The Emmy for Best Movie/Mini Actor looks like a close battle between a first-time nominee and a beloved six-time winner. The Expert TV journalists we’ve polled for their predictions are leaning towards the first-timer: Courtney B. Vance, who plays defense attorney Johnnie Cochran in “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” which is also the frontrunner to win Best Limited Series.
Thirteen out of 18 experts predict Vance, giving him leading 1/2 odds: Michael Ausiello (TV Line), Robert Bianco (USA Today), Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Lynn Elber (Associated Press), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly), Robert Rorke (New York Post), Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Ken Tucker (Yahoo), Adnan Virk (ESPN) and Jarett Wieselman (Buzzfeed).
The other five experts predict the Emmy-veteran, Bryan Cranston (“All the Way”), giving him 13/5 odds: Eric Deggans (NPR), Pete Hammond (Deadline Hollywood), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes) and Anne Thompson (Indiewire). Cranston won his six Emmys for AMC’s “Breaking Bad” — four as an actor, two as a producer — and now he’s hoping to add to that total with a victory for playing President Lyndon Johnson. Cranston also won a Tony Award for this role when he starred in “All the Way” on Broadway in 2014. In all, Cranston has been nominated for 14 Emmys, including Best TV Movie this year as a producer of “All the Way.”
None of our experts are predicting the remaining four nominees.
In third place with 66/1 odds is Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock: The Abominable Bride”). The popular British actor is nominated for the third time for playing Sherlock Holmes; he previously won in 2014 for “Sherlock: His Last Vow.” In-between “Sherlock” seasons he also earned an Emmy bid for his role in the miniseries “Parade’s End” (2013).
Idris Elba (“Luther”) also gets 66/1 odds. Like Cumberbatch, Elba plays a British detective, but he has yet to win. Elba has now been nominated four times for this role and five times overall, counting a guest-acting nomination for “The Big C” in 2011.
There’s one more Brit in the running, and he has 66/1 odds as well: Tom Hiddleston (“The Night Manager”) is nominated for his very first Emmy for playing Jonathan Pine, a former soldier who goes undercover to take down an international arms dealer.
Rounding out the category is another actor from “The People v. O.J. Simpson”: Cuba Gooding Jr., who trails with 80/1 odds even though he plays the title character in the miniseries, former football star O.J. Simpson who is on trial for double-murder.
Gold Derby’s Editors, who cover awards year-round, agree that Vance is out front. Six of us are predicting him: O’Neil, Sheehan, Chris Beachum, Marcus James Dixon, Rob Licuria and myself. Matt Noble is the sole editor backing Cranston.
It’s a much closer race if you consult our Top 24 Users, who got the highest scores predicting last year’s Emmys: 12 predict Vance, while 10 predict Cranston, and the last two think Elba will surprise.
Our All-Star Top 24, who got the highest scores when you combine Emmy predictions from the last two years, are also divided between those three actors. Twelve say it will be Vance, while seven favor Cranston and two are betting on Elba.
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions right here. You’ll compete to win our contest prizes for best picks — $500 (first place), $300 (second place) and $200 (third place) in Amazon gift certificates — a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s Emmys). Be sure to read our contest rules.