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Emmy Predictions 2017: Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

Final Predictions: Two "This Is Us" stars face vote-splitting challenges in a lead actor race that's bursting with strong contenders.

THIS IS US Sterling K. Brown NBC "Moonshadow" Randall

“This Is Us”

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Last Year’s Winner: Rami Malek, “Mr. Robot”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: There has not been a repeat winner in this category since Bryan Cranston won three times in a row between 2008-2010 (for “Breaking Bad”).
Fun Fact: Michael C. Hall, Hugh Laurie, and Martin Sheen have all been nominated six times in this category and never won, the most nominations ever without a win. They all used to trail Jon Hamm, who had seven nominations without a win until he won for “Mad Men” on his eighth nod. (Hall and Laurie have never won an Emmy in any categories, while Sheen won for Guest Actor on “Murphy Brown” in 1994.)

Two “This Is Us” actors enter, one comes out? One would be better than none in the cases of Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia vs. the field — at least for NBC. But none is certainly an option. For as strong as “This Is Us” has been on the acting front, the series could risk splitting the vote. Both of these stars are beloved: Brown more with the Academy voters, based on his win last year for “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” but Ventimiglia is the fan favorite.

Of course, there are other nominees. Anthony Hopkins is representing the most-nominated series in “Westworld,” and he’s also Sir Anthony Freaking Hopkins. So that’s a factor. Bob Odenkirk only earns more fans with every passing season of “Better Call Saul,” and Kevin Spacey still hasn’t won an Emmy. Ever. That’s right. Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey has never won TV’s highest honor, despite 11 nominations.

He’ll have to get by the critics’ pick, Matthew Rhys. Despite “The Americans” getting bumped out of the Drama Series race, Rhys and co-star Keri Russell both snagged nods for the second consecutive year. That’s almost as much momentum as Liev Schreiber’s built up over three nominations for “Ray Donovan” (and an additional nod for 1999’s “RKO 281.”)

Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama 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. Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
  2. Anthony Hopkins, “Westworld”
  3. Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
  4. Matthew Rhys, “The Americans”
  5. Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan”
  6. Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”
  7. Milo Ventimiglia, “This Is Us”

Will Win: Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
Could Win: Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
Should Win: Matthew Rhys, “The Americans”

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