By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actress Sandra Bullock swept the 40th People's Choice awards on Wednesday with four wins, cementing her status as a favorite among the fan-selected winners, while singer Justin Timberlake dominated the music categories with three wins.
Bullock, 49, picked up three awards for favorite movie actress, dramatic movie actress and comedy movie actress for her roles in existential space drama "Gravity" and in female buddy-comedy "The Heat." She also won favorite movie duo alongside her "Gravity" co-star George Clooney, while the film won favorite drama movie.
"An actor can't do what they do without hundreds of amazing people working for them and alongside them. I learned so much this year. I got to work with Melissa McCarthy on 'The Heat.' ... And on 'Gravity,' the nicest people in the world would string me up and leave me there, and I still had an amazing time," the Oscar-winning actress said.
Bullock later joined McCarthy on stage to pick up the favorite comedy movie award for "The Heat."
Singer Timberlake, 32, who returned to the musical spotlight in 2013 with the two-part release of "The 20/20 Experience" after more than five years away to focus on his acting, picked up three awards including favorite album.
"I'd like to thank my parents for continuing to instill in me that no dream is too big. I'd like to thank my team that puts up with my ridiculous neuroses all the time - sorry, but not really, because look at this," the singer said on stage, referring to his award.
Timberlake also won favorite male artist and favorite R&B artist, but was beaten in the favorite pop artist category by Britney Spears, who won her first People's Choice award in her career spanning 15 years.
Actor Robert Downey Jr. was named favorite action movie star for his leading role in Disney-Marvel's "Iron Man 3," which also won favorite movie and action movie.
"I am Iron Man and this is for the people," the actor said dramatically after asking for a spotlight and triumphant music on stage during his acceptance speech.
Adam Sandler won favorite comedic actor for the fourth consecutive time, this year for "Grown Ups 2." While his films have failed to gain much favor with critics in recent years, Sandler is a favorite at the People's Choice awards.
"This means a lot to me. I appreciate this, I really do, I really do. I think about the fans out there and how nice you've been to me all these years," the comedian said.
CBS SHOWS AMONG TOP TV WINS, HUDSON HONORED
The People's Choice winners are chosen by fans, who can vote online across 58 categories spanning film, TV and music. This year, more than 700 million votes were cast, organizers said. The ceremony, aired live on the CBS network, kicks off Hollywood's annual awards season that culminates with the Academy Awards on March 2.
Kaley Cuoco won her first People's Choice award for favorite comedy TV actress for her role as the ditzy Penny in CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory." Chris Colfer won favorite comedic TV actor for a second year running, for his role as Kurt Hummel in Fox's "Glee."
"The Big Bang Theory" won favorite network TV comedy for a third time, while fellow CBS show "The Good Wife" was named favorite network TV drama.
Ellen DeGeneres won favorite daytime TV host for "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," picking up a record 14th People's Choice award. Satirist Stephen Colbert picked up favorite late night talk show host for Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report."
Oscar-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson was awarded favorite humanitarian for her charity work with her Julian D. King Gift Foundation, in memory of her late nephew.
"It's one thing to be a celebrity and have power ... but it means nothing if we're not helping someone else. It also feels good to see positivity acknowledged," Hudson said emotionally.
The 40th People's Choice awards opened with a skit featuring many of the night's nominees sitting in "2 Broke Girls" diner set, being served by the show's stars and awards hosts Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs. Dennings and Behrs then kicked off the show by having a bevy of waitresses serve burgers to the audience.
Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, country star Brad Paisley and pop-rock group OneRepublic provided the musical entertainment, while Drew Barrymore, Matt LeBlanc and Zac Efron were among the night's many presenters.
(Additional reporting by Phil Furey; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Ken Wills)