Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Hank Azaria as Ed Cochran, Ray Donovan (Norman Saves the World)
Azaria has actually won six Emmys out of twelve previous nominations, mostly for voice work on “The Simpsons” but most recently for this same performance last year when, like this year, he returned for a brief guest stint following his season two recurring role. Azaria knocked out a would-be repeat winner, Reg E. Cathey, last year, though he has history on his side with Charles S. Dutton, who won back-to-back trophies in this category for different shows in 2002 and 2003. Azaria’s guest spot was great, allowing him to pump up the exaggerated franticness of his character, and he’d be a fitting recipient of another award.

Brian Tyree Henry as Ricky, This Is Us (Memphis)
I firmly believe that first-time nominee Henry is here only because of enthusiasm for the show on which he actually stars, “Atlanta,” which managed a handful of nominations but not one for him. I don’t remember much of him in his submitted episode, which is already likely to win Emmys for stars Sterling K. Brown and Ron Cephas Jones. As a relative of Randall’s that he meets for the first time, Henry is a friendly face and a kindred spirit, but his performance pales in comparison both to his role on “Atlanta” and the other two men from his show nominated here.

Gerald McRaney as Dr. Nathan Katowski, This Is Us (The Big Day)
I’ve been a fan of McRaney’s since he starred in an important paternal role on “Jericho,” and seen him in the likes of “Longmire” and “House of Cards” since then. McRaney’s moderately grumpy doctor was a fan favorite from the pilot of this show, and it makes complete sense that he would submit the episode that allowed him an unexpected focus in flashback as he struggled to move past the death of his wife. If this category was predictable, which it rarely is, I think he’s easily got the best shot.

Ben Mendelsohn as Danny Rayburn, Bloodline (Chapter 32)
Mendelsohn took home the supporting actor trophy for this role last year though, regrettably, the Australian actor wasn’t present to accept it. Moved to the guest category, Mendelsohn is now the lone representative of his show, with costar Kyle Chandler missing out on a third consecutive nod for the show’s final season. Danny is a haunting, influential presence in his submitted episode, which finds Chandler’s John spiraling out of control and hallucinating. There’s no reason to think that Mendelsohn might not win again.

Denis O’Hare as Jessie, This Is Us (Last Christmas)
O’Hare, a terrific actor, has two previous Emmy nominations in the supporting miniseries/TV movie category, both for “American Horror Story.” I remember him best from his scenery-chewing role on “True Blood,” and here he tones down the aggression and the creepiness to play the boyfriend of William, Randall’s father, and he’s introduced in this episode. It’s a decent submission but he’s hardly the most prominent guest star on his own show or in this category.

BD Wong as Whiterose, Mr. Robot (eps2.3_logic-b0mb.hc)
It’s appalling to me that, not only did Rami Malek get snubbed after pulling off a win last year, but the entire series, which is one of the most fascinating things on television these days, is relegated to just one semi-major bid in Wong’s guest turn after he got left off last year. The longtime “Law and Order: SVU” cast member earns his first Emmy nomination for playing a powerful, mysterious influence with a dual identity. He could easily win since it’s a compelling performance, but I do wish that the show would earn more accolades for those actors I consider to be its best assets.

Who should win (based on entire season): N/A
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Azaria or McRaney
Who will win: Judging based on the episodes, I’d say McRaney would be ahead of the pack, but I’ve learned that such things are foolish since the guest categories are always hard to predict. Wong could win, but I’ll go with Mendelsohn.

Next up: Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series

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