Sterling K. Brown gave a breakthrough performance as prosecutor Christopher Darden in “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” Now he’s the frontrunner to win Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor on his very first nomination according to the predictions of the Expert TV journalists we’ve polled. But he’s up against a highly competitive field including two of his co-stars, so he’s not a shoo-in.
Fourteen out of 18 experts favor Brown, giving him leading 2/5 odds: Michael Ausiello (TV Line), Robert Bianco (USA Today), Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Lynn Elber (Associated Press), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes), Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly), Robert Rorke (New York Post), Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Anne Thompson (Indiewire), Ken Tucker (Yahoo), Adnan Virk (ESPN) and Jarett Wieselman (Buzzfeed).
Starting in 2015 the TV academy has required supporting nominees in miniseries to submit sample episodes just like nominees in comedies and dramas, and Brown has submitted for consideration “Manna from Heaven,” in which Darden angrily confronts Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) after Detective Mark Fuhrman‘s racist recordings are released.
Hugh Laurie (“The Night Manager”) ranks second with 7/1 odds based on support from two experts: Peter Hammond (Deadline Hollywood) and Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post). This is Laurie’s ninth nomination, including his Best Limited Series bid as a producer of “The Night Manager,” but he has never won. He plays international arms dealer Richard Roper, and in his submission, “Episode 5,” authorities try to catch him in the act of smuggling weapons, but he outsmarts them.
One expert, Eric Deggans (NPR), is predicting first-time nominee Jesse Plemons (“Fargo”), giving him 14/1 odds. Plemons plays mild-mannered butcher Ed Blumquist, but in his episode submission, “Loplop,” he and his wife take a hostage to try to negotiate their way out of danger.
Gold Derby’s own Tom O’Neil is predicting John Travolta (“People v. O.J.”), also giving him 14/1 odds. Travolta is an Hollywood veteran, but this is his first Emmy nomination, and he has submitted the episode “100% Not Guilty,” in which his character, defense attorney Robert Shapiro, is replaced by Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) as the lead defense attorney for O.J. Simpson.
None of our experts are predicting the last two nominees in the category. Bookeem Woodbine (“Fargo”), a first-time nominee like his co-star Plemons, ranks fifth with 66/1 odds for playing mob enforcer Mike Milligan. He submitted the season finale episode, “Palindrome,” in which Milligan survives the season-long turf war and gets a promotion, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
A third “People v. O.J.” actor rounds out the category with 80/1 odds: David Schwimmer, who plays Simpson’s friend and attorney Robert Kardashian. It’s the second Emmy nom for Schwimmer, who earned his previous bid for “Friends” in 1995.
Gold Derby’s Editors, who cover awards year-round, are divided on the outcome. Four of us agree with the consensus that Brown is the frontrunner: Sheehan, Chris Beachum, Rob Licuria and Matt Noble. But O’Neil and Marcus James Dixon are forecasting Travolta. And I’m the lone editor who thinks it will be Laurie.
Our Top 24 Users, who got the highest scores predicting last year’s Emmys, are split four ways. Seventeen are predicting Brown, but four are betting on Laurie, two on Plemons and one on Travolta.
Our All-Star Top 24, who got the highest scores when you combine their predictions from the last two years, can’t agree either. Eleven of them say it will be Brown, compared to six for Laurie, two for Plemons and one for Travolta.
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.