SAG Award Predictions

Tonight, the Screen Actors Guild will give out their awards for the best performances of the year. This is significant, both because the actors make up the biggest voting branch of the Academy, giving a big boost to the films that win here, and because the uncontested frontrunner, La La Land, did not receive a nomination for Best Ensemble, their top prize. It’ll make history as the first film since Braveheart to not be nominated for Ensemble and win Best Picture (which also happened to be the first year of the ceremony). However, that leaves the question: who is going to win Best Cast in a Motion Picture, and which actors will take home the awards? Well, as always, I have some thoughts on this, and I’d like to offer up these predictions now.

Let’s start with the acting, shall we? With La La Land out of the picture, this really is a wide open category for who can win Best Cast. I think the easiest thing to do is rule out the ones who can’t win, in which case Captain Fantastic can be ruled out immediately. This leaves four films with an equal chance each. I think that, after the horrors of last Oscar season, and due to their desire to make a “statement” with the award in the face of the past three months, the Guild will be leaning towards something a little more, shall we say, progressive? This means that Manchester by the Sea, which can potentially play spoiler as the most nominated film, will also presumably fall away. This leaves three possible winners: Hidden Figures, Fences, and Moonlight. Hidden Figures is a bit too light and breezy to take the SAG out and out, which leaves us with a two-way bloodbath between Fences and Moonlight. Fences is very much an “actors’” movie, and thus has the edge in that department. However, if the Screen Actors Guild interprets ensemble correctly (and I think they will), then Moonlight, a film where the actors must be at the top of their game and work together in perfect unity, will take home the Best Ensemble Award. And while it is certainly the riskier of the two options, I think this is precisely what will happen.

The rest of the film awards should play out as expected. Viola Davis should make sure to find a table close to the stage, because she should be taking home that Best Supporting Female Actor with relative ease. Meanwhile, without Isabelle Huppert to play upset, Best Female Actor will be a two-way bloodbath between Emma Stone and Natalie Portman. This will be the first true opportunity for Stone and Portman to compete, and it could, in many ways, decide who will eventually win the Oscar. If Portman wins, she should be able to cement her way to the Oscars with relative ease. However, based on the 14 Oscar nominations this past week, I see this as Stone’s to lose.

The males are where things get interesting, however. Despite two perceived frontrunners, these are the categories that can shake things up. For example, Casey Affleck should win Best Male Actor with ease, and I am still going to predict him as the winner. However, based on recent scandals and a tough category, he could potentially lose to his rival for the prize, Denzel Washington. However, there’s a third option that needs to be seriously considered: Ryan Gosling. The SAG Awards are where Jean Dujardin made his famous push past frontrunner George Clooney to win Best Male Actor in 2011, and it launched him to Oscar glory. If La La Land is really priming itself for a sweep, could Gosling possibly upset here and at the Academy Awards? I doubt it, but it’s a theory I want to float nonetheless. Meanwhile, in Best Supporting Male Actor, Mahershala Ali is also competing for his first true acting win. However, as none of these people have truly competed before, it is 100% possible for anyone to win it. This means that Hugh Grant could sneak out a win that he can’t get with the Academy, Dev Patel could start his Oscar push, or Jeff Bridges could win the sentimental vote and win the Veteran Award. Any of these are possible, and while I’m playing things safe with Ali, I again want to make sure the trepidations are understood.

