‘Game of Thrones’ could make SAG history: 1st win on 5th nomination for Best TV Drama Ensemble?

Game of Thrones” boasts an international cast of actors and actresses ranging from seasoned veterans (Diana Rigg and Jonathan Pryce) to those who the show has made into household names (Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey and Kit Harington) and younger performers with talent beyond their years (Maisie Williams, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, and Sophie Turner). But mysteriously the show has never won the SAG Award for Best TV Drama Ensemble. Will that finally change this year on its likely fifth nomination? It’s currently a close second in our latest racetrack odds.

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The ensemble competed for its first season in 2011 but lost to fellow HBO drama “Boardwalk Empire.” “Game of Thrones” was then snubbed for its second season in 2012, but returned in 2013, when it lost to the overwhelming favorite “Breaking Bad” for its final season. With “Breaking Bad” out of contention in 2014, “Game of Thrones” would be upset by another large ensemble, the cast of “Downton Abbey.” Even after “Thrones” picked up its first Emmy for Best Drama Series in 2015 the Screen Actors Guild preferred “Downton Abbey” again.

But how likely is it for “Game of Thrones” to win now after so many losses? Of the 22 times SAG handed out this award, six shows won on their first nomination: “NYPD Blue” (1994, the inaugural winner), “The Sopranos” (1999, and they would also win again in 2007), “The West Wing” (2000, and again in 2001), “Lost” (2005), “Boardwalk Empire” (2010, and again in 2011) and “Downton Abbey” (2012 and repeated in 2014 and 2015).

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But the SAG Awards are sometimes a year behind on what’s popular, and four shows have proven victorious on their second nomination: “ER” (1995, the first of a record four straight victories), “Six Feet Under” (2002, and again in 2004), “Grey’s Anatomy” (2006) and “Mad Men” (2008, and again in 2009).

The third time was the charm for “Breaking Bad” in 2013. And “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” had the longest wait, finally taking the prize home on its fourth nomination. So can “Game of Thrones” make history by winning Best Ensemble on its fifth try?

Last year “Game of Thrones” and ultimate winner “Downton Abbey” were nominated alongside the ensembles of “Homeland,” “Mad Men” (for its final season) and “House of Cards.” With “Homeland” not airing new episodes in 2016 and “Mad Men” no longer on the air there are two open spots. “Downton Abbey” used to have an advantage with new episodes airing during the voting period in January, but the series ended back in March, which could put them out of sight, out of mind.

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And if SAG needs another reason to reward “Thrones” it could be as an opportunity to award most of the cast we’ve come to love who won’t be coming back after the carnage of season six, like Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), Kristian Nairn (Hodor), and Natalia Tena (Osha).

But even if “Game of Thrones” does not win it should take solace in the fact that “Breaking Bad” didn’t win until its final season, when ignoring the show would’ve been seen as a glaring oversight. Also, the show “Thrones” bumped as the Emmys’ most awarded primetime show, “Frasier” (37 wins), did not win Best TV Comedy Ensembe at the SAG Awards until their sixth nomination (1999).

Meanwhile, three high profile shows could join the first-try winners club: HBO’s “Westworld” with its large cast of well-known actors and actresses like Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood; “Mr. Robot” with its cast including Emmy winner Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Christian Slater, and Portia Doubleday; or they could go with another prestige British production, “The Crown” with a cast that includes Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby, and John Lithgow.

Predict the SAG nominations now; change them till Dec. 14

Be sure to make your SAG Awards predictions. How do you think “Game of Thrones” will do with guild voters? Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this show is faring in our SAG Awards odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on December 14 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the SAG Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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