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Awards

SAG Awards predictions: Will it be ‘Moonlight’ or ‘Manchester’?

The cast and filmmakers of ‘Moonlight.’
The “Moonlight” cast, from left, Mahershala Ali, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes, Alex R. Hibbert, writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, writer-director Barry Jenkins, Naomie Harris and Andre Holland.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

SAG Awards nominations come from two panels — one for film, one for TV — comprising roughly 2,500 randomly chosen voters from within the membership. But every SAG-AFTRA member in good standing — 121,546, per the group’s count (nearly 5,000 more than last year!) — chooses the winners. That kind of volume usually results in safe choices, particularly on the television side. Here are my predictions for the Jan. 29 ceremony:

CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE

The trailer for “Moonlight.”

The nominees: “Captain Fantastic,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Moonlight”

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And the winner is: “Manchester” scored the most individual nominations, but, with its triptych structure, the beloved “Moonlight” stands apart here as a true ensemble picture.

Unless: The strong work of the three “Manchester” nominees — Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges — sways voters. “Fences” can’t be counted out, either.

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MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

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Denzel in ‘Fences’

Denzel Washington and Stephen McKinley Henderson, right, in "Fences."

(David Lee / Paramount Pictures)

The nominees: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”; Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”; Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”; Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”; Denzel Washington, “Fences”

And the winner is: Washington is now one of five actors with four SAG Awards noms. The other four — Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Sean Penn — have won. Now it’s Washington’s turn.

Unless: All the accolades for Affleck keep momentum on his side.

FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Ryan Gosling, left, and Emma Stone in Lionsgate’s “La La Land.”
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star in Lionsgate's "La La Land."
(Dale Robinette)

The nominees: Amy Adams, “Arrival”; Emily Blunt, “The Girl on the Train”; Natalie Portman, “Jackie”; Emma Stone, “La La Land”; Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

And the winner is: In a coin-flip between Stone and Portman, I’ll go with Stone, as probably more voters will know her movie. 

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Unless: Awards voters’ penchant for picking biopic-ish performances prevails, putting Portman’s Jackie Kennedy in the winner’s circle.

MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

‘Moonlight’

Alex Hibbert, left, and Mahershala Ali in "Moonlight." (David Bornfriend/ via AP)

(David Bornfriend / A24)

The nominees: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”; Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”; Hugh Grant, “Florence Foster Jenkins”; Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”; Dev Patel, “Lion”

And the winner is: Ali, also among the “Hidden Figures” ensemble nominees, is the clear favorite here.

Unless: It’s a “Manchester” sweep, benefiting young Hedges.

FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Viola Davis as Rose Maxson and Denzel Washington as Troy Maxson in “Fences.”
Viola Davis as Rose Maxson and Denzel Washington as Troy Maxson in "Fences."
(David Lee / Paramount )
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The nominees: Viola Davis, “Fences”; Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”; Nicole Kidman, “Lion”; Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”; Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

And the winner is: Davis is the lock of this awards season.

Unless: Davis comes out and says that her work in “Fences” is really a lead turn and that she’d greatly appreciate it if no one voted for her here.

ENSEMBLE IN A TV DRAMA SERIES

Lena Headey in a scene from “Game of Thrones.”
Lena Headey in a scene from "Game of Thrones."
(HBO )

The nominees: “The Crown,” “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” “Stranger Things,” “Westworld”

And the winner is:  It’s hard to see a consensus coalescing around any of the three new shows. It’s also difficult to wrap our minds around “Downton” winning again. So finally, on its fourth time around, “Thrones” wins.

Unless: It’s a “Downton” three-peat, sending the series out in style.

ENSEMBLE IN A TV COMEDY SERIES

‘Veep’

Tony Hale and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a scene from "Veep."

(Lacey Terrell / HBO)

The nominees: “The Big Bang Theory,” “black-ish,” “Modern Family,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Veep”

And the winner is: “Veep” has never been better and, remarkably, has never won this award. With politics on everyone’s minds, that should change this year.

