Only a few days into January, and it’s already time to start thinking about the Emmys. While the Screen Actors Guild Awards may earn more immediate attention for how film nominees and winners affect the Oscar race, it’s also a key bellwether for fall and winter TV shows looking to start a lengthy awards run toward the Emmys. By the time voting rolls around in June 2023, series released over the latter half of 2022 will have to compete with voters’ fading memories and a slew of gold-digging new programs. The extra shine earned with a SAG nomination — one of, if not the winter’s most preeminent awards show — can ensure they’re included as viewers and experts alike cull the many competitors into a few dozen expected frontrunners.
That makes the SAG nominations significant for shows like HBO’s “House of the Dragon”; can it be “Game of Thrones” successor not just as a ratings king but also an awards darling? Prime Video’s “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” is more likely to compete in technical categories, but an endorsement of their cast would go a long way toward solidifying the pricey prequel’s reputation moving forward. FX would love to see voters take to “The Old Man,” “The Patient,” and “The Bear,” while a strong showing for “The Crown,” “Wednesday,” and “Monster” would please the people at Netflix. Showtime is standing by for “George & Tammy,” Paramount aims to lasso another “Yellowstone” nomination, and AMC would love for some awards body to give “Better Call Saul” its due after six sterling seasons.
And those are just the more recent contenders. Read on for all the early-2022 shows looking for one more run at the gold, and let us know your own picks on social media. TV awards season never really ends, but it still feels like we’re at the start of something — hopefully, something special.
“The Crown” is a SAG Awards juggernaut, and that’s not likely to end until the series does. Peter Morgan’s Netflix drama has won two Ensemble trophies already (both for the Olivia Colman years), making it one of only nine programs in history to win more than once; it’s collected 13 total nominations over four seasons, growing in prominence even after Claire Foy took home back-to-back Best Actress prizes. It’s safe to consider Season 5 a lock for a nomination — but it may be the only sure thing. “Stranger Things” has earned an Ensemble nomination for every season thus far, but Season 4 faces stiff competition (and a summer release date that feels much longer ago than other, older premieres).
“Ozark” is another Netflix property which the SAG committees love, but will they remember it more fondly than shiny new casts from “House of the Dragon” or “Severance”? One has comes with the “Game of Thrones” sheen, and the other is already anointed an Emmy darling. And what will voters think of “The White Lotus,” which last competed as a Limited Series (nabbing nominations for Jennifer Coolidge and Murray Bartlett)? Will they prefer the buzzy (but also aged) “Euphoria”? Perhaps, but “Better Call Saul” might have a better shot for its final season — especially after cracking the field twice in the last four years.
One thing’s for sure: There’s Emmy momentum to be had, and “House of the Dragon” is looking to build an irrefutable resume by the time TV Academy members cast their ballots. With a Top 10 showing from critics’ year-end lists and two Golden Globe nominations, the HBO ratings king could use a bit of SAG love to round out its golden bonafides.
“House of the Dragon”
“The White Lotus”
Spoilers: “Better Call Saul,” “Euphoria,” “Ozark,” “Yellowstone”
Without Supporting categories at the SAG Awards (for TV), there’s always a chance voters fall head over heels for only a few shows. “The Crown” has taken two slots in this category twice before, and with Imelda Staunton as the new Queen Elizabeth and Elizabeth Debicki taking over as Princess Diana, odds are strong they’ll lock up 40 percent of the nominations again. “Ozark” could handle another 40 percent; Laura Linney has been nominated for every season, and Julia Garner has two nominations herself. History has proven it’s unwise to doubt Garner’s popularity — she has three Emmy wins for “Ozark,” plus a surprise nomination for “Inventing Anna” (more on that later) — so that only leaves one slot for a third show.
Jennifer Coolidge could land her second consecutive “White Lotus” nod (though voters may balk at calling it a dramatic turn); HBO would certainly love to see Emma D’Arcy represent “House of the Dragon” (but her half-season of work could hurt her this year); Elisabeth Moss is a long-time favorite (but one has to expect “The Handmaid’s Tale” to fade at some point); and Lord knows Melanie Lynskey is deserving for “Yellowjackets.” Still, I think Zendaya’s two Emmy wins are enough to earn her first SAG Award nomination.
