Emmy Predictions: Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie – Michael Keaton Leads the Pack for ‘Dopesick’

Other notable contenders include Sam Elliott, Andrew Garfield, Oscar Isaac, Joshua Jackson, Michael Keaton and Himesh Patel

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UPDATED: June 23, 2022



It’s a common occurrence that the contending lead actors from limited series are an endless well of talent. Unfortunately, per Emmy rules, we’re likely to see five nominees, which isn’t enough to recognize the depth of talent in this year’s Emmy race.

An actor with multiple works in the running, Sebastian Stan, who is off his snub for “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” has the Hulu movie “Fresh” to give in to the TV Academy’s appetite, but more so with his turn as Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee in the examination series, “Pam and Tommy,” also from the streamer. The commitment he displays (along with a talking “private part”) is one of the memorable turns from this year’s stacked arena, but he could sneak through. It should be noted that the performance is much more technically impressive in the way he chooses to assemble the character. It’s more proof that Stan is only improving as he continues in the business. (Check out Stan’s “Variety Actors on Actors” episode with Jennifer Aniston)

The fierce acting of Ben Foster has been palpable for decades, with awards-worthy work in countless films such as “3:10 to Yuma” (2007) and “Hell or High Water” (2016). However, as the only feasible possibility to represent a television movie, with Barry Levinson’s drama “The Survivor,” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, his work as boxer Harry Haft could bring him his first Emmy nom for a truly transformative performance.

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While Colin Firth has an Oscar for his work as King George in “The King’s Speech” (2010), the British star has only one Emmy nom to his credit for playing Stuckart in the 2001 tv movie “Conspiracy.” As murder suspect Michael Peterson in HBO’s late-dropping limited series “The Staircase,” he delivers one of the strongest performances of his career, one that could become the eventual category favorite.

A self-proclaimed passion project that he’s been trying to bring to the screen for years, Samuel L. Jackson pours his heart and soul into “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey.” With a sole Emmy nomination for an animated program (“Afro Samurai: Resurrection” in 2009) and fresh off his Honorary Oscar earlier this year, the love for one of the biggest blockbuster stars in history could be pronounced enough to push him past some more buzzy titles. (Check out Jackson’s full conversation on “Variety Actors on Actors” with Viola Davis)

Who can forget Michael Keaton’s heartbreaking acceptance speech after winning the SAG Awards for Hulu’s “Dopesick?” With the show already a leading contender for limited series, his work as Dr. Samuel Finnix could top any of his TV and film performances in history, giving his everything to a personal subject surrounding addiction in America. He’ll be tough to beat in this category.

One of the multiple examples of talented performers in our midst that should be a more prominent name in the biz, Himesh Patel, has exhibited great skill and passion with his choices in roles. There’s no better recent example than his work as Jeevan Chaudhary in HBO’s “Station Eleven,” which, if enough voters give their time, could surprise in many significant categories, including Patel.

An undervalued actor with over three decades of impressive performances in film and television, Joshua Jackson assembles one of his more complex acting turns in Peacock’s “Dr. Death.” While more of a longshot in this competitive field, his creation of Dr. Christopher Duntsch may produce a late-breaking swing that lands him in the lineup

Fresh off his second Oscar nomination for playing Jonathan Larson in “Tick, Tick … Boom!” (2021), Andrew Garfield takes on a religious and spiritual portrayal as Detective Jeb Pyre in the mystery-thriller “Under the Banner of Heaven” from FX. After dominating the box office, and his star reaching astronomical levels, he could pull a sweep a la Kate Winslet in “Mare of Easttown,” a similar feeling limited series. (Check out Garfield’s “Variety Actors on Actors” conversation with Zendaya)

What’s better than one Oscar Isaac project? Multiple Oscar Isaac projects, as the Latino star took over the Disney+ platform with the superhero hit “Moon Knight,” will keep him in the conversation for his incredible portrayal of a husband battling to save his marriage in the English remake “Scenes from a Marriage.” After his snub for “Show Me a Hero” in 2016, he’s owed his time in the spotlight by the TV Academy.

A chameleon for taking on characters, Jared Leto makes his long-awaited return to television after more than 25 years in the classic series “My So-Called Life,” playing WeWork founder Adam Newmann in the Apple limited series. With Emmy winner Anne Hathaway by his side, his transformation has been touted as one of his finest and could be memorable enough to stand out.

