Sunday, May 27, 2012

Emmy Musings: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Now that the 2011-2012 TV season is almost 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: Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights)

Last year’s eligible nominees:
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
Coming off back-to-back SAG wins, there’s no reason Buscemi shouldn’t be back for the second season of the critically-acclaimed Prohibition-era gangster drama. The show is still hot, and Buscemi did plenty of fine work that makes him a strong contender for the win.

Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Hall was on fire two years ago when he picked up a Golden Globe and a SAG Award for the fourth season of the serial killer drama. Though I don’t agree, many have tired of the show in its sixth season, including Golden Globe voters, who snubbed him for the first time this past year. He might still make it, but I assume that voters will cast him aside for newer fare after four consecutive nominations.

Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
In its fifth year, this show is still doing exceptionally well. Hamm has never won because of fellow AMC star Bryan Cranston, and he missed his chance last year when Cranston was out of the running. That makes him even more overdue than ever before, and he’s all but guaranteed to get another nomination and might even win one of these days.

Hugh Laurie (House)
He has two Golden Globes and two SAG Awards, but, though he’s gone six for seven in terms of nominations, he has yet to win an Emmy. This is his final shot, and things don’t bode for him given that he was snubbed by both of the other organizations for the first time this past year. Whether he gets in or not is a toss-up, since it could finally earn him the recognition that most agreed he deserved a couple of years ago.

Timothy Olyphant (Justified)
This FX show continues to get better and better each year, and it’s fairly likely that Olyphant will return with another nomination, though he’s not the showiest part of the show, which could hurt him in this crowded category. His Emmy nod last year wasn’t followed up with Globe or SAG attention, so he’s a good bet but not guaranteed.

Past nominees:
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
This actor won this award three times in a row for the first three seasons of AMC’s dark drama, and, after the show didn’t air during the previous eligibility period, Cranston has a shot at going four for four. The show has only improved with age, and there’s no way that he won’t get nominated again, and he’s even a strong bet to win.

New contenders:
Patrick J. Adams (Suits)
This young actor shocked with a SAG nod for his performance as a brilliant fake lawyer on USA’s new series. I don’t see it transforming into an Emmy mention since voters have been traditionally unenthusiastic about the network, and the showier Gabriel Macht likely has the better shot if they change their minds. Crazier things have happened, though.

Kelsey Grammer (Boss)
The former “Frasier” star took home four Emmys in the comedy category and picked up a handful of additional nominations for the role. His evil dramatic turn on Starz’s new series earned him a Golden Globe, and unless voters decide it’s not their cup of tea, he’ll be nominated here as well and could well win.

Dustin Hoffman (Luck)
This veteran film actor – who won an Emmy for the “Death of a Salesman” TV movie back in 1986 – could have been a frontrunner in this category for HBO’s new horse racing series. The show’s swift cancellation due to horse deaths all but killed his chances, and I doubt anyone is remembering the show fondly at this point, so Hoffman’s inclusion would be real surprise.

Damian Lewis (Homeland)
This British actor’s role as a U.S. Marine held hostage in Iraq for eight years suspected by a CIA agent of being a turncoat earned him a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination, and if Emmy voters embrace the show the same way that the HFPA did, he’ll earn his first Emmy nomination as well. His show was hot back in the fall, and hopefully voters will remember it this summer.

Other possibilities:
Hugh Boneville (Downton Abbey) PBS’ extremely popular series is switching from the miniseries category, which it swept last year, to the drama series race. Though he didn’t get nominated for an Emmy last year, Boneville was honored with a Golden Globe nod this past year and may contend if the transition to the primetime race serves the insanely lauded show well.

William H. Macy (Shameless)
It’s peculiar that Showtime’s comedic drama earned a measly one nomination last year for recurring guest star Joan Cusack, but there’s no reason that it should be any more recognized in season two since the quality and tone of the show haven’t changed. Macy, an eight-time Emmy nominee, is the show’s most recognizable actor and also its best bet aside from a repeat nod from Cusack.

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