The last stop for “The People v. O.J. Simpson” on its celebrated awards track is the SAG Awards where it’s up for another three awards: Best Movie/Mini Actress (Sarah Paulson) and two for Best Movie/Mini Actor (Courtney B. Vance and Sterling K. Brown). If Paulson and one of her co-stars should pull off a clean sweep they will be only the fourth movie or miniseries to do so and the first on a network other than HBO.
Currently the Screen Actors Guild does not give out an Ensemble award for movies and miniseries so the most “People v. O.J.” can win is two — barring a tie, which happened in 1998 when Kim Basinger (“L.A. Confidential”) and Gloria Stuart (“Titanic”) shared Best Film Supporting Actress. The first miniseries to win both awards was Mike Nichols‘s adaptation of the play “Angels in America” with legends Meryl Streep and Al Pacino taking individual prizes for their work in 2004. Next to accomplish this feat was the biographical film “Elizabeth I” which crowned its star Helen Mirren and her co-star Jeremy Irons in 2007. The last to win twice was another true-life tale: “John Adams,” about America’s second president, with Paul Giamatti as the title character and his on-screen wife Laura Linney taking individual prizes.
According to Gold Derby’s exclusive odds Paulson is the overwhelming favorite in her category with odds of 1/10. In second place is Kerry Washington (“Confirmation”) and in third is Audra McDonald (“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill”), both with odds of 33/1. It is unlikely either can pull off an upset as Paulson’s portrayal of prosecutor Marcia Clark has proven hard to beat. Paulson has already won Emmy, Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice and TCA Awards, so it would be a head-scratching upset at this point if anyone else won SAG.
So for “The People v. O.J. Simpson” to make history the guild is going to have to choose between two breakthrough performances as Vance is currently in first place with odds of 2/5 and Brown is right behind him with odds of 5/1. Usually, in order to take down a co-star in a popular vote, one must be far and away the obvious choice to avoid dividing support and cancelling each other out. Take for example Pacino, who had to take down two of his co-stars, Jeffrey Wright and Justin Kirk, but he was the A-list movie star and a past Oscar winner (“Scent of a Woman,” 1993), so his co-stars didn’t stand a chance against the living legend. “John Adams” star Giamatti was also nominated against a co-star, Tom Wilkinson, but Giamatti played the title character so the choice was easy. Vance v. Brown, both recent Emmy winners and Golden Globe nominees, is not an easy choice.
The Best Movie/Mini Actor category this year is stacked, and the race isn’t just between Brown and Vance. Another set of co-stars looking to upset from “The Night Of” is John Turturro in third place with odds of 11/1 for his performance as a defense attorney, and his on-screen client Riz Ahmed behind him in fourth with odds of 50/1. Rooting for vote splitting is Bryan Cranston for “All the Way,” also with odds of 50/1. But regardless of how our odds look this is a tight race and anyone could win.
When you look at the actors from the miniseries that have won both categories previously, they’re well known stars beloved throughout the acting community. “Angels in America” stars Streep and Pacino were both Oscar winning veterans. “Elizabeth I” winner Irons was also an Oscar champ and his co-star Mirren was on her way to becoming an Oscar winner that very year (“The Queen”). “John Adams” victors Giamatti and Linney were highly regarded Oscar nominees. Compared to the duos who’ve pulled this off previously the actors and actress of “O.J. Simpson” might not be the next in line.
If “The People v. O.J. Simpson” should be able to add their names to this illustrious list, they will end on a high note after a so-so Golden Globes where they were only able to win two: Best Movie/Limited Series and Best Movie/Limited Series Actress (Paulson). That’s the way a show that became a water-cooler sensation should go out: with a bang and not a whimper.
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