Emmys 2014: Predicting This Year's Miniseries/TV Movie Nominees

By Cory Barker

Jul 09, 2014

Tomorrow, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will reveal the official nominees for the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards. In preparation for this momentous occasion, we've already compiled a few observations about the ballots and detailed our dream selections for all the major categories, and now it’s time to try to get into the mind of a real Emmy voter. Who has a chance of being nominated? Who deserves to be nominated? And, for better or for worse, who actually will be nominated?

Just like last year, we've been running through the big categories, and today we wrap things up with the Miniseries/TV Movie categories, a.k.a. the most confusing batch of races the Emmys have to offer. The acting categories for miniseries and TV movies have been combined for decades, but Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding TV Movie were separate competitions until 2011. After just three years, the combo category of Outstanding Miniseries/TV Movie is dead, bringing us back to four acting categories and two "outstanding project" categories. With fewer works to choose nominate, a few dominant projects (FargoThe Normal HeartAmerican Horror Story: Coven), and a whole lot of turnover, these categories are, in theory, much easier to predict. But it's the Emmys; crazy things happen every single year. 


SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MINISERIES/TV MOVIE

The recent history: The miniseries/TV movie categories, regardless of how they're constructed in a given year, are typically dominated by a few projects. While that might lead you to think that winners probably come from whatever mini or movie goes on to win the big award, that hasn't been fully true as of late. For the past three years, the winner in Supporting Actor has not been part of the cast of the project winning the Outstanding Miniseries/TV Movie trophy. Those winners: Guy Pearce for Mildred Pierce in 2011 (which lost to Downton Abbey), Tom Berenger for Hatfields & McCoys in 2012 (which lost to Game Change), and James Cromwell for American Horror Story: Asylum in 2013 (which lost to Behind the Candelabra). It's almost like this is the dedicated category for one of the other minis or movies to get an award. 

The probable repeats: Just one, barely. Cromwell is eligible for his work in The Trials of Cate McCall and it's never smart to pick against a candidate coming off a win in the previous year. But the category has buzzier, better performances than Cromwell's, so it's fairly likely that he gets muscled out.

The deserving candidates (in alphabetical order): Simon Russell Beale (The Hollow Crown), Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart), Christian Borle (The Sound of Music Live!), Keith Carradine (Fargo), James Frain (The White Queen), Martin Freeman (Sherlock: His Last Vow), John Goodman (Dancing on the Edge), Bill Hader (Clear History), Philip Baker Hall (Clear History), Jon Hamm (Clear History), Colin Hanks (Fargo), Dulé Hill (Psych The Musical), Glenn Howerton (Fargo), Jason Isaacs (Rosemary's Baby), Michael Keaton (Clear History), Keegan-Michael Key (Fargo), Taylor Kitsch (The Normal Heart), Frank Langella (Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight), Joe Mantello (The Normal Heart), Alfred Molina (The Normal Heart and Return to Zero), David Morse (Treme), Bob Odenkirk (Fargo), Jim Parsons (The Normal Heart), Jordan Peele (Fargo), Will Rothhaar (Killing Kennedy), Sam Shepard (Klondike), JB Smoove (Clear History), and Blair Underwood (The Trip to Bountiful).

The possible breakthroughs: If you're wondering whether this race will be a showdown between actors from Fargo and The Normal Heart, the answer is "probably." Matt Bomer and Jim Parsons are pretty close to locks, and rightfully so, and they could be joined by their Normal Heart co-star Alfred Molina in the top six. The Fargo cast is interesting. Colin Hanks is probably the top pick, but Keith Carradine has to be in consideration as well. It's probably wishful thinking to consider Key and Peele, but that's okay. Molina could also be nominated for his work in Return to Zero and Frank Langella has the right mix of big, respected name and juicy role to grab one of the last spots as well. Martin Freeman certainly deserves some recognition for his work on Sherlock, but I'm curious as to whether voters will give him love in another category and just ignore him here. And a lot of people are talking about John Goodman's work in Dancing on the Edge and Blair Underwood in The Trip to Bountiful, so watch out for those.

My predictions: Bomer, Parsons, Hanks, Goodman, Langella, and Freeman. This ended up being tougher than I expected. Molina and Underwood could easily replace anyone outside of the top two. 


SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES/TV MOVIE

The recent history: Not a whole lot. Although I made the same point above, it's once again important to note that voters have been very willing to give the Supporting Actress trophy to women from projects that don't go on to win the big award.

The probable repeats: Just like in the men's race, last year's winner Ellen Burstyn is back, but in a different role. Flowers in the Attic might not have the same kind of mild prestige as Political Animals did last year, but it'd be foolish to assume that Burstyn is totally out of the running. She's Ellen Burstyn.  

