Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

SAG Awards Predictions and Picks

Award season continues with That Shelf’s SAG Awards predictions and picks. Sussing out this year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards might be a game of “spot the Oscar nominee” at this point in the race. However, for every forgone conclusion, there’s an Emily Blunt to spoil the party and a Glenn Close readying us for an upset.


The actors are a tricky bunch and there are a few variables to consider that may affect the outcomes. First, special awards committees determine the nominees. There are separate committees for film and television. These committees comprise 2500 active members. Notably, these members have not served on the nomination committees over the past eight years. So, unlike the Oscars, Golden Globes, and critics’ groups, the same people don’t determine the SAG Awards nominations every year. Only the winners, as all 125,000 paid-up members of SAG-AFTRA vote to say who takes home the trophy. That’s a lot of votes compared to 80-ish members of the Golden Globes or 8000-ish voters at the Academy. And a good indication of support for repeat nominees in the TV categories.


SAG Awards Predictions Advice: SAG Loves Screeners


Second, SAG members love their screeners. Ever since Crash changed the Oscar race by targeting the actors’ branch with a blanketed assault of DVDs before taking the coveted Best Ensemble prize and shifting a race that seemed like a done deal for Brokeback Mountain, screeners are key. SAG members nominate early, which accounts for some picks like Lupita Nyong’o in Us that were the first to get screeners out to members. Similarly, late-breaking films like Little Women and 1917 might be surprise shut outs simply because they struggled to reach voters at home. (Bombshell smartly played a long-lead and started screening for voters in October.)


Finally, SAG skews much younger than the Academy and there’s a larger diversity of tastes and backgrounds. These factors help explain how a horror movie performance like Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place or an edgy turn like Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation walked out with a SAG Award despite missing the Oscar nomination.



With those factors in mind, let’s break down what the team at That Shelf thinks will and should win. Here are our fearless and all-over-the-map SAG Awards predictions.



Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Al Pacino in Columbia Pictures Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture


The nominees: Bombshell, Jojo Rabbit, The Irishman, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Parasite


The rule that the Best Picture winner needed to be a SAG Ensemble nominee was laid to rest with Oscar wins for The Shape of Water and Green Book. However, the SAG Awards predictions rule generally stands that the ensemble winner is a Best Picture nominee. Only 1996’s The Birdcage won the top prize here without a Best Picture nom at the Oscars. So maybe rule out Bombshell, which, like last year’s A Star Is Born, could walk out empty handed despite leading the nominations.


The team generally agrees with most pundits and says that Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood will take this win. With its massive cast and showy roles, it reflects the actor-friendly films like Three Billboards, Hidden Figures, and Birdman that won before it.



On the other hand, many of us are rooting for Parasite, as are others in the industry. Bong Joon-ho’s film is the wild card. Chris Feil at Vulture nails it when explaining how Parasite could pull off an upset win. “Ask five different Parasite fans their favorite performance, and you’re likely to get five different answers,” writes Feil. “With each of the nominated Parasite cast members offering such equally memorable performances, this presents a high bar that its competition will struggle to match.” Nearly everyone agrees that Brad Pitt steals Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood and that The Irishman is the Pesci/Pacino show (Robert DeNiro is also getting this year’s lifetime achievement award) so they might be likelier to take home individual wins, rather than the top prize, if Parasite wants to crash the party.


Will win:

Bombshell: Victor

The Irishman: Rachel


Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood: Courtney, Daniel, Jason, Pat


Should win:

The Irishman: Daniel

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood: Jason


Parasite: Courtney, Pat, Rachel, Victor


Renée Zellweger in Judy

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role


The nominees: Cynthia Erivo, Harriet; Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story; Lupita Nyong’o, Us; Charlize Theron, Bombshell; Renée Zellweger, Judy


Unlike the Ensemble category, our team is unanimous in its SAG Awards predictions for the individual acting categories. We all say that Renée Zellweger will win on her road to a second Oscar. The only potential upset, really, is a sort of protest win for Lupita Nyong’o if voters rallied for her between her Oscar snub on Monday and the close of SAG voting on Friday.


Will win:


Renée Zellweger: everyone


Should win:

Scarlett Johansson: Jason

Lupita Nyong’o: Courtney, Daniel, Rachel, Victor

Renée Zellweger: Pat


This for That: Pat says “swap out Lupita Nyong’o and replace her with Alfre Woodard in Clemency.”


