2020 Emmy Predictions for Limited Series & Movies: Matt Roush’s Picks

Watchmen Regina Ling Louis Gossett Jr Hollywood Jim Parsons Mrs America Cate Blanchett
Mark Hill/HBO; Courtesy of Netflix; Sabrina Lantos/FX

When the 2020 Emmy Awards air on September 20 on ABC, prepare for some big changes. But with or without a pandemic, we can always count on the increasingly competitive nature of the various races, with so many more platforms and so much talent vying for recognition.

Below, critic Matt Roush analyzes the categories, suggesting which nominees are most likely to, and should, win. And after having scoured the official ballot, he also points out contenders he wishes had made the cut.

Scroll down for Matt’s picks in the categories of Limited Series, Television Movie, Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, Lead Actress, in a Limited Series or Movie, Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, and Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.

72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Sunday, September 20, 8/7c, ABC

Kerry Washington Reese Witherspoon Little Fires Everywhere
Erin Simkin/Hulu

CATEGORY: Limited Series

Little Fires Everywhere, Hulu

Mrs. America, FX on Hulu

Unbelievable, Netflix

Unorthodox, Netflix

Watchmen, HBO

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Regina King Watchmen
Mark Hill/HBO

Much of the best work seen anywhere on TV is being produced in this format, making the limited-series category among the most prestigious. Watchmen clearly has the momentum with its provocative themes of racial injustice as context to a mind-blowing superhero parable. Its greatest challenger: the dazzlingly retro history lesson of Mrs. America, with an astonishing ensemble cast of superlative actresses giving spot-on portrayals of public figures on both sides of the feminist divide.

Regina King Watchmen
Mark Hill/HBO

Most Likely to Win


Saraah Paulson Cate Blanchett Mrs America
Sabrina Lantos/FX

Should Win

Mrs. America

Nick Offerman Devs Forest
Miya Mizuno/FX

Wish They'd Been Nominated

Devs, The Eddy, Normal People, The Plot Against America, Years and Years

American Son Cast Jeremy Jordan Kerry Washington Steven Pasquale Eugene Lee
David Lee/Netflix

CATEGORY: Television Movie

American Son, Netflix

Bad Education, HBO

Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones, Netflix

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Netflix

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend, Netflix

Bad Education - Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney
JoJo Whilden/HBO

As strong as the limited-series field is, that’s how weak this category has become. Residual affection for Breaking Bad could carry El Camino over the finish line — although that theory didn’t help Deadwood last year. HBO used to own this category, and with no Black Mirror entries in the running (after winning the last three years), the satirical and expertly acted Bad Education may go to the head of the class.

El Camino Breaking Bad Movie Aaron Paul
Ben Rothstein / Netflix

Most Likely to Win

El Camino or Bad Education (a toss-up)

American Son Bad Education Dolly Parton Heartstrings El Camino Kimmy Schmidt
David Lee/Netflix; HBO; Tina Rowden/Netflix; Ben Rothstein/Netflix; Courtesy of Netflix

Should Win


Patsy Loretta Megan Hilty Jessie Mueller
Jake Giles Netter

Wish It Had Been Nominated

Patsy & Loretta

Jeremy Pope Hollywood
Saeed Adyani/Netflix

CATEGORY: Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Jeremy Irons, Watchmen

Hugh Jackman, Bad Education

Paul Mescal, Normal People

Jeremy Pope, Hollywood

Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True

Paul Mescal - Norman People
Enda Bowe/Hulu

Nailing a physically and emotionally challenging dual role as tormented twin brothers in the year’s most relentlessly downbeat project, Mark Ruffalo is as close to a sure-thing winner as you’ll get this year. Unless … Hugh Jackman‘s charming con man or the acclaimed TV debut of Paul Mescal in the intimately observed Normal People produces an upset.

