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Emmys: Lead Actor (Drama) – Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox in Vote Split Dilemma, Making Room for Bob Odenkirk’s Overdue Win

Variety Awards Circuit section is the home for all awards news and related content throughout the year, featuring the following: the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Tony Awards ceremonies, curated by Variety senior awards editor Clayton Davis. The prediction pages reflect the current standings in the race and do not reflect personal preferences for any individual contender. As other formal (and informal) polls suggest, competitions are fluid and subject to change based on buzz and events. Predictions are updated every Thursday.

Visit the prediction pages for the respective ceremonies via the links below:

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OSCARS | EMMYS | GRAMMYS | TONYS

2023 Emmy Predictions:
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Brian Cox Succession
Succession Season 4 – Episode 2 Brian Cox Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO

Weekly Commentary (Updated: Aug 17, 2023): As the central figure on which the entire premise rests, Scottish veteran Brian Cox pushes the wealthy Roy patriarch to the actor’s limit. The result is an all-timer for HBO, coming off its 50th anniversary. He may have only appeared briefly in five of the ten episodes. Still, Anthony Hopkins had only 21 minutes of screentime when he won the Oscar for playing Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs.” It’s quality, not quantity.

An integral piece of one of HBO’s most engrossing cast ensembles, Kieran Culkin crafts a multi-dimensional Roman Roy, full of moral complexity and rich development thanks to creator Jesse Armstrong’s brilliant writing. With a masterful delivery, Culkin provided a broad spectrum of emotions (i.e., talking to his dying Dad or delivering the eulogy) that will remain engraved in television history.

Kendall Roy was so close to getting WayStar. A dedicated actor, Jeremy Strong, an Emmy winner for the second season, fully immerses himself in the role of the eldest Roy son (according to Kendall, even though his brother Connor is very much alive) and his bloodthirst for the throne. His final breakdown in the boardroom will make him a contender to walk away with one more statuette if he doesn’t split with all three of his co-stars.

Read: Variety’s Awards Circuit for the latest Primetime Emmy predictions in the major categories.

Vote for Pedro? That’s what it feels like the narrative has been with the Latino actor scoring three noms. With “The Last of Us,” an adaptation of the popular videogame series, Pascal is Joel Miller, a hardened survivor of a global pandemic. His work is breathtaking in a genre show that allows Pascal to internalize his emotions and rely on his physical mannerisms to create a three-dimensional character.

Bob Odenkirk’s gift to us all is the morally ambiguous and complex Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman. In the critically acclaimed AMC prequel series, Odenkirk brings authenticity to Jimmy’s transformation from a struggling and well-meaning lawyer to the morally flexible, fast-talking criminal lawyer Saul Goodman. It’s the TV Academy’s last chance to bestow him with the Emmy, which could re-create an iconic moment similar to Jon Hamm’s final season win for “Mad Men.”

Jeff Bridges taking on the role of Dan Chase, a retired intelligence officer who finds himself on the run and forced to confront his past, is yet another excellent turn from our favorite “dude.” His second career nom after the miniseries “A Dog Year” in 2010, Bridges is the only chance to recognize the FX drama, which underperformed with nominations.

The rankings for the category are below.

The final Emmy voting rounds open on Aug. 17 at 9 a.m. PT and close on Aug. 28 at 10 p.m. PST. The 75th Emmy Awards are scheduled to air on Monday, January 15, 2024, at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT. The Creative Arts ceremony will occur on Saturday, January 6, and Sunday, January 7. An edited version will air on FXX on Saturday, January 13, 2024, at 8 p.m. ET. All events will take place at the Peacock Theater at LA Live.

Read: Variety’s Awards Circuit for the latest Creative Arts predictions in all categories.


And the Nominees Are:


  1. Bob Odenkirk — “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
    Episode Submission: “Saul Gone”

  2. Kieran Culkin — “Succession” (HBO)
    Episode Submission: “Church and State”

  3. Jeremy Strong — “Succession” (HBO)
    Episode Submission: “With Open Eyes”

  4. Pedro Pascal — “The Last of Us” (HBO)
    Episode Submission: “Kin”

  5. Brian Cox — “Succession” (HBO)
    Episode Submission: “Rehearsal”

  6. Jeff Bridges — “The Old Man” (FX)
    Episode Submission: “I”



All Eligible Titles (Alphabetized by Network)**


  • Milo Ventimiglia — “The Company You Keep” (ABC)

