'Argo' wins top SAG award, in latest pre-Oscar boost

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Iran hostage crisis drama "Argo" won the best film drama prize at the Screen Actors Guild awards, 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 best actress SAG award for her role in romantic comedy "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 TV-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, scheduled to be held on February 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 sci-fi film.

Day-Lewis's SAG success will only increase his already-strong chances of winning the 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 America's 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 had 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.

Backstage he was modest about his Oscar prospects, saying: "I deeply appreciate these kind of things, it doesn't happen all the time. It's really wonderful to have awards that give you a sense of encouragement."

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.

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