Donald Glover (“Atlanta“) is the frontrunner to win the Emmy for Best Comedy Actor. He’s close to a lock if you ask the 16 Experts we’ve polled from top media outlets, but is he really that far out front? This is his first bid in this category, and he’s up against a field of past Emmy winners and repeat nominees. So while our other prediction leagues agree that Glover is the favorite, they don’t think he has it quite so thoroughly locked up.
As of this writing 13 out of 16 Experts are picking Glover: Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly), Robert Rorke (New York Post), Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine), Anne Thompson (IndieWire), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Ken Tucker (Yahoo), Glenn Whipp (LA Times), and Jarett Wieselman (Buzzfeed).
But only three out of our seven Gold Derby Editors agree that Glover is the favorite: Rob Licuria, O’Neil, and myself. He’s also backed by fewer than half of our Top 24 Users (10 of them, to be exact) who got the highest scores predicting last year’s Emmy winners, though he has support from 15 of our All-Star Top 24 who got the highest scores when you combine the last two years’ Emmy predictions. So according to our predictions Glover is looking strong but not indomitable.
“Atlanta” premiered last fall to rapturous reviews, and during the winter awards season it received abundant support from the industry. Glover won two Golden Globes, two Writers Guild Awards, the Producers Guild Award for Best Comedy Series and a bid from the Directors Guild. So there’s every reason to expect the industry insiders in the TV academy to follow suit, especially after they nominated “Atlanta” for six Emmys including Best Comedy Series. Glover is nominated as a producer, and also as a writer and director for the episode “B.A.N.,” which brings his total nominations haul this year to four.
One Expert, Adnan Virk (ESPN) forecasts a third consecutive win for Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”), and he’s not alone. Our Editor Matt Noble is also picking the defending champ, and so are five of our Top 24, and six All-Stars.
We know that Emmy voters love Tambor, who has won this category twice and is nominated for the ninth time in his career. He could be hurt by the fact that “Transparent” dipped in its overall nominations this year, from 10 last year down to seven, and the TV academy dropped it from the Best Comedy Series lineup, but several actors won Emmys last year with far less support, including Tatiana Maslany (Best Drama Actress, “Orphan Black”) and Louie Anderson (Best Comedy Supporting Actor, “Baskets”), who were the sole nominees from their series. There’s also the fact that three-peats are rare. Though a number of actors have won three or more awards in this category, you have to go back to Michael J. Fox (“Family Ties”) from 1986-1988 to find an actor who has won in three consecutive years. However, that was under the old preferential voting system. A simple plurality vote was instituted in 2016, so the old trends may no longer apply.
Another Expert, Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), is predicting an upset victory for William H. Macy (“Shameless”). He’s also the one Editor picking Macy, but he’s also backed by three of our Top 24 and one All-Star. Macy is an Emmy favorite with two wins out of 12 past nominations, but he has yet to prevail for this role. This is his fourth consecutive nom in this category for the Showtime dramedy, and we know his acting peers like him in this role because he has won two Screen Actors Guild Awards in three years for it (2015, 2017).
Our last Expert, Eric Deggans (NPR), is giving the advantage to Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”), though none of our Editors or top users currently agree with him. Ansari contended last year as an actor, writer, director and producer for his Netflix comedy in its freshman year, and he won the writing award. This year he contends in all of the same categories except for directing, so in just two years he’s accumulated seven nominations. Now he’s looking for his first acting win.
But those aren’t the only contenders with a real shot to win. Though no Experts are forecasting Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”) at the moment, he’s got support from two of our Editors: Chris Beachum and Marcus James Dixon. Five of our Top 24 Users and two of our All-Stars also think this is Anderson’s time, so maybe the Experts should start to take notice. Anderson is nominated for the third year in a row, and he has five total nominations when you include his two bids for Best Comedy Series as a producer of “Black-ish.” It’s been a good season in general for the ABC sitcom, which received breakthrough nominations at the Golden Globe and SAG Awards in the winter.
Even surprise nominee Zach Galifianakis (“Baskets”) has support. He’s an underdog in this contest, but one of our Top 24 Users says he’s in it to win it. And he’s already won twice before, though not for his acting: he was awarded Best Short-Format Entertainment Program in 2014 and 2015 for his online talk show “Between Two Ferns.”
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.