Thursday, September 12, 2019

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.

Michael Angarano as Nick Pearson, This Is Us (Songbird Road: Part One)
This is the first nomination for Angarano, who portrays the younger brother of his show’s patriarch, Jack. This category has been won by other members of his cast the past two years, but both have been older actors. In his submitted episode, the reason for Nicky’s anguish is revealed, and those who have watched more of the show may have stronger reasons to vote for him than those who only watch this episode. It’s a good performance, but hardly in the same league as the rest of these nominees.

Ron Cephas Jones as William Hill, This Is Us (A Philadelphia Story)
Jones is the defending champion in this category, winning last year after a nomination in the supporting category for season one of the show. His victory was based on an episode that didn’t include all that much content, so obviously sentiment for the character helped him considerably. That may be true again, but no one has ever won multiple awards in this category for the same role. His presence in this year’s hour symbolized a connection for his son to his past, an effective one that could encourage voters to reward one of the more endearing elements of his show.

Michael McKean as Chuck McGill, Better Call Saul (Winner)
This is the clearest of a makeup nomination, like the one Elizabeth Mitchell got for “Lost” and then Jimmi Simpson got last year for “Westworld,” after a strong series regular performance is only honored for the guest gig that follows. This is McKean’s first Emmy nomination, and reappearing in a flashback as the main character’s brother doesn’t do justice to his tremendous turn in the third season that should have earned him a bid. That doesn’t mean he won’t win, since that would be a worthwhile way to reward a show that has yet to win a single award despite 22 previous nominations.

Kumail Nanjiani as Samir Wassan, The Twilight Zone (The Comedian)
This is Nanjiani’s first Emmy nomination after starring for five years on past Best Comedy Series nominee “Silicon Valley.” He’s now the only representative from the newest version of the classic mystery thriller anthology series. In its first episode, he plays a comedian who realizes that his jokes have a greater power than he could imagine. I think it’s a formidable, fantastic turn that so tremendously matches the tone of his show, and he did manage to get nominated, but I think a win, however deserving, would be surprising in the company of other actors on more respected and beloved series.

Glynn Turman as Nate Lahey, Sr., How to Get Away with Murder (It Was the Worst Day of My Life)
Turman is a past winner in this category, taking home a trophy for playing Blair Underwood’s father in “In Treatment” in 2008. This turn, his second career nomination, doesn’t really compare to that powerful performance, but Turman is still very good as a criminal seeking exoneration in his submitted episode. Star Viola Davis won an Emmy for the first season of her show, so maybe Turman could too, but his work isn’t likely to stand out among this crowd.

Bradley Whitford as Commander Joseph Lawrence, The Handmaid’s Tale (Postpartum)
Whitford is an Emmy favorite, having won a supporting trophy for his work on “The West Wing” with two additional nominations and a comedy guest acting prize for “Transparent” out of two bids. Now, he is nominated for his appearance in one of the last three “hanging” episodes of season two of his show. His turn as a high-ranking but unusual commander in a totalitarian state is immensely watchable, and given his Emmy track record and his continued performance in season three, I think he has a great shot to win.

Who should win (based on entire season): N/A
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Nanjiani or Whitford
Who will win: I think Whitford takes it.

Next up: Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series

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