Sunday, September 15, 2019

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

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

Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy, Game of Thrones (The Long Night)
Allen earns his first nomination for the final season of his show. After appearing as a supporting player who wasn’t often tied in to the main plotlines, he got a chance to shine in a key scene at the end of his submitted episode. Theon is definitely a fan favorite, but it would be a stretch to argue that Allen’s performance is stronger than those of his nominated costars. He doesn’t have the same gravitas as Gwendoline Christie, the underdog in the supporting actress race, and therefore I’d give him a very low chance of winning here.

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, Better Call Saul (Winner)
This is the fifth nomination for Banks for this role, after three previous bids for this show and one for “Breaking Bad.” He was also nominated in 1989 for “Wiseguy.” Banks has become a default nominee whenever his show is eligible. His episode smartly shows him trying as hard as he can to stop someone set on breaking the rules from sealing his own fate, typically maintaining a stoic front while demonstrating an inner humanity. There’s no reason Banks would win this year, but this is a good submission.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Game of Thrones (The Bells)
This is the second nomination for Coster-Waldau, who earned his first bid last year for the seventh season of his show. He’s definitely good in his submitted episode, the penultimate hour of the show that finds him making an important choice about his allegiances, but it’s unlikely that people will vote for him over his onscreen brother, played by three-time winner Peter Dinklage. Jaime’s role as a whole is much more minimal than Tyrion’s, and he doesn’t have the same kind of emphatic scene that Theon does, which I think makes him least likely out of the three costars to win.

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones (The Iron Throne)
This is Dinklage’s eighth straight nomination, officially the only performer from his show to be honored each season. He’s also won three times, for seasons one, five, and seven. A consecutive win to go with last year’s seems very likely, and Dinklage honestly could have submitted any of the episodes of this season and been a frontrunner. The finale is controversial, but obviously Emmy voters don’t mind, and Dinklage is so good as the moral center of the series finale that he shouldn’t have too much trouble taking home this award unless voters really want to reward someone else.

Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo Fring, Better Call Saul (Pinata)
Seven years ago, Esposito was nominated for his final season on “Breaking Bad.” He was eligible for his return to that universe in the previous season of this show two years ago, and now he’s earned another bid for portraying the buttoned-up drug kingpin. His role in the fourth season of the AMC prequel isn’t all that prominent, but he does play a major part in his submitted episode, which shows how powerful he is and also includes a reference to a fan-favorite part of the original show for which he’s well-known. A win for him now would be a makeup for his loss seven years ago, but there’s no reason to suspect he has any support at this moment in time.

Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper, House of Cards (Chapter 73)
This is Kelly’s fourth nomination, following the three consecutive bids he received for the most recent seasons of his now-ended show. Kelly’s inclusion feels like a real afterthought for a show well past its prime that flopped in its final outing, though not much of his performance is any different than it’s ever been. His submission of the series finale is the logical choice, but it’s hard to imagine anyone would want to reward this miserable, uninviting turn even if it does show the talent and focus Kelly brings to the character who is unendingly loyal to a dead man.

Chris Sullivan as Toby Damon, This Is Us (Toby)
This is the first nomination for Sullivan, who joins costars Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia, both on their third consecutive bids, and fellow first-timer Mandy Moore, to represent his show. Sullivan, who was the comic relief most of the time earlier on in his show’s run, is featured extensively in an episode that has his name as the title, providing a superb showcase for the affable actor. It does make him sympathetic and tells a contained story that could impress irregular viewers, but its serious tone doesn’t quite capture the lightness of his performance that might otherwise enable him to stand out from the pack.

Who should win (based on entire season): Dinklage
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Dinklage
Who will win: Just like last year, I don’t see anyone besides Dinklage winning.

Next up: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

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