The Emmy race for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series is one of the most wide open categories of the year, where any nominee could make a case for winning.
Jon Hamm won the Emmy for Drama Lead Actor last year for his final season of AMC's Mad Men. Considering this was for the show's final season, we will be getting a new winner this year in this category. This year's lineup includes actors who have already received nominations for their respective shows in addition to brand-new nominees.
So who will win the Emmy for Drama Lead Actor? Let's try to predict this category from least likely to most likely to win.
6. Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn in Bloodline
Chandler is a previous Emmy winner in this very category for playing Coach Eric Taylor in NBC's Friday Night Lights. He also received a nomination last year for the first season of Bloodline, in which he plays local deputy-gone-bad John Rayburn. Despite being loved by the TV Academy, his show itself doesn't appear to be, with only one other nomination this year, for co-star Ben Mendelsohn in Drama Supporting Actor. The fact is that the Academy at large seems to enjoy the other five shows in this category more, and considering Bloodline hasn't exactly caught on like other Netflix shows, we think he's least likely to take home the Emmy.
5. Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan in Ray Donovan
Like Chandler, Schreiber was nominated last year for playing complex antihero Ray Donovan in the show of the same name. Also like Chandler, Schreiber's show hasn't exactly caught the mainstream attention of other shows in this race. But what might help Schreiber is that Emmy voters seem to like Ray Donovan overall, giving it a nomination in Drama Supporting Actor and Drama Directing for the season 3 finale. This is an increase from past years and may signal a growing love within the Academy, but we think there are flashier performances in this category that could overshadow Schreiber.
4. Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings in The Americans
The Americans had a major breakthrough at the Emmys this year after previously collecting a handful of minor nominations for its first three seasons. This year it broke in here with Rhys, in Drama Lead Actress with Keri Russell and the biggest category of all, Best Drama Series. If voters really want to award The Americans, Rhys is certainly the more acting-friendly between him and Russell, so he has a good shot of winning here. But he also probably has the least amount of name recognition in this race which won't help with a widespread vote, and if he couldn't get nominated for great work the first three seasons, how would he suddenly win for season 4?
3. Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill in Better Call Saul
Odenkirk benefits from having a show that Emmy voters have clearly loved from the start. This is his second consecutive nomination for playing scheming lawyer Jimmy McGill, who was first introduced in an even greater Emmy darling, Breaking Bad. Where Odenkirk could have an edge is through having arguably the most sympathetic, relatable character in the category. If voters don't like "rewarding bad guys", then Odenkirk could be their man. A win for Odenkirk would not be shocking in the slightest. But he also has the most comedic performance of this group, which goes against what voters traditionally go for for Drama Lead Actor.
2. Kevin Spacey as President Frank Underwood in House of Cards
Spacey is definitely the veteran of this list of nominees, with a whopping 10 Emmy nominations in total. Four of these nominations are for playing President Underwood in the Netflix drama (and another four are for producing the series), so he's clearly loved within the Television Academy. He's also loved by his fellow actors, racking up two consecutive wins at the Screen Actors Guild Awards over the past two years for this role. If you're looking to go with the safe bet to win, Spacey is definitely the guy to place money on. But we think one other performance has the "X factor" needed to win over everyone.
1. Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson in Mr. Robot
At age 35, Malek may be the new kid on the block as far as acting experience in this category, but he may have just what it takes to pull off a major win. Malek plays troubled hacker Elliot Alderson in Mr. Robot, a performance that sees him grappling with mental illness, going on huge speeches about the state of our world and dealing with painful memories from his past. All of these factors give Malek the juiciest character to play, though Spacey's conniving president comes pretty close. Emmy voters also really responded well to Mr. Robot, including a nomination for Best Drama Series, and considering so much of the show falls on Malek, that has to be a testament to what voters think of his performance. Malek may not be the overwhelming frontrunner, but we think he can pull off that Emmy win over some acting veterans.
What do you think?
The 2016 Primetime Emmys will air Sunday, Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on ABC.