Emmy Predictions: Lead Actor in a Drama Series – A Big Snub is Waiting in the Wings, But Who Will It Be?

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UPDATED: June 23, 2022

2022 EMMYS PREDICTIONS:
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

AWARDS PREDICTION COMMENTARY:

Voicing his villainous Thanos in the animated series, “What If…,” Josh Brolin has received best-in-show notices for his work as Royal Abbott in Amazon Prime Video’s inaugural series “Outer Range.” Gifted and respected in acting circles, he looks to nab his first Emmy if he can stay above the robust slate of contenders.

A former Emmy winner for another western, “Hatfields & McCoys” in 2012, Kevin Costner is part of the wave built for Paramount Network’s drama “Yellowstone,” which has been helped by the touch of Taylor Sheridan and his other limited series, “1883.” The Oscar-winner of “Dances with Wolves” stands a decent shot of landing in the field.

Being a two-time Emmy winner for “The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” and for the inaugural season for “This Is Us,” Sterling K. Brown is automatically in the running for the broadcast drama’s final season. In addition, he has been nominated for each of the seasons thus far, and until proven otherwise, he’s a familiar name that will indeed have checkmarks from the TV Academy.

Kendall Roy is embedded in our television soul, and that’s because Jeremy Strong gives his all to every character beat and scene he takes on. Already an Emmy winner for the second season of HBO’s “Succession,” along with a very publicly debated profile in the New Yorker (that rallied the community to support him), that respect has only grown and could catapult him to frontrunner status by the end of awards season.

HBO Succession S3 07.12.21 Italy 301 2pt Team lands in their 2 helos & get in vans Kriti Fitts – Photo Publicist kristi.fitts@warnermedia.com Succession S2 | Sourdough Productions, LLC Silvercup Studios East – Annex 53-16 35th St., 4th FloorLong Island City, NY 11101 Office: 718-906-3332 - Credit: Courtesy of Graeme Hunter/HBO
HBO Succession S3 07.12.21 Italy 301 2pt Team lands in their 2 helos & get in vans Kriti Fitts – Photo Publicist kristi.fitts@warnermedia.com Succession S2 | Sourdough Productions, LLC Silvercup Studios East – Annex 53-16 35th St., 4th FloorLong Island City, NY 11101 Office: 718-906-3332 - Credit: Courtesy of Graeme Hunter/HBO

Courtesy of Graeme Hunter/HBO

Logan Roy leads with an iron fist in HBO’s beloved drama series, and at the helm is veteran actor Brian Cox, who shockingly missed out on a nom for the first season. Hitting his stride in season three, the Emmy-winner (supporting actor limited series or movie for “Nuremberg” in 2001) looks to face off again with his co-star Strong, hoping not to split votes.

It’s a double dose of Tom Hiddleston with his limited series “The Essex Serpent,” but his better shot at an Emmy nom seems to be with his whimsical and much-loved “Loki” from Disney+. With a second season coming down the pike, the two-time Emmy nominee (for limited series and lead actor limited for “The Night Manager” in 2016) could surprise with his popularity in Hollywood.

It helps that “Severance” gives off some serious first season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” vibes, which became the first streaming show to win the TV Academy’s top prize. But, of course, that will only help star Adam Scott, who got a terrific start in comedy ventures but proved he’s more than chuckles as a man trying to piece together the mystery of his double life in the Apple TV+ series.

Jason Bateman, the acclaimed actor, director and producer, has an Emmy on his shelf for directing an episode of “Ozark” in 2018. In the final season, he could get caught in a narrative wave to give his and his co-star Laura Linney their overdue statuettes for their towering performances. Marty Byrde is now a staple in television history.

Winning the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild prizes, Lee Jung-jae has managed to blow past his more well-known competitors and deliver memorable speeches. With “Squid Game” likely to contend for the evening’s most coveted prize, outstanding drama series, the breakout star could get caught in a sweep that streamer Netflix demonstrated last year with “The Crown.” His directorial debut “Hunt” also premiered at Cannes, which certainly helps some.

The incredible Bob Odenkirk does have two Emmy Awards for writing (“Saturday Night Live” and “The Ben Stiller Show”). Still, his iconic portrayal of Jimmy McGill in AMC’s “Better Call Saul” has yet to get the proper recognition. With the first half of the final season in the books, and the second half set to air during final nomination voting, the charismatic star could get the Jon Hamm treatment and finally take home the Emmy prize.

Read moreVariety’s Awards Circuit Emmys Predictions Hub.

The nomination round of voting runs from June 16 to June 27. The official nominations for the 74th Emmy Awards will be announced Tuesday, July 12.

The list of programs and potential nominees listed below is incomplete and is subject to change. The full television awards season calendar is linked here.