Mark Ruffalo I Know This Much Is True
Atsushi Nishijima/HBO

Most Likely to Win, Should Win

Mark Ruffalo

Hugh Jackman - Bad Education
Courtesy of HBO

Possible Spoilers

Hugh Jackman, Paul Mescal

Russell Crowe The Loudest Voice Roger Ailes

Wish They'd Been Nominated

Russell Crowe, The Loudest Voice (a startling snub); Sacha Baron Cohen, The Spy; André Holland, The Eddy; Nick Offerman, Devs; Aaron Paul, El Camino; Morgan Spector, The Plot Against America; Russell Tovey,Years and Years

Self Made Madam C.J. Walker Octavia Spencer
Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

CATEGORY: Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Cate Blanchett, Mrs. America

Shira Haas, Unorthodox

Regina King, Watchmen

Octavia Spencer, Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker

Kerry Washington, Little Fires Everywhere

Regina King Watchmen Angela
Mark Hill/HBO

Talk about your power players. Regina King will almost surely add to her bulging Emmy and Oscar trophy shelf, thrillingly breaking pop-cultural ground as a Black superhero and masked vigilante taking on white supremacists. Cate Blanchett is equally formidable as Mrs. America‘s self-assured anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly, humanizing what could easily have been a caricature. The dark horse: newcomer Shira Haas as a young Jewish woman who finds her true identity upon fleeing an arranged marriage. This is a tough call.

Angela Watchmen Regina King
Mark Hill/HBO

Most Likely to Win

Regina King

Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlaflyin in Mrs. America
Sabrina Lantos/FX

Should Win

Cate Blanchett

Shira Haas Unorthodox
Anika Molnar/Netflix

Possible Spoiler

Shira Haas

Kaitlyn Dever Merritt Wever Unbelievable
Beth Dubber/Netflix; Netflix

Wish They'd Been Nominated

Kaitlyn Dever and Merritt Wever, Unbelievable; Daisy Edgar-Jones, Normal People; Zoe Kazan, The Plot Against America; Megan Hilty and Jessie Mueller, Patsy & Loretta

Tituss Burgess Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Kimmy vs The Reverend
Courtesy of Netflix

CATEGORY: Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Watchmen

Jovan Adepo, Watchmen

Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the


Louis Gossett Jr., Watchmen

Dylan McDermott, Hollywood

Jim Parsons, Hollywood

Louis Gossett Jr Watchmen
Mark Hill/HBO

If Watchmen sweeps, any of the three co-stars could take this — and it would be particularly satisfying for Louis Gossett Jr., as a bookend to his 1977 win for Roots. But Ryan Murphy’s colorful Hollywood provided plentiful opportunity for vivid scene stealing. And while Big Bang Theory veteran Jim Parsons is favored for playing a real-life predatory agent to the hilt, I was more taken by Dylan McDermott‘s charismatic spin as a gleefully mercenary sex merchant operating out of a gas station.

Jim Parsons Hollywood
Courtesy of Netflix

Most Likely to Win

Jim Parsons

Dylan McDermott - Hollywood
Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Should Win

Dylan McDermott

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Jovan Adepo Louis Gossett Jr Watchmen
Mark Hill/HBO

Possible Spoilers

Anyone from Watchmen

George Takei The Terror Infamy
Ed Araquel/AMC

Wish They'd Been Nominated

George Takei, The Terror: Infamy; John Turturro, The Plot Against America

Hollywood - Holland Taylor
Saeed Adyani/Netflix

CATEGORY: Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Holland Taylor, Hollywood

Uzo Aduba, Mrs. America

Margo Martindale, Mrs. America

Tracey Ullman, Mrs. America

Toni Collette, Unbelievable

Jean Smart, Watchmen

Margo Martindale Mrs America
Sabrina Lantos/FX

Couldn’t we declare a draw and let each of these fabulous talents win? Each actress in the Mrs. America triumvirate is deserving, although I have a special soft spot for Margo Martindale‘s larger-than-life Bella Abzug. Still, my vote would go to Toni Collette as the jaded detective tracking a serial rapist in the gripping Unbelievable. The Emmy, however, is probably destined for Jean Smart, bringing a witheringly acerbic edge to FBI Agent Laurie Blake.

Jean Smart - Watchmen
Mark Hill/HBO

Most Likely to Win

Jean Smart

Toni Collette Unbelievable
Beth Dubber/Netflix

Should Win

Toni Collette

Uzo Aduba Margo Martindale Tracey Ullman Mrs America
Sabrina Lantos/FX

Possible Spoilers

Any of the divine Mrs. America character actresses

Hong Chau Watchmen
Mark Hill/HBO

Wish They'd Been Nominated

Rose Byrne and Sarah Paulson, Mrs. America; Hong Chau, Watchmen; Allison Janney, Bad Education; Emma Thompson, Years and Years