Nicole Kidman widens her lead in our Emmy predictions against Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon

Shortly before the 2017 Emmy nominations were announced on July 13, Nicole Kidman (“Big Little Lies”) inched ahead of Jessica Lange (“Feud: Bette and Joan”) in our Experts’ predictions for Best Movie/Mini Actress. Now that we know who the contenders are, for what awards, and how many, the momentum has shifted even further. As of this writing Kidman has an even bigger lead.

So far we’ve polled a dozen Expert TV journalists for their early picks, and nine of them are predicting Kidman: Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Eric Deggans (NPR), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly), Robert Rorke (New York Post), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Anne Thompson (IndieWire) and Jarett Wieselman (Buzzfeed).

This is Kidman’s second Emmy nomination — her third, actually, if you count her bid as a producer of “Big Little Lies.” She was previously nominated for her leading role in the telefilm “Hemingway and Gellhorn” (2012). Now she plays one of the most sympathetic roles in this HBO limited series: Celeste Wright, a retired lawyer being physically abused by her husband (fellow Emmy nominee Alexander Skarsgard). The lion’s share of critical praise for the actors went to her, though she may still have to worry about splitting votes with her co-star Reese Witherspoon, who is also nominated in this category. But the series was a ratings hit, and it earned 16 total nominations, indicating broad support from the TV academy. That includes five nominations for acting, which means the actors branch was especially fond of “Big Little Lies” and thus might be inclined to vote for Kidman in the top race.

Two Experts say Lange will win: Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby) and Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine).

Lange has been a favorite of Emmy voters in recent years, winning three times out of her seven nominations. She claimed Best Movie/Mini Actress twice, for “Grey Gardens” (2009) and “American Horror Story: Coven” (2014). And she won Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actress for “American Horror Story: Murder House” (2012). The “Horror Story” franchise was created by Ryan Murphy, as is “Feud,” so this collaboration has already proven fruitful for Lange. It doesn’t hurt that Lange plays a recognizable real-life figure, film icon Joan Crawford. Since 2009, four women have won this category for playing real people, including Lange’s victory for “Grey Gardens.” And starring in a true Hollywood story like “Feud” may especially appeal to the industry insiders who vote for the Emmys. Plus “Feud” has more nominations than any other limited series (18), including six total acting nominations, so it has lots of academy support where it counts.

But like Kidman, Lange will have to worry about splitting votes with her co-star, Susan Sarandon, whom Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes) is predicting to win. Like Lange, Sarandon has the benefit of playing a recognizable real-life figure. Like Kidman, she’s looking for her first Emmy victory (Sarandon has four previous bids). And like both of them, she’s an admired, Oscar winning movie star.

Do you agree with most of our Experts that Kidman is out front? Might they be underestimating the remaining three nominees, Carrie Coon (“Fargo”), Felicity Huffman (“American Crime”) or Witherspoon?

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on September 17. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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