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SAG Awards TV Predictions: Can ‘Game of Thrones’ Beat ‘Stranger Things’?

Hot new shows look to take down past winners in a number of unpredictable races that could result in quite a few surprises.

"Game of Thrones"


The Screen Actors Guild Awards are here, and with them comes a whole new slate of competition within TV. A veteran like “Game of Thrones” goes up against newcomer “Stranger Things” in the Ensemble Drama category, while “Black-ish” (now in its third season) is the only new entry among comedy ensembles. Similar battles between new blood (Millie Bobby Brown!) and old (Kevin Spacey!) are spread throughout the individual races, so let’s dig in to see who’s out in front going into Sunday’s ceremony.

Ensemble – Drama Series

“The Crown”
“Downton Abbey”
“Game of Thrones”
“Stranger Things”

Will Win: “Game of Thrones”
Could Win: “Downton Abbey”
Should Win: “The Crown”

“Downton Abbey” has won three of the last four years, including the two most recent competitions. If it wins a fourth, it would tie “E.R.” for the most all-time wins in this category. But we don’t think that’s going to happen. “Game of Thrones,” a five-time nominee, will be battling it out with two newcomers: “The Crown” and “Stranger Things.” While one might think picking the ensemble winner is as simple as totaling up individual winners to find the most popular show, the ensemble winner doesn’t always line up that way. So, considering how loyal these voters are, we’re going with consistency over a fresh pick. But honestly, this one’s a toss-up.

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Actor – Drama Series

The Crown Season 1 Episode 7 John Lithgow

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

Will Win: John Lithgow, “The Crown”
Could Win: Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
Should Win: John Lithgow, “The Crown”

Back-to-back winner Kevin Spacey will likely hand the crown over to fellow Netflix nominee, John Lithgow (pun intended). Lithgow’s performance as Winston Churchill is extraordinary, but also endearing; a key attribute for rallying lots of votes. Being on Netflix doesn’t hurt, considering how popular it is among voters (and everyone else). The only person standing in his way is double nominee Sterling K. Brown and the power of “This Is Us.” If it comes down to which show gets more eyeballs on it, Brown stands a chance.

READ MORE: ‘The Young Pope’: How an HBO Drama Thrived After All Those Memes, and The Funniest Moments Yet

Actress – Drama Series

Westworld 108

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

Will Win: Thandie Newton, “Westworld”
Could Win: Claire Foy, “The Crown”
Should Win: Claire Foy, “The Crown”

Robin Wright is the only previous nominee of the bunch, but we’re still betting on new blood to come away victorious. There’s simply too many hot hands here, all of which come from the buzziest new shows of 2016. Millie Bobby Brown was the breakout of “Stranger Things,” but Winona Ryder is more familiar. That could mean a vote split for fans of the show (of which there are clearly many). Meanwhile, Claire Foy won the Golden Globe, so she’s got a little extra heat behind her. But the HFPA is a completely different voting body from the SAGs, so we’re going with Thandie Newton and all the heat behind “Westworld.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ Eviscerates Manipulative Sitcoms Like ‘Fuller House’ By Making One of Their Own

Ensemble – Comedy Series

Veep Season 5 HBO

“The Big Bang Theory”
“Modern Family”
“Orange is the New Black”

Will Win: “Veep”
Could Win: “Black-ish”
Should Win: “Veep”

“Orange is the New Black” is the two-time defending champ. “Modern Family” won four times in a row before the Netflix drama/comedy hybrid got in the way.  “The Big Bang Theory” has been nominated six years running and has never won. “Veep” is at four years in a row. So that leaves just “Black-ish” without any history in the category…and it could still win. Honestly, I could buy into a scenario for any one of these other than “The Big Bang Theory” (and I’m only discounting that one because there’s simply too much pain in this world for more to be thrust upon us). So, on a whim and a prayer, we’re going with “Veep.”

READ MORE: Reese Witherspoon Made ‘Big Little Lies’ Because She Had Enough of Hollywood Reducing Women to ‘Wives and Girlfriends’

Actor – Comedy Series

Transparent Season 3 Jeffrey Tambor

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

Will Win: Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”
Could Win: Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”
Should Win: Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”

If there’s any safe bets in this year’s SAG nominees, it’s this one. Jeffrey Tambor won last year, and his performance is the most serious among a group of pretty stellar comedians. Sure, Macy mixes up the drama with the comedy, but “Shameless” is a bit past its prime. Anthony Anderson should get some love for “Black-ish,” which is gaining traction all around, and Burrell’s status as a perennial contender (and one-time winner) certainly keeps him in the mix. But they shouldn’t be able to compete with the depth of character in “Transparent,” making Tambor the likely victor.

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Actress – Comedy Series

Julia Louis-Dreyfus & Tony Hale in "Veep" Season 5

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”

Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
Could Win: Uzo Aduba, “Orange is the New Black”
Should Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”

What does it tell you about SAG voters’ viewing habits that four of the five nominees here come from Netflix original series? Maybe they like to binge a little bit, right? Well, hopefully they spent some time bingeing “Veep” via HBO NOW, as well, because we’re hoping Julia Louis-Dreyfus can walk away with her seventh trophy (fourth individual) come Sunday night. With her near-record haul of SAG honors (one more and she ties Tina Fey for most all-time in the category), an active Emmys win streak, and politics at the top of everyone’s mind, she’s well-positioned — and well-deserving — of the win…as long as she can hold off that Netflix love.

READ MORE: ‘The Young Pope’ Review: Jude Law Rules with Old Testament Authority in an HBO Series That’s Set to Surprise

Actor – TV Movie or Limited Series

THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY “The “Verdict” Episode 110 (Airs Tuesday, April 5, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX

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

Will Win: Courtney B. Vance, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
Could Win: Bryan Cranston, “All the Way”
Should Win: Courtney B. Vance, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

“The Night Of” actors make this an interesting race. They both came up empty at the Golden Globes, but “The Night Manager” isn’t around this time to mess up the match-up between FX and HBO. “American Crime Story” has an incredible haul already. Vance and Brown both won at the Emmys, and the show has been on a roll, including a Best Miniseries win at the Globes. Unless Cranston pulls off the upset, vote splitting doesn’t really apply here, since “The Night Of” and “ACS” could both suffer the same fate. With that in mind, we’re going with Vance over the field, but it’s anyone’s game.

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Actress – TV Movie or Limited Series

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: American Crime Story”
Kerry Washington, “Confirmation”

Will Win: Sarah Paulson, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
Could Win: Bryce Dallas Howard, “Black Mirror”
Should Win: Sarah Paulson, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

Can anyone stop Sarah Paulson? Her performance as Marcia Clarke has already earned her the Emmy, Golden Globe, TCA Award, and Critic’s Choice Award, meaning SAG is the only major trophy left. We don’t see anyone keeping her from it, especially since she’s beaten three of these nominees head-to-head already (at the Emmys). That leaves Howard as the only new competitor. Her nomination indicates support, but people were pretty surprised she made the cut, so Howard doesn’t seem as strong as Paulson. We don’t expect an upset here.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards air Sunday, January 29 at 8 p.m. on TNT and TBS.

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