Oppenheimer wins big at Screen Actors Guild Awards, boosting Oscar hopes

Christopher Nolan’s historical epic picks up top honour for outstanding cast in advance of next month’s Oscars.

Oppenheimer is the favourite for best picture at next month's Oscars [File: Chris Pizzello/AP]

Oppenheimer has picked up three prizes, including the top honour, at Hollywood’s Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, boosting the historical epic’s chances of grabbing the Oscar for best picture next month.

Christopher Nolan’s portrayal of Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, won the award for best movie cast, historically a strong predictor for the Oscars, at the star-studded ceremony in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Cillian Murphy, who plays the titular character, won best movie actor, while co-star Robert Downey Jr picked up the best supporting actor trophy for playing his bitter rival.

“This is extremely special to me because it comes from you guys,” Murphy said as he accepted his award.

The ceremony was the first gala organised by SAG-AFTRA, which represents some 160,000 entertainment industry professionals, since the union held its longest-ever strike last year.

The show was also streamed live on Netflix, a first for a Tinseltown ceremony.

Kenneth Branagh, who plays Danish physicist Niels Bohr in Oppenheimer, recalled how the film’s cast staged a walkout from the London premiere last July as the strike was about to begin.

“We happily went in the direction of solidarity with your good selves,” Branagh said. “So this, this is a full circle moment for us,” he said, to loud applause.

Oppenheimer, which has already claimed prizes at the Golden Globes and the British Academy Film Awards, is the strong favourite for best picture going into the Oscars on March 11.

The film has been nominated for 13 Oscars in total, including best director, best actor and best supporting actor, ahead of Yorgos Lanthimos’s steampunk fantasy Poor Things with 11 nods.

At the past two SAG awards, all five top prizes predicted the eventual Oscar winners.

Other winners on Saturday included Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, for which Lily Gladstone picked up the best actress prize, and The Holdovers, which earned Da’Vine Joy Randolph best supporting actress.

Barbra Streisand, the winner of two Oscars and 10 Grammy awards, received a lifetime achievement award in recognition of her six-decade-long career in entertainment.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies