Elisabeth Moss has been sent good weather by the Screen Actors Guild Awards, having just landed her 16th and 17th career nominations for individual and ensemble acting for “The Handmaid’s Tale.” She earns the two citations for the Hulu drama’s fourth season to match those she received for all three of the show’s past installments (2018-20). Even though the actor has triumphed twice as part of the “Mad Men” ensemble (2009-10), she has yet to take home a solo statuette. Could this be the year in which she finally gets to ascend the podium and shout “Praise be!”?
In the drama actress category, Moss finds herself in the company of two women from “The Morning Show,” Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, as well as “Squid Game’s” Jung Ho-yeon and “Succession’s” Sarah Snook. Thirteen-time nominee Aniston has the most SAG Awards victories to her name, having won for ensemble acting for “Friends” in 1996 and her individual performance in “The Morning Show’s” debut season in 2020. The only other previous champ in the lineup is Witherspoon, who nabbed the Best Actress prize for the 2005 film “Walk the Line” and has now reaped her first bid for “The Morning Show,” after being overlooked for the its first installment in 2020. Meanwhile, both Ho-yeon and Snook earned their first-ever recognition from the actors guild with their noms. Like Moss, all four of these women have corresponding ensemble nominations for their series.
SEE Full list of SAG Awards nominations
All of this leaves Moss as the most overdue actor in the lineup. Outside of her four solo bids for “Handmaid’s,” she was also individually recognized twice for “Mad Men” in this very category in 2009 and ’11 and once for “Top of the Lake” in limited series/TV movie actress in 2014. Rounding out her total of 17 nominations are four extra ensemble bids for “Mad Men,” which she accrued in 2008, ’11, ’13 and ’16.
“Handmaid’s'” fourth installment picks up right where the third left off, with a wounded June Osborne (Moss) on the run alongside a group of other handmaids. June eventually escapes to Canada without her daughter Hannah (Jordana Blake), and is forced to grapple with newfound freedom in a world without heightened rules and procedures. Ultimately, the season watches Moss juggle four discernible but inextricably intertwined sides of her character: a traumatized handmaid, a solicitous mother and wife, a vengeful, rage-driven rebel, and a guilt-ridden survivor. And the actor is certainly up to the task, delivering what is arguably her series-best, if not career-best, work in this season, in which she notably also made her directorial debut with three episodes.
Although Moss, who won an Emmy for “Handmaid’s” in 2017, would pull off a feat by bagging her maiden solo SAG Award statuette for an already seasoned show, she wouldn’t be the first actor to do it under such circumstances. Peter Dinklage, for instance, raked in his first individual victory on his sixth TV drama actor nomination for the final season of “Game of Thrones” in 2020, at which point he had already scooped up four Emmys for his fan-favorite turn on the HBO behemoth. The actor, whose only other SAG Award win was as part of the “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017) ensemble, had 16 bids under his belt at the time. Similar to how he, after having to wait his turn, likely benefited from the lineup ultimately breaking his way, Moss could do so now. She could stick out in a category that sees two rookie contenders and two previously honored women from the same show in the running. Plus, “Handmaid’s” is as popular as ever, having recently racked up a whopping 21 Emmy noms, including 10 for acting, and set viewership record after viewership record for Hulu with its fourth season — and popularity and visibility go a long way with a big group like SAG-AFTRA.
This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “SAG Awards nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2022 contenders in film and TV.
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