LOS ANGELES • In the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a furious woman takes aim at incompetent policemen after her daughter is murdered.
Now, after scoring a bull's eye at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards where the film bagged three major trophies, it can aim for bigger "kills" at the Oscars in March.
In Sunday's event in Los Angeles, Three Billboards took home statuettes for Best Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture as well as Best Female and Best Supporting Male performances for Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell respectively.
The SAG awards are indicators of likely Oscar success because actors form the largest group of voters in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Like the more flashy Golden Globes on Jan 7, Sunday's event also had alleged sexual harassers in its sights.
Misconduct claims have led to the downfall of producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey, among others.
Aziz Ansari, a best actor nominee for his comedy series Master Of None, was a no-show on Sunday. He made headlines last week after a woman described feeling violated following an awkward date with him last year.
Some of the winners
Best Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Male Performance in a Leading Role: Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
Best Female Performance in a Leading Role: Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Best Male Performance in a Supporting Role: Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Best Female Performance in a Supporting Role: Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
Best Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Veep
James Franco, a best-actor-in-a-leading role nominee for The Disaster Artist, showed up but skipped the red carpet. He had kept a low profile since describing allegations of sexual impropriety against him by five women two weeks ago as "not accurate".
On Sunday, Kristen Bell, star of television's The Good Place, served as the SAG's first host.
In the aftermath of last Saturday's second Women's March which brought together hundreds of thousands of people in the United States - between 300,000 and 600,000 in Los Angeles alone - all SAG statuettes were presented by actresses, including Halle Berry, Dakota Fanning, Lupita Nyong'o and Emma Stone.
Bell said, as she opened the show: "We are living in a watershed moment and we march forward with active momentum and open ears; let's make sure we are leading the charge with empathy and diligence because fear and anger never win the race."
Allison Janney and Rockwell bagged the early honours. Janney won Best Supporting Actress as a demanding mother in the ice-skating movie I, Tonya. Rockwell got the vote for his performance as a dim-witted police officer in Three Billboards.
Gary Oldman also boosted his Oscar chances, winning Best Actor for playing wartime leader Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour.
In television, NBC's family drama This Is Us won Best Drama Ensemble Cast in a surprise triumph over presumed frontrunners The Crown and A Handmaid's Tale.
The cast of HBO political satire Veep won Best Ensemble for a television comedy. Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer and missed the SAG show, was named Best Comedy Actress.
Timothy Simons, who plays Jonah Ryan on Veep, said of his co-star: "She's genuinely been in good spirits when we've seen her, which I think will carry her along... She is incredibly strong and is uniquely able to combat something like this."
Nicole Kidman, 50, won for playing a battered wife in HBO's female-centric TV series Big Little Lies.
She said of the new winds of change blowing through Hollywood: "How wonderful that our careers today can go beyond 40 years old.
"Twenty years ago, we were pretty washed up by this stage in our lives. This is not the case now."