Elizabeth Debicki, “The Crown”
Julia Garner, “Ozark”
Laura Linney, “Ozark”
Imelda Staunton, “The Crown”
Spoilers: Jennifer Coolidge, “The White Lotus”; Emma D’Arcy, “House of the Dragon”; Melanie Lynskey, “Yellowjackets”; Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”; Sadie Sink, “Stranger Things”
Yet again, one of the biggest questions in a Drama category is how much room will “The Crown” take up? Dominic West seems likely to earn his second nomination (he was nominated as part of the “Chicago” ensemble), but the series has only landed two Best Actor nominations ever. (John Lithgow won for the first season, while Josh O’Connor was nominated for the fourth.) Does that mean Jonathan Pryce will be left off the list? Could the former “Crown” (and former Phillip) Matt Smith beat him out for “House of the Dragon”? Or will voters favor the visible transformation of co-star Paddy Considine?
Safer bets lie in Jason Bateman (a two-time winner for “Ozark”) and Bob Odenkirk (a four-time nominee in his final season of “Better Call Saul”). Adam Scott also seems like a favorite, given the heat around “Severance” and his solid awards run so far. Still, a few veterans could sneak in: Jeff Bridges looks to end FX’s cold streak in the category for “The Old Man” (the network’s last nomination was 21 years ago for Michael Chiklis in “The Shield”), while Gary Oldman could snag his fourth nod (and first for TV) with “Slow Horses.”
Jason Bateman, “Ozark”
Paddy Considine, “House of the Dragon”
Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
Adam Scott, “Severance”
Dominic West, “The Crown”
Spoilers: Jeff Bridges, “The Old Man”; Jonathan Pryce, “The Crown”; Gary Oldman, “Slow Horses”; Matt Smith, “House of the Dragon”
While it’s a bit strange to look at a genre overwhelmed with excellent programs and see only a handful of SAG Ensemble contenders, there only appear to be a seven or so serious competitors. “Abbott Elementary” is the frontrunner, with proven favorites like “Only Murders in the Building,” “Barry,” and “Hacks” not too far behind. (All three have been nominated before and in multiple categories.) Then there’s the summer breakout in “The Bear,” which feels poised to make some noise this awards season. Netflix’s late-arriving smash “Wednesday” could also break in, though it can be hard to see past Jenna Ortega, and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has a long, healthy track record with the SAG Awards. But that’s about it. While it would be outstanding to see “The Righteous Gemstones,” “Los Espookys,” “Better Things,” and “What We Do in the Shadows” among the final five, none have been able to gain traction thus far — and SAG voters don’t often look backward.
“Only Murders in the Building”
Spoilers: “Wednesday,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
“Abbott Elementary” could be “The Crown” in the Comedy categories, meaning it could dominate not only the genre but multiple slots in each field. Here, There’s a distinct possibility three of the five nominees are from “Abbott”: Quinta Brunson and Sheryl Lee Ralph are early leaders (the former as the series’ lead, the latter as the acting Emmy winner), and Janelle James is often cited as the fan favorite. If the ABC breakout can snag more than half the nominations, that wouldn’t leave much room for surprises. Jean Smart isn’t going anywhere after winning for “Hacks” last year, and Christina Applegate seems in prime position to go three-for-three in the third and final season of “Dead To Me.” But if there’s one more slot open, I expect Jenna Ortega to fill it. SAG voters love Netflix (they skew populist), and “Wednesday” has been building up quite an audience over the last few months (if you trust the streamer’s self-reported metrics). Yes, Rachel Brosnahan is a former winner, Linda Cardellini was nominated for “Dead To Me” last time, and Hannah Einbinder is excellent in “Hacks” — but the hot hand tends to come out on top.
