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SAG Awards Provide Clarity for Emmy Race, but Not Insight

"The Crown," Anya Taylor-Joy, Jason Sudeikis, rinse, repeat.

VARIOUS CITIES - APRIL 04: In this screengrab released on April 4, 2021, Anya Taylor-Joy, winner of Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series for “The Queen’s Gambit”, speaks during the 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on April 04, 2021. (Photo by 27th Annual SAG Awards/Getty Images for WarnerMedia)

Anya Taylor-Joy during the 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Getty Images for WarnerMedia

At one point during Sunday night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony, “Snowpiercer” star Daveed Diggs remarked that his attitude toward Zoom has completely changed during the pandemic. Where once Diggs, like all of us, was a bit intimidated and bewildered by the video conferencing app, now he reports that the process is so rote, he has trouble even bothering to put on a shirt before answering calls.

That sort of mentally exhausted energy suffused much of the ceremony, which while better than plenty of pandemic awards shows, still felt fairly slapped together, even though it was pre-recorded and virtual.

Or maybe that’s projection, as at this point in the year, keeping up with TV awards shows can feel a bit like running on a treadmill, as opposed to running outside. You’re working just as hard as you would be otherwise, but the view never changes.

When it came down to it, the SAG TV award winners were largely unsurprising. Of the eight television awards distributed — give or take the SAG for stunt ensemble, which went to Disney+ favorite “The Mandalorian” — four categories had winners that had already competed at the 2020 Primetime Emmys.

Mark Ruffalo triumphed in the Male Actor in a Limited Series or TV movie category for his work in HBO’s “I Know This Much is True,” replicating his Emmy win in September. Catherine O’Hara and “Schitt’s Creek” also repeated their Emmy accolades in Female Actor in a Comedy Series and Ensemble (the closest SAG gets to a series award). In Male Actor in a Drama Series, Jason Bateman won for Netflix’s “Ozark” after being beaten out in the category at the Emmys by Jeremy Strong for “Succession.”

Of shows that are eligible for the 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards, the song remained largely the same as the one we’ve heard over the past few months. Jason Sudeikis was again triumphant for his performance in Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso” as was Anya Taylor-Joy for her work in Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit.” In Female Actor in a Drama Series, Gillian Anderson won for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in Netflix’s “The Crown” and the series as a whole won the Drama Ensemble Award for the second consecutive year.

That’s all pretty straightforward and, by and large, wholly unsurprising. So is there anything at all that we can glean from the actors’ collective choices or do things look exactly the same coming out of the SAG Awards as they did going in?

While there’s not a lot to take away from the winners, there are a few key takeaways fans can mull over during the six days until the Directors Guild hands out its awards.

First off, something unique about the TV categories at the SAG Awards is that there aren’t separate sections for supporting performances, as you’ll find at so many other awards shows, and even in the film categories at SAG itself.

What that means, theoretically, is that you can get a sense for what has the most heat, particularly in inter-show matchups. Take Gillian Anderson, for example. While there’s been a general sense that both Emma Corrin and Anderson were among the strongest contenders “The Crown” had in acting categories, it seemed as though it was Corrin who had the most heat of anyone as things moved toward the Emmy Awards.

Anderson’s win suggests that she’s actually the strongest “Crown” contender, as she edged out both Corrin and Olivia Colman for the win from the actors. At this point Corrin and Colman should each be sighing with relief that Anderson will be competing in Supporting Actress at the Emmys and that they’ll merely have to beat each other (and the rest of the field) in Lead Actress for a Drama Series.

Elsewhere, star of “The Queen’s Gambit” Anya Taylor-Joy again won for her performance as chess genius Beth Harmon, suggesting that she’s the queen to beat moving forward and that the limited series as a whole is quickly heading toward untouchable territory as the year goes on.

Of course, the most important lesson, as always, is that people love Jason Sudeikis and “Ted Lasso.”

But will the directors? Check back on Saturday, April 10 for the results of the Directors Guild of America awards.

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