Jalal analyzes Sunday’s 2017 SAG Awards, including Team ADTV’s predictions.
The 23rd Annual SAG Awards arrive this Sunday. For the first time this season, the guilds will begin to give clues on what shows will make it all the way to this year’s Emmys. SAG voters are notorious for obnoxiously rewarding the same performances year after year, most recently having the same set of TV winners for the past two years with the exception of William H. Macy/Jeffrey Tambor. This year, voters made strides to switch things up by embracing fan-favorite genre shows like Westworld and Stranger Things over typical awards contenders like House of Cards, Maggie Smith, and Viola Davis as well as surprise nomination for cult favorite Black Mirror. How will the 2017 SAG Awards fall? Here’s what we’re thinking.
Frontrunner: Game of Thrones
Contender: Downton Abbey
Dark Horse: Stranger Things
The Downton Abbey cast won the drama ensemble award the past three out of four years. However, it’s been over a year since the final season premiered, and it runs the risk of being forgotten by voters in a category filled with fresher shows. It also for the first time has to compete for votes with another popular costume drama, The Crown. Instead, the fifth time might just be the charm for Emmy winner Game of Thrones. After years of being dismissed as a fantasy show, Thrones comes across as the most prestigious drama in the group. While Game of Thrones might not suffer from genre bias, it does have to compete against a slew of sci-fi hits (Westworld, Stranger Things). In the end, the two newcomers might struggle to earn the votes of most voters. There is no precedent for a nominee like Stranger Things, and although it doesn’t seem like a real contender, it might just be able to ride the wave of 80’s nostalgia (and child SAG voters) to the biggest upset of the night.
Frontrunner: Orange is the New Black
The Orange is the New Black ensemble should never be counted out at the SAG awards simply because of its massive size (larger than three other nominees combined) and diversity. Many voters will continue checking off the ensemble without taking a second look at any of the other nominees including The Big Bang Theory, black-ish, Modern Family, and Veep. With the show’s popularity diminishing, there is a chance that a new show takes the crown, and the obvious choice would be Veep. The show’s previous four seasons did fail to turn its Emmy success into major SAG success. Instead, any voter looking for an alternative might turn to black-ish which probably has the most accessible comedy in terms of humor as well as accessibility which always helps with a voting body of 160,000 members.
Male Actor in a Drama Series
Frontrunner: John Lithgow, The Crown
Contender: Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Dark Horse: Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
For the past two years, Kevin Spacey channeled his status as a renowned Oscar winner on a prestige Netflix drama into SAG success, but now that the House of Cards popularity is on the decline his reign as the best male actor in a drama might be over. This year, he faces stiff competition in 9-time SAG nominee John Lithgow for a performance as Winston Churchill in The Crown, a show voters liked enough to reward with three nominations. The other contenders are all previous Emmy winners, but the most popular one (and most likely to upset) is Sterling K. Brown who voters loved enough to nominate twice this year. As the charming and relatable brother on This Is Us, he might just be able to stand out enough in a category filled with flashy, over-the-top roles.
Female Actor in a Drama Series
Frontrunner: Thandie Newton, Westworld
Out of all the categories this year, the female actor in a drama race might be the most up for grabs. Past winners like Viola Davis, Maggie Smith, Juliana Margulies, and Claire Danes were either tossed out or ineligible resulting in a race filled with sci-fi newbies and political leaders. Thandie Newton gives the most nuanced performance of the five nominees, and voters might look at someone they are discovering they are a robot physically the most award-worthy. Stranger Things is the breakout hit of the year, and if Winona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown weren’t in direct competition with each other they might be more formidable contenders. Claire Foy received a strong visibility boost from her Golden Globes win earlier this month, but The Crown still might be too new (a little over two months) to win a plurality with a group as big as SAG-AFTRA. More voters had more time to see Robin Wright on House of Cards than any of the other nominees and their respected shows but she is the only one without an ensemble nomination.
Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Frontrunner: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Dark Horse: Anthony Anderson, black-ish
Jeffrey Tambor won his first SAG award last year for his groundbreaking work on Transparent, and he appears pretty unstoppable when it comes to winning his second consecutive award. Some contenders are simply too obvious to bet against, and Tambor is one of them. If any actor has momentum to upset this year, Anthony Anderson fits the bill pretty well as an actor working in Hollywood for the past 20 years on top of starring in the most popular show of the five nominees.
Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Frontrunner: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Contender: Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
For the past two years, Uzo Aduba stood out in a category filled with television icons, but as Orange is the New Black‘s popularity diminishes, she might become less of a strong contender. Julia Louis-Dreyfus on the other hand only grows stronger as Veep cements itself as one of the best comedies of the 21st century. She has had trouble in the past winning over SAG voters (she’s only won once for Veep), but a television icon like herself will surely stand out to voters as they fill out their ballots. As veteran actresses, Grace & Frankie stars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda will easily earn the support of a lot of voters but in the end will likely be hampered by competing against each other. The inclusion of Ellie Kemper proves that voters are watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but there isn’t enough buzz for the actress to overcome the popularity of Aduba and Louis-Dreyfus.
Male Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie
Frontrunner: Bryan Cranston, All the Way
Contender: Sterling K. Brown, The People v. O.J. Simpson
Earlier last summer, Emmy voters were able to celebrate the acting achievements in The People v. O.J. Simpson without splitting the vote. Now that the two Emmy-winning performances are going head to head they might cancel each other out. Bryan Cranston on the other hand benefits from being the most recognizable name competing against two sets of costars (the other two nominees are The Night Of stars John Turturro and Riz Ahmed), so even if All The Way isn’t awards worthy his name alone might easily bring him to a third SAG award.
Female Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie
Frontrunner: Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson
Dark Horse: Bryce Dallas Howard, Black Mirror
After years of unsung work on American Horror Story as well as multiple roles in major Oscar players 2016 is finally the year voters started honoring Sarah Paulson. There isn’t much to say about her work as Marcia Clark that hasn’t already been repeatedly said and voters know how good she is. Good will towards Paulson as well as a lack of a real alternative makes her one of the more obvious locks of the night. Kerry Washington seemed to be a viable contender earlier in the year but after failing to find success at the Emmys or Golden Globes it’s hard to imagine her pulling off an upset here. As the apple in a bag of oranges Bryce Dallas Howard potentially benefits from a wave of Black Mirror love if enough voters suffer from TPVOJS fatigue, as unlikely as that may seem.