The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) gave Colin Firth’s Oscar campaign a fillip with the top prize for an actor at last night’s awards [30] in Los Angeles.

Firth won the admiration of his fellow Guild members with his portrayal of Bertie, the Duke Of York who becomes George VI.

The film’s cast also earned the best ensemble award in recognition of the work of Anthony Andrews, Helena Bonham Carter, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi, Guy Pearce, Geoffrey Rush and Timothy Spall.

Natalie Portman confirmed her status as the Oscar frontrunner for her performance as the tormented ballerina Nina Sayers in Black Swan. Like Firth, Portman followed her Golden Globe victory with the SAG award.

The Fighter claimed both supporting actor awards for two more of this year’s Globe winners — Melissa Leo as the fearsome mother hen Alice Ward and Christian Bale as Dicky Eklund, the true-life former boxer who struggles with crack addiction.