FEINBERG FORECAST: 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Modern Family' to Repeat at SAG Awards

THR's awards analyst Scott Feinberg analyzes the Screen Actors Guild Awards' eight TV categories.

My principal mandate at THR is to cover the film awards season, about which I have long studied and blogged. But when the film and TV awards seasons overlap each year at the Golden Globe Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards, I can't help but try to apply the same sort of analysis to the TV side of things, as well. It doesn't always work out very well, but sometimes it does, like last Sunday at the Globes, when I correctly projected the winners of 10 of the 11 TV categories.

So, with the caveat that I am much more confident in my ability to forecast film awards than TV awards, here are my final picks -- and rationale behind them -- for the TV categories at the 18th annual SAG Awards, which will take place on Sunday, January 29. (My picks -- and rationale behind them -- for the film categories will post early next week.)

PGOTOS: SAG Awards Nominees

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Nominees: Boardwalk Empire (HBO), Breaking Bad (AMC), Dexter (Showtime), Game of Thrones (HBO), The Good Wife (CBS)

Two first-timers -- Breaking Bad (for its fourth season) and Game of Thrones (for its first) -- join perennial nominees Dexter and The Good Wife (nom'd for a fourth and third consecutive year, respectively, and both still seeking a first win) and defending champion Boardwalk Empire, which won last year for its first season, upon which most people agree it improved during its second. Thrones has many ardent admirers, but I doubt they number enough to dethrone Boardwalk.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Nominees: 30 Rock (NBC), The Big Bang Theory (CBS), Glee (FOX), Modern Family (ABC), The Office (NBC)

This year’s field is packed with perennial powerhouses -- The Office, which won in 2006 and 2007 and has been nom’d each of the last six years; 30 Rock, which won in 2008 and has been nom’d each of the last five years; Glee, which won in 2009 and was nom’d last year; and Modern Family (2010), which won last year and was also nom’d the year before -- as well as The Big Bang Theory, which has been on the air since 2007 but was never previously nom’d in this category. Based on its enduring popularity, wins at the most recent Emmys and Golden Globes, and highly diverse cast, expect Modern Family to hold off Glee and score a repeat victory.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Nominees: Patrick J. Adams (Suits), Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Michael C. Hall (Dexter)

This year brings SAG’s first noms for Adams (for his show’s first season) and September’s surprise Emmy-winner Chandler (for his show’s last season), third in a row for Cranston (who has won three Emmys but no SAG Awards for his show), sixth in a row for Hall (who won two years ago), and second in a row for Buscemi (who won last year). Barring a wave of sentiment for Chandler, I expect Buscemi -- a true character actor -- to repeat this year.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Nominees: Kathy Bates (Harry's Law), Glenn Close (Damages), Jessica Lange (American Horror Story), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)

Revered vets Bates (an Emmy nominee in September) and Lange (who won the supporting actress Globe last Sunday) are in the race for the first season of their respective shows, taking on perennial SAG bridesmaids Close (who has been nom’d four of the last five years but never won) and Sedgwick (who has been nom’d each of the last six years but never won). Margulies, who won this category the past two years (and also won September’s Emmy), lost at the Globes to Claire Danes (Homeland), but Danes wasn’t nom’d by SAG and Margulies’ show remains the most popular of the actors’ who were, so I’d look for her to make it three in a row.

ANALYSIS: SAG Awards Nominations: Key Stats, Inclusions and Snubs

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominees: Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), Ty Burrell (Modern Family), Steve Carell (The Office), Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)

This year brings the first individual SAG noms for Cryer (whose show -- for which Charlie Sheen was twice nominated in this category -- has been on the air since 2003) and Stonestreet (who was nom’d for best supporting actor at last Sunday’s Golden Globes), the latter of whom joins his costar Burrell (also a nominee last year) in the category. The smart money is on Baldwin, an Emmy and Golden Globe nominee this year who has won this SAG prize each of the past five years. But something tells me that voters will want to send off Carell -- who has lost to Baldwin each of the last five years, and who is now leaving his show -- with a win, at long last.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominees: Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Edie Falco (Nurse Falco), Tina Fey (30 Rock), Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), Betty Whtie (Hot in Cleveland)

This incredibly hard-to-predict contest pits nonagenarian White (last year’s surprise winner) against the sexy comediennes Bowen (who beat White to win the best supporting actress Emmy and is now nom’d for her first SAG Award) and Vergara (nom’d for the second year in a row), as well as Fey (who has been nom’d each of the past five years and won on three of those occasions) and Falco (who has been nom’d each of the last three years but came up short each time). This year’s Emmy and Golden Globe results for this category are of little help this year—they went to Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly) and Laura Dern (Enlightened), respectively, neither of whom are nominated here. So, just on a hunch, I’m going with Falco.

ANALYSIS: How Golden Globe, SAG Film Noms Will Impact the Oscar Race

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Nominees: Laurence Fishburne (Thurgood), Paul Giamatti (Too Big to Fail), Greg Kinnear (The Kennedys), Guy Pearce (Mildred Pierce), James Woods (Too Big to Fail)

Giamatti and Woods both play supporting parts in the same project, and even if their roles were more substantial they’d probably cancel each other out. Kinnear is arguably overshadowed in his controversial miniseries by his costar Barry Pepper (who wasn’t nom’d here but beat him at the Emmys), so I have a hard time seeing him winning. The prize could go to Pearce, but he, too, plays second-fiddle (to Kate Winslet). So I expect that Fishburne -- who was previously nom’d for an individual SAG Award sixteen years ago -- will collect his first prize for his tour de force portrayal of Thurgood Marshall.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Nominees: Diane Lane (Cinema Verite), Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey), Emily Watson (Appropriate Adult), Betty White (The Lost Valentine), Kate Winslet (Mildred Pierce)

Voters took care of White last year by awarding her best actress in a comedy series, so, as likable as she is, I doubt she’ll be recognized again for a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie. Smith is nom’d for the first time for her work on the hottest new miniseries, but she is really just a supporting character on it. Lane and Watson seem like worthy options, but A-lister Winslet beat them both at the Globes (and also won an Emmy for her take on a character that Joan Crawford made famous 67 years ago), and I’d expect her to win here, as well.