The supporting actor and actress in a drama series categories are ready for a major shakeup. A lot of the typical dramas we’ve come to expect in the Emmy race have taken the year off including Stranger Things, The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, The Crown, and Homeland. In fact only three of last year’s 13 nominees are eligible to return – all three actors from Game of Thrones.
So what performances will be nominated in these categories for the first time? Will voters lazily check off their ballots for the entire Game of Thrones cast? We’re all expecting the final season to be welcomed with open arms by the television academy. Perhaps it can even break records in the supporting races filling up the categories in a way we’ve never seen before.
But what about the actors from other shows that are on the cusp of a nomination? Julia Garner of Ozark was given a huge push from SAG voters. Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Sullivan were given the best storylines of the season on This Is Us. Indya Moore has become an overnight sensation and has the opportunity to make history this year at the Emmys. But who else is picking up traction?
Game of Thrones
Just how many supporting nominations will Game of Thrones pick up in its final season? Over the years six different actors from the fantasy epic have been singled out by Emmy voters. Two of those past nominees were upgraded to the lead races leaving Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Maisie Williams, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau as the likely nominees.
It’s safe to assume that all of the past nominees are safe to return one last time especially standouts of the season like Dinklage and Williams. But what about Lena Headey? Heading into the season everyone was under the belief that it would be the season of Cersei and she would finally be given the material to win the Emmy she has missed out on in the past. But fans were pissed by her lack of screentime and material worthy of such an iconic villain. Does that even matter though to Emmy voters or will they nominate her anyways as a celebration of Headey’s series long work?
But can Game of Thrones tie or break any records in its final season? Back in 2002 The West Wing was nominated for a combined seven supporting nominations (Stockard Channing, John Spencer, Bradley Whitford, Mary-Louise Parker, Dulé Hill, Richard Schiff, and Janel Moloney). Can Game of Thrones match that? If voters go all out for the final season it looks like the ensemble can get pretty close to matching that.
The last two living Starks to be nominated by the television academy are Sophie Turner and Isaac Hempstead Wright. Sansa became notorious as one of the most unfairly polarizing characters in Westeros but over the past two seasons she has grown into her own as a character. If voters were to rank them on their final season performance there’s a good chance Turner would come in even more popular than Headey. Bran on the other hand has consistently been the most frustrating Stark sibling and as a result has led to countless memes in the final season. Still, for better or worse, the Three-Eyed Raven became one of the most integral characters in the story and some voters might feel compelled to check him off as they fill out their ballots.
If Game of Thrones is going to break anymore records a couple of smaller fan favorites will have to sneak into the supporting categories. No character big or small has become as beloved among fans as Brienne of Tarth. Although Christie isn’t as obvious of an awards contender as the rest of the cast a lot of the strongest moments from the season involved her in one way or another. Fans were sentimental over Brienne finally being knighted on her possibly last night alive. Twitter went crazy over the heartbreak between Brienne and Jaimie. Heading into “The Long Night” it was Brienne that fans were most worried about. It’s easy to imagine a scenario where seven seasons of adoration culminates in a goodbye nomination.
The final season caused a lot of controversy in the manner that the arcs of certain characters were wrapped up. The one character that was surprisingly given a satisfying conclusion in the form of redemption was Alfie Allen’s Theon Greyjoy. Sacrificing himself to save Bran and ultimately all of humanity is a moment fans of the show will remember. On top of that he is one of the first names on a ballot seriously lacking in strong contenders so anything can happen.
This Is Us
For the past two years This Is Us has been unstoppable at the SAG Awards going undefeated in the drama ensemble category beating everything from Game of Thrones to The Handmaid’s Tale. An ensemble this popular can’t be counted out at the Emmys especially in the supporting categories.
So far the first season was the most popular among actors with both Chrissy Metz and Ron Cephas Jones representing the supporting ensemble. In the sophomore season Jones was nominated as a guest star and Metz missed out on a second nomination. Throughout the third season Metz’s Kate Pearson went through a lot of life changes and her story arc has finally moved on from mourning her father for over two decades. Sometimes Emmy voters will bring actors in and out depending on how crowded the category is and with a lot of fluidity in the supporting actress race it’s possible that Metz is welcomed back into the category.
Last year there was a lot of buzz for Justin Hartley’s performance. In the second season Kevin battled substance abuse and we watched as he hit an all-time low. Leaving him out of the supporting actor lineup was one of the bigger surprises and sometimes Emmy voters play makeup. The supporting actor that has won over fans of the show and is one to keep an eye on this year is Chris Sullivan as the lovably goofy Toby. In the third season Toby was given more screentime as he and Kate prepared for their first child and we also were given a better insight on his crippling anxiety. Sullivan has also been everywhere lately with small roles in Stranger Things and The Good Fight as well as a supporting role on Camping.
Without a doubt the MVP of the third season was Susan Kelechi Watson. For the first two seasons Beth was the supportive wife of Randall and the audience wasn’t really given any insight into her own individual life. The third season gave us a more detailed blueprint of her childhood including a great two-handed episode with Phylicia Rashad. The season also saw Beth fight for her own identity trying to support her husband’s career while also pursuing her own creative endeavors. In the most shocking episode of the season we watched as what was once an unshakeable marriage get dangerously close to collapsing. If voters are still watching This Is Us religiously Watson will receive her first nomination.
