Television awards are distinctly in a different part of the year than film awards, most specifically the Emmys and Oscars, respectively. The Oscars happen in the first few months of the year while the Emmys usually happen in late September, using the org’s traditional, if dated, June-May eligibility window. There is one awards body who celebrates both television and film, and that’s the SAG Awards. The Screen Actors Guild usually announces their winners a few weeks before the Oscars, so it happens in the beginning of the year as they utilize a calendar year eligibility (also noting that the Globes also honor television but have since lost the notability they once had).
SAG honors television performers across three different genres: drama, comedy and limited series. All three honor a male and female performer, combining both lead and supporting performances into one category. What’s different about comedy and drama is that they have an extra category that limited series doesn’t have: ensemble awards. There are five nominees each for the ensemble categories to honor the best ensemble of the year. While limited series doesn’t have this category yet, we can hope that one day SAG-AFTRA will decide to award limited series with this category. With the SAG Awards coming up on February 27, it’s time to look at the nominees and predict a winner in each category.
First up are the limited series categories, mostly because there are only two as opposed to comedy and drama, which have three each. These categories are becoming more competitive every year as limited series dominate the television landscape, giving us some of the best limited series that have ever been done. In the female actor category, Kate Winslet and Jean Smart both represent HBO’s Mare of Easttown, Winslet for her lead role as the titular Mare and Jean Smart for her role as Mare’s mother. They’re up against Margaret Qualley for Maid, Cynthia Nixon for Genius: Aretha, and Jennifer Coolidge for The White Lotus. Kate Winslet seems like the frontrunner, recently coming off her Emmy win for her performance, but Jennifer Coolidge had a much-discussed performance last summer as a woman attempting to mourn her mother’s passing. It might be Coolidge’s first nomination against Winslet’s ten – with three wins – but don’t count her out. Over on the men’s side, there is no clear frontrunner. Murray Bartlett represents The White Lotus for his performance as the titular hotel’s manager. Recent Emmy winner Ewan McGregor is in the category for his performance in Halston, joined by another recent Emmy winner, Evan Peters, for his role in Mare of Easttown. These three are joined by Oscar Isaac from Scenes from a Marriage and Michael Keaton from Dopesick. With no clear frontrunner, it could come down to the two recent Emmy winners, McGregor and Peters, to be considered. Any of these men could end up winning, as SAG loves to occasionally give us a surprise.
Next up are the comedy categories. As mentioned, this genre has three categories: male actor, female actor, ensemble. In the male actor category, only three different shows are represented with five nominees. There are a couple of shows that have two nominees each, Ted Lasso and Only Murders in the Building. Nominated for the former is last year’s winner, Jason Sudeikis, and supporting star Brett Goldstein. For Only Murders in the Building, co-leads Steve Martin and Martin Short are both nominated. Michael Douglas rounds out the five with his performance in the final season of The Kominsky Method. At this point, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise for Jason Sudeikis to repeat his win in this category; he’s terrific in Ted Lasso. His biggest competition would presumably be the two men from Only Murders in the Building, but even they would have an uphill battle to beat Sudeikis – and no, it’s not because they would split the votes causing Sudeikis to win. Things are a little clearer cut on the women’s side of things. There might be five nominees, but there is a clear frontrunner. Ted Lasso is doubly represented in this category as well, for Juno Temple and Hannah Waddingham’s supporting performances (very respectable that two supporting performances cracked into this category against three lead performances). Sandra Oh is nominated for her work in The Chair, while Elle Fanning represents her series The Great. All of these women gave great performances, but this category belongs to Jean Smart of HBO Max’s Hacks. Fresh off an Emmy win for her lead performance in the series, Smart should be considered the frontrunner of this category. Her performance in Hacks is special, both commanding and hilarious, and will likely earn Smart her first SAG Award. In the ensemble category, there are five great shows that represent some of the best comedy performances of the past year. The nominees include Ted Lasso, Hacks, Only Murders in the Building, The Great, and The Kominsky Method. Two shows in their second seasons, two in their first seasons, and one that aired its final season last year. While all of these are great, the two likeliest fighting for the top prize would be Ted Lasso and Hacks, both of which earned Emmys back in September. Last year’s winner, Schitt’s Creek, is no longer eligible, opening room for a new winner. Could Ted Lasso’s four individual SAG nominations be predicting its eventual win for outstanding ensemble?
