Monday, September 4, 2017

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

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

Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson, This Is Us (Memphis)
Brown won an Emmy last year for his supporting performance as Christopher Darden in “American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson.” He was a hit even before this show started, and it’s pretty beloved by people. While it might not have the same cinematic gravitas – even if it does have the emotional weight – as some of the other shows, Brown’s sentimental performance, especially in this episode where he takes one final road trip with his father, cements him as having frontrunner status.

Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Robert Ford, Westworld (Trompe L’Oeil)
Oscar winner Hopkins has been nominated four times for before, all for miniseries or TV movie work. He won in 1976 and 1981, for “The Lindberg Kidnapping Case” and “The Bunker,” respectively. Hopkins’ first regular TV role in forty-five years puts him in a deceptively background role as the architect of the western landscape that serves as a violent escape for many. Without spoiling much, this episode reveals Dr. Ford to be much more complicit in evils than it previously seemed, especially related to Bernard. He’s great, but I still think his role isn’t featured enough, even compared to other players in this same episode, for the revered actor to win.

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill, Better Call Saul (Expenses)
This is the third consecutive nomination for Odenkirk, who was previously nominated and won for writing work on sketch shows. This year, Odenkirk had a handful of hours to pick from, and instead of opting for anything that directly involves the drama with his onscreen brother, he chose the episode in which he tried to break into the advertising business with some questionable negotiating. Pundits seem to think that he could triumph over Brown, and I get it, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan, Ray Donovan (Rattus Rattus)
This is the third consecutive nomination for Schreiber, the star of a terrific Showtime series that for some reason doesn’t get love in a lot of other categories. Schreiber has also has a second nod this year for narrating “Muhammad Ali: Only One.” It would be hard for Schreiber to win this since his show isn’t up for Best Drama Series. The season finale was typical Ray, though it also showed him become a concerned parent actually, for once, putting his family first. It’s a great submission, but he won’t win this year.

Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings, The Americans (Crossbreed)
This is the second consecutive nomination for Rhys, who is also nominated this year for his guest appearance on “Girls.” Unfortunately for Rhys, his show didn’t manage a repeat nod in the Best Drama Series race, which decreases the likelihood of him winning considerably. His submitted episode finds him grappling with new information about his father, which is good material, but it’s hard to relate to for casual viewers.

Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, House of Cards (Chapter 53)
Spacey is nominated for the fifth year in a row. He’s won both a Golden Globe and a SAG for his performance as President Frank Underwood, but his show still hasn’t managed to win a major Emmy, losing all thirteen of its bids last year. Many are surprised the show is still nominated, so I wouldn’t picture Spacey winning this year, but he is the type of actor who could win anytime since it’s really quite the performance. His submission of the season premiere is full-on Frank, boldly shouting at Congress to declare war.

Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson, This Is Us (Moonshadow)
The former star of “Heroes” and “Gilmore Girls” took on a more mature role this past year as the patriarch of the family on NBC’s much-beloved show, appearing only in flashbacks as he navigates the roles of husband and father. The season finale is probably the smartest submission for Ventimiglia aside from the premiere, since it shows him at a younger age being set on the right path by meeting his future wife. There’s no way that he’ll get votes over costar Brown, so consider his nomination the victory.

Who should win (based on entire season): Odenkirk, Hopkins, or Spacey
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Odenkirk, Hopkins, or Spacey
Who will win: This is a tough race, but I think that Brown will be able to pull off the win here. I don’t think any of his competition has what they need to beat him.

Next up: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

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