Emmys 2019 Predictions: Best Actor in a Drama Series

Updated June 10, 2019
7 min read

Not much unlike last year, unsurprisingly so, the race this year too is going to be squarely set between major characters from returning shows, fact being that most of them have already secured nominations before in the same roles. The only big shakeup I see from last year’s lineup is that the winner from 2018, an incredible Matthew Rhys won’t be returning this year, with ‘The Americans’ having aired its final season last year.

Westworld’ was another popular show, also an award circuit favourite that won’t be returning within the eligibility window for this year, with the next season scheduled for 2020, thus rendering Jeffrey Wright and Ed Harris ineligible too. The other major shakeup I expect is from ‘Game of Thrones’, that is increasingly getting difficult to predict given its almost decade long tryst with the Emmys and given how its final season has turned out. Nothing is for certain even now, but the show might finally be looking to have a nomination in the lead actor category.

While we discuss the individual strength of all these nominees as we read about them in the following writeup, I honestly think that the nominations have little to no chance of landing up outside this bracket. Predicting winners, however, will be a completely different ballgame altogether. You see, the thing with uniformly good performances over years is that you surely know who is going to be running in the race. However, when it comes to deciding the winner, everyone would then seem to have a worthy claim or a plausible shot at the title. That being said, read on to find out our predictions for the best actor nominations for a Drama series at the Emmys 2019.

7. Kit Harington, Game of Thrones

Perhaps the one character on the show who I felt was done the most injustice too, given his rise to prominence over the course of seven seasons, even being brought from the dead, to have his story arc culminate into frustratingly, nothing. Before the series aired, Harington appeared on virtually all lists that predicted the talented actor finally grabbing a nomination for male star headlining the show, but to be fairly honest, the script wasn’t the only major letdown from this season: Harington and his character were too. Even a nomination seems to have slid down the charts for now, but I am not going to completely rule one out.

6. Brian Cox, Succession

WIth Kit Harington’s sure shot nomination in the kitty earlier, I wasn’t so sure about this one, but now since that slot has opened up, a nomination shouldn’t be a question for Brian Cox for playing the patriarch in ‘Succession’, due for a second season renewal this year. Its first season, while not exactly a home run either, proved to be right among the top for HBO’s excellent slate of shows. Plus, the show remained largely snubbed at the Golden Globes last year. While that is mostly an indication of a show’s fate at the Emmys, ‘Succession’ might just make a comeback and this would seem like a plausible route rather than aiming for the major one. This is to show he might still be in the race and that it might be too soon to write off a nomination for him at least.

5. Jason Bateman, Ozark

If there is one thing that doesn’t look to change for Netflix’s atmospheric drama, it is that it’s seriously got Jason Bateman going for it. As with its first season, while the plot of the series itself may have repeatedly faltered and picked up, Bateman (and co-star Laura Linney) have managed to turn in consistently engaging performances, and I can comfortably and fairly predict a nomination for both, especially for Bateman who has also served the show in multiple capacities including director for a handful of episodes and executive producer for the series. However, though the second season may have turned out to be slightly better in my opinion than the first, when it comes to who wins, Netflix will have to put in some serious muscle behind Bateman if they need to secure a win.

4. Richard Madden, Bodyguard

Richard Madden’s big win at the Golden Globes last year has not only sealed a nomination call for him at the Emmys, it has also astronomically upped his chances for an actual shot at the coveted title. The British espionage drama has earned rave reviews but was mostly seen as populist affair until it sweeped major nominations at nearly all award shows, surprising virtually everyone, including me. Now that ‘Bodyguard’ seems to have made a place in the awards circuit for itself, I fully expect BBC and its American streaming partner Netflix to put up a strong campaign. A Golden Globe win is no small feat as has been shown by trends over the years.

3. Billy Porter, Pose

The series ended a glorious run in the second half of 2018, just when the official Emmys bracket opened up, and has been renewed for a second season that is due to air later this year. Billy Porter who I am all praises for garnered major praise for his portrayal of Pray Tell, and earned nominations at the Golden Globes and the Critic’s choice awards. That alone should seal his fate for a nomination that is almost guaranteed given how well the show is fairing and how well his performance has already been received, with nothing but praises. The show’s resounding message of love and inclusiveness, that has been unanimously lauded is also bound to work favourably for the show in all categories.

2. Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

As the series draws closer to tying ends with ‘Breaking Bad’, the excellent spin off series that recently wrapped up its fourth season and is looking to return for a fifth within another year is surely looking to spice things up as things grow more intense and the performances tight. However, when it comes to awards, there is no doubt that the show has a lack of them, but there is perhaps no greater disservice to the lore of ‘Breaking Bad’ and to Jimmy McGill that Bob Odenkirk has been nominated every single year that he has played the character for the series for both the Golden Globes and the Emmys, but hasn’t since won a single honour of the two. Maybe, just maybe, before the series looks to wrap things up, it might finally be time for the TV Academy to honour the actor for his impeccably cunning portrayal of Jimmy McGill before the legend began. This year too, while a nomination is guaranteed, a win may completely depend on a battle royale of sorts in the end, with no clear winner in sight as of now.

1. Sterling K. Brown, Milo Ventimiglia. This is Us

This will not be the first time two co-stars from the same show are put together in the bidding for the same category. The two have previously fared off against each other for ‘This is Us’ in 2017, and the face off saw Sterling K. Brown pick up the Emmy for his stellar performance as Randall Pearson. Brown is also a serious, serious contender when it comes to who would actually get to pick the trophy, and his 2017 Emmy win would seem to cement that. Milo Ventimiglia on the other hand, television’s perfect husband and gentleman, might have failed to secure a nomination last time, but looks on track to at least get one this year.

I would pitch this one as a classic heart vs. mind scenario. While I can almost vouch for a nomination for both given the series’ excellent close of its third season not too long ago, it would make more sense to wager on the side of Sterling K. Brown to win, given his earlier win at the Emmys and a recent clear-out at the Golden Globes. However, that would be the mind side of it, terming what would exactly be logical and perhaps plausible as well. The heart though, would want Ventimiglia to pick the trophy up once. We’ll have to wait until September to find out for sure.

Read More in Emmy Predictions:

Best Drama Series | Best Limited Series | TV MovieBest Comedy Series

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