“I think he’s undeniable, frankly,” Tony Ruiz says about Darren Criss in a video slugfest with me and our fellow Gold Derby contributors Charles Bright, Zach Laws and Amanda Spears on the Emmy race for Best Movie/Mini Actor (watch above). Laws agrees: “’The Assassination of Gianni Versace’ is the front-runner to win Limited Series. He really does carry that show on his shoulders and he is really, really good in it.”
But Laws concedes that Criss could be vulnerable because “Andrew Cunanan is a profoundly unlikable character. Much to the credit of the show, they don’t try to offer up psychobabble analysis to try to explain why it is that he killed these five innocent people other than the fact that he was a raging narcissist with delusions of grandeur.” But that unflinching portrayal could be a liability if voters want to vote for someone more huggable.
So if there is an upset due to how unsavory Criss’s character is, Laws argues that the one to watch for is “probably the person who’s playing the most likable character” imaginable: John Legend as the title character in “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Laws reminds us that the live musical “really did over-perform in the Emmy nominations, especially in the acting categories” where Sara Bareilles and Brandon Victor Dixon also earned supporting nominations.
Legend isn’t the only plausible challenger to Criss. There’s also Jesse Plemons. “He’s someone who’s just accumulated a lot of goodwill over the years,” Bright says, which is why both he and Ruiz have Plemons in their runner-up position for the “Black Mirror” episode “USS Callister.” Bright adds, “It was very well regarded. Plemons is someone who has been on the Emmy radar: he was nominated a couple years ago for ‘Fargo.’ And of course he was on those last couple of seasons of ‘Breaking Bad’ … His star is just really rising.”
But I am actually predicting an upset for Benedict Cumberbatch. Laws admits, “Cumberbatch in ‘Patrick Melrose’ is a much more, on its face, Emmy-friendly performance from somebody who has already won an Emmy in an upset.” But for Ruiz, “the big question is how many people actually watched it,” since the ratings for “Patrick Melrose” were a fraction of those for “Versace.” But the viewers that matter are the ones in the TV academy, who liked the limited series enough to nominated it five times.
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before winners are announced on September 17. Be sure to also predict winners for the Creative Arts ceremonies slated for September 8 and 9. And join in the debate taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.