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Emmy Predictions, Limited Series & TV Movies: Where Movie Stars Come Out to Play

Contenders include ”Dopesick,“ ”The White Lotus“ and a whole lot of big stars


For years, the limited-series category has been the place to go to see big movie stars trying their hand with TV. And it’s no different this year, with strong contenders in the field including Oscar winners Jessica Chastain, Julia Roberts, Viola Davis, Colin Firth, Olivia Colman, Renee Zellweger and Jared Leto, and luminaries Samuel L. Jackson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Oscar Isaac, Michael Keaton, Andrew Garfield and more.

The Television Academy recognized the allure of the limited series category by making it the final award at last year’s ceremony, but Emmy rules still give the categories fewer nominees than the drama and comedy series fields. So we can expect more pitched battles here, even if a few limited series — “The White Lotus,” “Dopesick,” “The Dropout” — seem poised to completely dominate, particularly in the supporting actor and actress categories. 

Because the number of nominees varies depending on the number of entries in each category, we’ve also indicated just how many slots are available. In the event of ties, the number of nominees can change.

“The White Lotus” / HBO

Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series
Number of nominations: 5

In a year that feels as if many of the most notable television programs were limited series, it’s a shame that this category will only have five nominees. And there also seems to be a clear top 5: “Dopesick,” “The Dropout,” “Maid,” “The Staircase” and “The White Lotus.” But that would mean bypassing the likes of “Under the Banner of Heaven,” “Station Eleven,” “Gaslit,” “Inventing Anna,” “Pam and Tommy,” “We Own This City,” “Moon Knight,” “Scenes From a Marriage” and “The First Lady,” among many others. Could that really happen?

Well, yeah, it could. Here’s a category where we should all really hope for a tie that’ll at least expand the number of nominees to six.

Predicted nominees: “Dopesick,” “The Dropout,” “Maid,” “The Staircase,” “The White Lotus”

Watch out for: “Inventing Anna,” “1883,” “Under the Banner of Heaven”

Outstanding Television Movie
Number of nominations: 5

If the limited-series category is ridiculously robust, the TV-movie one feels far skimpier. Barry Levinson’s World War II drama “The Survivor,” which played the Toronto Film Festival last year as a theatrical feature before HBO picked it up, is the one sure nominee, followed by a lot of question marks. Two of the most high-profile contenders are animated features, Disney+’s “Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers” and Netflix’s horror anthology “The House,” but no animated film has ever been nominated in the category. Also in the running: indie features “The Sky Is Everywhere,” “The Fallout” (about a school shooting) and “Fresh;” TV spinoffs “Ray Donovan: The Movie” and “Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas;” and nothing with the usually reliable Dolly Parton or Oprah Winfrey in the title. (Can “Reba McEntire’s Christmas in Tune” fill the Dolly gap?) 

Predicted nominees: “The Fallout,” “The House,” “Ray Donovan: The Movie,” “The Sky Is Everywhere,” “The Survivor”

Watch out for: “Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers,” “Fresh,” “Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas”

andrew garfield under the banner of heaven
Andrew Garfield in “Under the Banner of Heaven” / ©FX on Hulu

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie
Number of nominations: 6

With “Dopesick” premiering last October, Michael Keaton has already won SAG, Critics Choice and Golden Globe Awards for his performance as a doctor who becomes addicted to opioids, and he’s an Emmy favorite as well. Andrew Garfield and Colin Firth are right behind for the late-breaking “Under the Banner of Heaven” and “The Staircase,” respectively, and from there the field is wide open. Jared Leto and Sebastian Stan have flashy roles as real-life people in “WeCrashed” and “Pam and Tommy,” Ben Foster undergoes a complete physical transformation in the harrowing “The Survivor” and Oscar Isaac is in the running for two different limited series, the sci-fi epic “Moon Knight” and the brutally intimate “Scenes From a Marriage.”

Sam Elliott (“1883”) and Samuel L. Jackson (“The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey”) could also figure in this race, but we’re expecting Leto and Stan to take two of the final slots and Isaac to take the third for the HBO drama, not the Marvel series.    