Joaquin Phoenix in Joker

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Lead Role


The nominees: Christian Bale, Ford v. Ferrari; Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood; Adam Driver, Marriage Story; Taron Egerton, Rocketman; Joaquin Phoenix, Joker


Is Best Actor another done deal? While giving an actor a prize for a comic book movie might have seemed like a hate crime against cinema a few years ago, Black Panther won the ensemble prize last year. There is, of course, Heath Ledger’s win for The Dark Knight. But I’ll just put it out there that only one actor has ever won an Oscar for playing Hamlet, so a second winner for playing the Joker might not sit easily with the old guard. We’re (mostly) all crying, “Justice for Taron Egerton!” though and hope that voters are too.


Will win:

Joaquin Phoenix: everyone


Should win:

Adam Driver: Jason

Taron Egerton, Courtney, Pat, Rachel, Victor

Joaquin Phoenix: Daniel


This for that:

Courtney says, “Swap out Leonardo DiCaprio for Eddie Murphy in Dolemite Is My Name.”


Laura Dern in Marriage Story
Laura Dern in Marriage Story

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role


The nominees: Laura Dern, Marriage Story; Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit; Nicole Kidman, Bombshell; Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers; Margot Robbie, Bombshell


There seems to be nothing stopping the Laura Dern train. We all say she’s taking this win too. However, the massive love for Jennifer Lopez might translate well with the younger members of SAG. If there’s one win to pull an upset and upstage the Oscars à la Emily Blunt or Idris Elba, this might be it.


Will win:

Laura Dern: everyone


Should win:

Laura Dern: Jason, Pat, Victor

Scarlett Johansson: Rachel

Jennifer Lopez: Courtney, Daniel


This for that:

Courtney says, “Swap out Margot Robbie for Park So-dam in Parasite.”

Pat says, “Swap out Scarlett Johansson for Cho Yeo-jeong in Parasite.”


Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood


Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role


The nominees: Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy; Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood; Al Pacino, The Irishman; Joe Pesci, The Irishman; Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood


Once again, we all agree: Brad Pitt can brush aside his “overdue” status. However, our team has many friends of Jimmy Hoffa and one of the guys that (allegedly) killed him.


Will win:

Brad Pitt: everyone


Should win:

Al Pacino: Daniel, Pat

Joe Pesci: Courtney, Victor

Brad Pitt: Jason, Rachel


Ford versus Ferrari
Ford v Ferrari


Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture


The nominees: Avengers: Endgame; Ford v. Ferrari; The Irishman; Joker; Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood


How does one even compare the stunt driving of Ford v. Ferrari to the stunt action of Endgame or the geriatric care of The Irishman? These are all very different beasts. Although there is an element of novelty in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood’s bromance between a star and his stuntman that is hard to deny.


Will win:

Avengers: Endgame: Victor

Ford v. Ferrari: Courtney, Daniel, Rachel

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood: Jason, Pat


Should win:

Avengers: Endgame: Courtney, Daniel, Victor

Ford v. Ferrari: Pat, Rachel

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood: Jason


Michelle Williams in Fosse/Verdon

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series


The nominees: Patricia Arquette, The Act; Toni Collette, Unbelievable; Joey King, The Act; Emily Watson, Chernobyl; Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon


With the lead and supporting categories combined in this field, the race is between Golden Globe and Emmy winners Patricia Arquette and Michelle Williams. For us, Williams (ha) leads.


Will win:

Patricia Arquette: Rachel

Michelle Williams: Daniel, Jason, Pat Victor


Should win:

Patricia Arquette: Victor

Emily Watson: Jason

Michelle Williams: Rachel


Jharrel Jerome in When They See Us

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series


The nominees: Mahershala Ali, True Detective; Russell Crowe, The Loudest Voice; Jared Harris, Chernobyl; Jharrell Jerome, When They See Us; Sam Rockwell, Fosse/Verdon


We’re split on this one. Could it be When They See Us MVP Jharrell Jerome, recent winner Sam Rockwell, or Russell Crowe with the only win of the night for a Roger Ailes movie? Jared Harris is lurking behind even though no member of the team put him down for the win in our SAG Awards predictions.


