SAG Awards predictions head-scratcher: Can ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ win drama without having the biggest cast?

When it comes to the SAG Awards, size often matters. The most massive casts often run off with the ensemble prizes, which explains how “Lost” found victory at the 2005 ceremony, and how “Downton Abbey” (2012) was able to take down two-time champ “Boardwalk Empire” (2010-2011). This year, however, Gold Derby’s SAG TV predictions favor Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” to prevail despite having the second-smallest cast. Are we crazy for going against bigger ensembles?

“The Handmaid’s Tale” boasts 10 cast members on the voting ballot, ahead of only Netflix’s “The Crown” at five. Comparatively, the other nominated dramas each feature more than a dozen actors: HBO’s “Game of Thrones” at 30, Netflix’s “Stranger Things” at 17 and NBC’s “This Is Us” at 13. In recent years “Game of Thrones” and “Downton Abbey” always had the biggest casts, with “Downton” beating the HBO fantasy series in 2014 and 2015.

One theory as to why “Game of Thrones” has never won this race is because its cast members rarely work together. Indeed, the show films in several different countries, with some actors still never having worked together even after seven seasons. That could help explain why a relatively intimate cast like “Stranger Things” was able to take down “Game of Thrones” last year, and why “The Handmaid’s Tale’s” tight group could have the edge this year.

To be eligible for a nomination as part of a show’s cast, SAG rules dictate that the actor 1) have appeared in more than half of the episodes originally aired during the eligible calendar year; and 2) have a series regular contract or guest star billing in a majority of episodes they appear in.

Below, see the cast breakdowns of the 2018 SAG drama nominees, which is how they appear on the voting ballot.

“The Crown” — Claire Foy, Victoria Hamilton, Vanessa Kirby, Anton Lesser, Matt Smith

“Game of Thrones” — Alfie Allen, Jacob Anderson, Pilou Asbæk, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, John Bradley West, Jim Broadbent, Gwendoline Christie, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Liam Cunningham, Peter Dinklage, Richard Dormer, Nathalie Emmanuel, James Faulkner, Jerome Flynn, Aidan Gillen, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Conleth Hill, Kristofer Hivju, Tom Hopper, Anton Lesser, Rory McCann, Staz Nair, Richard Rycroft, Sophie Turner, Rupert Vansittart, Maisie Williams

“The Handmaid’s Tale” — Madeline Brewer, Amanda Brugel, Ann Dowd, O. T. Fagbenle, Joseph Fiennes, Tattiawna Jones, Max Minghella, Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Samira Wiley

“Stranger Things” — Sean Astin, Millie Bobby Brown, Cara Buono, Joe Chrest, Catherine Curtin, Natalia Dyer, David Harbour, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Dacre Montgomery, Paul Reiser, Winona Ryder, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Finn Wolfhard

“This Is Us” — Eris Baker, Alexandra Breckenridge, Sterling K. Brown, Lonnie Chavis, Justin Hartley, Faithe Herman, Ron Cephas Jones, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Moore, Chris Sullivan, Milo Ventimiglia, Susan Kelechi Watson, Hannah Zeile

Winners for the 24th SAG Awards will be revealed Sunday, January 21 on TNT and TBS. See what Gold Derby is predicting will win in all nine TV categories.

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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