Birdman topped the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, winning best ensemble cast, even though star Michael Keaton was upset by Eddie Redmayne in the most outstanding actor category.
Oscar favourites Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette and JK Simmons cemented their front-runner status in a Los Angeles ceremony that often serves as a preview to the Academy Awards.
Keaton led the Birdman cast, including Emma Stone, Edward Norton and Zach Galifianakis, in accepting the top honour from the acting guild, calling the profession “the ultimate team sport”.
“Every time I turned around, I ran into another tremendous actor,” he said.
Redmayne, who stars as Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything, was the surprise winner in a category expected to go to Keaton for his career-capping performance as a Hollywood has-been trying to mount a comeback on Broadway.
Redmayne dedicated his award to sufferers and victims of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
Moore, widely considered the best actress favourite, won most supporting actress for Still Alice, in which she plays an academic with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Accepting the award for most outstanding supporting actor for his performance as a domineering jazz teacher in Whiplash, Simmons thanked all 49 actors who appear in the drama.
Boyhood star Arquette added the latest in a string of awards, taking the supporting actress prize for her performance, filmed over the course of 12 years.
“I can’t tell you what this means to me,” said Arquette. “I’m a fourth-generation actor. My family has been committed to acting for over a century, through feast or famine.”
The show kicked off with two wins for the Netflix prison series Orange Is The New Black, naming it as best ensemble in a comedy and naming Uza Abuda most outstanding actress in a comedy series.
Best ensemble cast in a drama series went to Downton Abbey, the second time the series has won the category.
Because actors make up the largest portion of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the SAG Awards are also considered one of the most telling Oscar previews.
Last year, the top four winners – Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong’o and Jared Leto – all went on to win Academy Awards after first scooping up SAG awards.
In the last six years, SAG best-ensemble and Academy Award best-picture winners have lined up three times (Argo, ’The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire).
Last year, the actors chose American Hustle over eventual Oscar winner 12 Years A Slave.
Two actors who usually reside on the big screen won the SAG awards for performances in a miniseries or TV movie, Mark Ruffalo (for HBO’s A Normal Heart) and Frances McDormand (for HBO’s Olive Kitteredge).
Kevin Spacey (House Of Cards), William H Macy (Shameless) and Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder) also collected awards.
Debbie Reynolds, the Singin’ In The Rain star, was honoured with the SAG lifetime achievement award, which her daughter, Carrie Fisher, presented.
Outstanding Female Actor in a Comedy Series:
Uzo Aduba, 'Orange Is the New Black'
Outstanding Male Actor in a Comedy Series:
William H. Macy, 'Shameless'
Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series:
'Orange Is the New Black'
Outstanding Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries:
Mark Ruffalo, 'The Normal Heart'
Outstanding Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries: Frances McDormand, 'Olive Kitteridge'
Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama Series:
Kevin Spacey, 'House of Cards'
Outstanding Female Actor in a Drama Series: Viola Davis, 'How to Get Away With Murder'
Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series: 'Downton Abbey'
Outstanding Female Actor in a Supporting Role:
Patricia Arquette, 'Boyhood'
Outstanding Male Actor in a Supporting Role:
J.K. Simmons, 'Whiplash'
Outstanding Male Actor in a Leading Role:
Eddie Redmayne, 'The Theory of Everything'
Outstanding Female Actor in a Leading Role:
Julianne Moore, 'Still Alice'
Outstanding Ensemble in a Motion Picture: