Emmy Predictions: Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie – Julia Roberts’ Star Power Keeps Her Within Emmy Reach for ‘Gaslit’

Other notable contenders include Toni Collette, Viola Davis, Anne Hathaway, Lily James and Amanda Seyfried

Julia Roberts Gaslit Starz
Courtesy of Starz / Hilary Bronwyn Gayle
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Variety Awards Circuit section is the home for all awards news and related content throughout the year, featuring the following: the official awards predictions for the upcoming Oscars and Emmys ceremonies, curated by Variety senior awards editor Clayton Davis; Awards Circuit Column, a weekly analysis dissecting the trends and contenders by television editor Michael Schneider (for Emmys) and Davis (for Oscars); Awards Circuit Podcast, a weekly interview series with talent and an expert roundtable discussion; and Awards Circuit Video analyzes various categories and contenders by Variety's leading awards pundits. Variety's unmatched coverage gives its readership unbeatable exposure in print and online, as well as provide inside reports on all the contenders in this year's awards season races.

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UPDATED: June 23, 2022



Julia Roberts has two previous Emmy nominations to her credit – guest actress (drama) for “Law & Order” in 1999 and supporting actress (limited) for “The Normal Heart” in 2014. She was famously omitted in 2018 for her work in “Homecoming,” despite the mixed reviews. With Starz’s “Gaslit,” it remains to be seen how far her star power will take her in the race. As a well-established actress, she can muster the goodwill to get past many of the younger ingenues and newcomers in the conversation.

Fresh off winning her first Academy Award for best actress for her transformative work in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Jessica Chastain hopes to join the likes of Helen Mirren (Stephen Frears’ “The Queen” and HBO’s “Elizabeth I”), who won Oscars and Emmys in the same year. Her raw turn alongside Oscar Isaac in HBO’s “Scenes from a Marriage,” a remake of Ingmar Bergman’s limited series, is audacious as it is riveting, something the Academy can easily recognize.

British actress Lily James becomes Pamela Anderson in the Hulu limited series “Pam and Tommy,” which has her delivering her best career turn yet. Alongside Sebastian Stan, the two re-create one of the most controversial and highly publicized controversies in media history, and she owns every frame she inhabits. (Check out her full conversation on “Variety Actors on Actors” with Tom Hiddleston)

Australian actress Toni Collette is an Emmy winner for “United States of Tara,” who’s been delivering fantastic work for decades. Opposite Colin Firth in the HBO thrilling limited series “The Staircase,” she’s front and center in one of the most delicate turns yet. While a supporting actress submission may have been warranted (especially given the competition in the field), she has enough voters that respect her work in the TV Academy. Her well-reviewed turn in Netflix’s “Pieces of Her” also helps her.

Netflix has put a lot of resources behind “Maid,” their limited series that stars real-life mother and daughter Margaret Qualley and Andie MacDowell, and the former is the one agreed-upon bright spot for the show. She’s shown her range with feature turns like “Novitiate” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and her work is highly competitive in this stacked race.

It’s a transformation that captured the zeitgeist (and “SNL”), pushing two-time Emmy winner Julia Garner in the mix for a possible double-acting nom for “Inventing Anna,” along with her slam dunk gift to “Ozark,” another Netflix series. Her scenes with Emmy darling Anna Chlumsky are where she shines the brightest and could push her near the top.

Winning two Oscars for “Cold Mountain” and “Judy,” Renee Zellweger continues her comeback story with the Peacock miniseries, “The Thing About Pam.” While the show may not have broken out in a big way, there’s a lot of respect for her that could translate with her acting colleagues.

An Oscar-winner for “Les Miserables,” Anne Hathaway is the emotional anchor of the Apple TV+ limited series “WeCrashed,” which also stars Jared Leto. An Emmy winner for her voice work on an episode of “The Simpsons,” and with a big year ahead in film (including great work in James Gray’s “Armageddon Time”), she could charm her way to another Emmy nomination. (Check out her entire conversation on “Variety Actors on Actors” with Jeremy Strong)

Making her mark in films and television for decades, Jessica Biel stars and executive produces this chilling story about the murder of a housewife in Hulu’s late-breaking series “Candy.” With a fabulous cast that includes Melanie Lynskey and Pablo Schreiber, she continues to explore new and exciting characters for herself (i.e., “The Sinner”).

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Warner Bros.

Latina breakout Jenna Ortega delivers a raw and heartbreaking performance as a school shooting survivor in the HBO Max film “The Fallout” that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021. She’s adding more projects to her resume, and if enough TV Academy voters give the film a shot, she’s an undeniable shoo-in for her first Emmy nom.

A double threat this year at the Emmys, along with her lead actress comedy bid in “The Great,” another Hulu series, Elle Fanning, is on fire in her career. Also serving as an executive producer, the 24-year-old actress could be one of the youngest ever nominated, which would be warranted due to her turn as the controversial real-life figure.

As the phase one period progresses, Amanda Seyfried looks more like a runaway for this award for her work as the controversial pharmaceutical entrepreneur in the Hulu miniseries “The Dropout.” However, as the weeks continue, her voice inflections and commitment to her character could become the one concrete nomination (and maybe win?).

A few other potential surprises have been generating buzz the last few weeks, including Viola Davis and Michelle Pfeiffer (“The First Lady”) and Adrienne Warren (“Women of the Movement”). (Check out Davis’ entire conversation on “Variety Actors on Actors” with Samuel L. Jackson)

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 complete television awards season calendar is linked here.

