Of all the categories this year, Best Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries is the most uninspired due to a lack of competitive roles. The lack of nostalgia in this category is also the result of this category not having the competitive acting caliber of last year when FX’s Fargo and BBC’s Sherlock were nominated with Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton in a three-way competition with voters. This year seems to be a one-man race with David Oyelowo being the frontrunner with the HBO film, Nightingale. This is not without just reason since Oyelowo’s performance showcases his talents; Oyelowo is the sole actor in Nightingale since the film is an odyssey of the mind. His only real competition seems to be Richard Jenkins for his role in the voter-favorite contender, Olive Kitteridge. Jenkins performance is central to the four-part HBO miniseries, which will make it difficult for voters to miss him. Also working to Jenkin’s advantage is his being the sentimental vote in this category, with voters maybe seeking to remedy his never being nominated for his work in the former HBO show, Six Feet Under.
This leaves three wildcard slots in this category for voters to decide upon. If the voters want to honor FOX’s 24: Live Another Day to some capacity, nominating Kiefer Sutherland may be their tactic. Sutherland’s performance as “Jack Bauer” may be the last time television audiences see the tragic character, which may incite voters to honor Sutherland and the character one final time. The same sentiment could also be extended to Ricky Gervais and his sendoff of “Derek Noakes” in Derek: The Final Chapter, the TV film that concluded the brief Derek comedy series. Voters surprised everyone with their nomination of Gervais in the Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category last year, which may be replicated with voters offering a final show of appreciation for the Derek actor in this category, who also wrote and directed each of the show’s episodes. Additionally, Gervais being nominated is not outside the realm of reason, given that his show, Derek, has close to the same nomination trend as his former Showtime show, Extras, which had a two season run with a TV movie to conclude the series. With the Extras series finale movie, Emmy voters nominated Gervais for Lead Actor. It is very likely Emmy voters will replicate this sort of trend with Gervais again.
This category could also benefit those with name recognition, such as Bill Paxton with History channel’s Texas Rising or Adrian Brody with History channel’s Houdini. Brody also received a surprise SAG nomination for his “Harry Houdini” performance back in January, suggesting that voters may like the performance more than critics, whose reviews of both Brody and the miniseries were mixed. Brody is also experiencing a boom in his career after co-starring in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which places him in a good position to be nominated for his miniseries. Timothy Hutton also is experiencing a slight boom in his career with his performance in ABC’s American Crime, which was considered by many to be a sort of comeback performance for the actor. However, if Academy voters vote in the favor of nominated miniseries, Mark Rylance could be nominated for his work in Wolf Hall. Voters enjoy historical dramas and tend to award generously when they are done correctly, such as they did with 2005’s Elizabeth I miniseries and 2008’s John Adams miniseries. Rylance has been consistently praised in reviews and his not being nominated seems unlikely, especially if Wolf Hall is to be nominated as Best Limited Series. Yet the one performance who may be snubbed, yet is worthy of the nomination, is James Nesbitt’s dense and heartbreaking performance in the BBC miniseries, The Missing. Nesbitt’s chances are seemingly synced with how voters show appreciation for The Missing, which is unfortunately lacking.
Below are Dan’s predictions for Best Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Series:
1. David Oyelowo – “Nightingale”
2. Richard Jenkins – “Olive Kitteridge”
3. Mark Rylance – “Wolf Hall”
4. Ricky Gervais – “Derek: The Final Chapter”
5. Adrian Brody – “Houdini”
Spoiler: Kiefer Sutherland – “24: Live Another Day” or Bill Paxton – “Texas Rising”
Long Shot: James Nesbitt – “The Missing”