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Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Emmys ceremonies from film awards editor Clayton Davis. Following history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Emmy predictions are updated regularly with the current year's list of contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. The eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and is subject to change.

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(DRAFT>>>PRE-SEASON>>>REGULAR SEASON>>>POST SEASON)

2021 EMMYS PREDICTIONS:
OUTSTANDING LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES

UPDATED: Jun 3, 2021

AWARDS PREDICTION COMMENTARY: Aretha Franklin is a beloved figure and National Geographic has demonstrated a smart ability to navigate the Emmys with the “Genius” anthology series, picking up nominations for both of its first two installments, “Einstein” and “Picasso.” Under the rule of Cynthia Erivo, who shines amazingly, “Genius: Aretha” could slide its way into a field that is very competitive and produce a Top 5 that could be within votes of one another.

Only Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins could make the worst moments of our history look so beautiful. That’s what we get in “The Underground Railroad” when he continues to work with his holy trinity of collaborators including cinematographer James Laxton, composer Nicholas Britell and editor Joi McMillon. Additionally, he gifts the world Thuso Mbedu as Cora, which mimics the coming of Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave.” Amazon has the eye on the prize with this adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s beloved novel and, with a savvy enough campaign, the limited series could go the distance. Let’s just hope enough voters give it the full consideration it deserves and watch the entire series.

The critically acclaimed “The Queen’s Gambit” has steamrolled through the televised award shows thus far, picking up wins from the Golden Globes and Critics Choice ceremonies, with a major prize for star Anya Taylor-Joy at the SAG Awards (They don’t have a cast ensemble category for limited series). Momentum matters, and Netflix still may be able to build upon those accolades at the Emmys.

The “Mare of Easttown” finale was one of the biggest events of television this year. Star and Emmy winner Kate Winslet turned in one of the finest acting portrayals of her already esteemed career, but is helped by the cast that surrounds her, most notably Julianne Nicholson and Jean Smart. This could be one of the category’s dark horses.

Steve McQueen’s acclaimed “Small Axe” was so loved by critics, that even film associations gave their top prize including the prestigious LAFCA. Hopefully not muddied with that messaging, the series is still in the thick of the race and could plead its case for its historical richness and stellar performances throughout, most notably John Boyega, Shaun Parkes and Letitia Wright.

The eligibility period ends on May 31 before nomination-round voting begins on June 17, concluding on June 28. The Primetime Emmy nominations will be announced on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.


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Mare of Easttown
Kate Winslet
Credit: Michele K. Short/HBO
Courtesy of Michele K. Short/HBO

AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE:

  1. "The Underground Railroad" (Amazon Prime Video)
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    Executive producers: Barry Jenkins, Adele Romanski, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner (May 14, 2021 release date)

    CREATOR: Barry Jenkins
    SYNOPSIS: A young woman named Cora makes an amazing discovery during her attempt to break free from slavery in the deep south.
    STARRING: Thuso Mbedu, Chase W. Dillon, Aaron Pierre, Joel Edgerton, Justice Leak, Damon Herriman, William Jackson Harper, Amber Gray, Jim Klock, Lily Rabe, Lucius Baston, Fred Hechinger, Owen Harn, Bri Collins, Will Poulter, Peter Mullan, Sheila Atim, Peter De Jersey, Chikwudi Iwuji, Irone Singleton, Mychai-Bella Bowman, Marcus "MJ" Gladney Jr, Benjamin Walker


  2. "The Queen's Gambit" (Netflix)
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    Executive producers: William Horberg, Allan Scott, Scott Frank, Marcus Loges, Mick Aniceto (Oct. 23, 2020)

    CREATOR: Scott Frank, Allan Scott
    SYNOPSIS: Orphaned at the tender age of nine, prodigious introvert Beth Harmon discovers and masters the game of chess in 1960s USA. But child stardom comes at a price.
    STARRING: Anya Taylor-Joy, Bill Camp, Moses Ingram, Isla Johnston, Christiane Seidel, Rebecca Root, Chloe Pirrie, Akemnji Ndifornyen, Marielle Heller, Harry Melling, Patrick Kennedy, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Marcin Dorociński


  3. "Mare of Easttown" (HBO)
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    Executive producers: Paul Lee, Mark Roybal, Craig Zobel, Kate Winslet, Brad Inglesby, Gavin O'Connor, Gordon Gray (Apr. 18, 2021)

    CREATOR: Brad Ingelsby
    SYNOPSIS: A detective in a small Pennsylvania town investigates a local murder while trying to keep her life from falling apart.
    STARRING: Kate Winslet, Julianne Nicholson. Jean Smart, Angourie Rice, David Denman, Neal Huff, Guy Pearce, Cailee Spaeny, John Douglas Thompson, Joe Tippett, Evan Peters, Sosie Bacon, James McArdle


  4. "Small Axe" (Amazon Prime Video)
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    Executive producers: Steve McQueen, Tracey Scoffield, David Tanner, Lucy Richer, Rose Garnett (Nov. 15, 2020 release date)

    CREATOR: Steve McQueen
    SYNOPSIS: "Small Axe" is based on the real-life experiences of London's West Indian community and is set between 1969 and 1982.
    STARRING: Letitia Wright, John Boyega, Malachi Kirby, Shaun Parkes, Rochenda Sandall, Alex Jennings, Jack Lowden, Micheal Ward


