"Birdman" soared this weekend, with the cast of the dark comedy taking home the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards' top prize Sunday evening.
The film starring Michael Keaton as a washed-up movie superhero seeking redempting had been picking up honors throughout the awards season, though it has been overshadowed at times by critics darling “Boyhood.” But it gained the edge this weekend as it won the Producers Guild Award on Saturday night, followed by Sunday’s victory.
FULL COVERAGE: SAG Awards 2015
The momentum gives a lift to “Birdman” heading into the final stretch of the awards season, which culimates at the Academy Awards next month.
In fact, Sunday's ceremony felt like an Oscars warm-up.
Over the past two decades, the SAG Awards have become a predictor of Oscar gold. If that holds true, then Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette should have their acceptance speeches ready for the Academy Awards on Feb. 22.
Redmayne took the honor Sunday for male actor in a leading role for channeling theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and his battle with ALS in “The Theory of Everything.” Redmayne dedicated his award “to those who have lost their lives to this brutal disease.” Moore received the guild’s top acting honor for playing a professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s in “Still Alice.”
Simmons earned supporting honors as a ruthless music teacher in “Whiplash.” Arquette won a supporting award for playing a single mother raising two kids in “Boyhood,” which was shot over a 12-year period. All four actors also won two weeks ago at the Golden Globes.
The star-studded audience gave a rousing standing ovation for actress Debbie Reynolds as she received the guild’s life achievement award.
Reynolds, 82, who earned her first film contract after she won Miss Burbank honors at age 16, has starred in Hollywood classics such as 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain.” “I had a good time in that picture wearing myself out,” she told the appreciative crowd.
The actress, who rambled a bit, noted that her favorite role was in the 1964 musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” Reynolds said one of the songs she performs in the film, “I Ain’t Down Yet,” has served her as a motto.
“Well, I ain’t,” she quipped with the crack comedic timing that has made her a star for over six decades.
FULL COVERAGE: SAG AWARDS 2015
On the TV side, the drama “Downton Abbey” and newcomer comedy “Orange Is the New Black” were the big winners, taking home the ensemble awards.
"Orange Is the New Black" also earned a trophy for female actor in a comedy series for Uzo Aduba, who plays the eccentric inmate Crazy Eyes and was at a loss for words as she took the stage to accept. William H. Macy nabbed actor in a comedy series for “Shameless.”
Viola Davis won female actor in a drama series for “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.
Kevin Spacey won male actor in a drama series for “House of Cards.”
In other honors, Frances McDormand took female actor in a TV movie or miniseries for “Olive Kitteridge,” and Mark Ruffalo garnered male actor in a TV movie or miniseries for the AIDS drama “The Normal Heart.”
The SAG Awards aired live on TBS and TNT from the Shrine Exposition Hall in Los Angeles.