Well, the day has finally come: Sunday (Jan. 29), the members of SAG-AFTRA will gather under their President, Gabrielle Carteris, to see which of them is the most outstanding.
There is nothing more satisfying, as a patron of the arts, than to see artists compliment other artists for doing the art that they all do. Luckily, there will be few cliquish in-jokes, because actors hate each other and only see each other at these things, in their films and programs, or occasionally at the cryotherapy spa. And we are free to play along, cheering and drinking as accolades are handed out in the following categories — and, one hopes, in the following ways…
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
- Kerry Washington, “Confirmation” (Should Win. A mannered performance that brought to life the anguish for those of us lucky enough to have avoided abuse on the level Anita Hill suffered.)
- Sarah Paulson, “The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story” (Will Win. Practically already has.)
- Bryce Dallas Howard, “Black Mirror: Nosedive” (Wild Card. Effortless perfection, a timely tale — and just that hint of cool voters think will rub off on them.)
- Felicity Huffman, “American Crime” (A thankless role, performed with chalkboard-scraping diligence.)
- Audra McDonald, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” (A triple threat other actors adore. Remember who’s voting here.)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
- Riz Ahmed, “The Night Of” (Should Win, but will get lost in the shuffle.)
- Bryan Cranston, “All the Way” (Will Win. And we all know why.)
- John Turturro, “The Night Of” (Wild Card. His affable weirdness is very SAG.)
- Sterling K. Brown / Courtney B. Vance, “The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story” (Either should win, therefore neither will.)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
- Thandie Newton, “Westworld” (Should Win. Took a thin, cerebral role and turned it into an entire TV show.)
- Millie Bobby Brown/ Winona Ryder, “Stranger Things” (Will Win. One of them will, anyway — what better way to reward this show simply for existing than by handing the award to the two actors most poorly served by it?)
- Robin Wright, “House of Cards” (Wild Card. SAG nominations often go to the people its members most aspire to be — see Bryan Cranston, above.)
- Claire Foy, “The Crown” (High buzz/low visibility is a strange mix, but works against the show here. If Netflix needs taking down a peg, this is where it will happen.)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
- Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us” (Should Win. In a show of breakout performances, his Randall is the most magnetic and complex.)
- Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones” (Will Win. Protects the Guild from splitting the vote in the show’s last year.)
- John Lithgow, “The Crown” (Wild Card. Could be the show’s sole win and nobody would complain.)
- Rami Malek, “Mr. Robot” (Not this year, honey. It was challenging in all the wrong ways.)
- Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards” (A bizarre, stylized performance that already seems outdated.)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
- Ellie Kemper, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Should & Will Win. The show deserves credit, and even the shallowest among us has to admit Kemper pulled off the impossible in Season 2 — the show’s intention to juxtapose innocence with deep horror, and find the laughter in PTSD and sexual abuse, was purely theoretical until they proved they could do it. And that’s Kemper’s doing.)
- Jane Fonda, “Grace & Frankie” (Wild Card. Lily’s winning something for sure, and the symmetry would appeal to the producers and writers in the crowd.)
- Uzo Aduba, “Orange Is the New Black” (Not the year for it, frankly.)
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep” (…Probably the year for it, come to think of it. But it would be so Selina to miss this one in the final year.)
- Lily Tomlin, “Grace & Frankie” (This is what Lifetime Achievement Awards were made to avoid.)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
- Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent” (Should Win. In the real world, this is problematic as hell — but in the show’s world, this was Maura’s year for absolute certain.)
- William H. Macy, “Shameless” (Will Win. Macy shares with his wife Felicity Huffman the dubious honor of playing absolutely the worst part of their respective shows, but that doesn’t mean they’re not working hard.)
- Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish” (Wild Card. Probably the last year Mr. Anderson will be nominated, if Dre continues his slow slide into banana-peel dumb-dad territory.)
- Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (The nom’s enough, honestly. Thank you for that.)
- Ty Burrell, “Modern Family” (The “Veep” of broadcast comedy — stable, reliable, adorable — but in this case not enough of any of those things to overcome the longevity of the show, which can translate to actors differently than to you and I.)
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
- “Downton Abbey” (Michelle Dockery, Brendan Coyle, Laura Carmichael, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Joanne Froggatt, Matthew Goode, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Penelope Wilton, Maggie Smith et al.)
- “Game of Thrones” (Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Nathalie Emmanuel, Michiel Huisman, Jonathan Pryce, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams et al.)
- “Stranger Things” (Millie Bobby Brown, Cara Buono, David Harbour, Matthew Modine, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder et al.)
- “The Crown” (Claire Foy, John Lithgow, Matt Smith, Jeremy Northam, Clive Francis, Billy Jenkins, Lizzy McInnerny, Pip Torrens, Nicholas Rowe, Harriet Walter et al.)
- “Westworld” (Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, James Marsden, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ben Barnes, Ed Harris, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Rodrigo Santoro, Jimmi Simpson, Shannon Woodward, Jeffrey Wright et al.)
Should Win: “Downton Abbey,” for an astounding and satisfying conclusion.
Will Win: “Westworld,” which is fine.
Wild Card: Any of the other three. “Thrones” is due a win next year, “The Crown” can’t compete with these guys, and “Stranger Things” was… Not about the acting.
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
- “Black-ish” (Tracee Ellis Ross, Anthony Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Jenifer Lewis, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, Marsai Martin et al.)