2021 category winner: Josh O’Connor, “The Crown” (Netflix)

ALL AWARDS CONTENDERS AND RANKINGS:

. - Credit: Richard Foreman/Amazon Prime Video
. - Credit: Richard Foreman/Amazon Prime Video

Richard Foreman/Amazon Prime Video

AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE:

RANK

CONTENDER

SERIES

NETWORK

1

Jeremy Strong

“Succession”

HBO

2

Jason Bateman

“Ozark”

Netflix

3

Lee Jung-jae

“Squid Game”

Netflix

4

Kevin Costner

“Yellowstone”

Paramount Network

5

Josh Brolin

“Outer Range”

Amazon Prime Video

6

Bob Odenkirk

“Better Call Saul”

AMC

NEXT IN LINE

7

Brian Cox

“Succession”

HBO

8

Sterling K. Brown

“This Is Us”

NBC

9

Adam Scott

“Severance”

Apple TV+

10

Jamie Dornan

“The Tourist”

HBO

OTHER TOP-TIER CONTENDERS

11

Milo Ventimiglia

“This Is Us”

NBC

12

Gary Oldman

“Slow Horses”

Apple TV+

13

Tom Hiddleston

“Loki”

Disney+

14

John C. Reilly

“Winning Time: Rise of the Lakers Dynasty”

HBO

15

Quincy Isaiah

“Winning Time: Rise of the Lakers Dynasty”

HBO

16

Courtney B. Vance

“61st Street”

AMC

17

Jonathan Bailey

“Bridgerton”

Netflix

18

Chiwetel Ejiofor

“The Man Who Fell to Earth”

Showtime

19

Jeff Daniels

“American Rust”

Showtime

20

J.K. Simmons

“Night Sky”

Amazon Prime Video

ALSO IN CONTENTION

21

Michael C. Hall

“Dexter: New Blood”

Showtime

22

Bill Pullman

“The Sinner”

USA Network

23

Justin Hartley

“This Is Us”

NBC

24

Mike Colter

“Evil”

Paramount+

25

Minho Lee

“Pachinko”

Apple TV+

26

Albert Rutecki

“As We See It”

Amazon Prime Video

27

Christopher Meloni

“Law & Order: Organized Crime”

NBC

28

Paul Giamatti

“Billions”

Showtime

29

Billy Bob Thornton

“Goliath”

Amazon Prime Video

30

Patrick Stewart

“Star Trek: Picard”

Paramount+

UNRANKED CONTENDERS

Abubakar Salim

“Raised by Wolves”

HBO

Adam Demos

“Sex/Life”

Adan Canto

“The Cleaning Lady”

Fox

Adrien Brody

“Chapelwaite”

Epix

Alan Ritchson

“Reacher”

Amazon Prime Video

Alexander Dreymon

“The Last Kingdom”

Alexander Ludwig

“Heels”

Ami Ameen

“The Porter”

Ansel Elgort

“Tokyo Vice”

HBO

Anson Mount

“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds”

Paramount+

Anthony Anderson

“Law & Order”

NBC

Ashton Sanders

“Wu-Tang: An American Saga”

Hulu

Ben Schnetzer

“Y: The Last Man”

Billy Barrett

“Invasion”

Chase Stokes

“Outer Banks”

Chibuikem Uche

“One of Us is Lying”

Connor Jessup

“Locke & Key”

Netflix

Cooper van Grootel

“One of Us is Lying”

Corey Stoll

“Billions”

Showtime

Costa Ronin

“The Endgame”

Da’Vinchi

“BMF”

Damian Lewis

“Billions”

Showtime

Damson Idris

“Snowfall”

FX

Danny Mahoney

“Purgatory”

Daveed Diggs

“Snowpiercer”

TNT

David Ajala

“Star Trek: Discovery”

Paramount+

David Boreanaz

“SEAL Team”

Demetrius “Lil Meech” Flenory Jr.

“BMF”

Devale Ellis

“Sistas”

Ethan Peck

“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds”

Paramount+

Freddie Highmore

“The Good Doctor”

ABC

Harold Perrineau

“From”

Epix

Henry Cavill

“The Witcher”

Netflix

Hugh Dancy

“Law & Order”

Isaiah Hill

“Swagger”

J.D. Pardo

“Mayans M.C.”

FX

Jabari Banks

“Bel-Air”

Peacock

James Badge Dale

“Hightown”

James Spader

“The Blacklist”

NBC

Jared Padalecki

“Walker”

Jason Beghe

“Chicago P.D.”