Finally, the drama categories. Just like the comedy categories, there are three here. Succession dominates the male actor category with a history-making three nominations (out of five!). Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong and Kieran Culkin all represent the HBO drama, making the likeliness of one of them winning very strong. Lee Jung-jae also made history in the category by becoming the first actor nominated in this category from a non-English language series in the global sensation, Squid Game. The last nominee is previous nominee Billy Crudup for Apple TV’s The Morning Show. Who will win? This one’s hard to pin down, as both Succession and Squid Game have received much praise for its performances. Jeremy Strong might have the slight edge here, given his Emmy winning history and his character’s arc giving him the opportunity to give a truly great performance. In the female actor category, things are very competitive. Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon are both nominated for their performances in The Morning Show. Sarah Snook represents Succession in this category, while Elisabeth Moss has earned her fourth nomination for her lead performance in The Handmaid’s Tale. Making history in this category, similar to the male actor category, is Jung Ho-yeon from Squid Game; the first performer in the category’s history to be from a non-English language series. While the rest are worthy competitors, it seems that Elisabeth Moss could earn her first individual SAG Award for her performance in The Handmaid’s Tale fourth season. It’s been a long time coming and her performance was highly discussed amongst critics and fans alike – and clearly SAG members see her work, as this is not her first time nominated. The award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama seems like there might be a clear winner going into the ceremony. The series that are nominated for the award are The Handmaid’s Tale, The Morning Show, Squid Game, Succession, and Yellowstone. Yellowstone is the only series in either ensemble category to be nominated without garnering a single individual SAG nomination. The Handmaid’s Tale is the only series of the five that has been nominated in this category before, but don’t think that gives it any kind of advantage. This award belongs to Succession, which is celebrating its first SAG nominations this year. Its third season proved that the cast of Succession is as stellar as everyone already thinks they are, thus finally earning recognition by SAG-AFTRA. If any series could possibly swoop in and take this award, it would be Netflix’s Squid Game.
The last category to mention is Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Series. Previous winners in this category include Game of Thrones, The Mandalorian, GLOW, and 24. This year’s nominees include the stunt ensembles for Cobra Kai, Mare of Easttown, Squid Game, Loki, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Judging from previous winners, it seems SAG-AFTRA enjoys showy stunt work. This could mean that Cobra Kai could emerge victorious, with Squid Game hot on its heels.
This year’s SAG award winners will be interesting to see, especially with the history making nominations that have occurred this year (the previously mentioned nominations for Succession in the male actor category and Squid Game’s inclusion as the first non-English language series to be nominated at the SAG awards). From drama to comedy, newcomers to the SAG and veterans with multiple nominations under their belt, this year’s SAG categories are filled with the best performances television has to offer. With some categories being clearer than others, it will be interesting to see who will prevail in each category.
The 28th Screen Actors Guild Awards will be held live and in person on Sunday, February 27, 2022. The two-hour telecast will be simulcast live on TNT and TBS at 8 p.m. (ET) / 5 p.m. (PT).
Here are my ranked 2022 SAG Award winner predictions for television.
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
- Squid Game
- The Morning Show
- The Handmaid’s Tale
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
- Jeremy Strong, Succession
- Brian Cox, Succession
- Lee Jung-jae, Squid Game
- Kieran Culkin, Succession
- Billy Crudup, The Morning Show
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
- Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
- Sarah Snook, Succession
- Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show
- Jung Ho-yeon, Squid Game
- Reese Witherspoon, The Morning Show
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
- Ted Lasso
- Only Murders in the Building
- The Kominsky Method
- The Great
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
- Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso
- Steve Martin, Only Murders in the Building
- Brett Goldstein, Ted Lasso
- Martin Short, Only Murders in the Building
- Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
- Jean Smart, Hacks
- Hannah Waddingham, Ted Lasso
- Sandra Oh, The Chair
- Elle Fanning, The Great
- Juno Temple, Ted Lasso
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Limited Series
- Ewan McGregor, Halston
- Evan Peters, Mare of Easttown
- Murray Bartlett, The White Lotus
- Michael Keaton, Dopesick
- Oscar Isaac, Scenes from a Marriage
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Limited Series
- Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown
- Jennifer Coolidge, The White Lotus
- Cynthia Erivo, Genius: Aretha
- Margaret Qualley, The Maid
- Jean Smart, Mare of Easttown
Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series
- Cobra Kai
- Squid Game
- Mare of Easttown
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Photos: Graeme Hunter/HBO; Noh Juhan | Netflix