Will win:

Russell Crowe: Jason, Rachel

Jharrell Jerome: Courtney, Pat

Sam Rockwell: Daniel, Victor


Shoud win:

Mahershala Ali: Victor

Jared Harris: Jason

Jharrell Jerome: Courtney, Daniel

Sam Rockwell: Rachel


Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep in Big Little Lies

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series


The nominees: Big Little Lies, The Crown, Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things


Here’s a tough one. Will the cast of Game of Thrones land its first and only SAG ensemble win in its final season? On the other hand, Big Little Lies has a stacked cast that’s hard to deny, while the third season of The Crown lets cast members shine by leading their own episodes. The Handmaid’s Tale and Stranger Things are arguably losing heat on the awards front despite holding onto devoted fans, so wins for them would be surprises.


Will win:

Big Little Lies: Victor

The Crown: Courtney, Daniel, Jason

Game of Thrones: Pat, Rachel


Should win:

Big Little Lies: Pat

The Crown: Jason, Rachel

Game of Thrones: Victor

The Handmaid’s Tale: Courtney

Stranger Things: Daniel


Olivia Colman in The Crown

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series


The nominees: Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show; Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown; Olivia Colman, The Crown; Jodie Comer, Killing Eve; Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale


SAG’s nomination committee will have to answer at the gates of hell for passing over Meryl Streep in Big Little Lies. It might be a case where the ladies of Monterey cancelled each other out. Sigh. But it’s hard to argue with these contenders. Expect a showdown between Queen Elizabeth II and Villanelle, although most fans of The Crown will agree that Helena Bonham Carter steals it despite limited screen time as Princess Margaret.


Will win:

Helena Bonham Carter: Rachel

Olivia Colman: Daniel, Pat, Victor

Jodie Comer: Courtney, Jason


Should win:

Helena Bonham Carter: Rachel

Olivia Colman: Jason

Jodie Comer: Daniel, Pat

Elisabeth Moss: Courtney, Victor


Game of Thrones - Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage)
Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series


The nominees: Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us; Steve Carell, The Morning Show; Billy Crudup, The Morning Show; Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones; David Harbour, Stranger Things


It’s a toss-up between old favourites Sterling K. Brown and Peter Dinklage. We’re split.


Will win:

Sterling K. Brown: Courtney, Daniel, Victor

Peter Dinklage: Jason, Pat, Rachel


Should win:

Sterling K. Brown: Pat

Billy Crudup: Daniel, Victor

Peter Dinklage: Courtney, Jason, Rachel


Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Andrew Scott in Fleabag

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series


The nominees: Barry, Fleabag, The Kominsky Method, The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel, Schitt’s Creek


One member of the team calls this category the “Sophie’s Choice” decision of the night and she might be right. It’s hard to argue against these nominees, although nobody on the That Shelf team seems to watch The Kominsky Method. SAG predictions pools will be won or lost with the comedy categories!


Will win:

Fleabag: Courtney, Pat, Rachel, Victor

The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel: Daniel, Jason


Should win:

Barry: Victor

Fleabag: Courtney, Daniel, Rachel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Jason

Schitt’s Creek: Pat


Bill Hader in Barry

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series


The nominees: Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method; Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method; Bill Hader, Barry; Andrew Scott, Fleabag; Tony Shaloub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel


Voters can choose between an old priest and a hot priest on this ballot. The veterans don’t get strong odds from our team, which gives Hader and Scott the edge. It might be another case where a lead performance like Hader’s has an advantage over a supporting turn like Scott’s, similar to the split between Colman and Bonham Carter competing together for The Crown.


Will win:

Bill Hader: Courtney, Daniel, Pat, Victor

Andrew Scott: Jason, Rachel


Should win:

Bill Hader: everyone


Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series


The nominees: Christina Applegate, Dead to Me; Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek; Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag


Rachel Brosnahan and Phoebe Waller-Bridge are two of the hottest stars on TV right now for driving their own shows. Our team generally agrees, though, that the latter has the edge given the change in tide with most award shows. Don’t count out Canadian veteran Catherine O’Hara, though. Her turn as Moira Rose is the best work of her career and essential to the film’s success in the USA – although the absence of nominations for Eugene Levy and Dan Levy might indicate how far up the ballot Schitt’s Creek votes fall for SAG members.


Will win:

Rachel Brosnahan: Rachel

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Courtney, Daniel, Pat, Rachel, Victor


Should win:

Alex Borstein: Jason

Catherine O’Hara: Pat

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Courtney, Daniel, Rachel, Victor


This for that: Daniel says, “Change Christina Applegate for Kristen Bell (The Good Place).”


Tune in Sunday night to see who wins and don’t forget to share your SAG Awards predictions on social media!

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