- “Modern Family” (Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Rico Rodriguez, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould et al.)
- “Orange Is the New Black” (Uzo Aduba, Daneille Brooks, Blair Brown, Lea Delaria, Kimiko Glenn, Diane Guerrero, Natasha Lyonne, Selenis Leyva, Taryn Manning, Kate Mulgrew, Lori Petty, Dascha Polanco, Taylor Schilling, Yael Stone, Samira Wiley et al.)
- “Veep” (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, Gary Cole, Clea Duvall, Sufe Bradshaw, Tony Hale, Hugh Laurie, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons, John Slattery, Matt Walsh et al.)
- “The Big Bang Theory”
Should Win: “Veep,” whose cast improves every single year and who went out on a high note.
Will Win: “Orange Is the New Black,” which increasingly risks bathos in serving each of these talented actors.
Wild Card: The nerds, for being rich.
The Numbers: TV
Three nominations for “The Crown,” “The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story” and “Stranger Things,” and two for “Westworld” and “Game of Thrones,” both of which also picked up Stunt noms (below) for a total of three. That’s two streaming series, two premium cablers, and a single basic cable drama… Which comes out of the Ryan Murphy/FX stable and thus acts more like a cable show anyway. We expected “Stranger Things” to be rewarded just for existing this awards cycle, so it’s only a minor shock.
Two nominations each for “Black-ish,” “Grace & Frankie,” “House of Cards,” “Modern Family,” “The Night Of,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Veep” — that’s two network comedies and five streaming shows, although it’s nice to see comedies so well-represented in the age of Peak TV. “Kimmy Schmidt” is particularly encouraging, as the show took some major chances this year at finding the light in PTSD, while “Modern Family” had one of its up years and “OITNB” continued down its ever-darker path. Major shoutout to Diane Guerrero and Samira Wiley, by the way, who really nailed it this year.
All in all, Netflix led the pack by a length, with 17 nominations, and HBO followed up with a total of 13. ABC, particularly its diverse and clever comedies, is on its continued hot streak with 5 (broadcast also yields one nom each for CBS and NBC). In basic cable, FX wins with three nominations (none of which are for “Preacher’s” Ruth Negga, who turned in one of the finest performances of the year overall) to AMC and USA’s one each, along with Amazon, PBS and Showtime.
Motion Picture Nominations
- Leading Male Actor: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”; Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”; Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”; Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”; Denzel Washington, “Fences”
- Leading Female Actor: Amy Adams, “Arrival”; Emily Blunt, “The Girl on the Train”; Natalie Portman, “Jackie”; Emma Stone, “La La Land”; Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”
- Supporting Male Actor: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”; Jeff Bridges, “Hell Or High Water”; Hugh Grant, “Florence Foster Jenkins”; Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”; Dev Patel, “Lion”
- Supporting Female Actor: Viola Davis, “Fences”; Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”; Nicole Kidman, “Lion”; Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”; Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”
Should Win: Denzel for setting up a hopefully 10-play franchise, Natalie Portman for bringing actual life to something that should have been impossible to create, Lucas Hedges for blowing his costars out of the water in every scene, and Viola Davis because we seem to have forgotten she is the hardest working woman in Hollywood.
Will Win: Casey Affleck despite so many things, Amy Adams for somehow selling the last act of “Arrival,” Mahershala Ali for being the most easily graspable part of “Moonlight,” and Michelle Williams for getting particularly Michelle Williams.
Wild Card: Viggo for being a good dad, Emily Blunt for the frightful person she is able to become, Jeff Bridges for being the best part of an already good movie, and Octavia Spencer because she is just wonderful to watch.
- Outstanding Cast:
- “Captain Fantastic” (Ann Dowd, Katheryn Hahn, Frank Langella, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Zahn, Missi Pyle, et al.)
- “Fences” (Viola Davis, Denzel Washington, Mykelti Williamson, Saniyya Sidney, Russel Hornsby, Jovan Adepo, et al.)
- “Hidden Figures” (Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer, Mahershala Ali, Glen Powell, Kirsten Dunst, et al.)
- “Manchester by the Sea” (Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Gretchen Mol, Matthew Broderick)
- “Moonlight” (Andre Holland, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes, Jharrel Jerome)
Should Win: “Manchester by the Sea,” despite #1 creepster Casey Affleck.
Will Win: “Manchester by the Sea,” despite alleged monster Casey Affleck.
Wild Card: “Moonlight,” because the first step is figuring out that all politics are already “identity politics.”
The Numbers: Motion Picture
- Four nominations for “Manchester By The Sea”
- Three for “Moonlight” and “Fences”
- Two each for “Captain Fantastic,” “Florence Foster Jenkins,” “Hidden Figures,” “La La Land,” and “Lion”
- One for “Hacksaw Ridge,” which also received a Stunt nom…
In a webcast ceremony prior to the nominations, Awards Committee Chair Jobeth Williams and Committee member Jason George revealed the 2017 Outstanding Stunt Ensemble nominees.
- Film: “Captain America: Civil War,” “Doctor Strange,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Jason Bourne,” “Nocturnal Animals.”
- TV: “Game of Thrones,” “Marvel’s Daredevil,” “Marvel’s Luke Cage,” “The Walking Dead,” “Westworld.”
And finally, the SAG Life Achievement Award will be presented to the wise, ever-luminous Lily Tomlin when the 23rd Annual SAG Awards ceremony airs — live on TNT, TBS & truTV — at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 29. Have an outstanding night.