Jalal Haddad takes a look at the Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Emmy race in the first of many posts leading up to the Emmy nominations announcement on July 14th. Over the next month, Jalal will be providing his own expert analysis in individual races and covering the top ten contenders in each category.
1. Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Game of Thrones
Some actors are unstoppable at the Emmys. and I have a feeling Dinklage is becoming one of those performers. Last year he surprisingly won his second Emmy for what was arguably his weakest season in terms of Emmy-worthy material. His second win can probably be accredited to a near Game of Thrones sweep at last year’s ceremony. His win also came after a change in the final voting method (from tape based judging panels to a broader branch vote) that probably favored actors in popular shows with more recognizable names. As long as Tyrion remains one of the most beloved characters on the most popular show on television, his storyline won’t really affect the fact that he will be the favorite to win.
2. Jim Carter (Mr. Carson), Downton Abbey
Actors love Downton Abbey and since the show moved into the drama race Jim Carter has been the only member of the cast to be nominated for all four seasons. He’s a respected character actor who plays the lovable curmudgeon who just wants tradition and order. He’s an easy name to check off when looking through the overstuffed supporting actor packet. There aren’t a lot of high-profile new contenders in the supporting actor race this year and with his final storyline focusing on his new marriage, health problems, and retirement, I don’t see how voters pass on Carter in the final season.
3. Christian Slater (Mr. Robot), Mr. Robot
For months I denied Mr. Robot as a major Emmy contender and dismissed Slater’s Golden Globe win as the foreign press simply being wooed by the movie star on the ballot. The problem with my theory was that I was counting on other new shows to have a bigger impact but everything else seemed to fizzle out. Slater is probably safe for a nomination now that Mr. Robot is still getting a lot of buzz for the first season and was honored by a lot of the guilds. His only obstacle might be his reputation as a former heartthrob and trouble with the law. Actors don’t necessarily embrace tabloids the same way the foreign press does. As long as voters get to the eighth episode voters will be hooked and Slater will be almost guaranteed a nomination.
4. Michael Kelly (Doug Stamper), House of Cards
The other three slots in the supporting actor race could go a variety of ways because there is just none that exciting. In the past the nominees have included place holders from the beginning of the alphabet (Alan Cumming) or actors paired with the most popular shows. Michael Kelly has a good chance of riding the coattails of the Emmy voters’ insurmountable love for House of Cards. The only reason voters might not vote for Kelly is because Doug Stamper just might be the slimiest weasel (aside from Ramsay Bolton) on television. No his sins aren’t anymore heinous than those of the Underwoods but there is something pompous and humorless about him. His redemption storyline this season also came across as unbelievable. Whether or not he is nominated next month will be an interesting indicator on how sour a character can be before Emmy voters shun them.
5. Ray Romano (Zak Yankovich), Vinyl
With six acting nominations and 16 nominations overall, Romano is by far the most Emmy friendly actor with any sort of Emmy buzz in the supporting actor race. In most cases the mix of a beloved TV figure like Romano on a prestigious HBO/Scorsese production would mean a guaranteed nomination but Vinyl has suffered from limp ratings and unenthusiastic bloggers (including the ADTV team). Lack of enthusiasm aside, voters will probably embrace Vinyl to an extent and Romano will be an easy sell to voters especially when the campaign is led by HBO, arguably the most successful network at the Emmys.
6. Robert James-Collier (Thomas Barrow), Downton Abbey
Thomas Barrow was the closest thing to a villain on Downton Abbey, manipulating his way throughout five seasons. In the final season of the series the writers surprisingly gave Thomas the strongest arc of the entire finale by struggling with finding new employment, with his homosexuality, to find someone to support him, and he even battled suicide. He bonded with Lady Mary and in the final episode he took over as head butler. Emmy voters have given their favorite shows big farewells in the past and the recent SAG ensemble win is proof that voters are willing to embrace the show to the very end. In such a weak year at the Emmys Thomas Barrow’s redemption arc might be the biggest surprise.
7. Jonathan Banks (Mike Ehrmantraut), Better Call Saul
In his Emmy Spotlight article our very own Clarence Moye said it best when he described Better Call Saul as a show that he “immensely respects rather than outright loves.” I have a feeling that after the initial Breaking Bad high wore off a lot of voters might have stopped tuning in on a weekly basis even though they admired the show on an artistic level. Viewership has slightly declined and Banks doesn’t have a standout episode like last season’s Five-O. As small as it is, Better Call Saul does have a passionate fanbase online so maybe there will be passion within the acting branch of the academy for Jonathan Banks to receive his third nomination as Mike. He can also count on the fact that most members continually vote for the same actors year after year.
8. Alan Cumming (Eli Gold), The Good Wife
Alan Cumming is a well-liked actor, especially in New York, but some of his three Emmy nominations feel more like filler than a representation of the best of the category. He has always been vulnerable to be left out of a nomination if there had been more competition, especially last year. Now that The Good Wife just finished its final season he might be able to ride off of the good will of the show. Cumming also was given a good amount of material to work with in the final season as well; he was fired from Peter’s campaign and had the infamous scene with Alicia where he revealed that he deleted a voicemail from Will seasons ago.
9. Jon Voight (Mickey Donovan), Ray Donovan
Emmy voters have a strange relationship with Ray Donovan. The show has never been able to break into more than one Emmy race in a single year (Voight for season one and Schreiber for season two). The show’s ability to randomly pop up throughout the Emmys and other awards shows proves that there is at least a strong fan base (but probably small) for the show in general. In such a weak year Voight could easily receive a boost from name recognition and the fact that Showtime will be performing double duty by campaigning the show to Emmy voters and heavily advertising the new season that premieres later in the month.
10. Mandy Patinkin (Saul Berenson), Homeland
Mandy Patinkin is merely a placeholder. He could sneak in if the voters really love the fifth season of Homeland but my overall sense is that just about everyone is over the once Emmy dominating show. Patinkin has also been left out of the race twice already, including last year. The only hint of support out there is that SAG is still nominating Homeland in the ensemble race but the same voters have never recognized Patinkin individually.
Honorable Mentions: Kit Harington, Hugh Dancy
Readers, which six actors do you think will be nominated come announcement morning? Are we right to believe this might be the most boring category of the year? Sound off below in the comments!