In some ways, Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie in a bit bleaker than its actress counterpart but no less difficult as oddities could stand in the way of what would be an easy nomination in any given year.
Ethan Hawke stands tall in Showtime’s The Good Lord Bird. He earned Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations (but lost both to Mark Ruffalo I Know This Much Is True, picking up extra hardware from his Emmy win for this role) and won the Satellite Award for his performance.
Amazon made the smart choice to run Joel Edgerton as the male lead of The Underground Railroad, putting him in a good position here. Obviously, had he been submitted in supporting he’d probably be a shoe-in to win this move opens the door for true supporting actors from UGR to have a chance. Edgerton is virtually inextricable from UGR‘s lead actress Thuso Mbedu, which helps both of their nomination chances. One thing that potentially holds him back is the fractured eligibilities between the Emmys and calendar year awards. Several of his competitors have already been tried and tested and come in with nominations elsewhere.
HBO’s fall potboiler The Undoing raptured audiences, which saw the show’s ratings grow week to week but as the second half of the 2020/2021 television season came on it was pushed to the back burner. Hugh Grant has the best shot at still cracking a top five, which this category is this year. He comes in with Golden Globe, SAG, Satellite and BFCA nominations.
WandaVision kicked off the television domination for the Marvel universe and with it Paul Bettany’s Vision was met with universal acclaim. But was Bettany overshadowed by his co-star Elizabeth Olsen and breakout scene stealer Kathryn Hahn? Very possibly, not to mention Bettany also is competing with himself and his performance in the TV Movie Uncle Frank from Amazon. I don’t imagine he’ll siphon too many votes from himself there as WandaVision is the bigger property but it doesn’t help. Having premiered in January, Bettany doesn’t come in with any significant awards traction or nominations.
We also have some Emmy favorites like Bryan Cranston (Your Honor) and Jeff Daniels (The Comey Rule) both from Showtime. But it’s been pretty quiet for them on buzz but they both come in with Golden Globe nominations, Cranston also has a Satellite mention.
Another mid-season hopeful is Ewan McGregor in Halston. While the Netflix biopic of the legendary fashion designer has seemingly flopped and is ready to go to the bargain bin, McGregor could find himself rising above to earn a nomination. He’s already a three-time Emmy nominee, most recently for the third season of FX’s Fargo.
Speaking of Fargo, leads of each season of the anthology tend to do well here (no season so far has earned less than 16 nominations total, they love this anthology) so it stands to reason to say that Chris Rock could get in, right? But has there ever been a season of Fargo that’s gone more under the radar than its fourth? Still, Rock is a 19-time Emmy nominee and four-time winner. That means a lot, sometimes more than buzz. He’s also, unlike the lead actress category, the only Black contender if Hamilton tanks here.
Which brings me to the Hamilton conundrum; it really mucks things up this season and no more than this category. Both Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom, Jr. are eligible the awards path for its actors has been inconsistent at best. Odom won the Tony for the original Broadway version, Miranda was nominated for the Golden Globe and Daveed Diggs was nominated at SAG, while competing in supporting here. That lack of a clear nominee puts both Miranda and Odom in jeopardy of getting snubbed.
Here are my predictions for Lead Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or Movie.
1. Ethan Hawke – The Good Lord Bird (Showtime)
2. Joel Edgerton – The Underground Railroad (Amazon)
3. Hugh Grant – The Undoing (HBO)
4. Paul Bettany – WandaVision (Disney+)
5. Chris Rock – Fargo (FX)
Then: Olly Alexander – It’s a Sin (HBO Max), Bryan Cranston – Your Honor (Showtime), Jeff Daniels – The Comey Rule (Showtime), Jude Law – The Third Day (HBO), Ewan McGregor – Halston (Netflix), Lin-Manuel Miranda – Hamilton (Disney+), Leslie Odom, Jr. – Hamilton (Disney+), Andrew Scott – Oslo (HBO), Martin Sheen – A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote (HBO Max)
Photo courtesy of Disney+