Emmy nominations are less than a week away — make your last-minute predictions now! — so let’s take a moment to analyze this year’s race for Best Drama Actor. As a refresher, last year we correctly predicted five of the six nominees in this category. We missed only Jeff Daniels (“The Newsroom“), whom we had in eighth place despite his having won the previous year. Instead, we had James Spader (“The Blacklist“) in our sixth slot.
With “Breaking Bad” having ended and “True Detective” out of contention this Emmy cycle, there are only three men returning from last year’s contest, and as you can see from the chart above, we are predicting all three of them to return to the race this year: perennial also-rans Jon Hamm (“Mad Men“) and Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards“), as well as Daniels.
Do you agree that these three are locks for nominations on July 16? And which of the others in our Top 10 are the strongest possibilities and which are on the bubble?
Scroll down to see a breakdown of the leading contenders, according to our exclusive Emmy odds that are derived from predictions made by Gold Derby’s Experts, Editors, Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who did the best predicting last year’s Emmys line-up) and All Users.
And then be sure to make your own predictions and be in with a chance to win prizes, bragging rights and a place of honor in next year’s Top 24 Users.
Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”)
Overall odds to win: 7/2
Hamm has been nominated seven times in a row in this category for his star-making role as ad man Don Draper, but no “Mad Men” actor has ever won an Emmy. We’re thinking this year might be different thanks to Hamm’s potent performance in the series finale and an Emmy rule change that expands voting beyond the small, mercurial judging panels that previously decided winners.
Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”)
Overall odds to win: 4/1
Spacey has accumulated six nominations to date as an actor and a producer, including Best Drama Actor bids for the last two years as scheming politico Frank Underwood in “House of Cards.” We think he’ll easily secure another nomination, but will fall just short of the win Do you think he can overtake Hamm?
Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”)
Overall odds of winning: 11/2
Odenkirk was never nominated for an Emmy for playing crooked lawyer Saul Goodman in “Breaking Bad,” but we’re expecting him to be nominated for reprising that role in the prequel spinoff “Better Call Saul.” He just won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Drama Actor, and may benefit from residual love for “Breaking Bad,” which swept the Emmys last year and leaves several slots open now that it’s off the air.
Terrence Howard (“Empire”)
Overall odds to win: 9/1
Most of the media attention for “Empire” has gone to Taraji P. Henson for her scene-stealing work as Cookie, but let’s not forget that Howard also has a showy role as ruthless music mogul Lucious Lyon, who believes he’s dying and must annoint a successor. Howard is also an Oscar-nominated movie star; the Emmys love those.
Jeff Daniels (“The Newsroom”)
Overall odds to win: 14/1
We underestimated Daniels when he won this category in 2013 for playing crusading journalist Will McAvoy, and he surprised us again by earning a repeat nomination in 2014. Could he pull off another upset? The show was cancelled last year after three seasons, but history has shown us he can beat the odds.
Kyle Chandler (“Bloodline”)
Overall odds to win: 14/1
The last time Chandler was in the running, in 2011, he pulled off a stunning upset for the final season of “Friday Night Lights,” defeating Hamm, who seemed like he’d finally prevail with his showcase “Mad Men” episode “The Suitcase.” We’re expecting Chandler to re-enter the race this year as Florida cop John Rayburn in Netflix’s “Bloodline,” but with Netflix also pushing “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” in drama categories this year, is “Bloodline” at risk of getting lost in the shuffle?
Clive Owen (“The Knick”)
Overall odds to win: 16/1
Owen’s last foray into television was successful: he earned an Emmy nomination for Best Movie/Miniseries Actor for HBO’s “Hemingway and Gellhorn” in 2012. Now he stars as Dr. John W. Thackery in Cinemax’s “The Knick.” Cinemax has had a low profile at the Emmys thus far; will Owen’s star power change that?
Dominic West (“The Affair”)
Overall odds to win: 20/1
Despite starring roles in “The Wire,” “The Hour” and “Burton and Taylor,” West is still waiting for his first Emmy nomination. That could change if the TV academy wholeheartedly embraces Showtime’s “The Affair,” in which he plays unfaithful husband Noah Solloway. The series already earned him a nod at the Golden Globes, which also awarded the show Best Drama Series. Will that love continue at the Emmys?
James Spader (“The Blacklist”)
Overall odds to win: 50/1
“The Blacklist” was one of the biggest breakout hits on network television last season, but Spader still couldn’t break into the category as mysterious criminal Raymond Reddington. However, with three open slots this year, it may be foolish to discount the man who has won this category three times, and has only lost once when nominated.
Sam Heughan (“Outlander”)
Overall odds to win: 100/1
Scottish actor Heughan has been a breakout star this season as Jamie Fraser in Starz’s “Outlander,” and the series has quickly developed a devoted cult following, but will that translate to an Emmy nomination? Starz has had some success in the Emmys’ longform categories with “The Pillars of the Earth” and “The White Queen,” but now hopes for a breakthrough in the drama races.
Make all your Emmy predictions and you could win a place of honor on our leaderboard, a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s Emmys line-up), and one of three contest prizes: $500 for first place, $300 for second place, and $200 for third place. Prizes will be bestowed as gift certificates to be redeemed at Amazon. See our contest rules for more info.
Average Gold Derby users just like YOU often turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, so it’s important that you give us your predictions. Your picks influence our User racetrack odds, which also factor into our official combined odds.
The Top 24 Users did the best at predicting last year’s Emmy nominations (78.55%) when competing against Gold Derby’s Editors (77.68%), all Users (74.78%) and the Experts (74.64%). Which group will be victorious this year?
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