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 entire television awards season calendar is linked here.

2021 category winner: Ewan McGregor, “Halston” (Netflix)


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Courtesy of HBO
1 Michael Keaton “Dopesick” Hulu
2 Colin Firth “The Staircase” HBO
3 Andrew Garfield “Under the Banner of Heaven” FX
4 Jared Leto “WeCrashed” Apple TV+
5 Sam Elliott “1883” Paramount+
6 Sebastian Stan “Pam and Tommy” Hulu
7 Oscar Isaac “Scenes from a Marriage” HBO
8 Samuel L. Jackson “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey” Apple TV+
9 Himesh Patel “Station Eleven” HBO
10 Ben Foster “The Survivor” HBO
11 Liev Schreiber “Ray Donovan: The Movie” Showtime
12 Jon Bernthal “We Own This City” HBO
13 Joshua Jackson “Dr. Death” Peacock
14 Paul Bettany “A Very British Scandal” Amazon Prime Video
15 David Thewlis “Landscapers” HBO
16 Tom Hiddleston “The Essex Serpent” Apple TV+
17 Oscar Isaac “Moon Knight” Disney+
18 Will Ferrell “The Shrink Next Door” Apple TV+
19 Sean Penn “Gaslit” Starz
20 John Lithgow “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘The Facts of Life’ and ‘Diff’rent Strokes'” ABC
21 Rupert Friend “Anatomy of a Scandal” Netflix
22 Miles Teller “The Offer” Paramount+
23 Joseph Gordon-Levitt “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber” Showtime
24 Kevin Hart “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘The Facts of Life’ and ‘Diff’rent Strokes'” ABC
25 Jaden Michael “Colin in Black and White” Netflix
26 David Cronenberg “Slasher: Flesh & Blood” Shudder
27 William Jackson Harper “Love Life” HBO
28 Hamish Linklater “Midnight Mass” Netflix
29 Tony Goldwyn “The Hot Zone: Anthrax” National Geographic
30 Charlie Day “I Want You Back” Amazon Prime Video
Adrian Grenier “Clickbait”
Adrian Holmes “Adventures in Christmasing”
Anson Boon “Pistol” FX
Ben Platt “The Premise” FX
Damon Wayans “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘The Facts of Life’ and ‘Diff’rent Strokes'”
Daniel Dae Kim “The Premise” FX
Daniel Radcliffe “Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail”
Dulé Hill “Psych 3: This is Gus”
Eugenio Derbez “The Valet” Hulu
Iko Uwais “Fistful of Vengeance”
Isiah Whitlock Jr. “The Kings of Napa”
James Roday Rodriguez “Psych 3: This is Gus”
Jason MacDonald “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff: The Kristine Carlson Story”
John Cameron Mitchell “Joe vs. Carole” Peacock
John Schneider “Reba McEntire’s Christmas in Tune”
Jon Stewart “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘The Facts of Life’ and ‘Diff’rent Strokes'” ABC
Justice Smith “The Voyeurs” Amazon Prime Video
Kevin Hart “True Story” Netflix
Kristos Andrews “Killer in My Backyard”
Lewis Tan “Fistful of Vengeance”
Nik Sanchez “Safe Room”
Patrick M.J. Finerty “A Deadly Grudge”
Paul Rudd “The Shrink Next Door” Apple TV+
Sam Claflin “Book of Love”
Sean Bean “Time” BritBox
Sebastian Stan “Fresh” Hulu
Tenoch Huerta “Madres” Amazon Prime Video
Thomas Lennon “Reno 911!: The Hunt for QAnon”
Toby Wallace “Pistol” FX
Tom Riley “The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window” Netflix
Troye Sivan “Three Months”
Wendell Pierce “Don’t Hang Up”
Will Poulter “Why Didn’t The Ask Evans?” BritBox


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: This category has had many rule changes and inceptions in its history, but it's worth noting that Laurence Olivier has the most wins in this category, with four, with Peter Ustinov behind him with three.

For nominations: Hal Holbrook has the most nominations in this category of any actor with seven, while Benedict Cumberbatch and Laurence Olivier follow close behind with six 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.