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

Updated: FX is set for a "Feud" with HBO over "Big Little Lies," but there's a long way to (Far)go in this race.

"Big Little Lies" Nicole Kidman Episode 1

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of HBO

Last Year’s Winner: Sarah Paulson, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: Helen Mirren has the most nominations and wins of any actress in this category. She’s also the only actress to ever win in back-to-back years.
Fun Fact: We all remember Meryl Streep winning for “Angels in America,” but she also won for the NBC miniseries “Holocaust” in 1978. Despite just three nominations, Streep is one of only 12 women to win more than once in this category.

A year after Sarah Paulson dominated the awards circuit in “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” FX has a fresh new lineup ready to take her place on stage. The most obvious new contenders will be Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon in “Feud: Bette & Joan.” Focusing on Bette Davis (Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Lange), the classic Hollywood tale about two iconic actresses, played by two iconic actresses, should be catnip for voters. But the TV Academy already knows they love “Fargo,” which should help Season 3 star Carrie Coon land a nod.

HBO has other ideas. “Big Little Lies” should only be big at the Emmys, and — while we don’t know which of the three leads will be submitted as the lead — we’re guessing Reese Witherspoon should be able to go toe-to-toe with any challengers. She’s at the center of the seven-hour mystery, and the producer-star absolutely slays throughout the miniseries to date.

READ MORE: ‘Feud: Bette and Joan’ Review: Why Care About the Facts When a Show Feels This True?

On the movie side of things, HBO has a big-name contender: Oprah Winfrey as the titular star of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” Winfrey has one acting Oscar nod under her belt, along with five Emmys nominations and two wins… but she’s never been nominated by the TV Academy as an actress. This could be the year.

Outside of awards powerhouses FX and HBO, Felicity Huffman is looking to make it three-for-three with ABC’s “American Crime.” She’s been nominated for both previous seasons, meaning she’s already got voters on her side. Showtime has the ’70s resistance fighter limited series “Guerrilla,” starring Freida Pinto, while Cynthia Nixon in “Killing Reagan,” Lindsay Duncan in “Churchill’s Secret,” and Viola Davis in Lifetime’s “Custody” round out the contenders on the movie side of things. Throw in Jodie Comer for Starz’s “The White Princess” and Sanaa Lathan from Fox’s upcoming police drama “Shots Fired,” and there should be plenty of competition in the limited series race.

READ MORE: ‘Big Little Lies’ Review: Reese Witherspoon Commands a Captivating Cast in an HBO Mystery Worth Solving

Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series (in alphabetical order), 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.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Carrie Coon, “Fargo”
  2. Nicole Kidman, “Big Little Lies”
  3. Jessica Lange, “Feud: Bette & Joan”
  4. Susan Sarandon, “Feud: Bette & Joan”
  5. Oprah Winfrey, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”
  6. Reese Witherspoon, “Big Little Lies”

Spoilers: Viola Davis, “Custody”; Felicity Huffman, “American Crime”; Michelle Pfeiffer, “The Wizard of Lives”

In a Perfect World: Bryce Dallas Howard, “Black Mirror”

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Maliha Intikhab

Oprah is not playing the titular character. she is playing Deborah, Henrietta’s daughter.


The above comment is correct; Henrietta Lacks is portrayed by Renée Elise Goldsberry, NOT Oprah.

BTW, Sarandon has no chance, as Hollywood hates her after the election.


Um, why isn’t Nicole Kidman on this list? She blew the rest of her cast away and should easily win this category. I think this category will end up coming down to Kidman vs Sarandon vs Lange for the gold

Todd McGee

Lange for sure.. Brilliant!


I think Nicole kidman is a frontrunner, its lange vs kidman and should end up in a tie, both were amazing

george chapman

This is all wrong… Nicole Kidman will be winning this Emmy! And if not, Queen Jessica will take home the statuette.

Tom Ferreira

Hey, where is Lauren Graham in this race? She slayed on “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life”, and it’s WAY about time the Academy recognizes this!

Renan C. Maia

Susan Sarandon never won the Emmy and the Golden Globe. This is her best chance!!


I wish Lauren Graham was a contender

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