Fresh top award for Slumdog Millionaire

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The Independent Culture

The cast of Slumdog Millionaire added yet another piece of silverware to the film's bulging trophy cabinet last night, when they rounded off a hat-trick of British wins at the Screen Actors Guild awards in Los Angeles.

Dev Patel and Freida Pinto, the previously-unknown young actors at the centre of the film, continued the real-life fairytale that has made them the toast of Hollywood when they led fellow cast-members on stage to collect the night's main prize: Best Cast in a Motion Picture.

It was the first time Slumdog's actors have been personally honoured this awards season. The film's previous accolades have all gone to either director Danny Boyle or the creators of the film's script and soundtrack.

"It was already enough to be nominated. But to win is unbelievable, unbelievable," said the film's other lead actor, Anil Kapoor, who was charged with giving the victory speech.

He dedicated the award to the child actors from the film – about a boy from the slums of Mumbai who wins the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? – who had all stayed at home in India. "They deserve this award. It is the children that have done it, not us."

The award now makes Slumdog's momentum seem unstoppable in advance of next month's Academy Awards for which it last week received ten nominations.

Twelve of the last 15 winners of Best Picture at the Oscars previously won the SAG prize, and bookmakers now make it long odds on to become the thirteenth.

As the third biggest event of the Los Angeles Awards Season, the SAG prizes are thought to be a particularly reliable guide to Oscar voting because they represent the views of all 120 ,000 members of the acting union.

Earlier, Kate Winslet continued her run of form, when she picked up the Best Supporting Actress prize for her role as a Nazi war criminal in The Reader. Last week, she won a Best Actress Oscar nod for the same role.

"What a year it has been," she said, in her now-familiar teary acceptance speech. "It is really an honour to be included in such a remarkable year and be acknowledged by my peers in this way. I really feel like everybody should be given a medal - I believe this to be true. I'm a little bit lost for words, I'm sorry."

Hugh Laurie achieved the third UK success, when he was named Best Actor in a Drama Series for his role in House.

Other notable winners were Sean Penn, who won Best Actor for his portrayal of gay activist Harvey Milk in Milk, and Meryl Streep, who won the Best Actress prize for her role as a vindictive nun in the Catholic drama Doubt.

Appearing on stage in a dark trouser suit, she claimed to be shocked at the victory, saying: "I didn't even buy a dress."

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