for the role, Redmayne said, “I met many people fighting ALS … the courage and the bravery and the spirit, the triumph of spirit that I witnessed, blew my mind.”
Earlier, Viola Davis won for female actor in a drama series for her role in “How to Get Away With Murder” and said the win was a victory for defying stereotypes. Davis praised the show’s creators and producers for casting a 49-year-old African-American woman “who looks like me” to play the role of a “sexualized, messy, mysterious” legal powerhouse in the freshman hit drama on ABC.
The star-studded audience gave a rousing standing ovation for Debbie Reynolds as she received the life achievement award.
Reynolds, 82, who got her first contract after she won Miss Burbank honors at age 16, has starred in such Hollywood classics as 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain.” “I had a good time in that picture wearing myself out,” she said.
She rambled a bit during her acceptance speech, as her daughter Carrie Fisher stood by and held the award with a smile. Reynolds said her favorite role was “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” which nabbed her an Oscar nomination. In that 1964 musical, about a feisty young woman, she sang, “I Ain’t Down Yet,” and it has served her since as a motto of sorts.
“Well, I ain’t,” she quipped with the crack comedic timing that had made her a star.
In other awards, Patricia Arquette and J.K. Simmons continued their winning ways and solidified their status as front-runners heading into the Academy Awards next month.
Simmons won for male actor in a supporting role as a ruthless music teacher in “Whiplash.” Arquette won for female actor in a supporting role as a single mother raising two kids in “Boyhood,” shot over a 12-year period. Both actors have won several critics awards and Golden Globes for their performances.
In other honors, the women-behind-bars prison TV series “Orange Is The New Black” took two of the first three prizes, including ensemble in a comedy series and female actor in a comedy series for Uzo Aduba.
Aduba, who plays the eccentric inmate Crazy Eyes, accepted the ensemble award on behalf of the cast and was sincerely shocked at her own prize: “I really truly do not know what to say.”
The Netflix series and Aduba had topped such established performers and shows such as Julie Bowen for “Modern Family,” Edie Falco for “Nurse Jackie,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Veep.”
In other awards, “Downton Abbey” won for ensemble in a drama series. Kevin Spacey won male actor in a drama series for “House of Cards.” Frances McDormand took female actor in a TV movie or miniseries for “Olive Kitteridge.” Mark Ruffalo won for male actor in a TV movie or miniseries for the AIDS drama “The Normal Heart.” And William H. Macy took actor in a comedy series for “Shameless.”
Over the past two decades, the SAG Awards have predicted Oscar gold.
Last year, the winners of SAG’s four top acting honors — Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”), Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”), Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”) and Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”) — all went on to win Academy Awards.
The SAG Awards aired live on TBS and TNT from the Shrine Exposition Hall in Los Angeles.
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