  5. "I May Destroy You" (HBO)
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    Executive producers: Michaela Coel, Phil Clarke, Roberto Troni, Sam Miller, Jo McLellan (June 7, 2020)

    CREATOR: Michaela Coel
    SYNOPSIS: The question of sexual consent in contemporary life and how, in the new landscape of dating and relationships, we make the distinction between liberation and exploitation.
    STARRING: Michaela Coel, Weruche Opia, Paapa Essiedu, Marouane Zotti, Stephen Wright, Adam James, Natalie Walter, Aml Ameen, Lara Rossi, Ann Akin, Chin Nyenwe, Lewis Reeves, Sarah Niles, Mariah Gale, Rebecca Calder, Andi Osho


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Aretha Franklin, played by Cynthia Erivo, performs at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. (Credit: National Geographic/Richard DuCree) Courtesy of National Geographic

NEXT IN LINE CONTENDERS:

  1. "WandaVision" (Disney Plus)
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    Executive producers: Kevin Feige, Louis D'Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Matt Shakman, Jac Shaeffer (Jan. 15, 2021)

    CREATOR: Jac Schaeffer
    SYNOPSIS: Blends the style of classic sitcoms with the MCU, in which Wanda Maximoff and Vision - two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives - begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.
    STARRING: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Debra Jo Rupp, Fred Melamed, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Randall Park, Kat Dennings, Evan Peters


  2. "The Good Lord Bird" (Showtime)
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    Executive producers: Jason Blum, Ethan Hawke, Mark Richard, Padraic McKinley, Albert Hughes, Jeremy Gold, Marci Wiseman, James McBride, Brian Taylor, Ryan Hawke, David Schiff, Marshall Persinger (Oct. 4, 2020)

    CREATOR: Ethan Hawke
    SYNOPSIS: Ethan Hawke stars as abolitionist John Brown in this series based on the novel. "Onion" is a fictional enslaved boy who becomes a member of Brown's family of abolitionist soldiers and finds himself in the 1859 raid at Harpers Ferry.
    STARRING: Ethan Hawke, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Beau Knapp, Nick Eversman, Ellar Coltrane, Jack Alcott, Mo Brings Plenty, Daveed Diggs, Joshua Caleb Johnson


  3. "It's a Sin" (HBO Max)
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    Executive producers: Russell T. Davies, Nicola Shindler, Phil Collinson (Jan. 22, 2021)

    CREATOR: Russell T. Davies
    SYNOPSIS: A chronicle of four friends during a decade in which everything changed, including the rise of AIDS.
    STARRING: Olly Alexander, Omari Douglas, Callum Scott Howells, Lydia West, Nathaniel Curtis


  4. "The Undoing" (HBO)
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    Executive producers: Celia Costas, Stephen Garrett, Bruna Papandrea, Per Saari, Nicole Kidman, David E. Kelley, Susanne Bier (Apr. 30, 2021)

    CREATOR: David E. Kelley
    SYNOPSIS: A modern twist to a classical "whodunnit" tale, when the life of a wealthy New York therapist turns upside down after she and her family get involved with a murder case.
    STARRING: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Édgar Ramírez, Noah Jupe, Lily Rabe, Matilda De Angelis, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Edan Alexander, Michael Devine, Donald Sutherland


  5. "Genius: Aretha" (National Geographic)
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    Executive producers: Rachel Shane, Jeff Cooney, Sam Sokolow, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Francie Calfo, Ken Biller, Chris Cooney, Alan Sam Polsky, Gabe Polsky, John Valentine, Clive Davis (March 21, 2021)

    CREATOR: Suzan-Lori Parks
    SYNOPSIS: The life stories of history's greatest minds. From their days as young adults to their final years we see their discoveries, loves, relationships, causes, flaws and genius.
    STARRING: Cynthia Erivo, Malcolm Barrett, Patrice Covington, Rebecca Naomi Jones, David Cross, Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Shaian Jordan, Courtney B. Vance


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(L-R): Hunter Doohan as Adam Desiato and Bryan Cranston as Michael Desiato in YOUR HONOR, “Part Two”. Photo Credit: Skip Bolen/SHOWTIME. Skip Bolen/SHOWTIME

ALL AWARDS CONTENDERS (UNRANKED):

AWARDS CATEGORY HISTORY (Best Limited or Anthology Series)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known simply as the Emmys, is television’s most prestigious artistic award. There are many records held for both wins and nominations in the near eight decades.

This category has continually undergone rule changes and inceptions over the years, making it misleading to account for significant historical wins and nominations. “Prime Suspect” has the most wins in this category with three, while “American Crime Story” is right behind with two. The former also has the most nominations for a continuing series with five, while “American Horror Story” is close behind with four.

Since the beginning of this category in 1973, HBO has the most wins in this category with 11, with NBC and PBS close behind with 10. No streaming platform has yet to win this category.


2021 Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

About the Primetime Emmy Awards (Emmys)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known as the Emmys, is given out by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Since 1949, the awards recognize 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 73rd Emmy Awards are scheduled to air on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8:00 pm est on CBS and on-demand on sister streamer Paramount Plus.