Emmy experts predict rising star Sterling K. Brown (‘This Is Us’) to win Best Drama Actor

Hey, Sterling K. Brown: Is your Emmy speech ready yet? The rising star of NBC’s family drama “This Is Us” is our Emmy experts‘ initial pick to win Best Drama Actor, just one year after he prevailed in the limited series supporting race for “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” Gold Derby’s savvy Emmy experts are drawn from some of the country’s most influential media outlets, most of whom cover television year-round.

As of this writing 15 experts have entered their picks at Gold Derby, and seven of them are backing Brown to win for playing breakout character Randall Pearson on the broadcast drama. They are: Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly), Robert Rorke (New York Post), Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Ken Tucker (Yahoo) and Jarett Wieselman (Buzzfeed). Amazingly, Brown would be the first black actor to prevail in this category in nearly two decades, since Andre Braugher (“Homicide: Life on the Street”) in 1998. Brown’s costar Milo Ventimiglia also has a bit of support, with four Emmy seers predicting he will earn a nomination.

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).

Emmy experts from major media outlets predict Best Drama Actor

Another trio of experts think the Emmys will repeat in this category, making it back-to-back triumphs for Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”): Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby) and Adnan Virk (ESPN). Malek, who plays antisocial tech wiz Elliot Alderson on the USA drama, became one of the category’s youngest winners when he prevailed last year at the age of 35. In his 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.

And the final two prognosticators think we’ll be toasting a victory to Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”): Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes) and Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby). 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, we could see a situation where Rhys actually wins for playing conflicted agent Philip Jennings.

Emmy experts are nearly unanimous that Donald Glover (‘Atlanta’) will win Best Comedy Actor

None of the experts are currently predicting Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) to prevail, but almost all of them (10 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?

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.

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Five experts 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.

Rounding out our experts’ picks, three of them 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.

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.

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