If this year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards are any indication, the race for outstanding comedy series at the Primetime Emmys this year might be more competitive than pundits had expected.
Conventional wisdom has the return of Emmy darling “Veep” trouncing everything in its path for a final season victory lap. But “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is bringing the heat, dominating the comedy categories on Sunday night. As Emmy’s outstanding comedy series incumbent, it can’t be counted out.
“Maisel” was the favorite to win SAG-AFTRA’s comedy ensemble award, and Rachel Brosnahan was expected to take home the statue for female actor. That’s exactly what they did — but then the series went ahead and swept the field by nabbing the male actor prize for Tony Shalhoub, besting multiple nominees from Golden Globe winners “Barry” and “The Kominsky Method.”
Also riding some awards momentum: “Escape at Dannemora” star Patricia Arquette, who won in the TV movie or miniseries actress category just days after taking the Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice awards. If she wasn’t already the frontrunner heading into Emmy season, she sure is now. (Ironically, her biggest competitor may be herself: She’ll also compete as the star of Hulu’s upcoming anthology series “The Act.”)
And “Ozark’s” Jason Bateman, who won his first-ever SAG Award on Sunday, just saw his fortunes rise in an Emmy field that will be wide open, as last year’s winner, “The Americans” star Matthew Rhys, will no longer be eligible.
Other winners were no surprise: Sandra Oh is on a roll with “Killing Eve” following her Globe and Critics’ Choice wins, and now sets her sights on the Television Academy’s prize after scoring a nomination last year. Darren Criss, meanwhile, completed his own victory lap on Sunday by adding a SAG trophy to his collection of prizes for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.”
Then there’s “This Is Us,” which won its second consecutive SAG Award for outstanding drama ensemble. As Variety noted in its predictions last week, the NBC series had the edge thanks to the sheer size of the SAG-AFTRA membership. The large, cross-country voting body was still much more likely to have seen it than any of the other nominated series, which also explains some of the surprises on the film side. So let’s get into that…
Heading into the evening, it felt like the film ensemble prize had ultimately boiled down to the two most popular movies on the ticket, i.e., the biggest box office success stories: “Black Panther” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” (with “A Star Is Born” as an outside possibility, had its fortunes finally changed this season). In part that’s because the category was a bit of an oddity this year, lacking what is perhaps still the Motion Picture Academy’s best picture frontrunner, “Green Book,” as well as something like “The Favourite,” with its lively and robust cast, nominated three times on the evening.
In the end, “Black Panther” scored the win on its only nomination, and that totally tracks. How could SAG-AFTRA take a pass on the chance to honor a roll call like that, which included celebrated names like Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker? It’s a big boost for the film’s Oscar hopes with final ballots set to go out in a few weeks’ time, but the reality is only 11 of the previous 24 ensemble winners have gone on to win best picture.
Meanwhile, the supporting actress category was blown wide open with Emily Blunt’s surprise victory for “A Quiet Place.” “If Beale Street Could Talk” star Regina King was left out of the lineup so she was a non-factor, as was fellow Oscar nominee Marina de Tavira (“Roma”). That meant all eyes were on Amy Adams to perhaps finally pull it off, but the union went its own way. The British Academy has a shot at clearing things up in two weeks, but a win there for, say, “The Favourite’s” Rachel Weisz (it’s possible), could really send things into disarray. It’s the acting race with the most fire, that’s certain.
That means wins for Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”), Glenn Close (“The Wife”) and Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”) may well have been rubber stamps ahead of Oscar glory. Ali in particular impressed by becoming just the second actor to ever win a second individual SAG-AFTRA film prize. The other one? Three-time winner Daniel Day-Lewis.