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Emmy Predictions 2018: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

A category ripe for turnover should see quite a few fresh faces in 2018.

"The Good Doctor"


Last Year’s Winner: Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: There hasn’t been a repeat winner in this category since Bryan Cranston won three times in a row for “Breaking Bad” between 2008 and 2010.
Fun Fact: Sterling K. Brown was the first black actor to win in this category since Andre Braugher won for “Homicide: Life on the Street” in 1998.

With a number of last year’s nominees out of the running, the Best Actor in a Drama Series category should see a lot of turnover in 2018. Anthony Hopkins (“Westworld”), Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”), and, obviously, Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) are all likely ineligible this year, meaning nearly half the slots are up for grabs.

But don’t expect many more. Sterling K. Brown, last year’s champ, remains stellar in “This Is Us” Season 2, and Milo Ventimiglia got even more opportunities to strut his stuff as Jack took a more central focus. Matthew Rhys feels like a lock for the final season of “The Americans” (plus, the industry veteran could be a spoiler to win if the final season is well-received), and Liev Schreiber just won’t be ignored in “Ray Donovan.”

That being said, there are still three slots open. A recent winner like Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”), who was shut out in 2017, could capitalize, but a number of new faces won’t make it easy. Jason Bateman is riding high after Golden Globe and SAG nominations for “Ozark,” as is Freddie Highmore (“The Good Doctor”), who has the highest-rated show and a Globe nod under his belt.

HBO has made a few interesting category choices. First off, Kit Harington knows a thing or two about high ratings himself, and the actor could land his first lead actor nomination for “Game of Thrones” in 2018. (He was nominated for Supporting Actor in 2016, but switched categories for the Globes.) Then there’s “Westworld,” where Jeffrey Wright (who was nominated last year) and Ed Harris are also switching out of the Supporting Actor category to contend as leads. Matt Smith could ride more screen time in “The Crown” Season 2 to his first nomination, too, but most of the exciting contenders come from new series:

J.K. Simmons should draw attention for playing two roles in “Counterpart,” Jason Mitchell is absolute dynamite on Showtime’s critically acclaimed Lena Waithe drama, “The Chi,” and Jonathan Groff has a big fanbase for his work on “Mindhunter” and beyond. Toss in Daniel Bruhl (“The Alienist”), Dan Stevens (“Legion”), and probably someone from “Westworld” (since it’s doubtful that Anthony Hopkins will be in the lead role again), and it’s quite the crowded field.

Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Drama Series (listed in alphabetical order), which will be updated throughout the season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2018 race, and read predictions in the rest of the categories, as well.

Predicted Nominees: 

  1. Jason Bateman, “Ozark”
  2. Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
  3. Freddie Highmore, “The Good Doctor”
  4. Matthew Rhys, “The Americans”
  5. Milo Ventimiglia, “This Is Us”
  6. Jeffrey Wright, “Westworld”

Spoilers: Kit Harington, “Game of Thrones”; Ed Harris, “Westworld”; Rami Malek, “Mr. Robot”; Jason Mitchell, “The Chi”; Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan”; Matt Smith, “The Crown”

In a Perfect World: Lee Pace, “Halt and Catch Fire”; J.K. Simmons, “Counterpart”

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