Why Elisabeth Moss and Kerry Washington lost SAG Awards

I warned you that Elisabeth Moss (“Top of the Lake”) would not win Best TV Movie/Mini Actress at the SAG Awards. Three-quarters of you were predicting she would add this trophy to her Golden Globe. But she was competing against four past Oscar winners and nominees.

Helen Mirren (“Phil Spector”) beat Moss and joins 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) as someone who prevailed at SAG but not the Emmys for their movie/mini performances. 

Tme and again SAG voters have chosen the name that is most familiar to them and do not necessarily account for the actual work nominated.  

At the Emmys, there is a separate viewing panel for each award and judges must declare that they have viewed the work of each nominee. That each panel comprises just dozens also ensures that voters take their duty seriously. 

Voting for the SAG Awards is open to their entire membership of more than 100,000. While guild members may happen to watch TV shows like this year’s ensemble winners (“Modern Family” and “Breaking Bad”) and stunt winner (“Game of Thrones”), they may not have seen all the TV movies and miniseries in the running. 

Thus, the movie/mini winners tend to be the biggest names in the category such as Michael Douglas (“Behind the Candelabra”) and Mirren. 

The series categories have been where actors can prevail even if they do not have Oscars to their names, like this year’s comedy champs Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”). 

And while TV vet Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) won the Drama Actor award over movie star Kevin Spacey (House of Cards“), it was a shock that Maggie Smith was named Best Drama Actress for her supporting role on “Downton Abbey.”

She edged out frontrunner Kerry Washington (“Scandal“) as well as Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) who had bested her at the Emmys, last year’s SAG champ Claire Danes (“Homeland”) and 2011 SAG winner Jessica Lange

That name-checking has crept into the series categories makes this a sad day for TV awards enthusiasts, while a happy one for Smith, who did not make the transatlantic trip to pick up her first individual win after sharing in ensemble awards for “Gosford Park” (2001) and “Downton Abbey” (2012). 


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