“Mad Men” made a final-season comeback in the SAG Awards TV race, but a whole lot of buzzed-about newcomers were left on the sidelines as voters generally favored repeat nominees.
The drama picks were particularly surprising for their similarity to the 2015 competition, given the wealth of highly-praised options. Fox’s “Empire,” FX’s “Fargo” and “The Americans,” Showtime’s “The Affair” and “Masters of Sex,” HBO’s “The Leftovers,” ABC’s “American Crime,” Lifetime’s “Unreal” and Netflix’s “Narcos” were among the notable shutouts.
USA Network’s sleeper hit “Mr. Robot” bucked the trend in landing a nom for star Rami Malek. Bob Odenkirk of AMC’s “Better Call Saul” also made the cut. Awards observers were surprised that “House of Cards,” the Netflix drama that lost some sizzle in its third season, led the TV field with three nominations. (“Homeland” and “Game of Thrones” also grabbed three bids apiece with the inclusion of noms for stunt ensemble).
The selections in the movie or miniseries category contained some head-scratching choices, including Bill Murray for playing himself in the just-released Netflix Christmas special “A Very Murray Christmas” and Nicole Kidman for “Grace of Monaco,” the critically panned busted feature that wound up airing on Lifetime. Kristen Wiig scored a nom for IFC’s low-profile comedy mini “The Spoils Before Dying.”
Comedy Central’s “Key and Peele” was a surprise entrant in the comedy series ensemble nominations. Amazon’s “Transparent” made the cut for its sophomore season — with nominations for ensemble and for star Jeffrey Tambor — after being ignored by SAG voters last year.
“Mad Men” returned to SAG Awards form with a drama ensemble bid and a nom for star Jon Hamm. The show was left on the sidelines for the 2014 and 2015 races after landing five consecutive nominations for ensemble and for Hamm. Hamm, who won the Emmy on his seventh try in September, has never taken home a SAG trophy for his performance. The show won for ensemble in 2009 and 2010.
“Mad Men” took “Boardwalk Empire’s” place in the drama ensemble roster. The rest of the nominees were a carbon copy of 2015: PBS’ “Downton Abbey,” which won the prize; HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” Showtime’s “Homeland,” Netflix’s “House of Cards.” Once again, “Downton” flies the flag for broadcast TV in the top series race at a time of exploding cable and digital offerings.
In comedy, a tie expanded the ensemble category to six contenders. “Key and Peele” and “Transparent” elbowed Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” out of the race. The other four are repeats from 2015: CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” ABC’s “Modern Family,” “Orange Is the New Black” (the 2015 victor) and HBO’s “Veep.”
The drama actress race was also virtually identical to the last go-around with the exception of “Orphan Black’s” Tatiana Maslany falling out. Viola Davis, the 2015 SAG and Emmy winner for ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder,” is back along with “Homeland’s” Claire Danes, “The Good Wife’s” Julianna Margulies, “Downton’s” Maggie Smith and “House of Cards’ ” Robin Wright.
Malek and Odenkirk injected some new blood into the drama actor field, which opened up considerably after one nom went to Steve Buscemi of “Boardwalk Empire” and two slots were taken up in 2015 by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, stars of the first season of HBO’s anthology crimer “True Detective.” Season two stars Vince Vaughn, Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams were nowhere to be found this time around.
Peter Dinklage of “Game of Thrones” and Kevin Spacey of “House of Cards,” the 2015 winner, were repeat nominees.
In comedy, Edie Falco retains her crown as the most-nommed individual in SAG Awards history. The veteran actress landed her seventh consecutive nom for Showtime’s now-departed “Nurse Jackie,” which brings her to 22 career total. Ellie Kemper of Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” moved in for 2016 while Julie Bowen of “Modern Family” fell out. “Parks and Recreation’s” Amy Poehler, “Veep’s” Julia Louis-Dreyfus and “Orange’s” Uzo Aduba (the 2015 winner) all logged repeat mentions.
On the comedy side, “Transparent’s” Tambor joined the field dominated by perennial nominees. William H. Macy, the reigning champ, is back for “Shameless.” So is Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”), Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”) and Louis C.K. (“Louie”).
The uniformity of the nominations makes the SAG contest less of a bellwether for the 2016 Emmy competition. Industryites looking for awards voters to embrace new and different can only hope that Globes voters, whose nomination picks will be unveiled Thursday, are feeling a little more adventurous this time around.