By Phil Wallace

Some major names have earned nominations for Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie. The group includes two Oscar winners (Al Pacino and Jeff Bridges), two other Oscar nominees (Ian McKellen and Michael Sheen), and another well-known Hollywood actor (Dennis Quaid). While all of these actors had excellent performances, Pacino is a heavy favorite to win his second Emmy. Here is a closer look at the nominees:

Jeff Bridges, A Dog Year – Bridges is riding high after winning the Oscar for Best Actor earlier this year in Crazy Heart. Can Bridges make it two-for-two in major awards? Don’t count on it. A Dog Year was supposed to make it to be a theatrical feature three years ago, but never made it to the silver screen. HBO released it as a TV movie with little fanfare, and its reviews rivaled that of a Hallmark TV special. Bridges does a solid job of portraying a man who talks to dogs, but in many respects the dogs are the real stars of the picture.

Ian McKellen, The Prisoner – This is McKellen’s fifth Emmy nomination and he has yet to win. This time around McKellen stars in a six-part AMC miniseries remake of the famous 1960s British TV show, and his performance is nothing short of remarkable. Starring as the leader of the other-worldy village, McKellen makes The Prisoner a chilling and fascinating thriller. Widely-respected in Hollywood, McKellen is one of the strongest contenders in this category.

Al Pacino, You Don’t Know Jack – Pacino won his first Emmy in 2004 for Angels in America. This year, his role of Jack Kevorkian in the Barry Levinson-directed HBO movie, seems tailor-made for another Emmy. Pacino won plaudits for nailing all of Kevorkian’s quirks and exposing the human side of “Dr. Death.” The Academy has a long history of rewarding top actors who dare to take on challenging and controversial roles. Pacino looks to be joining that elite company.

Dennis Quaid, The Special Relationship – Quaid doesn’t venture into TV very often, but it’s a good thing he made The Special Relationship. Quaid doesn’t quite look like Bill Clinton, and you’re never quite convinced it’s him, but he has many of the mannerisms down. This is his first significant awards nomination of any kind. Still, it’s hard to say that Quaid has outshined the competition, and he may lose some votes to Michael Sheen.

Michael Sheen, The Special Relationship – Alright, we get it. Sheen looks like Tony Blair and can play a great Tony Blair. This is the third time Sheen has played the former British Prime Minister, have also done so in The Deal (2003) and The Queen (2006). While Sheen is always great, the fact that he’s playing the same character in a third different film will probably derail his Emmy hopes.

Prediction: This award appears to be Al Pacino’s to lose. If you want to pick an underdog though, then give some consideration to Ian McKellen.

Road to the Emmys Series

July 5: Nomination Preview Podcast – Lilit Marcus, Andrew Payne, Rebecca Rose, and Phil Wallace

July 8: Nomination Analysis Podcast – Rebecca Rose, Dantzler Smith, Phil Wallace, and Bryce Van Kooten

July 12: Outstanding Host: Reality Show or Reality Competition – Adam Spunberg

July 14: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie – Adam Spunberg

July 15: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie – Phil Wallace

July 19: Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries or Movie – Phil Wallace

July 21: Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or Movie – Gene Williams

July 26: Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special – Savanna New

July 28: Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series – Dantzler Smith

August 2: Outstanding Reality Program – Gene Williams

August 4: Outstanding Reality Competition Program – Savanna New

August 7: Outstanding Made for TV Movie – Savanna New

August 8: Outstanding Miniseries – Adam Spunberg

August 9: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Colin Campbell

August 10: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – Kit Bowen

August 11: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – Rebecca Rose

August 12: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – Andrew Payne

August 16: Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series – Phil Wallace

August 17: Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series – Steve Neumann

August 18: Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series – Andrew Payne

August 19: Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series – Bryce Van Kooten

August 23: Outstanding Comedy Series – Kit Bowen

August 25: Outstanding Drama Series – Adam Spunberg

August 29: 62nd Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards