LOS ANGELES (AP) - The CIA thriller “Argo” continues to steamroll through awards season, winning the top honor for overall cast performance at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
SAG’s lead-acting honors Sunday went to Jennifer Lawrence for her role as a troubled widow in a shaky new relationship in the lost-souls romance “Silver Linings Playbook” and Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War epic “Lincoln.”
“It occurred to me _ it was an actor that murdered Abraham Lincoln,” said Day-Lewis, a solid front-runner to join an exclusive list of three-time acting Oscar winners. “And therefore, somehow it is only so fitting that every now and then an actor tries to bring him back to life again.”
It was a brisk, businesslike and fairly bland evening as the actors union handed out honors to a predictable lineup of winners who generally had triumphed at earlier Hollywood ceremonies or past SAG shows.
The SAG cast win came a day after “Argo” claimed the top honor from the Producers Guild of America, whose winner often goes on to claim best picture at the Academy Awards. “Argo” also was a surprise victor two weeks ago at the Golden Globes, where it won best drama and director for Ben Affleck.
The awards momentum positions “Argo” for a rare feat at the Feb. 24 Oscars, where it could become just the fourth film in 85 years to be named best picture without a nomination for its director.
Affleck plays CIA agent Tony Mendez, who masterminded the daring rescue of six U.S. embassy workers in Iran after the 1979 hostage crisis erupted. The Americans were brought out of Iran masquerading as crew members of a fake Hollywood sci-fi movie scouting locations.
A directing nomination at the Oscars usually goes hand in hand with a best-picture win. When Affleck was snubbed for a directing slot, awards analysts initially were counting “Argo” out for the best-picture Oscar, along with Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” and Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables,” which also missed out on directing nominations.
Only once in modern times has a film won best picture without a directing nomination, with 1989’s “Driving Miss Daisy.” The other two times came in the show’s early years, at the first Oscars in 1929 with “Wings” and for 1932’s “Grand Hotel.”
But “Argo” has proven a resilient crowd-pleaser, dominating at awards shows since then over Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” which leads the Oscars with 12 nominations.
The cast prize at SAG adds some weight to the Oscar prospects for “Argo,” though the guild honor has a spotty record at forecasting eventual best-picture winners. Only eight of 17 times since the guild added the category has the cast winner gone on to take the best-picture Oscar. “The Help” won the guild’s cast prize last year, while Oscar voters named “The Artist” as best picture.
The next playoff round before the Oscars is Saturday’s Directors Guild of America Awards, where Affleck, Bigelow, Spielberg and Hooper all are nominated, along with Ang Lee for “Life of Pi.” The winner there typically goes on to triumph with directing and best-picture Oscars, but only Spielberg and Lee are nominated for both the Directors Guild and Oscar prizes this time, throwing the awards picture into a muddle.
Sunday’s acting prizes solidify those categories, though. “Silver Linings” star Lawrence won a Golden Globe and has become one of Hollywood’s hottest talents, with part two of her blockbuster franchise, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” due out in November.