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Emmy Predictions 2017: Outstanding TV Movie

HBO is looking to reclaim this category after losing to "Sherlock" in 2016, but PBS, Lifetime, and more have strong Emmy offerings.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rose Byrne Oprah Winfrey

Quantrell D. Colbert/HBO

Last Year’s Winner: “Sherlock: The Abominable Bride”
Hot Streak: HBO has won more awards in this category than all the other networks combined. They have 19 total Emmys. CBS and NBC are tied for the second highest total – six.
Fun Fact: “Jackie” fans take note: The First Lady was awarded an Emmy for “A Tour of the White House,” her famous televised walking tour that highlighted the historical alterations and preservations she’d help make to the White House. Jackie Kennedy remains the only First Lady to win a statue (though Michelle Obama’s “Billy on the Street” segment was nominated in 2015).

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HBO’s dominance in the TV Movie category is well-known, even if the network was upset by an “Abominable Bride” last year. It’s back with a vengeance in 2017, touting three big-name contenders with built-in followers. First up, “Looking: The Movie” debuted last summer to largely positive reviews. Though the series never cracked the Emmys, it’s had time to grow a larger following, and switching categories (especially to one with less competition) can prove beneficial to contenders.

If “Looking” fails to strike a chord, “The Wizard of Lies” should more than make up for it. Starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, the film is adapted from the acclaimed biography of Bernie Madoff by Diana B. Henriques. Despite two Golden Globes and two Oscars, De Niro has never even been nominated for an Emmy. Expect that to change this summer.

But that’s not all. HBO also has “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” produced by and starring none other than the Oprah Winfrey. Oprah! Oprah Winfrey! That’s got to sway some voters, and she’s not alone in the novel adaptation. Rose Byrne and last year’s Emmy winner, Courtney B. Vance, are right there with her. HBO should have plenty to work with on this one.

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All that being said, PBS has a few options itself: “Sherlock” is the defending champion, so there’s no real reason to bet against it just yet. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have some serious pull with the TV Academy and could steal one more win for the heralded franchise. “Churchill’s Secret,” with Michael Gambon and Lindsay Duncan, has a lot of Academy-friendly elements — including those actors and a period setting — as does National Geographic’s “Killing Reagan,” starring Tim Matheson and Cynthia Nixon. Finally, among Lifetime’s many Saturday night movie contenders, the Viola Davis-starring “Custody” seems like their best shot at snagging gold.

Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding TV Movie (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. “Churchill’s Secret”
  2. “Custody”
  3. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  4. “Sherlock”
  5. “The Wizard of Lies”

Spoilers: “Killing Reagan”

In a Perfect World: “Looking: The Movie”

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