Emmy experts: Rami Malek (‘Mr. Robot’) gaining on Sterling K. Brown (‘This Is Us’) in Best Drama Actor race

While Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”) is our Emmy experts‘ pick to win Best Drama Actor, they also warn to watch out for last year’s champ Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”). Malek, who plays antisocial tech wiz Elliot Alderson on the USA drama, became one of the category’s youngest winners when he prevailed at the age of 35. But Brown is also a recent Emmy champ, winning last year in the limited series supporting race for “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” Which leading man will come out victorious?

Emmy Awards 2017

As of this writing 16 experts have entered their predictions at Gold Derby, and eight of them are backing Brown to win for playing breakout character Randall Pearson on NBC’s family drama. They are: Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly), Robert Rorke (New York Post), Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Ken Tucker (Yahoo) and Jarett Wieselman (Buzzfeed).

Malek comes in second place with four Emmy seers forecasting he will triumph again as Best Drama Actor: Bonnie Fuller (Hollywood Life), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby) and Adnan Virk (ESPN). In Malek’s favor is the fact that Emmy voters love to repeat in this category; in recent years Bryan Cranston, James Spader and James Gandolfini all won multiple trophies

Three pundits think that Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”) will win his first acting Emmy: Eric Deggans (NPR), Joyce Eng (TV Guide) and Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times). Odenkirk has two consecutive bids for playing Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman on the “Breaking Bad” spinoff, which is currently airing its third season on AMC. Prior to “Better Call Saul” Odenkirk was a two-time Emmy champ on the comedy side, sharing in wins for Best Variety Writing for “Saturday Night Live” (1989) and “The Ben Stiller Show” (1993).

And the final prognosticator — Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes) — stands alone in picking Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”) for the win. A surprise nominee last year, Rhys shouldn’t be a shocker this time around as “The Americans” is currently airing its fifth season to rave reviews on FX. If Emmy voters fall even harder for the topical Russian spy drama this year, Rhys could easily take home the gold for playing conflicted agent Philip Jennings.

None of the experts are currently predicting Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) to prevail, but almost all of them (11 out of 15) think he’ll be nominated again for playing the duplicitous President Underwood on the Netflix series. Spacey actually has a combined eight losses so far for “House of Cards”: four for Best Drama Actor and four for Best Drama Series as a producer. Will the fact that the new season debuts May 30, just one day before the Emmy cut-off date, help “House of Cards” and Spacey stay top-of-mind with voters?

Six journalists think that Billy Bob Thornton (“Goliath”) will earn an Emmy nomination for taking on the role of Billy McBride, a former high-powered attorney whose career makes an ugly turn. Thornton, a previous nominee for “Fargo” (2014), has a secret weapon for his new Amazon series: David E. Kelley. The veteran TV writer and producer has helped 30 different performers win Emmys over the past few decades, which bodes well for Thornton’s chances.

Liev Schreiber, a past Emmy contender for Best Movie/Mini Actor for “RKO 281” (2000), has earned back-to-back bids as Best Drama Actor for his work as the title character, a Hollywood fixer, on Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.” Six of our Emmy gurus predict a repeat nomination for Schreiber, perhaps thanks in part to the fact that the program is on the upswing with voters, as it won its first Emmy last year for Best Drama Guest Actor Hank Azaria.

Four Emmy pundits believe that Anthony Hopkins (“Westworld”) will earn a nom for playing Dr. Robert Ford, the puppet-master of the western theme park filled with humanistic robots. Remember, Hopkins is an Oscar champ for “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991), something that never hurts with TV academy voters as there is much cache to having an Oscar winner standing on the Emmy stage.

Rounding out their Top 10 picks, both Paul Giamatti (“Billions”) and Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”) have the support of three experts apiece to earn nominations. Giamatti is a former Emmy champ for “John Adams” (2008) and an Oscar nominee for “Cinderella Man” (2005), while this would be Ventimiglia’s first Emmy bid after years starring on TV shows like “Gilmore Girls” and “Heroes.”

Predict the Emmy nominees now; change them until July 13

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions. Weigh in now with your picks 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 nominees are announced on July 13. 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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