Entertainment & Arts

Eddie Redmayne raises Oscar chances with win at SAG awards

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Media captionSAG awards: The highlights. Peter Bowes reports

Eddie Redmayne has raised his chances of Oscars success after beating favourite Michael Keaton to win best actor at the Screen Actors Guild awards.

The recipient has gone on to win the equivalent Oscar for the last 10 years.

Keaton and the rest of the Birdman cast did, however, win the award for best ensemble cast at Sunday's ceremony.

There were also prizes for Oscar hopefuls Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette and JK Simmons.

In a year when the lack of diversity at awards ceremonies has been under the spotlight, black actresses won the two major acting prizes in the TV categories for the first time in history.

Viola Davis was named outstanding lead actress in a drama for How to Get Away With Murder, while Uzo Aduba was honoured for her role in Orange is the New Black.

The Netflix series, set in a women's prison, also won best comedy ensemble cast.

And ITV's Downton Abbey won best ensemble cast in a TV drama for a second time.

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Image caption Viola Davis and Uzo Aduba made history at the SAG awards

Oscar hopes

The SAG awards are seen as a strong indicator of who will win at the Oscars because actors make up the largest portion of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Keaton had been expected to pick up the best actor award but was beaten by Redmayne, who plays a young Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

The British star looked shocked when his name was read out - and dedicated his award to people, such as Hawking, who live with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as motor neurone disease) for their "triumph of spirit".

"I would like to dedicate this award to those people around the world living with ALS, to those who have lost their lives to this brutal disease," he said.

"In preparing to play Stephen I met many people fighting ALS, and I met their families fighting alongside them. And the courage and the bravery and the spirit, this triumph of spirit that I witnessed, blew my mind. So I'm incredibly grateful to them."

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Image caption Naomi Watts slipped on Emma Stone's dress when the cast of Birdman went on stage to take home the award for best ensemble cast in a film

Keaton led the Birdman cast on stage to accept the ceremony's main award - best ensemble cast - and called acting "the ultimate team sport''.

"Actors love this movie for showing the courage actors have to go out there and lay it on the line," he said.

The Birdman cast included British actress Andrea Riseborough, Emma Stone, Edward Norton and Zach Galifianakis and Naomi Watts, who slipped on Emma Stone's dress on stage as she walked to the microphone.

Julianne Moore continued her winning streak by taking home the best actress in a film award for Still Alice, where she plays a professor suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's.

She also thanked her fellow cast members and referred to her early acting roles on a US soap opera.

"When I was on As the World Turns I was so excited when they wrote two parts for me - the classic twin sister roles, the good and the evil one.

"I couldn't wait to do it. I was so excited. And then I realised it was super boring to act by myself.

"And what I really loved and what I really craved what was most exciting for me was being with another actor and feeling that intimacy and that excitement and that thrill of getting to know somebody in that way - and that's what keeps me coming back to acting again and again and again."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore celebrated their wins for best actor and actress in a film

Other winners included Kevin Spacey for House of Cards and William H Macy for Shameless.

Mark Ruffalo, who is Oscar-nominated for his film role in Foxcatcher, won best actor in a miniseries or TV movie for his role in A Normal Heart.

Frances McDormand won best actress in the same field for her part in HBO's Olive Kitteredge,

Debbie Reynolds was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by her daughter Carrie Fisher, who joked, "she has been more than a mother to me, not much, but definitely more."

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