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.
SAG AWARDS PREDICTIONS
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
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.
The Irishman: Rachel
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood: Courtney, Daniel, Jason, Pat
The Irishman: Daniel
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood: Jason
Parasite: Courtney, Pat, Rachel, Victor
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role
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.
Renée Zellweger: everyone
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.”
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Lead Role
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.
Joaquin Phoenix: everyone
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.”
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.
Laura Dern: everyone
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.”
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
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.
Brad Pitt: everyone
Al Pacino: Daniel, Pat
Joe Pesci: Courtney, Victor
Brad Pitt: Jason, Rachel
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.
Avengers: Endgame: Victor
Ford v. Ferrari: Courtney, Daniel, Rachel
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood: Jason, Pat
Avengers: Endgame: Courtney, Daniel, Victor
Ford v. Ferrari: Pat, Rachel
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood: Jason
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.
Patricia Arquette: Rachel
Michelle Williams: Daniel, Jason, Pat Victor
Patricia Arquette: Victor
Emily Watson: Jason
Michelle Williams: Rachel
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.
Russell Crowe: Jason, Rachel
Jharrell Jerome: Courtney, Pat
Sam Rockwell: Daniel, Victor
Mahershala Ali: Victor
Jared Harris: Jason
Jharrell Jerome: Courtney, Daniel
Sam Rockwell: Rachel
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.
Big Little Lies: Victor
The Crown: Courtney, Daniel, Jason
Game of Thrones: Pat, Rachel
Big Little Lies: Pat
The Crown: Jason, Rachel
Game of Thrones: Victor
The Handmaid’s Tale: Courtney
Stranger Things: Daniel
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.
Helena Bonham Carter: Rachel
Olivia Colman: Daniel, Pat, Victor
Jodie Comer: Courtney, Jason
Helena Bonham Carter: Rachel
Olivia Colman: Jason
Jodie Comer: Daniel, Pat
Elisabeth Moss: Courtney, Victor
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.
Sterling K. Brown: Courtney, Daniel, Victor
Peter Dinklage: Jason, Pat, Rachel
Sterling K. Brown: Pat
Billy Crudup: Daniel, Victor
Peter Dinklage: Courtney, Jason, Rachel
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!
Fleabag: Courtney, Pat, Rachel, Victor
The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel: Daniel, Jason
Fleabag: Courtney, Daniel, Rachel
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Jason
Schitt’s Creek: Pat
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.
Bill Hader: Courtney, Daniel, Pat, Victor
Andrew Scott: Jason, Rachel
Bill Hader: everyone
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.
Rachel Brosnahan: Rachel
Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Courtney, Daniel, Pat, Rachel, Victor
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).”