The Screen Actors Guild Awards winners can diverge from other awards season kudos due to the sheer size of the org’s voting body. That often means using them as a bellwether for Oscar or Emmy glory can be difficult. Boasting around 160,000 members from across the country, voters frequently give the ensemble awards in TV and film to nominees with the largest, most accomplished casts, and have been known to gravitate toward crowd pleasers over critical acclaim.
But it’s still a good sign of what actors, who represent a large chunk of the Academy voting body, are thinking mid-way through the awards calendar. This will be the latest chance for Oscar contenders like “A Star is Born” (which leads all SAG nominations with four nods), “BlacKkKlansman” and “The Favourite” to earn some momentum on the film side. And in TV, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Ozark” lead all challengers, with four noms each.
Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, this year’s SAG Awards take place at the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday, Jan. 27, and are the first major awards to be announced since Tuesday’s Academy Award nominations. Here are Variety‘s predictions on how each race might shake out.
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
While Olivia Colman’s neurotic Queen Anne in “The Favourite” could surprise here, this is the one category that feels easiest to predict. Expect Glenn Close, a nine-time SAG Award nominee (and winner for “The Lion In Winter”) to take home her first statue on the film side, setting her up to win her first Academy Award after seven nominations.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
A race that feels too close to call between two actors playing real-life figures: Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in “Vice.” And don’t count out Bradley Cooper in “A Star Is Born.” We’re giving the edge to Malek, who got to give a showy, breakthrough performance that has made him a movie star.
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
With Golden Globe winner Regina King out of the running, look for Amy Adams to pick up her first individual SAG Award win (she previously won as a member of the “American Hustle” ensemble) for her work as Lynne Cheney. Adams could be a double winner, as she’s nominated on the TV side for “Sharp Objects” as well.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali seems to have the most momentum following his Golden Globe and Critics Choice wins, but it’s going to be tough to compete with Sam Elliott’s heartfelt turn as the brother/manager of Bradley Cooper’s country singer in “A Star Is Born.” It’s also tough to compete with his iconic status, so we’ll call it for Elliott.
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
This is impossible to call with certainty, as a case could be made for every one of these ensembles. The three main actors from “A Star Is Born” were individually nominated, and it’s a film that has virtually no detractors. But we think it’s ultimately a showdown between two films, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Black Panther.” With the latter not nominated elsewhere and a sprawling cast of actors ranging from newcomers to Oscar winners, we’ll give “Black Panther” the edge.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
The SAG voters love their anti-heroes in the category, as James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos”), Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”), and Steve Buscemi (“Boardwalk Empire”) have all won multiple times. That should give Jason Bateman a leg up for “Ozark,” which he also directs and executive produces. The show itself didn’t get quite as many raves in Season 2, which could open the door to a repeat win by “This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown, who remains a favorite. But we’re leaning toward Bateman, who has earned raves in his role as Marty Byrde, and for doing something very different from his comedy roots.
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Last year’s winner, “The Crown’s” Claire Foy, isn’t in the mix this time, opening the door for a new winner. And this one is relatively easy to predict: “Killing Eve” star Sandra Oh is on a roll, recently earning the Golden Globe at a ceremony that she was also co-hosting. It’s a bold, fun role for Oh, and fans are waiting in anticipation for Season 2. Oh is killing it.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
With incumbent winner William H. Macy out of the running, it’s a battle between legends (Michael Douglas, Alan Arkin, Henry Winkler), an awards favorite (Tony Shalhoub) and the triple threat talent behind one of the year’s most lauded comedies (Bill Hader). Hader has the Emmy win but Douglas has the momentum coming out of the Golden Globes — and a previous win, for “Behind the Candelabra.” Hader and Winkler may cancel each other out, so give the edge to Douglas (even if fewer voters actually saw “The Kominsky Method”).
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Another easy one. With last year’s winner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, not eligible this year, and Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin likely canceling each other out, it’s a clear path to victory for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star Rachel Brosnahan — who can soon add the SAG Award to her Emmy and Golden Globe statues.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
This is a stacked category, with stars such as Antonio Banderas (“Genius: Picasso”), Hugh Grant (“A Very English Scandal”), Anthony Hopkins (“King Lear”), and Bill Pullman (“The Sinner”) in the race. But give the edge to the youngest name of them all, Darren Criss, who has the advantage of being the star of the most high-profile project in the mix: Ryan Murphy’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.” Criss has picked up the Emmy, the Golden Globe, and other kudos for his portrayal of killer Andrew Cunanan; there’s no stopping him now.
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Another tight race, as “Sharp Objects” star Amy Adams has long been considered a front runner — although in this case she’s up against her co-star Patricia Clarkson, who won a supporting actress in a limited series Golden Globe for her role in the HBO show. Adams has fierce competition in Patricia Arquette, who earned raves for her starring role in Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora,” and won the Globe earlier this month. But Adams, who’s also nominated on the film side for “Vice,” is still the favorite here.
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
An argument could be made for just about any of these contenders: “Ozark” was hot with the SAG nominating committee, landing four nods. “The Handmaid’s Tale” remains relevant, and “Better Call Saul” is not only a critics’ favorite, but SAG has awarded “Breaking Bad” in the past. But it might come down to “The Americans” and incumbent winner “This Is Us.” SAG voters have been known to award celebrated series in their final seasons, including “Breaking Bad” and “The Sopranos.” And “The Americans” didn’t receive any individual nominations this year — which could mean either a troubling sign for this category, or voters might see this as the only (and last) chance to award that cast. But on the other hand, “This Is Us” remains a crowd favorite, and easily the most-watched show on this list. Given the SAG Awards’ large, cross-country voting body, we still have to give the edge to “This Is Us.”
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Ironically — or perhaps not — this is a category entirely made up of shows about the world of aspiring performers. There’s the acting schools of “The Kominsky Method” and “Barry,” the hip-hop dreams of the characters on “Atlanta,” the wrestling acts of “GLOW,” and the 1960s standup world of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” There’s something for everyone in the SAG voting body, which can surely relate to the themes on all of these comedies. “Kominsky” surprised at the Golden Globes, but “Mrs. Maisel” has the larger ensemble cast — and the momentum. On Sunday, we expect “Mrs. Maisel” will have a marvelous night.
The Screen Actors Guild Awards airs live on Sunday, Jan. 27, at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT on TBS and TNT.