This Emmy Expert says Stephan James (‘Homecoming’) is a bigger contender than we’re giving him credit for

Our Emmy odds have consistently placed Amazon’s drama series “Homecoming” among the strong contenders for Best Drama Series, Best Drama Actress (Julia Roberts) and Best Drama Supporting Actor (Bobby Cannavale). But might we be underestimating Stephan James for his role as a traumatized soldier? As of this writing one of the Expert journalists we’ve surveyed is going out on a limb for him to be nominated for Best Drama Actor.

Glenn Whipp (LA Times) is currently predicting that James will pick up his first career bid. The actor stars as Walter Cruz, who returns from his military service with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and tries to process those experiences in a mysterious, experimental facility run by a well-meaning counselor (Roberts). But there’s more to the facility than meets the eye.

The 25-year-old James isn’t as well known as his co-stars Roberts and Cannavale, but that’s quickly changing. In addition to “Homecoming” last fall, he starred in Barry Jenkins‘s Oscar-winning film “If Beale Street Could Talk.” That one-two punch helped him secure a Golden Globe nomination earlier this year (Best TV Drama Actor for “Homecoming”), though he lost that prize to Richard Madden (“Bodyguard”), who is also now gunning for his first Emmy bid.

Sometimes it pays to be a breakthrough star — especially a breakthrough star on a Sam Esmail show. Esmail developed “Homecoming” for television from a narrative podcast of the same name, and he directed every episode of the first season. Before this he created the USA cyber-thriller “Mr. Robot,” which made a star out of Rami Malek and won him an Emmy for Best Drama Actor, the same race James is vying for now. And Malek went on to win an Oscar just a few years later, so perhaps Esmail’s magic touch will rub off on James too.

Possibly the biggest challenge for James will be the fact that his performance is relatively understated, lacking the grandiose spectacle of past winners like James Spader (“The Practice” and “Boston Legal”), Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) and Jeff Daniels (“The Newsroom”). But the Emmys have embraced traumatized soldiers before (Damian Lewis won this award for “Homeland”), and in the last few years this category has skewed towards subtler, more internal performances: Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) won in 2015, Malek in 2016 and Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”) in 2018.

But before James can win, he has to be nominated. Do you agree with Glenn Whipp that he’ll make the cut?

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 nominations are announced on July 16. And join in the fun debate over the 2019 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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