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Gold Standard: ‘Spotlight’ to top ‘The Big Short’ and other SAG Awards predictions

Gold Standard:  Predictions for the SAG Awards

The lead actors in “Spotlight": Michael Keaton, left, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery and Brian d’Arcy James.

(Kerry Hayes / Open Road Films)

SAG Awards nominations come from two panels — one for film, one for TV — comprising roughly 2,200 randomly chosen voters from within the membership. But every SAG-AFTRA member in good standing — 116,741, per the group’s count — chooses the winners. That kind of volume usually results in safe choices, particularly on the television side. Here are my predictions for the Jan. 30 ceremony:

CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE

The nominees: “Beasts of No Nation,” “The Big Short,” “Spotlight,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “Trumbo”

And the winner is: “Spotlight.” The actors in this outstanding ensemble — Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, among them — have struggled to find individual recognition with critics groups and awards voters. But as a group, they’re going to be hard to beat.

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Unless: “The Big Short,” another expertly assembled ensemble, continues to build momentum over the holidays as more people see it.

MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

The nominees: Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo"; Johnny Depp, “Black Mass"; Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant"; Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs"; Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”

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And the winner is: DiCaprio takes it on his fourth try, setting the stage for his first Oscar win.

Unless: The other nominees have splinters of support. Maybe the love for “Trumbo” will extend beyond the nominating committee. It is about Hollywood.

FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

The nominees: Cate Blanchett, “Carol"; Brie Larson, “Room"; Helen Mirren, “Woman in Gold"; Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn"; Sarah Silverman, “I Smile Back”

And the winner is: Larson’s work in “Room” possesses the sort of physical and emotional challenges that will appeal to her voting peers.

Unless: Ronan’s turn in “Brooklyn” isn’t showy, but it’s as emotionally truthful as any performance we’ve seen on screen this year. She could easily win the award in this most competitive category.

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MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

The nominees: Christian Bale, “The Big Short"; Idris Elba, “Beasts of No Nation"; Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies"; Michael Shannon, “99 Homes"; Jacob Tremblay, “Room”

And the winner is: Rylance ever so slightly over Elba. The English actor, the first artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, is revered among actors, who nominated him (again, in the same category as Elba) on the television side as well.

Unless: It’s Elba. Netflix’s “Beasts” landing a cast nomination speaks both to the film’s power and wide availability on the streaming service.

FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

The nominees: Rooney Mara, “Carol"; Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight"; Helen Mirren, “Trumbo"; Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl"; Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”

And the winner is: Both Mara and Vikander have, by any normal measure, lead parts in their films. With “Carol” winning more favor, give the edge to Mara.

Unless: Vikander is honored for turning a stand-by-your-(wo)man role into her film’s most complex and fascinating character.

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ENSEMBLE IN A TV DRAMA SERIES

The nominees: “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” “Homeland,” “House of Cards,” “Mad Men”

And the winner is: “Game of Thrones” finally broke through at the Emmys this year. They’re not going to give it to “Downton Abbey” again, are they?

Unless: They’re going to vote for “Downton.” Sympathy butters no parsnips.

ENSEMBLE IN A TV COMEDY SERIES

The nominees: “The Big Bang Theory,” “Key & Peele,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Transparent,” “Veep”

And the winner is: “Transparent,” particularly since the show’s recently released second season is even better than its first.

Unless: “Orange,” last year’s winner, wins favor again for its super-sized ensemble.

MALE ACTOR IN A TV DRAMA SERIES

The nominees: Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones"; Jon Hamm, “Mad Men"; Rami Malek, “Mr. Robot"; Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul"; Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”

And the winner is: Hamm won his first Emmy this fall. Might that tip the scales for him to take his first SAG Award too?

Unless: Malek has a lot of heat for his acclaimed first-year USA show, picking up a Golden Globe nomination along with the SAG nom. He could well pull off the night’s biggest surprise.

FEMALE ACTOR IN A TV DRAMA SERIES

The nominees: Claire Danes, “Homeland"; Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder"; Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife"; Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey"; Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

And the winner is: For once, SAG was ahead of the curve, giving this prize to Davis last year. Look for her to return to the podium.

Unless: Voters somehow coalesce behind one of the other past winners — Danes, Smith or Margulies — even though their shows are getting a bit long in the tooth for that to happen.

MALE ACTOR IN A TV COMEDY SERIES

The nominees: Ty Burrell, “Modern Family"; Louis CK, “Louie"; William H. Macy, “Shameless"; Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory"; Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”

And the winner is: Tambor is a lock to follow his Emmy victory with a win here.

Unless: Amazon botches holiday present deliveries and voters take out their frustrations on Tambor and his Amazon Prime series.

FEMALE ACTOR IN A TV COMEDY SERIES

The nominees: Uzo Aduba, “Orange Is the New Black"; Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie"; Ellie Kemper, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep"; Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”

And the winner is: SAG Awards voters haven’t been as beholden to Louis-Dreyfus as their Emmy counterparts. She has won twice for “Seinfeld,” just once for “Veep.” This year will even it out.

Unless: Aduba repeats — as winners often do with SAG — for “Orange.”

MALE ACTOR IN A TV MOVIE OR MINISERIES

The nominees: Idris Elba, “Luther"; Ben Kingsley, “Tut"; Ray Liotta, “Texas Rising"; Bill Murray, “A Very Murray Christmas"; Mark Rylance, “Wolf Hall”

And the winner is: Voters usually give this award to an actor with an established movie career. If “Tut” wasn’t so terrible, I’d go with Kingsley. Let’s say Elba wins his trophy here, though it’s his first nomination for “Luther,” now in its fourth season. (This group can be slow to catch on.)

Unless: Murray receives a late Christmas present.

FEMALE ACTOR IN A TV MOVIE OR MINISERIES

The nominees: Nicole Kidman, “Grace of Monaco"; Queen Latifah, “Bessie"; Christina Ricci, “The Lizzie Borden Chronicles"; Susan Sarandon, “The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"; Kristen Wiig, “The Spoils Before Dying”

And the winner is: The last 10 winners have been from shows airing on HBO. So ... Queen Latifah for her fierce portrayal of blues singer Bessie Smith.

Unless: Ricci, overlooked by the Emmys, receives her due for the winking wickedness she brought to “Borden.”

Twitter: @GlennWhipp


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