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SAG Awards predictions: Will it be 'Moonlight' or 'Manchester'?

SAG Awards predictions: Will it be 'Moonlight' or 'Manchester'?
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

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The trailer for "Moonlight."

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

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.

MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Denzel Washington and Stephen McKinley Henderson, right, 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 and Emma Stone star 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.

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

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

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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)

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

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

Thandie Newton, left, and Angela Sarafyan in "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.&#8221
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.&#8221
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.&#8221
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.

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

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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