Jason Isaacs

“Good Sam”

Jason Mamoa

“See”

Apple TV+

Jeremy Renner

“Mayor of Kingstown”

Paramount+

Jim Sturgess

“Home Before Dark”

Apple TV+

Jin Ha

“Pachinko”

Apple TV+

John Cho

“Cowboy Bebop”

Netflix

John Ortiz

“Promised Land”

Joseph Sikora

“Power Book IV: Force”

Starz

Justin Bruening

“Sweet Magnolias”

Justin Chatwin

“Another Life”

Kofi Siriboe

“Queen Sugar”

OWN

Kwame Patterson

“David Makes Man”

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs

“A House Divided”

Lee Pace

“Foundation”

Apple TV+

Lennie James

“Fear the Walking Dead”

AMC

Leo Suter

“Vikings: Valhalla”

LL Cool J

“NCIS: Los Angeles”

NBC

Luke Kleintank

“FBI: International”

Mamoudou Athie

“Archive 81”

Manuel Garcia-Rulfo

“The Lincoln Lawyer”

Netflix

Mark Harmon

“NCIS”

NBC

Martin Henderson

“Virgin River”

Matt Czuchry

“The Resident”

Matteo Cecchi

“My Brilliant Friend: Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay”

HBO

MeKai Curtis

“Power Book III: Raising Kanan”

Starz

Michael Dorman

“Joe Pickett”

Michael Rainey Jr.

“Power Book II: Ghost”

Starz

Mike Vogel

“Sex/Life”

Morgan Spector

“The Gilded Age”

HBO

Nathan Fillion

“The Rookie”

Nicholas Ralph

“All Creatures Great and Small (MASTERPIECE)”

Norman Reedus

“The Walking Dead”

AMC

O’Shea Jackson Jr.

“Swagger”

Apple TV+

Pablo Schreiber

“Halo”

Paramount+

Penn Badgley

“You”

Netflix

Peter Krause

“9-1-1”

Fox

Reno Wilson

“Good Girls”

Rick Glassman

“As We See It”

Amazon Prime Video

Rob Lowe

“9-1-1: Lone Star”

Fox

Romany Malco”

“A Million Little Things”

ABC

Ronnie Rowe Jr.

“The Porter”

Ryan Eggold

“New Amsterdam”

Sam Corlett

“Vikings: Valhalla”

Sam Heughan

“Outlander”

Starz

Samuel Anderson

“Another Life”

Samuel West

“All Creatures Great and Small (MASTERPIECE)”

Shamier Anderson

“Invasion”

Shawn Hatosy

“Animal Kingdom”

TNT

Shemar Moore

“S.W.A.T.”

Skyh Alvester Black

“Lace”

Stephen Amell

“Heels”

Steven Strait

“The Expanse”

Amazon Prime Video

Taylor Kinney

“Chicago Fire”

Temuera Morrison

“The Book of Boba Fett”

Disney+

Titus Welliver

“Bosch: Legacy”

Amazon Prime Video

Toby Kebbell

“Servant”

Apple TV+

Toby Stephens

“Lost in Space”

Netflix

Tom Blyth

“Billy the Kid”

Epix

Tom Ellis

“Lucifer”

Wes Chatham

“The Expanse”

Amazon Prime Video

Zackary Arthur

“Chucky”

Zeeko Zaki

“FBI”

AWARDS CATEGORY HISTORY (Lead Actor Drama)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known simply as the Emmys, is television's most prestigious artistic award. Many records have been held for wins and nominations in the near eight decades.

For wins: Bryan Cranston (AMC's "Breaking Bad") and Dennis Franz (ABC's "NYPD Blue") hold the record for the most wins in this category with four, with the former winning three consecutively and the latter two. Five actors have won three times -- Bill Cosby, Peter Falk, James Gandolfini, James Spader and Robert Young.

Four actors have been nominated in this category eight times - Raymond Burr, Peter Falk, Dennis Franz, and Jon Hamm. James Garner has the second most nods with seven. Michael C. Hall, Hugh Laurie, Martin Sheen and Kiefer Sutherland have the most nominations at six, without winning (although Sheen has won an Emmy for guest actor in a comedy series for "Murphy Brown" in 1994).

"NYPD Blue" has the leading series to have nominations in this category with 14, followed by "St. Elsewhere" at 10 and "Columbo," "Law & Order" and "Mad Men" at eight apiece.

2022 Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

2022 Creative Arts Emmys Predictions

About the Primetime Emmy Awards (Emmys)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known as the Emmys, are given out by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Since 1949, the awards have recognized excellence in American primetime television programming. They are divided into three classes - Primetime Emmy Awards, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards (honors artisan achievements), and the Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards (recognizes significant engineering and technological contributions). The typical eligibility period is between June 1 and May 31 of any given year. The Television Academy comprises over 25,000 members, representing 30 professional peer groups, including performers, directors, producers, art directors and various artisans and executives.

  • The 74th Emmy Awards will take place on Monday, Sept. 12, and air on NBC.

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