  • Freddie Highmore — “The Good Doctor” (ABC)

  • Ramón Rodríguez — “Will Trent” (ABC)

  • Jacob Anderson — “Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire” (AMC)

  • Bob Odenkirk — “Better Call Saul” (AMC)

  • Wyatt Oleff — “City on Fire” (Apple TV+)

  • Zahn McClarnon — “Dark Winds” (AMC)

  • Colin O’Brien — “Dear Edward” (Apple TV+)

  • Michiel Huisman — “Echo 3” (Apple TV+)

  • Luke Evans — “Echo 3” (Apple TV+)

  • Justin Theroux — “Mosquito Coast” (Apple TV+)

  • Jason Mamoa — “See” (Apple TV+)

  • Toby Kebbell — “Servant” (Apple TV+)

  • Gary Oldman — “Slow Horses” (Apple TV+)

  • Tom Selleck — “Blue Bloods” (CBS)

  • Jay Hernandez — “Magnum P.I.” (CBS)

  • Wilmer Valderrama — “NCIS” (CBS)

  • LL Cool J — “NCIS: Los Angeles” (CBS)

  • David Boreanaz — “SEAL Team” (CBS)

  • Shemar Moore — “S.W.A.T.” (CBS)

  • Oscar Morgan — “Gotham Knights” (The CW)

  • Jack Bannon — “Pennyworth” (The CW)

  • Diego Luna — “Andor” (Disney+)

  • Pedro Pascal — “The Mandalorian” (Disney+)

  • Peter Krause — “9-1-1” (Fox)

  • Rob Lowe — “9-1-1: Lone Star” (Fox)

  • Micah Stock — “Kindred” (FX)

  • Jeff Bridges — “The Old Man” (FX)

  • Damson Idris — “Snowfall” (FX)

  • Amir Wilson — “His Dark Materials” (HBO)

  • Paddy Considine — “House of the Dragon” (HBO)

  • Pedro Pascal — “The Last of Us” (HBO)

  • Matthew Rhys — “Perry Mason” (HBO)

  • Jeremy Strong — “Succession” (HBO)

  • Brian Cox — “Succession” (HBO)

  • Kieran Culkin — “Succession” (HBO)

  • Aaron Paul — “Westworld” (HBO)

  • Seth MacFarlane — “The Orville: New Horizons” (Hulu)

  • Josh Bonzie — “Saint X” (Hulu)

  • Jayden Elijah — “Saint X” (Hulu)

  • Jackson White — “Tell Me Lies” (Hulu)

  • Shameik Moore — “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” (Hulu)

  • Ashton Sanders — “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” (Hulu)

  • Siddiq Saunderson — “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” (Hulu)

  • Harold Perrineau — “From” (MGM+)

  • Forest Whitaker — “Godfather of Harlem” (MGM+)

  • Sam Corlett — “Vikings: Valhalla” (MGM+)

  • Leo Suter — “Vikings: Valhalla” (MGM+)

  • James Spader — “The Blacklist” (NBC)

  • Taylor Kinney — “Chicago Fire” (NBC)

  • Jason Beghe — “Chicago P.D.” (NBC)

  • Zeeko Zaki — “FBI” (NBC)

  • Luke Kleintank — “FBI: International” (NBC)

  • Dylan McDermott — “FBI: Most Wanted” (NBC)

  • Eoin Macken — “La Brea” (NBC)

  • Hugh Dancy — “Law & Order” (NBC)

  • Jeffrey Donovan — “Law & Order” (NBC)

  • Christopher Meloni — “Law & Order: Organized Crime” (NBC)

  • Ryan Eggold — “New Amsterdam” (NBC)

  • Raymond Lee — “Quantum Leap” (NBC)

  • Andreas Pietschmann — “1899” (Netflix)

  • Dominic West — “The Crown” (Netflix)

  • Ben Lawson — “Firefly Lane” (Netflix)

  • Cameron Chapman — “Lockwood & Co.” (Netflix)

  • Josh Dallas — “Manifest” (Netflix)

  • Gabriel Basso — “The Night Agent” (Netflix)

  • Chase Stokes — “Outer Banks” (Netflix)

  • Corey Mylchreest — “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” (Netflix)

  • Cillian Murphy — “Peaky Blinders” (Netflix)

  • Noah Centineo — “The Recruit” (Netflix)

  • Tom Sturridge — “The Sandman” (Netflix)

  • Elliot Page — “The Umbrella Academy” (Netflix)

  • Penn Badgley — “You” (Netflix)

  • Kofi Siribow — “Queen Sugar” (OWN)

  • Harrison Ford — “1923” (Paramount+)

  • Joe Mantegna — “Criminal Minds: Evolution” (Paramount+)

  • Mike Colter — “Evil” (Paramount+)

  • Joshua Jackson — “Fatal Attraction” (Paramount+)

  • Jeremy Renner — “Mayor of Kingstown” (Paramount+)

  • Kiefer Sutherland — “Rabbit Hole” (Paramount+)

  • Charlie Hunnam — “Shantaram” (Paramount+)

  • Patrick Stewart — “Star Trek: Picard” (Paramount+)

  • Rodrigo Santoro — “Wolf Pack” (Paramount+)

  • Kevin Costner — “Yellowstone” (Paramount Network)

  • Jobari Banks — “Bel-Air” (Peacock)

  • Jeff Wilbusch — “The Calling” (Peacock)

  • Chibuikem Uche — “One of Us is Lying” (Peacock)

  • Cooper van Grootel — “One of Us is Lying” (Peacock)

  • Jack Quaid — “The Boys” (Prime Video)

  • Antony Starr — “The Boys” (Prime Video)

  • Karl Urban — “The Boys” (Prime Video)

  • Orlando Bloom — “Carnival Row” (Prime Video)

  • Richard Madden — “Citadel” (Prime Video)

  • Logan Lerman — “Hunters” (Prime Video)

  • Al Pacino — “Hunters” (Prime Video

  • Chris Pratt — “The Terminal List” (Prime Video)

  • Alfred Molina — “Three Pines” (Prime Video)

  • John Krasinski — “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” (Prime Video)

  • Anthony Pallino — “Welcome to Hope” (PureFlix)

  • Kevin Bacon – “City on a Hill” (Showtime)

  • Giovanni Ribisi — “Waco: The Aftermath” (Showtime)

  • Michael Shannon — “Waco: The Aftermath” (Showtime)

  • Bryan Cranston — “Your Honor” (Showtime)

  • Demetrius Flenory Jr. — “BMF” (Starz)

  • Nicco Annan — “P Valley” (Starz)

  • Michael Rainey Jr. — “Power Book II: Ghost” (Starz)

  • MeKai Curtis — “Power Book III: Raising Kanan” (Starz)

  • Björgvin Arnarson — “Chucky” (Syfy)

  • Zackary Arthur — “Chucky” (Syfy)

** This list or category submission is not yet complete or confirmed and is subject to change.

2022 category winner: Lee Jung-jae as Seong Gi-hun, “Squid Game” (Netflix) — Season 1


Emmy Awards Predictions Categories

DRAMA SERIES | COMEDY SERIES | LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES | TV MOVIE | LEAD ACTOR (DRAMA) | LEAD ACTOR (COMEDY) | LEAD ACTOR (LIMITED/TV MOVIE) | LEAD ACTRESS (DRAMA) | LEAD ACTRESS (COMEDY) | LEAD ACTRESS (LIMITED/TV MOVIE) | SUPPORTING ACTOR (DRAMA) | SUPPORTING ACTOR (COMEDY) | SUPPORTING ACTOR (LIMITED/TV MOVIE) | SUPPORTING ACTRESS (DRAMA) | SUPPORTING ACTRESS (COMEDY) | SUPPORTING ACTRESS (LIMITED/TV MOVIE) | TALK SERIES | SCRIPTED VARIETY | GAME SHOW | DIRECTING (DRAMA, COMEDY, LIMITED/TV MOVIE) | WRITING (DRAMA, COMEDY, LIMITED/TV MOVIE) | REALITY (COMPETITION, STRUCTURED, UNSTRUCTURED, HOST)

Creative Arts and Other Emmy Categories

GUEST ACTOR (DRAMA) | GUEST ACTRESS (DRAMA) | GUEST ACTOR (COMEDY) | GUEST ACTRESS (COMEDY) | VOICE-OVER | SHORT FORM | DOCUMENTARY | MUSIC | ANIMATED | OTHER CATEGORIES

About the Primetime Emmy Awards

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, artisans, and executives.

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