Emmys 2019: Benedict Cumberbatch, Mahershala Ali, Alexander Skarsgard among Limited Series / Movie Actor picks

Welcome to CarterMatt’s 2019 Emmy Preview series! This is an annual tradition that we’ve done on the site since 2013, where we highlight some of the best from the TV world. These choices were voted on by our staff, and they represent what the ideal Emmy nominations would be for each category. To go along with that, we then ask you which one of our choices you most want to see recognized with a nomination. It’s strictly for fun, but it’s one of our favorite polls to run and it’s a great way to get the word out there about shows and performers during this key campaign window.

If you want to know why limited series are so popular these days, the entire category of Actor in a Limited Series is a pretty good reason. The performers within this field are all fantastic at what it is that they do — and many of them are also well-known. Because of big names like a Benedict Cumberbatch and Mahershala Ali, this category has a newfound sense of passion and spark to it. We believe that the five referenced within are a perfect example of the wide array of work being done in this category, whether it be fascinating true stories or rich, complicated characters from all walks of life.

Below, you can see our choices for this category — following the description of our “nominees,” you can find the poll to vote for your favorite. (We’re also including some other popular contenders within that poll to widen the field — Sam Rockwell from Fosse/Verdon and also Hugh Grant from A Very English Scandal.)

Voting Rules – Voting will remain open until Monday, July 15 at 1:00 p.m. Pacific time, which is the day before the official nominations are announced. The length of the poll coincides with both Emmy campaigns and lead-up to the official nominations being announced. You can vote however often you’d like; for more technical information if you’re having issues, check out the bottom of this article.

Mahershala Ali, True Detective – He is one of the favorites this year at the Emmys for good reason — so much of what he does as Wayne Hays is outstanding. We’re talking about a character whose story is told across decades, and a man who has dealt with a sense of continual emotional trauma as a result of a case that remains untold. There’s a haunting within this man, but also still a spirit and unparalleled determination. It was no surprise that Ali delivered an extraordinary performance, but he may have been able to even surpass expectations.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Brexit – We’re honestly surprised at this point that the TV movie isn’t getting more attention, especially given the prominence of Brexit in headlines — coupled with how much American viewers actually know about it. The movie’s great at laying the groundwork for the controversial movement, but topical nature aside Cumberbatch delivers an immersive performance as Dominic Cummings, a man you don’t necessarily like, but one you need to understand. Such is the case with any of these sort of projects.

Jared Harris, Chernobyl -Harris’ work over the past decade consists of fascinating, complicated characters who suffer within hard circumstances. Sometimes, it is feelings that exist within their own head; at other points, it is unparalleled horrors that pervade an entire community. As Valery Legasov, one of the key players in HBO’s groundbreaking cautionary tale, Jared delivers a performance that you can’t look away from. There’s consistency, power, and just also an understanding of impending dread. The subject matter may be brutal, but you need to have enough hook so that viewers continue to watch.

Ian McShane, Deadwood (movie) – A fantastic return for a fantastic character in Al Swearengen, one viewers wanted to see more of for many years. Sometimes, this level of anticipation can be akin to falling into a trap, one where it’s impossible for a product to live up to initial demand. Luckily, we think McShane hadn’t forgotten about any of the intricacies of this character — including how much the character stands out even when he’s not speaking. It’s about a vibe, a style, and of course the dialogue.

Alexander Skarsgard, The Little Drummer Girl – A series as complicated and dark at times as they come, and one where Alexander’s Gadi Becker reigned supreme as an influential figure. He’s a man rooted in suspicion and question marks and stylistically, this was the perfect transformation for Alexander on the heels of what he did on Big Little Lies season 1. There’s the side of Becker that is the agent and the side that is Charlie’s lover, but beyond individual labels you have a character masterfully fleshed-out in a short period of time.

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