2018 SAG Awards TV predictions: Robert De Niro (‘The Wizard of Lies’) and Alexander Skarsgard (‘Big Little Lies’) are in a nail-biter

No lie: The TV movie/limited series actor race at the Screen Actors Guild Awards will come down to Robert De Niro (“The Wizard of Lies”) and Alexander Skarsgard (“Big Little Lies”), according to our combined odds. De Niro is currently ahead with 1/1 odds, but Skarsgard is on his tail with 7/5 odds. The remaining three nominees are well back: Jeff Daniels (“Godless”) has 22/1 odds, followed by Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock: The Lying Detective”) at 33/1 odds and Geoffrey Rush (“Genius”) at 66/1odds.

On paper, Skarsgard, who has three wins (Emmy, Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Award) so far this season to De Niro’s zero, seems like the safe bet. But the SAG Awards are a different beast. No organization is kinder to or favors veterans and legends more than the SAGs — these are the people who gave Betty White two wins for “Hot in Cleveland.”

Part of the reason is because the awards show is so young — this will be its 24th iteration — meaning many film and TV icons are SAG-less, including De Niro, whose career peak and Oscar wins, for “The Godfather Part II” (1974) and “Raging Bull” (1980), pre-dated the SAGs by two decades. Combined with the fact that the vast SAG membership is comprised of journeyman and working actors who look up to their A-list heroes, or just someone they like and respect, you have a lot of veteran victories at SAG.

SEE 2018 SAG Awards: Full list of nominations

Just last year, Bryan Cranston (“All the Way”) — who granted, and probably by his own admission, is not on the same level as a De Niro, but is a beloved star who headlined one of the greatest shows of all time — upset in this category after not winning anything at all in the lead-up. He beat “cool” choices and Emmy winners Courtney B. Vance and Sterling K. Brown of “The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” and “The Night Of” star Riz Ahmed, who’d go on to win his own Emmy in September.

Three years before that, Helen Mirren was stunned herself when she won for the HBO film “Phil Spector” after also not winning anything during the season. She even opened her speech by praising Golden Globe champ Elisabeth Moss for her performance in “Top of the Lake,” implying she thought Moss was going to, or should’ve, won.

This puts De Niro, who has two previous nominations for “Silver Linings Playbook” and one with the cast of “Marvin’s Room,” in good stead to claim his first SAG. He also has a lead role to Skarsgard’s supporting one, so they have never faced off until now. But “Big Little Lies” was such a zeitgeist hit that it could propel Skarsgard to a victory. And since there is no ensemble award for TV movie/limited series — something the cast of “Big Little Lies” likely would’ve won — voting for both Nicole Kidman, the runaway favorite on the actress side, and Skarsgard could be a way to recognize the whole ensemble.

PREDICT the SAG Awards now; change them until January 21

Be sure to make your SAG predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on January 21. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 SAG Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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