In a somewhat controversial decision, this year the television academy has combined the lead and supporting categories for the Movie/Miniseries races, meaning there will only be one male winner and one female winner for longform television.
Based on early Gold Derby polling, Jessica Lange ("American Horror Story: Asylum") is the frontrunner to win a trophy in the all new combined category of Movie/Miniseries Actress. This will be Emmy #3 for Lange, who prevailed last year in the Movie/Mini Supporting Actress race for the first incarnation of "American Horror Story" and also in 2009 as Movie/Mini Lead Actress for the HBO biopic "Grey Gardens."
Currently nipping at Lange's heels in the number two position is Helen Mirren, who stars alongside Al Pacino in HBO's "Phil Spector." With an Oscar ("The Queen" in 2006) and a record four Emmys in the Movie/Mini lead race ("Prime Suspect" 4 in 1996; "Passion of Ayn Rand" in 1999; "Elizabeth I" in 2006; " Prime Suspect 7: The Final Act" in 2007) already on her mantel, Mirren's awards pedigree is helping to push her to the front of the pack.
In third place is Sigourney Weaver for the cancelled series-turned-miniseries "Political Animals." She's a shoo-in for a nomination after receiving nods in this same category at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. This would be Weaver's third Emmy nomination, though she has yet to win.
Coming in fourth is Holly Hunter for Sundance Channel's "Top of the Lake." Hunter is an Oscar winner for "The Piano" (1993) and a two-time Emmy winner in the Movie/Mini Lead Actress category for "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom" (1993) and "Roe vs. Wade" (1989).
Gold Derby currently has Emmy magnet Alfre Woodard ("Steel Magnolias") in fifth place. She's a TV academy favorite, winning four Emmys from sixteen nominations. The fact that she's even eligible here should guarantee her one of the six slots.
Rounding out our list is Sarah Paulson, co-lead with Lange on FX's "American Horror Story: Asylum." Paulson's work on the second season of the anthology series was just as impressive as Lange's, so we may be seeing these two leading performers duke it out in the top race just like Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton did last year for "Hatfields and McCoys."
Find out which ladies will make the cut in the Movie/Miniseries Actress race when Emmy nominations are revealed July 18. The 65th Primetime Emmys will air on CBS Sept. 22.
"American Horror Story" was re-classified as a miniseries because the storyline and characters are totally different each season. It was nominated for Best Movie/Miniseries in 2012, losing to "Game Change," but Jessica Lange won Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actress. In 2013, James Cromwell won Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor. In 2014, winners were Lange (again) and Kathy Bates.
Text: Chris Beachum
Click arrow to right of photo to see how 15 other show fared at the Emmys.