Friday, September 13, 2019

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

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

Matt Damon as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (Host: Matt Damon)
This is the Damon’s third acting nomination following a bid in 2013 for “Behind the Candelabra” and in this category in 2011 for “30 Rock.” In his hosting gig, he demonstrates a truly affable and likeable attitude in the episode he hosts, opening up with a warm monologue and gamely playing along in each of the sketches. The most agreeable turn isn’t always the one that wins, but Damon would be a fantastic and worthy victor.

Robert De Niro as Robert Mueller, Saturday Night Live (Host: Sandra Oh)
This is the second nomination for De Niro, who was previously up for “The Wizard of Lies” in 2017. He also contends this year as a producer for limited series “When They See Us.” De Niro is the only performer recognized for his show who either isn’t a host or a series regular, and his inclusion is somewhat puzzling. In his first appearance as Robert Mueller, there were decent jokes and he seemed into it, but there’s so little effort in his dry reading of the report that this mimicry hardly seems deserving of any sort of award.

Luke Kirby as Lenny Bruce, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (All Alone)
This is the first nomination for Kirby, who plays legendary comic Lenny Bruce on the popular Amazon series. Kirby’s role was more prominent in his multiple season two appearances than in his also memorable contributions to season one. In the season finale, Kirby gets to play Bruce as a sympathetic ear and mentor for Midge and also to do some performing of his own. He fits in very well with the show around him, and could very well ride a wave of support for his highly-respected series.

Peter MacNicol as Jeff Kane, Veep (Oslo)
This is the fourth career nomination for MacNicol, who won in 2001 on this third bid for “Ally McBeal.” He was technically nominated in this category in 2016 before it was rescinded due to his having appeared in too many episodes that season. Now, MacNicol is back for a typically scathing performance as the unkind political operator whose first instinct was to laugh maniacally at a funeral. It’s a memorable performance that, despite the shortness of its length, could result in a win for the veteran comic actor.

John Mulaney as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (Host: John Mulaney)
This is actually Mulaney’s first acting bid, though he’s been nominated and won before, mostly for writing. This year, he’s up for three other Emmys, for writing “Saturday Night Live” and for writing and music and lyrics for “Documentary Now.” In his second shot as host of NBC’s long-running variety series, Mulaney seems completely at home, using a microphone to perform a stand-up routine rather than do some sort of bit or sketch for the opening monologue. He seems totally into all of the sketches throughout the episode, and despite having a less prominent acting profile than the other nominees in this category, he may still be able to earn some votes.

Adam Sandler as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (Host: Adam Sandler)
This is the first acting nomination for Sandler, who was previously nominated three times as part of the “Saturday Night Live” writing team and also contends this year for penning his own variety special. His hosting appearance makes a nostalgic return to the variety series from which, as he sings about during the opening monologue, he was once fired. Familiarity is what works best for Sandler, and his Opera Man news recap during Weekend Update is a particular highlight.

Rufus Sewell as Declan Howell, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Look, She Made a Hat)
This is the first nomination for Sewell, who likely came close to a bid a few years ago for the first season of “The Man in the High Castle.” Here, he keeps his accent and gets to play a drunken painter who has a surprising chemistry with the marvelous title character. It’s a great performance and one that serves a true purpose in his episode. He would be a fine and respectable choice that may just be what Emmy voters want, even if it’s a less traditional comedy turn.

Who should win (based on entire season): N/A
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Damon or Sewell
Who will win: It’s possible that it could be Kirby or Sewell or even Mulaney, but I’m betting on Sandler.

Next up: Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

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