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Emmy Predictions 2017: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Updated July 19: After 20 years away from the Emmys, Ewan McGregor is back for his shot at the trophy, and this time he might just take it home.

Czech Republic - Geoffrey Rush stars as Albert Einstein in National Geographic’s Genius (National Geographic/Dusan Martincek)

National Geographic/Dusan Martincek

Last Year’s Winner: Courtney B. Vance, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: In five of the last six years, two actors have been nominated for the same show in this category: “The People v. O.J. Simpson” (Courtney B. Vance & Cuba Gooding Jr.), “Fargo” (Billy Bob Thornton & Martin Freeman), “Behind the Candelabra” (Michael Douglas & Matt Damon), “Hatfields & McCoys” (Kevin Costner & Bill Paxton), and “The Kennedys” (Barry Pepper & Greg Kinnear). It makes you wonder who each show’s real lead was, eh?
Fun Fact: If Benedict Cumberbatch earns a nomination in 2017, he’ll tie Beau Bridges, James Garner, and James Woods as the most nominated actor in this category.

HBO did it again: “The Night Of” stars Riz Ahmed and John Turturro had already both been nominated at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guid Awards, and now they’re both up for an Emmy. The only downside is that neither has won — yet.

Here, their biggest competition might be in-house, as Robert De Niro’s turn as Bernie Madoff might prove to be the HBO favorite. “The Wizard of Lies” didn’t generate the same amount of buzz or critical acclaim as “The Night Of, but De Niro’s name still carries quite a bit of weight with anyone in the entertainment industry.

But even though HBO programming makes up half this category, there’s no guarantee the premium cable giant will walk away with a trophy. Benedict Cumberbatch won just three years prior and the “Sherlock” star was nominated again last year. He’s likely only garnered more fans in the intervening years, given his “Doctor Strange” box office tallies, so he’s got a shot at another upset.

So do Ewan McGregor and Geoffrey Rush for “Fargo” and “Genius,” respectively. Twenty years ago, McGregor was up for a Guest Actor Emmy after a stint on “E.R.,” but he hasn’t been back since. Rush won for his only other nomination — “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers” in 2005 — which was in this very category. Both are even bigger names now, and both stand a good shot at earning the trophy. (McGregor played two parts, for Pete’s sake!)

Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series, which will be updated throughout the awards season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2017 race, and read the rest of the predictions in all categories, as well.

The Nominees:

  1. Riz Ahmed, “The Night Of”
  2. Benedict Cumberbatch, “Sherlock”
  3. Robert De Niro, “The Wizard of Lies”
  4. Ewan McGregor, “Fargo”
  5. Geoffrey Rush, “Genius”
  6. John Turturro, “The Night Of”

Will Win: Robert De Niro, “The Wizard of Lies”
Could Win: Riz Ahmed, “The Night Of”
Should Win: Riz Ahmed, “The Night Of”

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