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Emmy prediction: Ian McKellen will win best actor for 'King Lear'

September 5, 2009 |  2:21 pm

I agree with our Emmy prognosticators Chris "Boomer" Beachum and Robert "Rob L" Licuria (, who say that the race for best actor in a TV movie/mini is between three rivals: Kevin Bacon  ("Taking Chance") Brendan Gleeson ("Into the Storm") and Ian McKellen ("King Lear").

Gleeson may be viewed as an Emmy front-runner since most past winners in this category assumed the roles of famous real people, and he portrays Winston Churchill — just like Albert Finney, who won here for "The Gathering Storm" (2002).

King lear

Big theater roles, even flashy classic ones, usually lose if they're too stagey, but "King Lear" has a mixed Emmy history. When Ian Holm was nominated as Shakespeare's mad Celtic monarch in 1999, he lost to Stanley Tucci as Walter Winchell ("Winchell"). But Laurence Olivier reigned for the role in 1984.

Also check out Rob's and Boomer's (often clashing) predix in these categories: best comedy series, lead comedy actor, lead actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, guest actor, guest actress, comedy writing and comedy directing. Read more in our forums.

(Ranked by likelihood to win)
1. Ian McKellen, "King Lear"
2. Brendan Gleeson, "Into the Storm"
3. Kevin Bacon, "Taking Chance"
4. Kevin Kline, "Cyrano de Bergerac"
5. Kenneth Branagh, "Wallander: One Step Behind"
6. Kiefer Sutherland, "24: Redemption"

BOOMER'S COMMENTARY: Predicting the winner of this category is much more difficult than last year when Paul Giamatti swept every possible award. Kiefer Sutherland was great in this TV movie, but "24" has slipped a good bit with Emmy voters. Kenneth Branagh has won this category before, but not for such a laid-back role as this one. The other four men certainly have a shot at winning.

Kevin Bacon is phenomenal in his movie, but the portrayal calls for a measured, reserved performance that doesn't often win Emmys. Brendan Gleeson has the challenge of taking on Winston Churchill following Emmy winner Albert Finney from years ago. If voters are going to select a live theatrical performance, I think they would choose Sir Ian McKellen over Kevin Kline. McKellen has what many consider the character role of a lifetime in "King Lear," is well-respected and never has won an Emmy. He gets to chew up the scenery in this role and takes home the Emmy this year.

(Ranked by likelihood to win)
1. Ian McKellen, "King Lear"
2. Kevin Bacon, "Taking Chance"
3. Brendan Gleeson, "Into the Storm"
4. Kenneth Branagh, "Wallander: One Step Behind"
5. Kevin Kline, "Cyrano de Bergerac"
6. Kiefer Sutherland, "24: Redemption"

ROB'S COMMENTARY: Not an easy category to predict because we essentially have five very strong candidates and Kiefer Sutherland rounding out the category with what I see as a consolation nod for missing out in the race for best lead drama actor.

Although I am not really a big fan of performances that originated on stage being taped especially for TV and then nominated (usually because of name recognition), by all counts Ian McKellen is terrific as King Lear, and appears to be the narrow front-runner. Any of the other top five could win this race, with my choice being Kevin Bacon’s subtle and touching performance in "Taking Chance" as a surprise spoiler.


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Dueling Emmy predix: Alec Baldwin vs. Steve Carell

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Why try to fix the Emmycast? It's not broken!

Strategic DVD releases at Emmy time: 'Dexter,' 'Flight of the Conchords,' 'House M.D.,' 'Mad Men' and . . .

Photo: PBS

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