The deserving candidates: Amanda Abbington (Sherlock: His Last Vow), Kathy Baker (Return to Zero), Angela Bassett (American Horror Story: Coven), Kathy Bates (American Horror Story: Coven), Laura Benanti (The Sound of Music Live!), Jacqueline Bisset (Dancing on the Edge), Abbie Cornish (Klondike), Holly Hunter (Bonnie & Clyde), Audra McDonald (The Sound of Music Live!), Janet McTeer (The White Queen), Eva Mendes (Clear History), Lily Rabe (American Horror Story: Coven), Julia Roberts (The Normal Heart), Gabourey Sidibe (American Horror Story: Coven), Allison Tolman (Fargo), Vanessa Williams (The Trip to Bountiful), and Ruth Wilson (Luther).  

The possible breakthroughs: There are some real titans in this category, huh? Julia Roberts, Kathy Bates, and Angela Bassett are three locks for all the obvious reasons, and Allison Tolman should be as well given her great performance on Fargo. After those four, there are a slew of women like Jacqueline Bisset (can't wait for her speech), Kathy Baker, and Audra McDonald who will be battling it out at the bottom of the top six. It might come down to name recognition and exactly how many voters watched things like Dancing on the EdgeThe White Queen, or Return to Zero

My predictions: Roberts, Bates, Bassett, Tolman, Bisset, and Baker. So many Bs. 


LEAD ACTOR IN A MINISERIES/TV MOVIE

The recent history: STARZ. Sorry—not the network, the people. Miniseries and TV movies give high-profile performers the opportunity to "slum it" on television for a little bit, chew up some scenery, and then collect all the requisite accolades. Over the last decade, winners here include Al Pacino (2004 and 2010), Kevin Costner (2012), Michael Douglas (2013), Paul Giamatti (2008), Geoffrey Rush (2005), and the world's biggest star, Barry Pepper (2011). Unsurprisingly, this category is dominated by cable and PBS, with only four nominees from the broadcast networks since 2004 (Jonathan Rhys Meyers in 2004, Jon Voight in 2006, Tom Selleck in 2007, and Kiefer Sutherland in 2009). 

The probable repeats: That sneaky bastard Benedict Cumberbatch is eligible for the third straight year after nominations in 2012 and 2013 for Sherlock and Parade's End. I don't see why he wouldn't grab another one for his work on Sherlock this year. 

The deserving candidates: Paul Adelstein (Return to Zero), Dominic Cooper (Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond), Larry David (Clear History), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dancing on the Edge), Idris Elba (Luther), Martin Freeman (Fargo), Matthew Goode (Dancing on the Edge), Tom Hiddleston (The Hollow Crown), Jeremy Irons (The Hollow Crown), Rob Lowe (Killing Kennedy), Richard Madden (Klondike), Jason Momoa (The Red Road), Clarke Peters (Treme), Wendell Pierce (Treme), Mark Ruffalo (The Normal Heart), Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo), Dominic West (Burton and Taylor), and Ben Whishaw (The Hollow Crown). 

The possible breakthroughs: This is brutal category as it is, can you imagine what it would have been like if True Detective had submitted as a miniseries? Good lord. There's a world where the top six are like some sort of Tumblr fever dream: Cumberbatch, Idris Elba, Martin Freeman, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, and Ben Whishaw (oh my). But more logically, Billy Bob Thornton and Chiwetel Ejiofor are likely to join that group, breaking the internet's heart in the process. Larry David and Jeremy Irons might be involved too, if things get really odd. 

My predictions: Ruffalo, Thornton, Elba, Freeman, Cumberbatch, and Ejiofor. Too bad for The Hollow Crown, I guess. 


LEAD ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES/TV MOVIE

The recent history: Much like the Lead Actor category, this one has brimmed with stars: In the past 10 years, Meryl Streep (2004), Helen Mirren (2006), Laura Linney (2008 and 2013), Jessica Lange (2009), Claire Danes (2010), Kate Winslet (2011), and Julianne Moore (2012) have all triumphed. There's the same sort of cable and PBS domination as well, with only four nominations for the broadcast networks in 10 years (Halle Berry and Blythe Danner in 2005, Phylicia Rashad in 2008, and Ashley Judd in 2012).  

The probable repeats: Just one, Jessica Lange. She'll be here again for her work on American Horror Story: Coven

The deserving candidates: Khandi Alexander (Treme), Helena Bonham Carter (Burton and Taylor), Toni Collette (Hostages), Minnie Driver (Return to Zero), Rebecca Ferguson (The White Queen), Whoopi Goldberg (A Day Late and A Dollar Short), Julianne Nicholson (The Red Road), Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story: Coven), Zoe Saldana (Rosemary's Baby), Kiernan Shipka (Flowers in the Attic), Cicely Tyson (The Trip to Bountiful), and Kristen Wiig (The Spoils of Babylon). 

