Can Elisabeth Moss win SAG TV Award over four past Oscar contenders?

Hey, you there! I see you predicting Elisabeth Moss to win the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best TV Movie/Mini Actress for her performance in “Top of the Lake” and you are not alone either. She is the overwhelming favorite among our experts, editors and users, with three times as much support as her closest competitor. 

But what do you all think this is — the Golden Globes?

TV critics rejoiced when Moss took to the stage there for three reasons:

The cast of “Mad Men,” of which Moss is the top-billed actress, has had a notoriously tough awards run, despite the show itself being an awards darling. Even though she did not win for “Mad Men,” it was still nice to see someone from that show give an acceptance speech. 

Her miniseries “Top of the Lake” was a 2013 favorite among critics, ranking as the best reviewed miniseries or made-for-television film of the year, per Metacritic. 

And she was the critics’ choice literally; she received the Critics’ Choice Television Award for this role last June. 

Based on merit, then, Moss deserves to win with SAG too. However, while the film side of the SAG Awards is a terrific prognosticator for the Oscars and, thus, a worthwhile barometer of quality, less care is taken with the television categories.

Why this discrepancy?

Because the SAG Awards are so important in the run up to the Oscars, film studios campaign heavily to voters. However, these kudos occur in such far proximity to the Emmys — and operate on a completely different eligibility calendar — that they have no bearing on them. As such, the SAG TV awards are more akin to a popularity contest, without the rigorous and accountable voting process under which the Emmys operate.

Betty White won twice in recent years for her performance on … well, it doesn’t even matter what show it was for. What mattered was that America was enamored with her in 2010 and 2011 and the  SAG membership, as a microcosm of the country, reflected that by naming her the best actress in a comedy on all of television. Really? White’s adorable but ultimately one-note schtick was the pinnacle of TV comeedy acting (for two years)?

Also for 2010 and 2011, the best actor in a television drama was deemed to be Steve Buscemi, who you may remember from “the movies.” While Buscemi delivered an acclaimed performance on the prestigious HBO series “Boardwalk Empire,” he never won an Emmy because his episode submissions did not stand up to the likes of Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” and Kyle Chandler of “Friday Night Lights.”

The TV Movie/Mini SAG Awards is even more prone to name-dropping. In the last decade, six performers have won in these two categories but not taken home Emmys too: Glenn Close (“The Lion in Winter,” 2004); Kevin Kline (“As You Like It,” 2007); Queen Latifah (“Life Support,” 2007), Kevin Bacon (“Taking Chance,” 2009), Drew Barrymore (“Grey Gardens,” 2009) and Paul Giamatti (“Too Big to Fail,” 2011). 

What do all of them have in common? They are primarily known for their big-screen film work and were among the most recognizable names on the ballot their years. As with White, Oscar winner Kline and Academy Award nominee Giamatti won for supporting performances; indeed, Kline was not even nominated by the Emmys for his role.

So, where does this leave Moss? She is the only nominee associated primarily with television. All four of her competitors are past Oscar winners or nominees: Angela Bassett (“Betty and Coretta”), Helena Bonham Carter (“Burton and Taylor”), Helen Mirren (“Phil Spector”) and Holly Hunter (“Top of the Lake”).

Who do you think will win Best TV Movie/Mini Actress? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu. 

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