Last Year’s Winner: Donald Glover in “Atlanta”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: William H. Macy has been nominated each of the past four years — every year since “Shameless” switched categories, from drama to comedy.
Fun Fact: Alan Alda, Kelsey Grammer, and Ted Danson have the most nominations in this category, but only Grammer has been nominated for more than one show: All of Alda’s nominations came for “M.A.S.H.,” Danson’s for “Cheers,” and 10 of Grammer’s 11 nods were for “Frasier,” while his other nod was for playing Frasier Crane… but on “Wings.”
Donald Glover took home Emmys for acting and directing “Atlanta” in 2017, and the star is showing no signs of slowing down this year. Not only is his second season of the FX comedy pulling in great reviews, but he’s playing Lando Calrissian in the “Solo” movie (out in May) and is writing and producing the “Deadpool” animated series expected later this year. In other words, Glover won’t be out of the news cycle much, and he won’t be giving up his spot at the top of this category very easily.
Of course, he’s not the only one with some heat behind his name. Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”) has been nominated three years in a row for a show that many feel is overdue for some trophies. William H. Macy has an even longer streak going, and he’s yet to win for “Shameless.” Meanwhile, Zach Galifianakis was the surprise nominee in 2017, and he’s having another good run on “Baskets” in Season 3.
So what about the new blood? Since it’s fairly safe to say Jeffrey Tambor won’t be nominated again for “Transparent” (following his ouster from the show over harassment allegations), and Aziz Ansari isn’t eligible without a new season of “Master of None,” at least two slots are open. Returning favorites — back in their previously nominated roles — could fill them: Larry David has “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Matt LeBlanc has “Episodes,” Eric McCormack has “Will & Grace.” Even Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”) could make a run again after being shut out last year.
If the TV Academy is looking for new blood, though, Bill Hader could score a nod for his new HBO comedy, “Barry.” Tracy Morgan is looking for his first lead actor nomination, too, and he’s got “The Last O.G.” on TBS. Dylan McDermott is making the friendly skies even friendlier on “L.A. to Vegas” while Glenn Howerton might have to look outside of “Philadelphia” for his first nod via “A.P. Bio.” Throw in Ted Danson (“The Good Place”), who with a nomination would have the most ever in this category, and the Lead Actor race is simply stacked.
Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy 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 for the rest of the categories, as well.
- Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”
- Larry David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
- Zach Galifianakis, “Baskets”
- Donald Glover, “Atlanta”
- Bill Hader, “Barry”
- William H. Macy, “Shameless”
Spoilers: Ted Danson, “The Good Place”; Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes”; Eric McCormack, “Will & Grace”; Tracy Morgan, “The Last O.G.”
In a Perfect World: Tommy Dewey, “Casual”; Chris Geere, “You’re the Worst”; Glenn Howerton, “A.P. Bio”; Dylan McDermott, “L.A. to Vegas”