Predicted nominees: Colin Firth, “The Staircase”; Andrew Garfield, “Under the Banner of Heaven”; Oscar Isaac, “Scenes From a Marriage”; Michael Keaton, “Dopesick”; Jared Leto, “We Crashed”; Sebastian Stan, “Pam and Tommy”

Watch out for: Sam Elliott, “1883”; Ben Foster, “The Survivor”; Samuel L. Jackson, “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie
Number of nominations: 6

This category is a bonanza if you like famous actresses playing real people: Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes in “The Dropout,” Lily James as Pamela Anderson in “Pam and Tommy,” Julia Roberts as Martha Mitchell in “Gaslit,” Julia Garner as Anna Sorokin in “Inventing Anna,” Elle Fanning as Michelle Carter in “The Girl From Plainville,” Toni Collette as Kathleen Peterson in “The Staircase,” Anne Hathaway as Rebekah Neumann in “WeCrashed,” Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky in “American Crime Story: Impeachment,” Renee Zellweger as Pam Hupp in “The Thing About Pam,” and Viola Davis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Gillian Anderson as first ladies Michelle Obama, Betty Ford and Eleanor Roosevelt in “The First Lady,” among others.

But all of those real people aren’t going to fit, and Margaret Qualley and Jessica Chastain seem likely to be nominated for playing fictionalized characters in “Maid” and “Scenes From a Marriage,” respectively.

Predicted nominees: Jessica Chastain, “Scenes From a Marriage”; Julia Garner, “Inventing Anna”; Lily James, “Pam and Tommy”; Margaret Qualley, “Maid”; Julia Roberts, “Gaslit”; Amanda Seyfried, “The Dropout”

Watch out for: Toni Collette, “The Staircase”; Viola Davis, “First Lady”; Anne Hathaway, “WeCrashed”

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie
Number of nominations: 7

Both of the supporting categories are likely to be long on performers from “The White Lotus” and “Dopesick,” with those two shows potentially supplying five of the seven nominees in this category. Murray Bartlett, Jake Lacy and Steve Zahn are all formidable contenders from the former show, as are Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg and Will Poulter from the latter. Once you get past those two juggernauts, you’ve got Matthew Goode’s uncanny turn as Robert Evans in “The Offer,” Naveen Andrews and/or William H. Macy in “The Dropout,” Dan Stevens in “Gaslit” and even Seth Rogen in “Pam and Tommy,” among others.

Predicted nominees: Naveen Andrews, “The Dropout”; Murray Bartlett, “The White Lotus”; Matthew Goode, “The Offer”; Jake Lacy, “The White Lotus”; Peter Sarsgaard, “Dopesick”; Michael Stuhlbarg, “Dopesick”; Steve Zahn, “The White Lotus”

Watch out for: William H. Macy, “The Dropout”; Tim McGraw, “1883”; Will Poulter, “Dopesick”

Margaret Qualley and Andie MacDowell in “Maid” (Netflix)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie
Number of nominations: 7

The category has seven slots, and the big question is how many will be occupied by “The White Lotus.” It’s rare that a comedy will dominate a category like this, but Jennifer Coolidge is the clear frontrunner and Connie Britton, Alexandra Daddario and Natasha Rothwell all have good shots at nominations alongside Emmy regular Kaitlyn Dever for “Dopesick” and Andie MacDowell for “Maid.” If three of the four Lotuses get in, contenders for the final two spots include Laurie Metcalf for “The Dropout,” Dominique Fishback for “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey,” Rosario Dawson for “Dopesick,” Ellen Burstyn for “The First Lady,” Juliette Binoche for “The Staircase,” Betty Gilpin for “Gaslight,” Chloe Sevigny for “The Girl From Plainville” and Daisy Edgar-Jones for “Under the Banner of Heaven,” among others.

Predicted nominees: Connie Britton, “The White Lotus”; Jennifer Coolidge, “The White Lotus”; Alexandra Daddario, “The White Lotus”; Kaitlyn Dever, “Dopesick”; Dominique Fishback, “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey”; Andie MacDowell, “Maid”; Laurie Metcalf, “The Dropout”

Watch out for: Ellen Burstyn, “The First Lady”; Daisy Edgar-Jones, “Under the Banner of Heaven”; Chloe Sevigny, “The Girl From Plainville”

Read more of Steve Pond’s Emmy nomination predictions here:

Comedy Series

Drama Series

Variety and Reality