Quentin Tarantino's World War Two movie Inglourious Basterds won its biggest award so far on Saturday, taking the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild awards.
Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock were hailed as best movie actor and actress of 2009 on a night where no single movie dominated the lists but which lined the two stars up for likely Oscar glory in March.
Inglourious Basterds, a violent and darkly comic revenge fantasy, won for best ensemble for a multinational cast that included American Brad Pitt, Germany's Diane Kruger and Austrian Christoph Waltz, who also won the SAG best supporting actor trophy.
The Tarantino movie had already won a string of film critics' awards but none as prestigious as the award chosen by the 120,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild.
The SAG awards are usually seen as a key indicator of success at the Oscars, the movie industry's highest honors. But Avatar, which won a Golden Globe and has earned more than $1.6 billion (Dh5.87bn) at global box offices, was not in the running at SAG, whose members tend to reward acting talent rather than action adventures.
Bullock, previously best known for romantic comedies, plays a wealthy white mother who takes a downtrodden black high school football player into her home in The Blind Side.
"If you look at my career, no-one would have predicted this," the actress said, referring to the clutch of awards she has won.
"I was lucky that I wanted to better my work and that I was given the opportunity,'' she said, adding she has now learned to say "no" to mediocre parts. She said her money had been on veteran Meryl Streep for her role as a TV chef in Julie and Julia.
Bridges' performance as a drunken country singer in Crazy Heart has brought the best accolades of a career that started when he was a baby. Bridges, 60, who hails from an acting dynasty that includes his father Lloyd Bridges and brother Beau, was given a standing ovation on Saturday.
"I love being an actor, pretending to be in the shoes of other folks," he said, adding that the stars at the SAG dinner were "a big family".a
Waltz took his first supporting actor SAG award for his part in Basterds while comedy actress Mo'Nique won the supporting actress award for her role in Precious. Both came off Golden Globe wins last weekend.
SAG also hands out awards for television, which AMC's 1960s series Mad Men won for a second year for best ensemble drama cast and the musical comedy Glee took the award for best ensemble comedy cast.
Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin got the best comedy actress and actor awards for NBC's 30 Rock. Julianna Margulies won best TV drama actress for The Good Wife on CBS, while Michael C Hall won for his role in Dexter.
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