Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Emmy Musings: Best Supporting 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 eligible nominees:
Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age)
This actor has a tendency to get nominated for subpar projects, no matter what they are. This show got cancelled last summer, but half of its second season aired during the eligibility period. He got nominated based on only six episodes last year and ten the year before, so it stands to reason that he could once again displace a more deserving candidate even though his show’s been dead for some time.

Josh Charles (The Good Wife)
This actor got his first nomination last year for playing one of the firm partners on CBS’ hit legal show, and his character had an even better arc this past year as he found himself indicted and then suspended. Unfortunately, his role is the least showy, and therefore he’s likely to be the first left off the list in a more competitive year than the last.

Alan Cumming (The Good Wife)
After getting a promotion from guest actor to lead actor last year, Cumming is in the running for his third nomination as he moved over from running a campaign to trying to exert himself in a law office. He was just as good this time, but his material wasn’t nearly as juicy, and as a result he might find himself snubbed in the face of new competition.

Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Last year’s winner is a sure thing to return, as his second season role has gotten even meatier. As the lone acting representative of the well-reviewed epic HBO series, he’s got an even better shot since the show should be rewarded somewhere. The excellent Dinklage has found the role of a lifetime in Tyrion Lannister, and I imagine he’ll continue to be rewarded for it.

Walton Goggins (Justified)
After being snubbed both for the final season of “The Shield” and the freshman season of “Justified,” Goggins achieved a shocking nomination last year. His role only intensified in season three, and the question is whether he’ll be the only nominee from his show in this category since there are at least two other worthy candidates. Hopefully they won’t all cancel each other out since this show’s exceptional cast deserves recognition.

John Slattery (Mad Men)
This actor has been nominated for every season of the show thus far, and it’s all but guaranteed that he’ll be back for season five, in which his rivalry with a junior partner has paved the way for plenty of winning comic moments. Given the history of his inclusion with lesser material, Slattery is the surest thing aside from Dinklage in this category.

Past nominees:
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
This actor was nominated twice and won for the third season of this dark AMC series. The show wasn’t eligible last year, so Paul will have to fight his way back into the lineup after a year off. Voters seem to love the show, and the fact that he won should permit him to return, especially since he has several impactful episodes that should prove equal to the material he had in the past.

New contenders:
Dylan Baker (Damages)
This show managed to net two supporting actor nods in its first season, and Baker, a guest acting nominee in 2010 for “The Good Wife,” was one of the standouts of season four, delivering a fine-tuned performance as a cold-blooded fixer manipulating events to his advantage. It’s hard to know how the show will fare now that it’s on DirecTV, but it’s not likely that Baker will be recognized for his strong work.

John Goodman (Damages)
This actor was unforgivably snubbed for his magnificent turn in “Treme” last year, and he moved on immediately to be the major villain of this once-loved show. Goodman has collected eleven nominations over the past twenty-five years, winning in 2007 for his guest spot on “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” There’s a lot of competition, but Goodman is a juggernaut who might just be able to break in to the lineup.

Neal McDonough (Justified)
This actor was criminally ignored for his supporting role in NBC’s “Boomtown” a decade ago, and after that show’s swift cancellation, he finally found another perfect role on FX’s hit show. It would be awful for him to be snubbed, but unless voters are watching faithfully, he may have a tough time displacing more familiar faces. This is my personal plug – the most deserving actor of the 2012-2013 season.

Nick Nolte (Luck)
This veteran actor managed to get an Oscar nomination for the otherwise ignored “Warrior” this past year, so it’s not wise to discard him entirely even though his show was swiftly cancelled due to horse deaths during filming. He was probably the most recognizable face of the supporting ensemble, which means that he could pop up if voters still remember the show.

Mandy Patinkin (Homeland) This actor won an Emmy for the first season of “Chicago Hope” before departing the series in season two, and earned another nod for guest-starring on the show four years later. Now, he plays a veteran CIA analyst on the hit Showtime series “Homeland,” for which he’ll likely contend. He’s an Emmy favorite, and it’s hard not to like him in the role.

Mykelti Williamson (Justified)
This actor has two major obstacles to getting a nomination: costars Walton Goggins and Neal McDonough. After playing the affable Bubba almost twenty years ago in “Forrest Gump,” Williamson proved himself just as capable at playing a quiet, polite villain as Margo Martindale, who won the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress last year. Though he deserves it, his inclusion is not likely.

Other possibilities:
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Completely ignored for his recurring roles in season two and three of AMC’s dark drama, Esposito was front and central and better than ever before in his most villainous arc yet. The show is clearly popular with voters, and it’s just a matter of whether they’re actually paying attention and remember one of the most astounding performances of the season.

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