Saturday, September 14, 2019

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.

Jason Bateman as Marty Byrde, Ozark (Reparations)
This is Bateman’s second consecutive nomination, both in this category and for directing his submitted episode. He was nominated previously in 2005 and 2013 for “Arrested Development.” Last year, I didn’t think he could win because his show wasn’t represented elsewhere, but this time around, his two costars are up, as is his show in the top category. He won the SAG Award this past year, but the winner of that award loses the Emmy much more often than he wins it. The season two premiere finds Marty dealing with many crises all around him, displaying Bateman’s ability to handle drama with the right amount of snark. Without a definitive frontrunner, this could well be Bateman’s opportunity to win.

Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson, This Is Us (R and B)
This is Brown’s third consecutive nomination for this role. Brown won this award two years ago and another Emmy the year before that for “American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson.” In its third year, his show performed pretty much as strongly in the nominations as is in the past. I predicted Brown to repeat last year, which he didn’t, and now he’s submitted a powerhouse installment that shows a younger version of him and then him struggling to keep his marriage together. In a year with no clear frontrunner here, Brown could easily be the default winner.

Kit Harington as Jon Snow, Game of Thrones (The Iron Throne)
This is the second nomination for Harington, who last contended in the supporting race for his show’s sixth season and failed to be nominated for its seventh when he switched to the lead category. As one of the most likeable and most prominent faces in the blockbuster final season of HBO’s epic fantasy series, Harington certainly has buzz going for him. Given how Emmy voters showered his show with nominations, he will definitely have fans, but ardent supporters of the show may be reluctant to reward his choice of the series finale, which many didn’t love. It’s still a formidable showcase of Harington’s work, and his name being called wouldn’t be a surprise.

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill, Better Call Saul (Winner)
This is the fourth nomination for Odenkirk, who was nominated for the first three seasons of his show, which took last season off. He was previously nominated and won for writing work on sketch shows. His show still has a solid number of nominations, and many think that this is the year Odenkirk can finally win. His selection of the season finale, which shows him perpetrating schemes and putting on a forceful performance to save his law degree, is indeed a great one, and the only thing stopping him from being the frontrunner is that his show just isn’t all that buzzy.

Billy Porter as Pray Tell, Pose (Love is the Message)
This is Porter’s first Emmy nomination. His show contends for Best Drama Series and a few technical trophies. Being the only member of his cast nominated doesn’t necessarily help him, especially since every other nominee here is joined by at least two costars in other categories, but that didn’t stop Jeff Daniels from winning for “The Newsroom.” Porter’s submission is a knockout, showing an intimate side of him in addition to his announcer gig and giving him a formidable chance to sing. His show has an ardent fan base and might just be able to win.

Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson, This Is Us (Sometimes)
This is the third consecutive nomination for Ventimiglia, who lost to costar Brown two years ago. He’s had better episodes to submit in the past, some of which he’s chosen and others that he hasn’t, and the one he picked this time probably won’t win viewers over since it requires more knowledge of his character and some work to determine which time period is being featured since it jumps around considerably. His show isn’t hot this year, and there’s nothing about this episode that will propel him to the top of anyone but a devoted fan’s ballot.

Who should win (based on entire season): Porter or Odenkirk
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Porter
Who will win: There isn’t really a frontrunner here since Richard Madden was snubbed. I’m going to pick Porter over Odenkirk and Bateman, though Brown could also be a default choice if no one else has enough support. I don’t think Harington will win even if his show sweeps.

Next up: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

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