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January 19, 2014

With SAG win, 'Hustle' has Oscar look of 'Argo'

JOHNSTOWN — Hollywood loves a sequel, and this awards season is shaping up to be one.

Just as "Argo" emerged as the unlikely victor over "Lincoln" last year, another 1970s-set crowd-pleaser is turning into the Academy Awards favorite over a solemn historical epic about slavery.

David O. Russell's "American Hustle" took the Screen Actors Guild Awards' top honor for outstanding cast on Saturday night, beating out Steve McQueen's acclaimed "12 Years a Slave." Because actors make up the largest branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the SAG Awards (which last year picked "Argo") are considered one of the best indicators of the Oscars.

Just days ago, the Academy Awards nominations set up a trio of front-runners, bestowing 10 nods on "American Hustle" and "Gravity," and nine on "12 Years a Slave." But though no actor was individually honored by the guild for "American Hustle," the Abscam tale now appears to have an edge over its Oscar rivals.

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Speaking for a cast that includes Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper credited Russell as the epitome of the actor's director.

"He makes you feel like you're part of the family, whether you're Robert DeNiro or you're Patty Mack," Cooper said at the Shrine Auditorium ceremony in Los Angeles. "You are part of the family."

In addition to last year's "Argo," SAG cast awards have lined up with such past Oscar best-picture winners as "The King's Speech," ''Slumdog Millionaire" and "No Country for Old Men." But the guild has also diverged with picks like "The Help," ''Inglourious Basterds" and "Little Miss Sunshine."

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