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Emmy Predictions 2018: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie

A space captain, Pablo Picasso, and Jesus Christ walk into the Emmys... [Updated September 10 — Final Predictions]

Patrick Melrose Benedict Cumberbatch Episode 5 Showtime

Benedict Cumberbatch in “Patrick Melrose”

Justin Downing/SHOWTIME

Last Year’s Winner: Riz Ahmed, “The Night Of”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: Since 1992, at least one actor from an HBO film has been nominated in this category — films, not limited series.
Fun Fact: Benedict Cumberbatch is one nomination away from tying Laurence Olivier for the second-most nominations in the history of this category. Olivier, however, won four out of his six nominations, whereas the best Cumberbatch could hope for is half that.

Can Darren Criss follow in the footsteps of Courtney B. Vance and Cuba Gooding Jr. in “American Crime Story”? Can Benedict Cumberbatch get back in the winners’ circle without “Sherlock”? Can Jeff Daniels win two Emmys in the same year?

These are a few of the questions facing TV Academy voters in the Best Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Series category. After some surprises on nominations’ day, the aforementioned actors may represent the frontrunners, but there’s no reason to think more twists aren’t in store.

For instance, few predicted Jesse Plemons would break into the race with his twisted take on William Shatner, but the “Friday Night Lights” star proved his staying power by landing his second nod ever (after “Fargo”). Now, prognosticators have to consider if the actor (and the Netflix anthology series he stars in) is popular enough to boldly go where no “Black Mirror” star has gone before: the Emmys’ night stage.

Of course, to get there, he’ll have to beat Jesus Himself. Another pleasant surprise on Emmys’ morning was the strong showing of NBC’s latest live musical, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which included a nod for John Legend and his leading performance as the titular JC. Throw in Antonio Banderas’ nomination for playing another “Genius” in NatGeo’s well-represented franchise, and you’ve got the beginnings of a good joke: “A space captain, Pablo Picasso, and Jesus Christ walk into the Emmys…” That being said, everyone should be taking these contenders very seriously.

Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie (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.

The Nominees:

  1. Antonio Banderas, “Genius: Picasso”
  2. Darren Criss, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”
  3. Benedict Cumberbatch, “Patrick Melrose”
  4. Jeff Daniels, “The Looming Tower”
  5. John Legend, “Jesus Christ Superstar”
  6. Jesse Plemons, “Black Mirror: U.S.S. Callister”

Will Win: Benedict Cumberbatch, “Patrick Melrose”
Could Win: Darren Criss, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”
Should Win: Benedict Cumberbatch, “Patrick Melrose”

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