With so many new dramas on the Emmy awards scene this year, look for new faces in the supporting acting categories. In comedy, however, there’s a good chance most of the nominations will be a) repeats and b) part of the cast of Modern Family.
Four out of last year’s six supporting dramatic actors are ineligible because their shows ended their runs (Lost) or aren’t in contention (Breaking Bad, Damages). That immediately takes last year’s winner—Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul—off the table.
Still, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences voters should have no problem completing their Emmy ballots. This season’s new dramas are stuffed full of strong actors. Boardwalk Empire’s two Michaels—Pitt and Shannon—are each deserving. Pitt wins plaudits for playing a baby-faced gangster with a taste and a talent for organized crime, while Shannon’s holier-than-thou psychopath is terrifyingly authentic.
Oscar nominee Peter Dinklage brings his inimitable charisma to HBO’s Game of Thrones, playing Tyrion “The Imp” Lannister with cunning and charm.
And two previously little-known foreign actors— Sweden’s Joel Kinnaman and France’s Francois Arnaud— are turning heads in AMC’s The Killing and Showtime’s The Borgias, respectively.
Cable is always rich with strong supporting characters, but several critics also liked what they saw on broadcast. The Good Wife’s Matt Czuchry and Josh Charles each got nods of approval from TV writers.
“You just love to hate the scheming sneak Czuchry evokes, and he never lets the occasional flash of humanity get in the way of his next attempted strike against his former law firm,” says Jay Bobbin of Tribune Media Services.
Finally, if Fringe’s John Noble doesn’t get an Emmy nomination, critics might storm the Academy in revolt. “One of TV’s greats,” wrote Newsday’s Verne Gay in an email. “He MUST be nominated and he MUST WIN.”
Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Last year, three out of four of Modern Family’s male adult cast was nominated in this category, with Eric Stonestreet, the more feminine half of the show’s gay couple, taking home the Emmy trophy. This year, those same three—Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell—could all easily repeat. Many critics also are loudly pushing for a nomination for Ed O’Neill, who plays the Pritchett family patriarch with heart and humor.
“O’Neill has done so much fine work on TV, for so many years. I think he should be nominated for best lead,” says Gay.
If one of the Modern Family men could have been upset last year, Glee’s Chris Colfer would have been the man to do it. Much of Glee’s second season revolved around Kurt’s story, so a second Emmy nomination for Colfer seems likely.
Showtime’s The Big C could fill out this category, with both Oliver Platt and John Benjamin Hickey contending.
“Hickey adapts his extensive stage expertise beautifully to the more intimate television lens,” says Bobbin.
Supporting Actress in a Drama
This category isn’t as open for the women, with several actresses in position to score repeat nominations. Among them is last year’s winner, Archie Panjabi of The Good Wife.
“Simply put, one of the consistently and delightfully surprising performances in series television these days,” Bobbin says of Panjabi.
Mad Men’s dynamic duo of Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks both are likely to score repeat nods, unless Moss goes for lead actress.
That leaves three more slots. Last year, those went to two veterans—Burn Notice’s Sharon Gless and The Good Wife’s Christine Baranski—while the sixth slot went to Damages’ Rose Byrne, whose show isn’t in contention this year.
Critics like Sons of Anarchy’s Ally Walker, Treme’s Khandi Alexander and Kim Dickens, and Sarah Wayne Callie of The Walking Dead.
“Callie is maybe the best of a lot of really good actors in this series,” says Gay.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
This category was Jane Lynch’s to lose last year, after a breakout performance as Glee’s comical villain, Sue Sylvester. Sue’s claws were a little clipped in season two, so while a repeat nomination is likely, a win seems less so.
Lynch’s main competition came from Modern Family’s dueling divas, Julie Bowen as the hyper-competitive Claire Dunphy and Sofia Vergara as bombshell Gloria Delgado. Bowen’s performance was a bit overshadowed in season one by the rest of the breakout cast, but this time around she’s the one that critics are consistently noting.
“Bowen is just about flawless,” says Gay.
One dark horse is The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco. Says Tom Jicha of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “Her character had the potential to be a bimbo but she has developed it into a fully fleshed-out woman, who isn’t as book smart as the other characters but is wiser in so many ways. She’s also a great straight person, who can get off zingers of her own.”
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