Watch out, Darren Criss (‘Versace’)! The Emmy front-runner could be upset by Benedict Cumberbatch (‘Patrick Melrose’)

Darren Criss has been the Emmy front-runner for Best Movie/Mini Actor since we opened our predictions center in March. He has a showy starring role as real-life serial killer Andrew Cunanan in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” the second installment of Ryan Murphy‘s “American Crime Story” franchise. But later in the spring a challenger emerged who might be Criss’s biggest threat: Benedict Cumberbatch (“Patrick Melrose“).

As we approach the announcement of the Emmy nominations on July 12 Criss has leading odds of 10/3 based on the combined predictions of thousands of Gold Derby users. Among those users are 19 Expert journalists from top media outlets, 12 of whom agree with the consensus that Criss will win: Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Debbie Day (Rotten Tomatoes), Lynn Elber (Associated Press), Chris Harnick (E!), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly), Robert Rorke (New York Post), Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) and Ken Tucker (Yahoo).

Criss has no previous Emmy nominations for acting (he picked up a songwriting bid in 2015 for “Glee”), but that didn’t stop Riz Ahmed (“The Night Of”) from taking down a couple of Oscar winners in this category last year. And the last season of “American Crime Story,” “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” won this award just two years ago for its star Courtney B. Vance.

Based on our combined odds, Criss’s closest competition is Al Pacino (“Paterno”), who ranks second with 9/2 odds. But the Experts think the real dark horse is Cumberbatch for playing the title character in Showtime’s literary adaptation “Patrick Melrose.” It’s a meaty showcase for Cumberbatch, who gets to play a former child abuse victim struggling with addiction, and five Experts say it will be the ticket to an Emmy win: Eric Deggans (NPR), Joyce Eng (Gold Derby), Pete Hammond (Deadline Hollywood), Anne Thompson (IndieWire) and Ben Travers (IndieWire).

Cumberbatch is already an Emmy darling, with five nominations in this category over the last six years. One of those was for the miniseries “Parade’s End” (2013), and the other four were for playing the title role in “Sherlock” (2012, 2014, 2016, 2017). He won in 2014 for the episode “His Last Vow.”

In fact, if Cumberbatch earns a nom this year as we expect him to, he’ll tie the legendary Laurence Olivier as the second most nominated actor in this category’s history with six bids (Hal Holbrook is the all-time leader with seven). And if he wins he’ll be the 10th to claim this award more than once, joining other esteemed thespians including Anthony Hopkins, Peter Falk, and his possible 2018 rival Pacino.

So who do you think is really out front? Will Criss slay the competition, or will Cumberbatch get his fix?

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on July 12. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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