As for television, it never hurts here to play things safe. Past winners usually continue their legacy for years on end. In drama, this means Downton Abbey and Kevin Spacey should both be considered unbeatable for the top prizes (that being said, expect a consolation SAG Award for Sterling K. Brown in Best Male Actor-Drama as a potential upset, or even a shift over to The Crown in Best Drama). The same can be said for Orange is the New Black in comedy. However, I do expect three newcomers to sneak in, just to keep things interesting: Best Male Actor-Comedy, Best Female Actor-Comedy, and Best Female Actor-Drama. For whatever reason, I’m just getting a vibe that Jeffrey Tambor will not win Best Male Actor-Comedy again. The SAG has been cool on the Amazon dramedy, and I just feel they will be looking elsewhere-perhaps to previous winners Ty Burrell or William H. Macy, or perhaps to newcomer Anthony Anderson. I’m leaning towards Anderson, because he is such a delight in that role, but it really could go to any of these nominees. As for Actress-Comedy, Uzo Aduba is far and away the frontrunner, having won the past two years. And that’s a fair and safe bet, as she is deserving as “Crazy Eyes” on Orange is the New Black. However, after everything that’s happened this year, and after yet another stellar season, I think that the SAGs will finally recognize the groundbreaking work that Julia Louis-Dreyfus is doing on Veep. Expect that upset to happen midway through the show. And finally, the biggest bloodbath of the night: Best Female Actor-Drama. All of these competitors are deserving, and all of these women have an equally compelling case. I would have to assume that the Stranger Things women will cancel each other out, even though Millie Bobby Brown really is a wonder as Eleven on the show (it’s possible that a potential “child actress factor” takes effect and lends her a hand, however). This leaves three women to compete for the top prize: Claire Foy, Robin Wright, and Thandie Newton. Foy has the “new” factor, and Wright has the veteran factor, but I’m going to go a different direction: Thandie Newton. Newton has been a major character actress on the scene for several years, and has built up a ton of goodwill for her services. I’ve heard many people say her work on Westworld is some of her best work yet. When you combine these factors, look at the way the field is eating itself alive, and remember that the SAGs love character actors who break out (Steve Buscemi has like thirty of these things), I think Newton ends up taking home the surprise win for the show. And what of the miniseries categories, you ask? O.J. Simpson. Always O.J. Simpson. Never vote against O.J. Simpson. Courtney B. Vance and Sterling K. Brown should be in a battle for Best Male Actor, with Vance narrowly edging out his equally worthy costar, and Sarah Paulson should waltz her way to her final prize for the indelible role. You can take that bet to the bank, it’s so easy.

And what of the Stunt Ensemble awards that the SAGs push aside like the red-haired bastard child? Well, assume those will go to the biggest names in each category, Hacksaw Ridge and Game of Thrones.

Be sure to come back at 8:00pm for live updates on the SAG awards, and I’ll have a recap tomorrow morning for those who can’t watch. The 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards will be broadcast on TNT and TBS.


 Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

  • Casey Affleck-Manchester by the Sea   *
  • Andrew Garfield-Hacksaw Ridge
  • Ryan Gosling-La La Land
  • Viggo Mortensen-Captain Fantastic
  • Denzel Washington-Fences

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

  • Amy Adams-Arrival
  • Emily Blunt-The Girl on the Train
  • Natalie Portman-Jackie
  • Emma Stone-La La Land   *
  • Meryl Streep-Florence Foster Jenkins

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Mahershala Ali-Moonlight   *
  • Jeff Bridges-Hell or High Water
  • Hugh Grant-Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Lucas Hedges-Manchester by the Sea
  • Dev Patel-Lion

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Viola Davis-Fences   *
  • Naomie Harris-Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman-Lion
  • Octavia Spencer-Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams-Manchester by the Sea 

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

  • Captain Fantastic
  • Fences
  • Hidden Figures
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight   *

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Doctor Strange
  • Hacksaw Ridge   *
  • Jason Bourne
  • Nocturnal Animals


Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

  • Riz Ahmed-The Night Of
  • Sterling K. Brown-The People v. O.J. Simpson
  • Bryan Cranston-All the Way
  • John Turturro-The Night Of
  • Courtney B. Vance-The People v. O.J. Simpson   *

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

  • Bryce Dallas Howard-Black Mirror
  • Felicity Huffman-American Crime
  • Audra McDonald-Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
  • Sarah Paulson-The People v. O.J. Simpson   *
  • Kerry Washington-Confirmation

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

  • Sterling K. Brown-This Is Us
  • Peter Dinklage-Game of Thrones
  • John Lithgow-The Crown
  • Rami Malek- Robot
  • Kevin Spacey-House of Cards   *

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

  • Millie Bobby Brown-Stranger Things
  • Claire Foy-The Crown
  • Thandie Newton-Westworld   *
  • Winona Ryder-Stranger Things
  • Robin Wright-House of Cards

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Anthony Anderson-Black-ish   *
  • Tituss Burgess-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Ty Burrell-Modern Family
  • William H. Macy-Shameless
  • Jeffrey Tambor-Transparent 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Uzo Aduba-Orange is the New Black
  • Jane Fonda-Grace and Frankie
  • Ellie Kemper-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus-Veep   *
  • Lily Tomlin-Grace and Frankie

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

  • The Crown
  • Downton Abbey   *
  • Game of Thrones
  • Stranger Things
  • Westworld

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Black-ish
  • Modern Family
  • Orange is the New Black   *
  • Veep 

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series

  • Game of Thrones   *
  • Marvel’s Daredevil
  • Marvel’s Luke Cage
  • The Walking Dead
  • Westworld

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