Jalal Haddad looks at the Lead Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie Emmy race in a year where the major contenders are few and far between.
The Limited Series/TV Movie races are filled with some of the best performances on TV in the history of television. Unfortunately for the lead actors in contention this year, they can’t even hold a candle to the women of Big Little Lies and Feud: Bette and Joan. Besides the top four contenders, Emmy voters are going to have to scrape the bottom of the barrel just to find enough actors to fill out their ballot. If for whatever reason a voter doesn’t respond well to Fargo and The Night Of then they might be completely out of luck. Take a look at the race for Lead Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie.
Ewan McGregor (Fargo) Everything about McGregor’s role in the third installment of Fargo screams awards bait from portraying polar opposite twins to the complete physical transformation. It almost seems too good (and obvious) to be true, but with most of the major competition in the Limited Series/TV Movie races in the actress categories, it seems like Ewan McGregor is becoming the frontrunner to become the first Fargo cast member to win an Emmy.
Riz Ahmed (The Night Of) From Rogue One to The OA to Girls, Riz Ahmed saw a huge breakout year starting last summer as the main subject in the crime drama The Night Of. After becoming a mini sensation late last summer, Ahmed and the limited series became essential names in the Emmy race. The question remained whether or not voters would remember him almost a year later. After a Golden Globe and SAG nomination, those questions were put to rest as he prepares for his first Emmy nomination in the culmination of a great year.
John Turturro (The Night Of) Premiering last summer, no one believed audiences would respond so well to The Night Of that both stars of the HBO crime drama would be propelled into the Lead Actor in a Limited Series race. However after a Golden Globe and SAG nomination, John Turturro is on his way to a second Emmy nomination after previously winning in 2004 for his guest work on Monk.
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) Benedict Cumberbatch has a perfect record at the Emmy awards for being recognized for his work on the cult favorite BBC Sherlock series even beating out a field of high profile nominees to win the lead actor Emmy back in 2014. He might not have as easy of a time beating the frontrunners in the new voting system, but in such a weak field it’s almost certain that Cumberbatch will be nominated yet again.
Jude Law (The Young Pope) No one seems to agree on whether or not The Young Pope is a limited series or a drama. Even HBO took months to make a final decision. Now that the show is competing in the Limited Series races, at least Jude Law has a solid chance of receiving his first Emmy nomination.
Timothy Hutton (American Crime) ABC altered their original Emmy placement choices for their actors, and now Timothy Hutton will be the sole male actor competing in the lead race (originally he and Benito Martinez were both going to be considered). Unfortunately, Hutton’s characters are always one of the weaker parts of any given season of American Crime and unless voters respond with overwhelming adoration for the third installment he’ll likely be left out again.
Babou Ceesay (Guerrilla) Showtime and John Ridley’s (American Crime) politically charged limited series received strong notices for more well known actors Freida Pinto and Idris Elba, but the lesser-known Babou Ceesay actually gives the best performance. Ceesay captures the tumultuous inner state and emotional conflicts with an expert’s grace. You literally can’t take your eyes off him. If he’s left off the final list, then it’s because the Television Academy chose not to look close enough to find greatness. The name should not deliver awards, the performance should. Given that, Ceesay should be in top contention.
Jonathan Groff (Looking) HBO’s gay male answer to Girls never became a serious awards threat in its two season span, but with a 2-hour film giving fans closure, Looking might finally have a viable shot at an Emmy nomination through Jonathan Groff. In a year without enough lead performances to choose, a small but passionate fan base might be able to surprise everyone and give Jonathan Groff the first Emmy nomination of his career. On the downside Looking: The Movie premiered on a late Saturday night last July, so most voters probably aren’t even aware the goodbye film exists.
Guy Pearce (When We Rise) In a limited series filled with queer cameos and terrible character arcs, Guy Pearce gave the only completely believable performance in ABC’s When We Rise. If it had premiered with more of a cultural impact, Pearce might have been able to sneak into a weak lead actor race. However, without any excitement, the previous Emmy winner probably won’t be making a comeback this year.
Yet to Premiere
Robert De Niro (The Wizard of Lies) A 2-time Oscar winner in an HBO biopic used to be an easy path to Emmy glory, and this year Robert De Niro as Bernie Madoff definitely fits that bill. Unfortunately for De Niro and HBO, it seems that voters have moved on from the obvious in favor of flashier limited and anthology series. Take last year’s Emmy dud All The Way for example. No matter what Emmy voters are sure to invite De Niro to the party, and he might even be able to pick up steam if the TV movie finds a way to resonate with audiences when it premieres in May.
Geoffrey Rush (Genius) National Geographic’s upcoming anthology series follows Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein in the first season and has been sneaking onto Emmy lists if only for the fact that Rush is a well-respected name competing in a category with almost no competition. Still Genius won’t be on the radar of many voters and it would be a surprise if Rush was nominated over the top six contenders.