Sunday, September 6, 2020

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.

Adam Driver as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (Host: Adam Driver)
Driver has three previous nominations in the supporting actor category for “Girls,” earned from 2013 to 2015. After back-to-back Oscar nominations and a banner year that included a starring role in the final chapter of the latest “Star Wars” trilogy, Driver is a hot commodity right now. He does a good job of poking fun at himself and his public image, showing that he can have fun, in hosting the famous variety series and participating in a number of sketches. He doesn’t have the pedigree of the other men nominated from his show, but he’s very popular right now.

Luke Kirby as Lenny Bruce, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (It’s Comedy or Cabbage)
Kirby won this award last year on his first Emmy nomination. For the second year in a row, his show is the most-nominated comedy series, and that buzz helps considerably. In his submitted episode, he once again goes toe-to-toe with series star Rachel Brosnahan as Lenny Bruce, and it’s a very natural performance that isn’t always funny but is consistently captivating. Last year he had internal competition and now he doesn’t, so a repeat win is definitely possible.

Eddie Murphy as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (Host: Eddie Murphy)
Murphy actually earned two Emmy nominations – in a catch-all supporting actor category one year and a variety performer race the next – for his original stint on this show back in 1983 and 1984, and also contended as part of the writing staff. He was nominated again for producing an animated show in 1999, and now he’s back for his triumphant return to the show that made him famous. It’s a very comfortable, respectable effort, one that should earn him plenty of deserved nostalgic votes. That didn’t help Adam Sandler last year, but Murphy might be able to pull it off.

Dev Patel as Joshua, Modern Love (When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist)
No one quite knew what to expect from Amazon’s anthology series, which weirdly submitted certain performers like Anne Hathaway as supporting stars despite them substantially appearing in just one episode. Patel turned out to be the lone representative of the series, earning his inaugural nomination for playing the lovestruck creator of a dating app. As usual, Patel is endearing, and it’s nice to see him recognized even if the performance itself isn’t his strongest work.

Brad Pitt as Dr. Anthony Fauci, Saturday Night Live (SNL at Home #2)
In addition to a producing win for “The Normal Heart” in 2014, Pitt has one previous acting nomination – in this category for “Friends” back in 2002. His inclusion here is indicative of how voters will simply check off names they know since, like Robert De Niro as Robert Mueller last year, there’s nothing noteworthy at all about his somewhat decent mimicry of the main face of the U.S. coronavirus response is the cold open of his show. Pitt is a likeable presence but this isn’t Emmy-worthy work in quality or quantity.

Fred Willard as Frank Dunphy, Modern Family (Legacy)
This marks Willard’s fifth nomination in this category after a bid for this show in 2010 and three earlier nominations for “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Sadly, Willard died in May, and this episode is even more bittersweet because it features his final appearance as the father who modeled all of his son Phil’s best traits for him. Posthumous Emmy wins are rare but not unheard of, and the fitting content of Willard’s episode could help him achieve it.

Who should win (based on entire season): N/A
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Kirby or Murphy
Who will win: I’m going to go with Murphy though I’m well aware that it could easily be Kirby again or Willard.

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