Christina Applegate, “Dead To Me”
Quinta Brunson, “Abbott Elementary”
Jenna Ortega, “Wednesday”
Sheryl Lee Ralph, “Abbott Elementary”
Jean Smart, “Hacks”
Spoilers: Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; Linda Cardellini, “Dead To Me”; Hannah Einbinder, “Hacks”; Selena Gomez, “Only Murders in the Building”; Janelle James, “Abbott Elementary”
In a just world, Nathan Fielder would be a lock for “The Rehearsal,” but a) turning the calendar to 2023 hasn’t suddenly righted every wrong, and b) too few potential voters likely saw HBO’s cult comedy, and fewer still would know what to do with it, awards-wise. Instead, bet on returning nominees Bill Hader (“Barry”), Steve Martin, and Martin Short (both for “Only Murders in the Building”). Henry Winkler (“Barry”) could snag another nod, as well, after a strong season, and one can never count out Tony Shaloub (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), but as voters hone in on favorite shows (rather than spreading the wealth), I’m expecting to see Jeremy Allen White (“The Bear”) and Tyler James Williams (“Abbott”) earn their first nominations.
Bill Hader, “Barry”
Steve Marin, “Only Murders in the Building”
Martin Short, “Only Murders in the Building”
Jeremy Allen White, “The Bear”
Tyler James Williams, “Abbott Elementary”
Spoilers: Tony Shaloub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; Henry Winkler, “Barry”; Ramy Youssef, “Ramy”
In a year oddly frontloaded with limited series contenders, the likes of Lily James (“Pam & Tommy”) and Julia Garner (“Inventing Anna”) should benefit. Amanda Seyfried (“The Dropout”) would be a shoo-in no matter when her acclaimed performance as Elizabeth Holmes debuted, but she, too, shines a bit brighter in early 2023 because so few breakouts emerged in late 2022. “Irma Vep,” “Five Days at Memorial,” and “Fleishman Is in Trouble” never gained the necessary steam to break through with SAG voters (“Fleishman” is arguably closest), and even a big name (and former winner) in Emily Blunt may have a hard time with “The English.” (Though the actors do love her: She won for “A Quiet Place” and has been nominated three times.) Toni Collette is another beloved contender (four nominations, two solo), and she could slide in for a sneaky good turn in “The Staircase,” but for as much as critics loathed “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” it seems primed to perform well here. Niecy Nash-Betts is an excellent thespian, overdue for some SAG love. But my dark horse pick is Jessica Chastain in “George & Tammy.” Showtime has given the country music biopic a solid push over the winter months, and Chastain doing all her own singing may endear her even further to an awards body that’s given her four nominations already (plus the win last year).
Jessica Chastain, “George & Tammy”
Julia Garner, “Inventing Anna”
Lily James, “Pam & Tommy”
Niecy Nash-Betts, “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”
Amanda Seyfried, “The Dropout”
Spoilers: Emily Blunt, “The English”; Toni Collette, “The Staircase”; Danielle Deadwyler, “Station Eleven”
Despite nothing but nominations at the Emmys, Steve Carell has won at the SAG Awards — three times, all as part of an ensemble. He’s officially zero-for-nine as an individual performer, but all that love should still translate to a tenth nod this year. (And hey, he really should win.) Colin Firth could beat him out for “The Staircase,” Michael Shannon is certainly deserving for “George & Tammy,” or perhaps awards voters of all kinds prefer Domhnall Gleeson to his co-star. (The Globes nominated the Irish actor in a pleasant surprise.) But it’s hard to deny Evan Peters (“Monster”) and Andrew Garfield (“Under the Banner of Heaven”) as early frontrunners, given the popularity of the former Netflix hit and the attention already paid the latter’s nuanced turn for FX. Filling out the nominations ballot will likely be Sebastian Stan in one more nod of recognition for “Pam & Tommy,” as well as one of the “Black Bird” leads: It’s close, but I’m going with Paul Walter Hauser over his more famous co-star.
Steve Carell, “The Patient”
Andrew Garfield, “Under the Banner of Heaven”
Paul Walter Hauser, “Black Bird”
Evan Peters, “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”
Sebastian Stan, “Pam & Tommy”
Spoilers: Taron Egerton, “Black Bird”; Colin Firth, “The Staircase”; Michael Shannon, “George & Tammy”; Ray Liotta, “Black Bird”; Domhnall Gleeson, “The Patient”