Last year most of the supporting acting categories were fairly predictable with undeniable front runners like John Lithgow, Alec Baldwin, and Laura Dern. This year there isn’t a single predictable supporting race. All six supporting categories are wide open with at least two or three strong contenders. The categories are filled with breakout stars, overdue veteran actors, and Emmy favorites. In a brief look at all six categories we break down the front runners, contenders, and possible upsets vying for a win at this year’s Emmys.
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie
Jeff Daniels has a lot going for him in this year’s supporting actor category. Godless is clearly popular among actors. He’s also nominated for his performance in The Looming Tower. Bridges was singled out by SAG voters already for Godless and after five Emmy nominations voters clearly like him.
Brandon Victor Dixon is the fan favorite in the category for his critically praised performance as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. Voters absolutely loved Jesus Christ Superstar and the love for the show only helps his chances but he isn’t a household name and that might risk his chances. The Assassination of Gianni Versace is the front runner for Outstanding Limited Series and that might propel one of its supporting actors to a win but with three nominees and no clear front runner they risk splitting the vote. As the titular character Edgar Ramirez might have the best chance of breaking through but Finn Wittrock had a devastating arc as a closeted soldier that is just as worthy of recognition.
Front Runner – Jeff Daniels, Godless
Strong Contender – Brandon Victor Dixon, Jesus Christ Superstar
Possibility – Edgar Ramirez, The Assassination of Gianni Versace
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie
Even with limited screen time Judith Light made a major impression as Marilyn Miglin, the widow of one of Cunanan’s victims. The actress who is best known for her comedic work earned some of the best reviews of her career and she should be on her way to winning her first Primetime Emmy. Her biggest competition might be one of her co-stars, Penelope Cruz, in a flashier and more high-profile role.
The supporting actress race has plenty of possibilities this year. If Godless is as popular as it seems to be Merritt Wever could win especially with such an over-the-top gun slinging character that is so different than her Emmy winning role in Nurse Jackie. Letitia Wright was the breakout star in the biggest movie of the year and that has translated to many Emmy wins (Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon).
Front Runner – Judith Light, The Assassination of Gianni Versace
Strong Contender – Penelope Cruz, The Assassination of Gianni Versace
Possible Upset – Letitia Wright, Black Mirror: Black Museum
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
A lot of people would be surprised to find out that after 40+ years on television Henry Winkler has never won an Emmy. Now on his seventh nomination Henry Winkler has a good chance of winning his first Emmy. Actors are going to love his performance as a ridiculous acting teacher that is bound to trigger memories of their own experiences starting out in the industry.
Winkler isn’t the only beloved actor competing in the category this year. Tony Shaloub, a three-time winner, is a major contender as Midge Maisel’s traditional father in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. He just won a Tony award and it wouldn’t be surprising if voters rally behind him here.
The television academy has drastically expanded over the past couple of years and the new voting members might go in a completely different direction. They clearly love SNL and Keenan Thompson is well-loved as the longest running cast member. BrianTyree Henry is quickly becoming a sought out actor in Hollywood earning his first Emmy and Tony nominations months apart. Atlanta is clearly loved by voters but in the end his performance might be too subtle to attract enough voters for a comedy award.
Front Runner – Henry Winkler, Barry
Strong Contender – Tony Shaloub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
In Contention – Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
For the past two years Kate McKinnon has won the supporting actress Emmy largely because of her shockingly endearing political impersonations. She’s the first and currently only regular cast member to win a supporting Emmy and voters might be content to reward her for years to come. This year she risks losing votes to Leslie Jones who has been rising in mainstream popularity for her Twitter and Olympic commentary – although they have never split votes in the past.
Alex Borstein is the other major contender this year as a club promoter and talent agent on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She is already well-known in the industry for her comedic performances on Mad TV, Getting On, and her Emmy winning voice-work on Family Guy which only helps her here in a comedy category.
Front Runner – Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Strong Contender – Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Possible Upset – Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
After his crowd pleasing SAG speech on behalf of the entire Stranger Things ensemble David Harbour has become the face of the sci-fi phenomenon. He’s widely believed to be the Emmy front runner because of his likability and his emotional arc throughout the second season dealing with emotions over his daughter and newfound friendship with Eleven.
Harbour is in no way set in stone and more than any other category the supporting actor race seems poised for an upset. If The Handmaid’s Tale is immensely popular with actors and he might easily go along for the ride although voters might be turned off by a character without a single redeeming quality. Peter Dinklage has won multiple Emmys and might very well win a third. The only thing getting in Dinklage’s way is that it wouldn’t be deserved based off of the material he was given in the seventh season.
The second season received a lot of love from the actor and casting branches and there is a lot of support for someone from the current cast to win an Emmy. Both women are in extremely competitive categories so Matt Smith might be the show’s best shot at a win. He also has a passionate fan base from his years on Doctor Who. The only question is whether or not voters will be completely turned off by the frat boy portrayal of Prince Phillip.
Front Runner – David Harbour, Stranger Things
Predicted Upset – Matt Smith, The Crown
Strong Contender – Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
This year’s supporting actress category is one of the most exciting of the year and nothing would make ADTV happier than seeing a three-way tie. Last year character actress Ann Dowd pulled off an upset however this year the popular choice is another actress from The Handmaid’s Tale, Yvonne Strahovski. After unfairly being left out last year Strahovski has become a fan favorite among critics and audiences for her layered portrayal of Serena Joy. At every event for the Emmy winning show she by far gets the most enthusiastic cheers from the audience and voters will be won over by her scenes with her Emmy winning costar.
There has been a last minute push for Vanessa Kirby’s tragic performance as Princess Margaret. The surprise win for the period drama in the casting category is proof that there might be more momentum for the show than originally thought and we know SAG voters love The Crown. She also has received some extra attention from her role in the newest Mission Impossible film and Los Angeles has been plastered with billboards for The Crown highlighting Kirby just as prominently as Foy, making her the clear alternative to the women of The Handmaid’s Tale.
HBO also has a strong group of nominees in the category. Thandie Newton left last year’s ceremony empty handed after some thought of her as the front runner. Voters might want to make up for last year but she might have a harder time after a lot of people were turned off by the show’s disappointing sophomore season. For the first time in a couple years Lena Headey is the sole supporting actress nomination for Game of Thrones and there is a strong possibility the Emmy juggernaut’s fans will rally behind her overdue performance.
Front Runner – Yvonne Strahovski, The Handmaid’sTale
Strong Contender – Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Don’t Count Out – Vanessa Kirby, The Crown