Emmy voters really, really like Ozark. It’s the only show that all of them seem to gush about and it’s always the first show they mention. So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when the family crime drama was nominated for four SAG awards including ensemble and a shocking nomination for Julia Garner. Playing Ruth Langmore a ruthless 19 year old guiding her impoverished rural family through a life of crime Garner has quickly become a fan favorite of the show. That SAG nomination came as a surprise to everyone and if Ozark is as popular it seems Garner might even be one to keep an eye on if the cast of Game of Thrones continues to split votes.
Oscar and Emmy nominee Janet McTeer joined the cast in the second season as an out of town lawyer to the cartel threatening the Byrde family. The other fan favorite of the show is Jacob Snell. Played by Scottish Actor Peter Mullan, Snell is a local drug lord in charge of all heroin movement in the area. Fans are completely fixated by his menacing Missouri drawl and in the second season he took on a more prominent role working directly with Bateman’s Marty. If voters go all in for the Netflix crime drama these are the names that are probably the likeliest to show up.
One of the best scenes on TV in the past year came from the pilot of FX’s Pose, possibly the single most effective pilot in the past 20 years. Set to Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” Wall Street worker Stan (Evan Peters) picks up sex worker Angel (Indya Moore) and takes her to a hotel room. Throughout the course of one long scene the two actors are able to encapsulate the fear, potential danger, vulnerability, and shocking romance that introduced these two characters and made the moment unforgettable. As the season progressed we watched the tragic inevitable destruction of a toxic relationship masquerading as a fairy tale.
Evan Peters has been part of the Ryan Murphy universe for almost a decade now and is one of the only ones yet to be recognized by the television academy. Shedding the supernatural monsters he’s accustomed to in American Horror Story this might finally be the year that Emmy voters finally recognize the work that he’s done. He’s one of the biggest names in an ensemble full of up-and-coming talent but it also invites a sort of dilemma. How out of touch will the television academy look if they nominate a straight white actor like Peters while ignoring the black and brown trans women at the center of the show?
It will be borderline criminal if Indya Moore is forgotten in the supporting actress race. In a single year Moore has gone from being virtually unknown to making her TV debut to becoming one of the greatest discoveries of the year. She’s also become a leading voice in the queer community speaking up for our most vulnerable and taking every opportunity from countless interviews to speaking at World Pride and Essence Fest. But have enough voters gotten to Pose to be introduced to her performance in time for voting?
Better Call Saul
So far Jonathan Banks is the only supporting actor from Better Call Saul to be singled out by Emmy voters and so far he’s been nominated for every season. Mike has become a staple of the Breaking Bad universe and as of now is the only character that Emmy voters have nominated for both the original series and prequel but the reasoning behind that isn’t exactly clear. Some of his nominations have come from seasons where Mike was put on the back burner as a security consultant.
Even though the prequel has been nominated for 23 Emmys over the years but the rest of the supporting cast has gone completely unrecognized even with a huge push from critics. What makes this year different is the fact that for the first time SAG voters nominated the ensemble for the first time. If anyone else is singled out this year it will likely be Rhea Seehorn who plays Kim, Jimmy’s long term business partner and best friend. Kim is one of the only characters not mentioned and fans have been desperate to find out why. Helping Seehorn stand out to voters are her smaller roles on other popular shows like the final season of Veep and The Act.
House of Cards
There was a time when the actors branch couldn’t get enough of House of Cards nominating everyone they could. Now that the political drama has fizzled out for onscreen and offscreen reasons we’ve been reluctant to include it in the Emmy conversation. For the three most recent seasons Michael Kelly has been nominated for essentially doing Frank Underwood’s dirty work. Will voters care about Doug when he doesn’t have Frank to work off of?
The sixth and final season also featured plenty of well-known names that might stand out to voters. Patricia Clarkson reprised her role from the fifth season. Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear joined the cast as billionaire siblings with unlimited influence in Washington.
The buzz around Bodyguard has been all about Richard Madden but if the show is as popular as it seems Keeley Hawes is someone to keep an eye on in the supporting actress race. Hawes plays the controversial MP that Budd has sworn to protect. Although she only appears in three of the six episodes fans of the show have consistently singled her out especially in our own forums as one of their favorite performances of the year. But are enough voters familiar with her work when it primarily consists of British TV credits?
The other British actress in the conversation is Fiona Shaw of Killing Eve. Shaw plays Carolyn the head of the Russian desk for MI6. Emmy voters are familiar with Shaw’s long career especially for her work in big franchises like Harry Potter but will they pay attention to other performances in a show that at its core is a two-handed between the two leads?
When the television academy declared that American Horror Story: Apocalypse it immediately tanked the Emmy chances of most of the massive cast. But voters are known for name-checking – making an argument for someone like Kathy Bates. The only problem is her character in Apocalypse as a satanic cult member is her least memorable character in the history of the show.
Another actor with a long history at the Emmys is Bobby Cannavale. The actor won his first Emmy 14 years ago for Will & Grace and since then has been nominated twice for Nurse Jackie and most recently won pulled off an upset for Boardwalk Empire. Now he’s back in the conversation for his performance in Homecoming. But there doesn’t seem to be as much excitement for the show as a whole.
It’s difficult to gauge how popular new HBO drama Succession is with Emmy voters. Guild groups like the DGA and WGA nominated the drama but it was completely ignored by SAG. As of now the only actor from the Shakespearean family drama gaining any sort of traction is Golden Globe nominee Kieran Culkin as the immature younger brother. But was he nominated by the HFPA because he is the standout performance or because voters have a soft spot for Hollywood families?