The possible breakthroughs: Sarah Paulson has been nominated twice in the last two years for her work on Game Change and then American Horror Story, but in the Supporting Actress category. She certainly had the material to work with on Coven, but it will be interesting to see whether she actually gets nominated in the "big" category. Toni Collette's a former winner for The United States of Tara and she was the only redeemable part of Hostages, so don't be shocked if she gets nominated as well. Same goes for Kristen Wiig and The Spoils of Babylon. Helena Bonham Carter, Minnie Driver, Rebecca Ferguson, Whoopi, and Cicely Tyson are all strong candidates as well, but again it depends on what voters have seen—or perhaps more importantly, read about in the trades. Maybe Zoe Saldana makes it on name recognition alone?

My predictions: Lange, Paulson, Tyson, Goldberg, Ferguson, and Collette. Driver and Carter probably belong in the race above Collette, but former success may carry the Hostages star into the top six.   


OUTSTANDING MINISERIES

The recent history: HBO and PBS domination, mostly. Prior to the Miniseries/TV movie merger in 2011, those two networks regularly took home the hardware in this category. Typically, the winners are of the historical variety. A miniseries set fully in the present day hasn't won since The Corner in 2000. 

The probable repeats: The screwy rules in these categories mean that we'll see at least one returnee, albeit one with a different premise. That is, of course, American Horror Story. Everything else is going to be fresh-ish. 

The deserving candidates: Dancing on the EdgeFargoFleming: The Man Who Would be BondThe Hollow CrownKlondikeLutherThe Red RoadTreme, and The White Queen

The possible breakthroughs: AHS: Coven and Fargo are the big dogs in this yard and after that, it's a mish-mash of things that aren't really miniseries (LutherTreme) and historical dramas (The Hollow CrownKlondikeThe White Queen). This is Treme's last shot to make any real noise at the Emmys, and probably its best. Just-canceled offerings like Hostages and Mob City are hoping to use the rules to their advantage, but it's unlikely to earn them a nod.

My predictions: FargoAmerican Horror Story: CovenThe Hollow CrownLuther, and Dancing on the Edge. This is a more competitive category than some might expect, especially if voters have fallen in love with The Hollow Crown and Dancing on the Edge


OUTSTANDING TV MOVIE

The recent history: Before the merger of the categories, this one was all about HBO. It certainly helps that HBO does more high-profile TV movies than any other network. Between 1993, the first year in which an HBO TV movie won, and the end of the category in 2010, HBO took home the trophy every year save for two (2000 and 2003). Heck, even during the combined Miniseries/TV Movie run from 2011 to 2013, HBO won two out of the three awards. Pure dominance. 

The probable repeats: None. 

The deserving candidates: A Day Late and a Dollar ShortBomb Girls: Facing the EnemyBurton and TaylorClear HistoryKilling KennedyThe Normal HeartPsych The MusicalReturn to ZeroSherlock: His Last Vow, and The Trip to Bountiful

The possible breakthroughs: The Normal Heart is going to win this category. The Academy should probably just ship the trophy to HBO and Ryan Murphy now. So really everyone else is just hoping to be nominated. Sherlock, which earned a nod in the Miniseries/TV Movie race in 2012, is sure to be here this year. It's likely that HBO's Clear History and National Geographic's Killing Kennedy will round out the top four. After that? Who knows. 

My predictions: The Normal HeartSherlock: His Last VowClear HistoryKilling Kennedy, and The Trip to Bountiful. I have to be honest: I haven't seen The Trip to Bountiful, but it seems well-liked and something else has to go here. 


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  • cecylia248 Jul 10, 2014

    The normal heart ..man!! emotions.. so yeah! They better win some!

  • Unchartedraider Jul 10, 2014

    AHS for every category apart from lead and supporting actors. Fargo can have those categories and leave the rest for AHS.

  • P3TE Jul 10, 2014

    Since when did Luther become a mini-series? And what's all this about the second episode in the third season of Sherlock being a TV movie...

  • elisabethbossler Jul 09, 2014

    If Martin Freeman doesn't win an Emmy for Fargo, lead or supporting actor, I'm going to hasten a riot.

  • j7k8 Jul 09, 2014

    Fargo Forever!

  • funnyl3unni Jul 09, 2014

    As others have said, I hope Fargo sweeps every award it's nominated for -despite loving Sherlock, and hearing nothing but praise for The Normal Heart. However, I doubt Fargo will actually sweep. That being said I hope Allison Tollman wins. For me in the lead actor category it's so incredibly hard to choose between the likely favorites - Cumberbatch, Freeman (Fargo), Thornton, and Ruffalo are all solid and could take it.

  • NathanLabont Jul 09, 2014

    Only one thing:

    Fargo.

  • alisabir Jul 09, 2014

    I hope Fargo does a sweep this year.

  • DaleSullivan1 Jul 09, 2014

    Matt Bomer is always delightful; in The Normal Heart, he was truly awe-inspiring. ★☆★☆★

  • Mate Jul 09, 2014

    Ruth Wilson is unbelievably devine as Alice Morgan.

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