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LOS ANGELES (CBSMiami/AP) — Patricia Arquette and J.K. Simmons – both Oscar favorites – cemented their front-runner status at the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, as they both took home supporting acting honors.

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Accepting the award for best supporting actor for his performance as a domineering jazz teacher in “Whiplash,” Simmons thanked all 49 actors who appear in the film.

“All of us actors are supporting actors,” said the veteran character actor. “Each of us is essential, completely crucial to the story because if there’s one false moment, the train comes off the rails.”

“Boyhood” star Patricia Arquette added the latest in a string of awards Sunday, taking the supporting actress honor for her performance, filmed over the course of 12 years.

“I can’t tell you what this means to me,” said Arquette. “I’m a fourth-generation actor. My family has been committed to acting for over a century, through feast or famine.”

The intrigue of the ceremony Sunday night, broadcast live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, was in the evening’s top award: best ensemble in a film. The nominees are: “Birdman,” ”Boyhood,” ”The Grand Budapest Hotel,” ”The Imitation Game” and “The Theory of Everything.”

On Saturday night, “Birdman” took the top award from the Producers Guild Awards, suggesting it may be formidable competition to the perceived front-runner, Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood.” The last seven PGA winners have also won best picture at the Academy Awards.

The SAG Awards kicked things off with a pair of wins for the Netflix prison series “Orange Is the New Black,” honoring it as best ensemble in a comedy and naming Uza Abuda most outstanding actress in a comedy series. Abuda won over a number of veteran stars, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) and Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”).

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“The day I got this job was the day I had stopped acting,” said an emotional Abuda.

Two actors who usually reside on the big screen won the SAG awards for performances in a miniseries or TV movie: Mark Ruffalo (for HBO’s “A Normal Heart”) and Frances McDormand (for HBO’s “Olive Kitteredge”).

William H. Macy also took best actor in a comedy for Showtime’s “Shameless,” a rare win for the widely admired character actor.

“I’ve written so many great acceptance speeches that I never got to give,” said Macy. “But not tonight!”

Because actors make up the largest portion of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the SAG Awards are also considered one of the most telling Oscar previews. Individually acting winners usually mirror each other exactly, or very nearly. Last year, the top four winners — Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong’o, Jared Leto — all went on to win Academy Awards after first scooping up SAG awards.

The predictive powers of the SAGs have been more checkered in matching its top award with eventual best-picture Oscar winners. In the last six years, SAG best-ensemble and Academy Award best-picture winners have lined up three times (“Argo,” ”The King’s Speech” and “Slumdog Millionaire”), while diverging just as often. Last year, the actors chose “American Hustle” over eventual Oscar winner “12 Years a Slave”; in 2011, they picked “The Help” over “The Artist”; and in 2009, “Inglourious Basterds” defeated “The Hurt Locker.”

This year’s lifetime achievement award was to go to Debbie Reynolds, the 82-year-old veteran of stage and screen and, of course, “Singin’ in the Rain.”

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