Oscar winners Al Pacino and Michael Douglas battle for Movie/Mini Actor Emmy

According to early Gold Derby polling, Al Pacino and Michael Douglas — two of the most well-known actors working today — are about to duke it out mano a mano for Emmy gold.

In the controversial Emmy race for Movie/Miniseries Actor, these two Oscar winners lead the pack. This year, in an effort to decrease the number of Emmy categories, the television academy is combining Lead and Supporting performances for the longform races. (Also read our analysis of the corresponding Movie/Miniseries Actress race.)

Pacino has a perfect track record at the Emmys, going two-for-two in the Movie/Mini Lead Actor category. His first trophy came in 2004 for “Angels in America” and he won more recently in 2010 for “You Don’t Know Jack.” Just like those two performances, his new titular role in the biopic “Phil Spector” comes from HBO Films. Will his third collaboration with the pay-cabler result in yet another Emmy for this one-time Oscar champ (Best Actor, “Scent of a Woman,” 1992)?

His closest competition this year is Douglas, who despite his sprawling career is oddly overdue for an Emmy award. Having lost all four of his Emmy nominations, including most recently for a guest stint on “Will & Grace,” Douglas can find comfort in his two Oscars: one for acting (“Wall Street,” 1987) and one for producing (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” 1975). Douglas recently survived his battle with cancer, so earning an Emmy for his comeback performance as Liberace in HBO’s “Behind the Candelabra” would be the perfect way for his peers to show their love and support.

While Pacino and Douglas sit comfortably in the top two spots, the other nominees will likely be made up of a selection of lesser-profile Lead and Supporting performances.

According to exclusive Gold Derby polling, Matt Damon is a safe bet to receive a nomination for starring alongside Douglas in “Behind the Candelabra.” Also likely to hear his name called on nomination morning is one-time nominee Benedict Cumberbatch from “Parades End,” whose miniseries “Sherlock” is sitting out this Emmy cycle due to its lengthy hiatus.

Toby Jones should receive a nod for portraying Alfred Hitchcock in “The Girl (HBO),” while Kenneth Branagh hopes to receive his second nomation for PBS’s returning miniseries “Wallander.”

Rounding out the list of possible contenders are two co-stars from “American Horror Story: Asylum“: veteran actor James Cromwell and relative newcomer Evan Peters.

Will any of these also-rans have a shot against frontrunners Pacino and Douglas? Find out who makes the cut in the Movie/Miniseries Actor race when Emmy nominations are revealed July 18. The 65th Primetime Emmys will air on CBS Sept. 22.

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