Week 1, Part 4: Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
How naïve of me that because Game of Thrones was gone we were done with frontloading Supporting Actors from a single series. How even more naïve of me to believe it would be something inferior as Season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale. I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference when it comes to the actual winner, though.
Giancarlo Esposito, The Mandalorian: 13–2. For Playing: Moff Gideon, a hunter tracking down the title character. Pro: Well, you can’t say Esposito doesn’t stay busy. While waiting for Better Call Saul to return (the series he was nominated for last year) he was promoted to regular here and has a key role on The Boys another Emmy nominated show. He’s one of the busiest actors out there, and it’s clear the Academy appreciates him. Con: As great as an actor as Esposito is, the world of Star Wars doesn’t exactly give you the greatest range of characters to play or a lot of room for ambiguity. Of the three series he’s a part of, this may be the biggest hit, but it also shows him off to the least advantage.
O-T Fagbenle, The Handmaid’s Tale: 17–2. For Playing: Luke Bankole, resistance fighter and June’s lover. Pro: Well, its good that there are some good men is this dystopian world. And there’s an argument that Luke could be as close to June’s real savior and hope in this horrid world they live in. He was more than willing to prove it time and again this season. Con: Seriously, did you just have to have a speaking part of Handmaid’s Tale to get an Emmy nomination this year? With all of the brilliant performances this year — and look at some of the candidates I mentioned in the HCA articles this week, it’s really difficult to argue Fagbenle’s qualifications.
John Lithgow, Perry Mason. 17–2. For Playing: E.B. Jonathan, the aging legend who gives Perry one more chance. Pro: Lithgow is one of the greatest actors in history, full stop. He’s certain one of the most versatile in television — he’s already won five Emmys. And it’s hard not to be in awe of his work in Perry Mason, playing a legend trying to prove the innocence of a client in a world he no longer recognizes, in a practice he can barely keep up. His final moments where he slowly ends his life was really a painful one in a season full of truly wretched deaths. Con: Lithgow’s role, compared to many of the actors in this category, was limited even by the standards of the series. (I would much rather have seen Shea Whigham nominated in his place.) And while the role was critical to the action, you could make a solid argument that he was actually kind of superfluous to everything that happened before or after.
Tobias Menzies, The Crown: 11–2. For Playing: An aging Prince Philip, consort to the Queen. Pro: In all honesty, Menzies best moments on as Philip were in the previous season. Like Colman herself, he was more in the background than the next generation. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have some truly great moments — in the season premiere after Mountbatten’s assassination when he tried to express his feeling to his son… and ending up sounding monstrous. And of course, there were the final moments of the season finale when he told Diana what he had learned being the Queen’s husband and that he knew the damage it had done to everybody in her orbit. Plus there might well be a sentimental movement — though I’m not sure an actor has ever won an award because the real life character he played passed away. Con: Like I said, the lion’s share of Menzies’ finest moments were in the previous season and he much of Season 4 looking more archaic with each episode. This is the one major acting category; I don’t think The Crown will win.
Max Minghella, The Handmaid’s Tale. 10–1. For Playing: Nick Blaine, a man on the inside trying to keep June safe. Pro: I….I’m sorry. I do my best to be impartial in these blurbs, but it’s even harder to justify the nominations of the actors for this show in this category than it was for Game of Thrones two years ago. I can make a good argument for most of the actresses in this category, but seriously three acting nominees? I’m willing to bet even Minghella would’ve put Joseph Fiennes before himself getting a nod. I couldn’t justify this when I criticized the nominations two months ago, and going through the motions is something I just can’t honestly do. If you can think of a reason why Minghella deserved to be nominated, much less win, email me. Because I just don’t have the heart.
Chris Sullivan, This Is Us: 19–2. For Playing: Toby, Kate’s constant husband during a hard time. Pro: Sullivan has always been one of this extraordinary series’ secret weapons, always there with some of the more engaging performances. He had some superb moments in this season, having a conversation outside a hospital about being a real husband, dealing with not have a job and not being able to support his wife, making a major break with Kevin when he offered to help, and having a long conversation with his own father about his problems as a man. I think that’s why it broke my heart in the last minute to see Toby isn’t Kate’s husband in the future. I hope theirs a good reason and he should get something. Con: Because Sullivan doesn’t have the flashy dramatic moments that so many of these actors have — his roles built on a lot of supporting moments — it doesn’t seem likely voters will choose him. And like I said, they don’t seem willing to acknowledge the series that much at all.
Bradley Whitford, The Handmaid’s Tale: 7–1. For Playing: Joseph Lawrence, the ‘architect’ of Gilead. Pro: Whitford is one of the greatest actors in television to work in the new millennium. And you can’t exactly argue that this role hasn’t given him room for versatility. As someone who was willing to help June fight against Gilead and then revealed that he had built it — and was still instrumental in its running — one can’t say he hasn’t reached new depths. Con: Like every other aspect of the series, Whitford is just playing a tired trope at this point. I imagine his betrayal came as a shock to no major critic and not even the show’s biggest fans. And seriously, Whitford has enough Emmys as it is.
Michael K. Williams, Lovecraft Country: 9–2. For Playing: Montrose Freeman, the troubled patriarch who learns of his family’s legacy. Pro: Omar Little. Chalky White. Leonard. These are just the seminal characters this incredible actor has played who never got an Emmy nomination. It’s hard to argue that Williams work in Lovecraft Country is his greatest performance, but it is by far one of the most personal he’s ever done. Playing a black, gay man in 1950s America is hard enough before you learn of all the secrets he’s been sitting on his life. Including he probably he isn’t his son’s father and all of the horrors that has led to an extent. That’s before the penultimate episode when the characters traveled back to 1921 Tulsa — and Montrose revealed the massacre wasn’t what shaped him that day. Williams earned this award, and considering he took the Supporting Actor prize from the Critics Choice, he’s clearly the favorite. Con: To say Williams has a horrible history with the Emmys is the understatement of the year. Much as he deserves to win, you can very easily see someone arguing for another brilliant character in this category that already has.
Prediction: Michael, bring Omar’s shotgun to the ceremony. Because of you don’t win, ‘someone’s got to get got.” (Also start your speech with ‘How do.”)