Unless: SAG-AFTRA voters can’t resist the dozens and dozens of credited names in “Orange’s” super-sized ensemble and reward it for a third straight year.

MALE ACTOR IN A TV DRAMA SERIES

John Lithgow in “The Crown.”
John Lithgow in "The Crown."
(Robert Viglasky / Netflix)

The nominees: Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”; Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”; John Lithgow, “The Crown”; Rami Malek, “Mr. Robot”; Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”

And the winner is: Lithgow, who won twice on the comedy side for “3rd Rock From the Sun,” gets some love for playing Winston Churchill. It’s about time an American wins for playing a Brit and not the other way around!

Unless: Voters do a make-good for not giving Malek this award last year.

FEMALE ACTOR IN A TV DRAMA SERIES

‘Westworld’

Thandie Newton, left, and Angela Sarafyan in "Westworld."

(John P. Johnson / HBO)

The nominees: Millie Bobby Brown, “Stranger Things”; Claire Foy, “The Crown”; Thandie Newton, “Westworld”; Winona Ryder, “Stranger Things”; Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

And the winner is: Foy. SAG-AFTRA can’t stop crowning “The Crown.”

Unless: Opinions vary on “Westworld,” but just about everyone can agree that Newton’s force-of-nature Maeve has been the best thing about the first-year show.

MALE ACTOR IN A TV COMEDY SERIES

Jeffrey Tambor in “Transparent.”
Jeffrey Tambor in "Transparent."
(Jennifer Clasen / Amazon Studios )

The nominees: Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”; Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”; Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”; William H. Macy, “Shameless”; Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”

And the winner is: Tambor repeated at the Emmys and should do so here too.

Unless: It’s a big night for “blacki-ish” and Anderson prevails.

FEMALE ACTOR IN A TV COMEDY SERIES

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “Veep.”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “Veep.”
(Lacey Terrell / HBO )

The nominees: Uzo Aduba, “Orange Is the New Black”; Jane Fonda, “Grace and Frankie”; Ellie Kemper, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”; Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”

And the winner is: SAG Awards voters have never been as taken with Louis-Dreyfus’ work on “Veep” as their Emmy counterparts, giving her this award just once. Still, it’s hard to see Aduba winning for a third consecutive year, so Louis-Dreyfus is the safe pick.

Unless: Uzo Aduba, how could we ever have doubted you?

MALE ACTOR IN A TV MOVIE OR MINISERIES

Courtney B. Vance in “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”
Courtney B. Vance in “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”
(Prashant Gupta / FX )

The nominees: Riz Ahmed, “The Night Of”; Sterling K. Brown, “The People v. O.J. Simpson”; Bryan Cranston, “All the Way”; John Turturro, “The Night Of”; Courtney B. Vance, “The People v. O.J. Simpson”

And the winner is: Vance. “O.J.” still has juice.

Unless: Ahmed, with a high profile thanks to his turn in the new “Star Wars” movie, surprises for his “Night Of” transformation.

FEMALE ACTOR IN A TV MOVIE OR MINISERIES

Sarah Paulson in “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”
Sarah Paulson in “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”
(Byron Cohen / FX )

The nominees: Bryce Dallas Howard, “Black Mirror”; Felicity Huffman, “American Crime”; Audra McDonald, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill”; Sarah Paulson, “The People v. O.J. Simpson”; Kerry Washington, “Confirmation”

And the winner is: Paulson is the TV side’s version of Viola Davis. Or the other way around. You don’t bet against either of these women.

Unless: There’s no unless! Weren’t you paying attention?

glenn.whipp@latimes.com

Twitter: @glennwhipp


UPDATES:

Jan. 27, 12:30 p.m.: This article was updated with new picks for lead actress in a television drama, and the addition of “Fences” as a possible winner in the cast in a motion picture category.

This article originally published on Dec. 22.


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