Sunday, June 5, 2011

Emmy Musings: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Now that the 2010-2011 TV season is officially over, it’s hardly too early to start thinking about the Emmy nominations, which will be announced in July. Consider these preliminary thoughts rather than official predictions – look for those at the beginning of July. As always, chime in with your reactions and predictions in the comments, and don’t hesitate to let me know if I left any strong contenders off the list!

Last year’s ineligible nominees: Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad” returns this summer) & Matthew Fox (“Lost” is over)

Last year’s eligible nominees:
Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights)
Chandler and costar Connie Britton surprised last year by finally earning nominations for their work on the critically-acclaimed NBC-DirectTV series. The show ended this past year, and the only question is whether Chandler got a symbolic nod last year for all five seasons of this show. Had he not been nominated last year, he might be a stronger candidate, but with two slots opening up, he’s probably a safe bet to stay.

Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
America’s favorite serial killer had one of his strongest years yet, and he’s a sure bet to return to this lineup for the fourth time. He was headed strong into this race last year with Golden Globe and SAG wins, and he’d be the sure frontrunner this year if not for the fact that no other nominee in this category has ever won gold. With Cranston out of the way, he has a shot, but he’s not a lock for the win.

Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Its fourth year didn’t show any signs of losing steam, as the AMC drama is just as popular and critically-acclaimed as ever. Hamm has the pleasure of not having to stand in the shadow of another AMC star this year as Bryan Cranston is temporarily out of the race, so it’s possible that he could finally win the award that has eluded him for three years this time around. He was as good this year as any, and it will be up to his episode submission to beat the newcomer that took both him and his show down at the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards.

Hugh Laurie (House)
Laurie is an interesting case because he has the kind of role where he should have won years ago, at the beginning and height of his show’s popularity. Now that the show itself is dwindling and probably entering its final year, it’s feasible that Laurie could simply be left off the list in favor of other candidates. That’s not too likely, however, since he’s still a staple and there’s not all that much competition. His win, on the other hand, will probably have to wait until the show’s final year, if it comes then at all.

Past nominees:
Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment)
Byrne earned nominations for the first two seasons of this show, and HBO, as it often does, delayed the third season long enough to permit an entire season to pass without it airing. Other shows have survived similar gaps and returned strong with nominations aplenty, but this show is never been entirely embraced by Emmy voters, and I think it could easily be forgotten, especially as the show was cancelled by HBO this past year.

New contenders:
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
This terrific character actor hasn’t had many lead roles in the past, and certainly none as meaty as that of Nucky Thompson on HBO’s 1920s-set drama. An Emmy nominee for his season of “The Sopranos,” Buscemi will most definitely earn another nod this year. He’s already taken home the Golden Globe and the SAG, and he was already up against his stiffest competition in both those races, so expect him to win this one as well.

Michael Imperioli (Detroit 1-8-7)
Imperioli is just the kind of contender you’d put on a list before his show premiered and then all but disqualify come Emmy time due to the failure of the show, which got cancelled by ABC. Imperioli did win an Emmy in the past, actually beating the prospective nominee listed directly above, and was a frequent nominee for that same role, on “The Sopranos.” Honestly, though, he has no shot.

Jeremy Irons (The Borgias)
Irons, who won an Oscar in 1990, is the kind of actor you wouldn’t expect to find working on television. Since that’s the case, however, it’s only fitting that he has a role that requires him to constantly chew scenery, as the patriarch of the manipulative, murderous Borgia family. The question here is whether people will actually remember Irons’ performance, as well as if he’s actually putting in any effort since he’s so naturally good. I’d hazard a guess that he won’t make the cut.

Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead)
This six-episode AMC series is officially contending in drama series categories. Its effects, cinematography, and overarching storyline are certifiably strong, but the quality of its performances is up for debate. British-born Lincoln did his best to master a Southern accent and muster some courage to fight off zombies, and he may be rewarded for his efforts with a nomination, if he’s lucky.

William H. Macy (Shameless)
Though I’d classify this show in the comedy category rather than as a drama, there’s no arguing the fact that Macy is excellent on this show. It’s also easy to classify him as a lead, which prevents competition with the many other terrific, less-known actors on the show. This series was well-received enough that it should be able to contend, and Macy is a decent bet to earn a nomination.

Holt McCallany (Lights Out)
This won’t happen, but how nice would it be to see McCallany, who is usually a background player, earn a nomination for a season of hard work on a show FX cancelled too soon? Here’s hoping.

Tom Selleck (Blue Bloods)
This television veteran is back on CBS Friday nights as the chief of police in this family drama, and there’s been talk since before the show started that Selleck could return to the Emmy pool. It’s harder these days for procedural actors on broadcast network series to break into the acting races, so I’d suspect that, while Selleck will garner a fair number of votes, he won’t make it in ultimately.

Other possibilities:
Matthew Bomer (White Collar)
Even though I’ve never thought of this show as a drama, and Bomer’s part isn’t exactly a difficult one to play, he’s just charismatic enough that he could be the breakthrough USA star to earn an Emmy nomination in a leading category. In a year like this where there are a few slots up for grabs, he could sneak in, though he probably won’t.

Peter Krause (Parenthood)
This NBC drama didn’t earn any recognition last year as many, including me, suspected it might. Krause remains one of the show’s best bets, especially considering his Emmy history of three nominations and no wins for “Six Feet Under.” While NBC did renew the show for a third season, its second year wasn’t received entirely warmly, and I think Krause will continue to sit this race out for the time being.

Timothy Olyphant (Justified)
I predicted this FX gunslinger to net an Emmy nomination last year, to no avail. The show’s second season, however, was a certifiable hit, and Olyphant was just as awesome as he was in season one. With two slots open, Olyphant could easily grab one of them, but I have a sinking suspicion that “Justified” will be one of those wildly acclaimed shows never to receive appropriate Emmy attention.

Next up: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series


Richter Scale said...

Abe, after last year here's something I've been considering. I don't think Emmys follow the SAGs or Golden Globes the way the Oscars do. They don't really act so much as precursors. Think how last year, you had Michael C. Hall, Julianna Margulies, Alec Baldwin and Glee winning both SAG and GGs for their respective categories, and yet none of them won the Emmy. Also, Jim Parsons was never even nominated for a Golden Globe until he won the Emmy, and Bryan Cranston just got his first Golden Globe nomination for Breaking Bad after winning three Emmys for it (and lost) and he's never won a SAG award. So, that's why I don't think Steve Buscemi will win this year. Also, I want this year to finally go to Jon Hamm or Michael C. Hall, and I think the fact that they're overdue especially after giving Cranston the Emmy three years running should give them more of a shot. All I'm saying is, don't take the Golden Globes or SAG Awards so seriously as Emmy precursors.

Movies with Abe said...

A valid point - I just think "Boardwalk Empire" still has a lot of buzz and Buscemi may have the momentum going for him.