With the Emmy nominations announcement right around the corner, this will be the final edition of Roundup of Emmy Contenders before we find out who received a nod this year and who didn’t. Keep reading for a roundup of the names we think should be on the list of nominees for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.
Lin-Manuel Miranda for Hamilton
We’re kicking it off with a controversial pick since some questioned whether Thomas Kail’s filmed version of the hit Broadway musical should qualify for the Emmys. Plus, it can be hard to separate Miranda’s performance from his work creating the show’s book, music, and lyrics. Upon careful consideration, though, we think Miranda should definitely make this year’s list of nominees for his acting chops as the “10-dollar founding father” title character. One Guardian review asserts that his performance “brims with understated brilliance,” and we couldn’t agree more. Miranda’s explosive presence in Hamilton captures and holds viewers’ attention throughout its 160-minute runtime on Disney+. His work artfully complements some other talented cast members, including Leslie Odom Jr., who won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical with his portrayal of Aaron Burr. Time will tell if Miranda gets his own acting win at the Emmys, but at the very least, we think the thespian deserves a nod.
Ethan Hawke for The Good Lord Bird
For those unfamiliar, The Good Lord Bird is an on-screen adaptation of James McBride’s novel of the same name and based on true events. Hawke co-wrote and produced the series that follows real-life abolitionist John Brown (Hawke), the crusader behind the ill-fated raid of a federal armory at Harpers Ferry in 1859. The Hollywood Reporter calls Hawke’s John Brown “a scenery-devouring blend of crazy-eyed, spittle-flying excess spiked with silent, poignant grace notes of sincerity.” The character is a walking contradiction of sorts, and few actors could pull off such a role with a grounded and captivating performance like Hawke.
Nnamdi Asomugha for Sylvie’s Love
Eugene Ashe’s romantic period drama begins in 1950s Harlem when a young woman helping out in her father’s record store (Tessa Thompson) meets an aspiring saxophonist named Robert (Asomugha). Amazon Prime acquired the 2020 Sundance darling, and its synopsis details how “their love ignites a sweeping romance that transcends changing times, geography, and professional success.” As for Asomugha’s performance, we’ll be referencing our own review, which details the actor’s ability “to be emotionally available from moment to moment.” Asomugha also produced the project that might be the ticket to his first Emmy nomination.
Hugh Grant for The Undoing
David E. Kelley’s HBO miniseries adapted from Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel You Should Have Known is a murder mystery that follows a successful family therapist (Nicole Kidman) married to a children’s oncologist named Jonathan (Grant). The couple has a preteen son (Noah Jupe), rounding out what is seemingly a picture-perfect family of New York’s elite. But after the mother of their son’s classmate is brutally murdered, Jonathan disappears and becomes a lead suspect in the case. We won’t spoil the ending, but TVLine neatly sums up Grant’s work in the miniseries, describing how he infuses his dirty rotten scoundrel of a character with impressive depth, humility and humanity.” Many may know Grant from the extensive list of rom-com credits he’s accumulated over the years, but his performance in The Undoing puts on full display his ample ability with drama.
You’ll have to wait until July 13 to find out if Miranda, Hawke, Asomugha, and Grant will be nominated for the 73rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. But thanks to their captivating performances across the board, they’re already all winners in our book.