Every year at the SAG Awards, the question is asked: why is there not a category for Outstanding Ensemble in a Limited Series? Limited Series provide us with some of the very best of television, so it would make sense to honor their ensembles like SAG-AFTRA does for comedy and drama series. Even so, the group does recognize individual performances from limited series, so it’s time to look at the competitors for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series.
Kate Winslet recently won an Emmy for her work in the HBO limited series Mare of Easttown as the titular Mare, a detective investigating a case while dealing with domestic strife. Winslet won this category a decade ago for her performance in HBO’s Mildred Pierce, and she could definitely repeat this year. Could her co-star, Julianne Nicholson, also be nominated by SAG-AFTRA? The guild doesn’t separate categories by lead or supporting (rather putting them together in one gendered category), so it’s totally possible that she could turn up here.
The White Lotus was HBO’s summer hit limited series following the lives of wealthy guests at a high end resort in Hawai’i as they spend their vacations wreaking havoc on the resort’s employees. One such vacationer, attempting to come to terms with her mother’s death, is Tanya McQuoid, played by Jennifer Coolidge. Coolidge is a scene stealer in this show, giving the character a zaniness and an emptiness that is beautifully balanced. This would be the first SAG nomination for Coolidge, but a deserved one.
Giving one of the best performances of 2021 was Thuso Mbedu in Amazon’s The Underground Railroad, following Mbedu’s Cora as she escapes slavery. Mbedu proves every single episode why she’s deserving of accolades for her performance, and hopefully SAG-AFTRA will take note of this. The Underground Railroad went through the year slightly overlooked, barely making any waves at 2021’s Emmys. Could the SAG Awards rectify their wrong by nominated Mbedu?
Margaret Qualley has received much praise for her performance in Netflix’s Maid, where Qualley plays a woman leaving an abusive relationship and trying to make it in the world on her own with her daughter. Qualley brings a realness to the role, making every move seem maternal and thoughtful. Right behind her is Jessica Chastain for HBO’s Scenes from a Marriage, where she plays a woman in a dissolving relationship. Chastain, who has been nominated for two individual SAG Awards for film roles, has never been nominated in the television categories at the SAG Awards.
Spoilers in this category include the two lead actresses from Impeachment: American Crime Story, Beanie Feldstein and Sarah Paulson. Paulson has won an individual SAG before for her work in The People vs OJ: American Crime Story, so it would seem more likely for her to grab a nomination than Feldstein. Another spoiler in the category could be Olivia Colman from HBO’s Landscapers. Colman has proved over the past couple of years that awards bodies love her, including SAG, which has nominated her for three individual awards, including one for television.
My predictions for the nominations for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series:
- Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown
- Jennifer Coolidge, The White Lotus
- Margaret Qualley, Maid
- Jessica Chastain, Scenes from a Marriage
- Thuso Mbedu, The Underground Railroad
Spoilers: Sarah Paulson, Impeachment: American Crime Story; Julianne Nicholson, Mare of Easttown