I Lay The Odds For This Year’s Emmys: Limited Series
Outstanding Supporting Actor in Movie/Limited Series
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN MOVIE/MINI SERIES
Asante Blackk, When They See Us: 7–1
For playing: Kevin Richardson as a teenager, one of the Central Park 5. Pro: Much of the most memorable work in this mini series comes from watching this children being taken off the street for reasons they can’t comprehend, being bullied into confessions, and then having to deal with mockeries of trials. Blackk’s work was particularly good as a child practically picked off the street by accident. Con: As good as Blackk was, any one of the actors playing the teenagers could have been nominated in his stead. There’s little to separate in quality when it comes to determining who the best of these actors was, and it’s hard to shake that feeling compared to some of the other performances.
Paul Dano, Escape at Dannemora: 5–1
For playing: David Sweat, an inmate suffering on the inside for killing a cop, who uses his expertise to tunnel his way out of prison. Pro: Ever since Little Miss Sunshine, Dano has been one of the most undervalued character actors working today. And as the boyish Sweat, who does everything possible to escape and then finds him being bogged down at the border because of the sloth of his fellow prisoner, was one of the most brilliant roles he has yet given. Con: I’ll be honest. Dano’s role was as much a lead as Del Toro’s was. He should be competing in the Best Actor category. That might end up hurting him. Hurting him more was that, like so many of Dano’s roles, this one was understated. He’s never gotten credit it for it before, I doubt he will now.
John Leguizamo, When They See Us: 13–2
For playing: Raymond Santana, Sr., a devoted father who unwittingly sends his son to confess to a crime he didn’t commit, and then has to deal with a complicated aftermath when his son is released from prison. Pro: A standup comedian and performer by trade, Leguizamo stretches perhaps more than anyone else in the cast in this series. Raymond never forgives himself for abandoning his son, and when he tries to move on with his life, his family never forgives him — and his new wife never lets him forget what his son is accused of. This is perhaps the greatest revelation in the case. Con: As good as Leguizamo is, it’s hard to really say his performance is greater than, say, those of the teenagers or young adults in the cast.
Stellan Skarsgard, Chernobyl: 5–1
For paying: Boris Shcherbina, a low level bureaucrat who finds himself dealing with a crisis that he can’t even begin to comprehend. Pro: As much credit as his sons have been getting for their abilities over the last few years, it’s often been forgotten just how great an actor Skarsgard is. And in many ways, his role in Chernobyl is astonishing. As Boris himself says in the final episode, he didn’t initially think this would be a catastrophe because they sent him. He doesn’t give himself credit until the end for doing everything in his power to stopping a disaster from becoming apocalyptic. It’s a superb role. Con: The acting world tends to treat Skarsgard like the Soviet Union treated Boris. He’ll never get enough credit for what he does.
Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal: 37–10
For playing: Norman Scott, the lover of Jeremy Thorpe whose politician ex-lover targets him for murder. Pro: This was one of the most astonishing performances of the year. Whishaw’s work as a young man who becomes a liability was one fine work from an already brilliant actor. He’s already taken the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice award for his performance; it’s hard to see him not winning. Con: Just as in the case from Grant, Whishaw may fall victim to the fact that his series premiered over a year ago.
Michael Kenneth Williams, When They See Us: 4–1
For Playing: Bobby McCray, the father of Anton who bullies his son into confessing, and then has the most conflicted relationship with him during the trial and after prison. Pro: For nearly twenty years, Williams has been one of television’s greatest actors, from his landmark turn as Omar Little in The Wire to his wry performance in Hap and Leonard, he is a true jewel. And his work here — as a father with a criminal record, who pushes his son towards confessing, who doesn’t attend most of the trial, and who is suffering from a fatal disease when Anton gets out — is yet another example of incredible work. He’s deserved an Emmy for a very long time; it would be fitting if he won here. Con: Williams just can’t seem to catch a break with the Emmys. He’s only been nominated once, and he didn’t win.
Much as I’d like to see Williams prevail, this award is Whishaw’s to lose.