2021 category winner: Kate Winslet, “Mare of Easttown” (HBO/HBO Max)


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Impeachment: American Crime Story “The Wilderness” Episode 10 (Airs Tuesday, November 9) — Pictured: Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky. CR: Tina Thorpe/FX
1 Amanda Seyfried “The Dropout” Hulu
2 Margaret Qualley “MAID” Netflix
3 Jessica Chastain “Scenes from a Marriage” HBO
4 Lily James “Pam and Tommy” Hulu
5 Toni Collette “The Staircase” HBO
6 Julia Roberts “Gaslit” Starz
7 Anne Hathaway “WeCrashed” Apple TV+
8 Julia Garner “Inventing Anna” Netflix
9 Elle Fanning “The Girl from Plainville” Hulu
10 Renée Zellweger “The Thing About Pam” NBC
11 Michelle Pfeiffer “The First Lady” Showtime
12 Viola Davis “The First Lady” Showtime
13 Jenna Ortega “The Fallout” HBO
14 Olivia Colman “Landscapers” HBO
15 Adrienne Warren “Women of the Movement” ABC
16 Jessica Biel “Candy” Hulu
17 Mackenzie Davis “Station Eleven” HBO
18 Claire Foy “A Very British Scandal” Amazon Prime Video
19 Julianne Moore “Lisey’s Story” Apple TV+
20 Beanie Feldstein “Impeachment: American Crime Story” FX
19 Isabel May “1883” Paramount+
21 Nicole Kidman “Roar” Apple TV+
22 Merritt Wever “Roar” Apple TV+
24 Emmy Rossum “Angelyne” Peacock
25 Sarah Paulson “Impeachment: American Crime Story” FX
26 Wunmi Mosaku “We Own This City” HBO
27 Jennifer Aniston “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘The Facts of Life’ and ‘Diff’rent Strokes'” ABC
28 Rosario Dawson “DMZ” HBO
29 Jenny Slate “I Want You Back” Amazon Prime Video
30 Taraji P. Henson “Annie Live!” NBC
Adriana Barraza “Bingo Hell” Amazon Prime Video
Alison Brie “Roar” Apple TV+
Alison Oliver “Conversations with Friends” Hulu
Allison Tolman “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘The Facts of Life’ and ‘Diff’rent Strokes'” ABC
Amber Riley “Single Black Female”
Ana Gasteyer “A Clüsterfünke Christmas”
Ariana Guerra “Madres” Amazon Prime Video
Asjha Cooper “Black as Night” Amazon Prime Video
Auli’l Cravalho “Crush” Hulu
Barbara Hershey “The Manor” Amazon Prime Video
Betty Gabriel “Clickbait”
Betty Gilpin “Roar” Apple TV+
Claire Danes “The Essex Serpent” Apple TV+
Cynthia Erivo “Roar” Apple TV+
Diana Silvers “Birds of Paradise” Amazon Prime Video
Ebonée Noel “The King of Napa”
Emily Beecham “The Pursuit of Love” Amazon Prime Video
Fivel Stewart “Roar” Apple TV+
Gabrielle Union “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘The Facts of Life’ and ‘Diff’rent Strokes'” ABC
Geraldine Viswanathan “Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail”
Gillian Anderson “The First Lady” Showtime
Grace Kaufman “The Sky is Everywhere” A24/Apple TV+
Gugu Mbatha-Raw “The Girl Before” HBO
Heather Locklear “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: The Kristine Carlson Story”
Issa Rae “Roar” Apple TV+
Jane Levy “Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas” The Roku Channel
Joanne Froggatt “Angela Black”
Justina Machado “Switched Before Birth”
Kate Beckinsale “Jolt” Amazon Prime Video
Kate McKinnon “Joe vs. Carole” Peacock
Kate Siegel “Midnight Mass” Netflix
Kathryn Hahn “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘The Facts of Life’ and ‘Diff’rent Strokes'” ABC
Kelly Hu “List of a Lifetime”
Kiernan Shipka “Swimming with Sharks”
Kim Fields “Adventures In Christmasing”
Kristen Bell “The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window” Netflix
Kristine Froseth “Birds of Paradise” Amazon Prime Video
Kyle Richards “The Housewives of the North Pole”
L. Scott Caldwell “Bingo Hell” Amazon Prime Video
Lily James “The Pursuit of Love” Amazon Prime Video
Lisa Michelle Cornelius “A Sisterly Christmas”
Lola Kirke “The Premise” FX
Lucy Boynton “Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?” BritBox
Meera Syal “Roar” Apple TV+
Melissa Joan Hart “Mistletoe in Montana”
Meredith Thomas “The Wrong Blind Date”
Mika Abadalla “Sex Appeal”
Nicole Ari Parker “Safe Room”
Noree Victoria “Unfinished”
Raven Goodwin “Single Black Female”
Reba McEntire “Reba McEntire’s Christmas in Tune”
Rosa Salazar “Brand New Cherry Flavor”
Rowan Blanchard “Crush” Hulu
Samara Weaving “The Valet”
Sienna Miller “Anatomy of a Scandal” Netflix
Skyler Samuels “Switched Before Birth”
Sydney Sweeney “The Voyeurs” Amazon Prime Video
Tia Mowry “Miracle in Motor City”
Toni Braxton “Fallen Angels Murder Club: Friends to Die”
Verónica Echegui “Book of Love” Amazon Prime Video
Zoe Kazan “Clickbait”

AWARDS CATEGORY HISTORY (Lead Actress Limited Series)

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: Helen Mirren has the most wins in this category with four – “Prime Suspect: The Scent of Darkness” (1995), “The Passion of Ayn Rand” (1999), “Elizabeth I” (2005) and “Prime Suspect: The Final Act” (2006). Patty Duke and Laura Linney each have the second most with three.

For nominations: Helen Mirren is the most nominated actress in this category with 10. Judy Davis and Jessica Lange are second with seven each.

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.