Sunday, September 6, 2020

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.

Jason Bateman as Terry Maitland, The Outsider (Fish in a Barrel)
Bateman earned his third consecutive bid in the lead actor category for “Ozark” this year, with two previous nominations for “Arrested Development” and a directing win last year for “Ozark.” He’s nominated for the pilot episode of a show many predicted to do better in major categories, playing someone much more villainous without the endearing nature of Marty Byrde. Typically, the goodwill that comes from this kind of double nomination would favor the more popular show, and so while a win is possible here, it’s not as likely as Bateman triumphing for his better known role.

James Cromwell as Ewan Roy, Succession (Dundee)
Cromwell won on his fourth nomination in 2013, for “American Horror Story: Asylum,” and this marks his third career bid in this category after previous nominations for “Six Feet Under” and “ER.” Cromwell was expected to be nominated last year but missed out, and now returns for a brief appearance in a season two episode of his show. His screentime may be limited, but he quickly and effectively conveys what it’s like to be the brother of a soulless magnate with a witty and instantly unforgettable performance. His show’s buzz could propel him to a win despite how much shorter his turn is than all five other nominees here.

Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon, The Mandalorian (Chapter 8: Redemption)
Esposito is the second double nominee in this category, recognized with his third bid for playing Gus Fring on “Better Call Saul” and previously on “Breaking Bad.” Esposito is the lone acting representative from the freshman Disney Plus “Star Wars” series, appearing in its final two episodes as a villain who, to his credit, stands out from most of the rest of the characters on the overrated show. If Alec Guinness couldn’t win an Oscar for playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first-ever installment of the series, I don’t see Esposito winning an Emmy here.

Ron Cephas Jones as William Hill, This Is Us (After the Fire)
This is Jones’ fourth consecutive nomination. He was considered a supporting actor for season one of the NBC drama, then won this prize for season two. His season four episode finds him in a recreated history, one that also serves as the submission for his costar and onscreen son Sterling K. Brown. He’s far from the most prominent player in the episode, but, unlike the last two years, he has no internal competition in this race, so maybe he could pull off another win.

Andrew Scott as Chris Gillhaney, Black Mirror (Smithereens)
Scott was inexplicably snubbed last year for his role in the Emmy-sweeping comedy “Fleabag,” and now he’s contending for one episode of the popular anthology series, which, after winning the Best TV Movie award three years in a row, has now been forced to compete as a regular drama series. Fortunately, Scott’s talents are on full display in his seventy-minute episode, and he’s really more of a lead than a guest. I think his strong performance and sentiment from last year should propel him to a win.

Martin Short as Dick Lundy, The Morning Show (Chaos is the New Cocaine)
The last time Short was nominated for an acting Emmy, in 2010 for “Damages,” I wanted him to win. He has two Emmys, one for producing AFI’s “A Tribute to Mel Brooks” in 2014 and as part of the writing staff for “SCTV Network 90” in 1983. Short was memorable as a friend of Steve Carell’s disgraced anchor who provided an interesting mirror in which he could examine his actions. I was happy that Short was included in this list, and there’s a distinct possibility he could win if voters can truly appreciate the impressive performance from the notable comedian.

Who should win (based on entire season): N/A
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Cromwell or Short
Who will win: I think Scott can win.

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