Julianna Margulies, George Clooney
It's an honor to be nominated by the Academy, but it may be even more of an honor to be nominated and recognized by your peers. And that's what the Screen Actors Guild Awards are all about. The 18th annual ceremony takes place Sunday (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on TNT/TBS), and while we count down the minutes, let's make our best educated guesses at who will walk away with the big prizes. Check out our predictions and tell us your picks (you can download the ballot here.)
Check out the SAG nominees
Will win: Breaking Bad
After getting snubbed for its blockbuster third season, the show finally earned its maiden ensemble nomination, and the powerhouse performances from its stacked cast are tough to beat. Bryan Cranston has carried the flag for the drama at the SAGs the past two years, losing both times, so a breakthrough nod for the big prize is an indication of stronger support than before.
Watch out for: The Good Wife
Third time might be the charm for The Good Wife, whose stellar cast continues to dispel the implication from the title that it's a one-woman show. SAG has been on The Good Wife train since the beginning — it was the first awards group to recognize the show outside of Julianna Margulies when it gave the CBS drama a surprising ensemble nomination two years ago — so it may just be a matter of time before it wins.
Will win: Modern Family
This will be an easy repeat win for Modern Family. The cast and story lines are hilarious and relatable, and the show can do no wrong within the industry right now. Did we forget to mention that it leads the field with five nominations?
Watch out for: The Big Bang Theory
That the show broke through for a nomination in its fifth season speaks volumes, so don't be shocked if the Big Bang gang goes all the way too.
Will win: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Cranston's riveting work is enough to get him to the podium and is, frankly, too excellent to ignore. The three-time nominee's odds are also bolstered by the cast being up for the ensemble award.
Watch out for: Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
The Emmy winner snagged a surprise nomination — his first here — for the beloved football drama. The fact that this will be the final chance for FNL to be rewarded could be impetus to vote for Chandler.
Will win: Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Margulies is the guild's girl, and it's hard to bet against her until she loses. The two-time defending champ has eight trophies — the most by any performer in SAG history — and hasn't lost an individual award since her first nomination for ER 16 years ago.
Watch out for: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Lange's expertly portrayed, scenery-chewing grand dame is as awards-bait-y as they come. Also in her favor: She's never won a SAG, as is the case with many older stars since the SAG Awards are so young. (Lange was nominated at the first SAG Awards for Blue Sky, for which she won her second Oscar.) The SAGs does love its elders, so Lange has a very good shot at adding the statuette to her extensive awards collection.
Will win: Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Alec Baldwin has dominated this category and is gunning for a six-peat — yes, six — but we're hesitant to tip him completely after his plane debacle. And while 30 Rock was off the air for eight months, Burrell, who won an Emmy last year, has been the MVP of Modern Family, making us all wish for a dad as cluelessly sweet as Phil is.
Watch out for: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
You can't disregard the five-time defending champ, who has never lost in this category. And there's the very probable explanation that checking Baldwin's name off has become second nature at this point.
Will win: Julie Bowen, Modern Family
No one handles slapstick and playing the straight woman as deftly as Bowen. Her Emmy win obviously doesn't hurt her chances either.
Watch out for: Betty White, Hot in Cleveland
America's Golden Girl, who also is the defending champ, is always a threat to win.
TV Movie/Miniseries Actor
Will win: Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
Pearce's devilish slacker cad ought to charm enough voters to pull off the victory.
Watch out for: Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood
Fishburne is commanding from beginning to end in his one-man stage show that was filmed for HBO.
TV Movie/Miniseries Actress
Will win: Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce
Duh. A win would complete the trifecta (Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG) for Winslet. Fun fact: The SAG was the first major award Winslet won when she was named Best Supporting Actress for Sense and Sensibility in 1996.
Watch out for: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey is the It show of the moment and Smith is yet another Hollywood legend without an individual SAG (she won as part of the Gosford Park ensemble 10 years ago.)
SAG Awards: Get an exclusive first look at the seating chart!
Will win: The Help
Of all the nominees, The Help boasts an ensemble in the truest sense — a large cast of equal and integral parts all holding their own. Because SAG's top award honors acting and not the film itself, this is the best chance for The Help, or another film, to stall The Artist's momentum.
Watch out for: The Artist
Charming, nuanced and captivating, The Artist stars' performances are all the more impressive since they had no dialogue. But they do have a secret weapon: Uggie, who, sadly, is not nominated as part of the ensemble.
Will win: George Clooney, The Descendants
After claiming the Critics Choice Award and Golden Globe, Clooney is poised to win his first SAG trophy in film for his earnest and subtle turn. If he wins, history shows he'd be the one to beat at the Oscars: The lead actor SAG race has the best record of the four acting categories, mismatching only four times with the Oscars.
Watch out for: Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Pitt's sure to give his BFF a run for his money with not just his sublime Moneyball performance, but residual love from The Tree of Life as well.
Will win: Viola Davis, The Help
This is between Davis and Meryl Streep, and we'll give the nod to the former. Davis is a respected theater-turned-film actress who delivered a sympathetic and compelling turn in a box office hit. SAG voters sometimes go for performances from broader, more popular films (see also: Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Renee Zellweger in Chicago). Plus, it was at the SAG Awards three years ago that Streep implored Hollywood to give Davis, her Doubt co-star, a film, and look at where we are now.
Watch out for: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
She can win this on name alone, but Streep's portrayal of Margaret Thatcher is impeccable and as brilliant as you'd expect from Streep.
Will win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
One of the few locks of the night. His superb performance aside, Plummer's veteran status ought to help him out too as he's finally getting his due after a half-century career. If he wins, Plummer, 82, would be the second oldest winner ever, five years shy of Gloria Stuart, who was 87 when she triumphed for Titanic in a tie with Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential).
Watch out for: Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
Branagh's masterful take on Sir Laurence Olivier would have done the late acting titan proud.
Will win: Octavia Spencer, The Help
The Help's scene-stealer would head into the Oscars as the front-runner with a win here. Spencer's been acting for a long time before landing The Help, and judging by the rapturous applause she received at the Globes, she's got a lot of friends and admirers in the biz.
Watch out for: Jessica Chastain, The Help
She's nominated for The Help, but Chastain's breakout year, in which she starred in six films, will not go unnoticed by her fellow actors, especially those who continue to plug along and take jobs, hoping the next one is the big one (or six).