David B Morris

Jun 16, 2021

6 min read

My Attempts To Predict The 2021 Emmys

Week 1, Part 2: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama

Will he get another Emmy? gettyimages.com

Only two nominees from last year are eligible this year, and they’re more than deserving. It’s already been a diverse field the last few years, and its looking like there might be as many four African-Americans may be nominated. (They might also nominate a Latino, but I’m not going to vote for him.) I believe in the same idea, though my four nominees might not quite fit. Here they are.

Kevin Bacon, City on a Hill

When Season 2 of City on a Hill began, it looked not only that Jackie was on his way down, but that he was doing a scorched earth policy as he did. And then something astounding happened. Jackie became a better person. He walked back a crime he was going to commit. He reached out to help Decourcy after Siobhan’s shooting, which was a remarkable move for him. His actions were more based in justice than anything else. But the real reason I think Bacon deserves his nomination is because of the incredible efforts made to reconcile with his family. In one of the most stirring monologues of Bacon’s entire career, he revealed one of the darkest moments in a childhood that was full of them, a stirring and wrenching performance that ended with a genuine moment of praise for his troubled daughter. When it ended, she walked to him and hugged him. Here’s the thing: even after everything I’ve seen Jackie do for two years, I wanted to do the same. For the rest of the season, I actually felt something I didn’t think I could for Jackie: sympathy. If that isn’t deserving of an Emmy nomination, I don’t know what is.

Sterling K. Brown, This is Us

Randall has always been the dramatic center of This is Us. And this season proved yet again what an incredible actor he is. Learning that his birth mother had been alive. Learning her history. Helping Madison get through her birth. His fascinating relationship Déjà’s boyfriend as well as his other children. The way he helped Beth get through so much difficulty, with her mother, her children and the sad fate of her dream. And of course, the utterly incredible ‘Brotherly Love’ where Randall and Kevin work out not just the fight that ended last season, but the issues that have plagued them since they were growing up — and that plague so many in trans-racial adoptions. In the last seven years, Brown has become one of the greatest actors in television history. I don’t need to say anything else.

Aldis Hodge, City on a Hill

Decourcy spent most of the second season trying to dig out of the hole Jackie left him in. This led to constant verbal sparks, which are always dramatically incredible. Then he and Siobhan ended up on opposite sides of the courtroom dealing with a man they both knew was guilty. Then Siobhan got shot when that kid aimed for him and missed. Decourcy spent the remainder of Season 2 alternating between utter despair and blind rage, which led to some of the best acting that Hodge has ever done in his storied career. It is telling about who he is that when he learned the fate of one of the other killers; he still felt remorse for his part in it. There is a very good chance that Rege-Jean Page will get a nomination for Bridgerton. I think Hodge deserves it more. He’s by far the better actor, and his character was far more enduring

Jonathan Majors, Lovecraft Country

Some may argue about Majors being the true lead of this ensemble drama, but given everything that happened throughout the show, it’s hard not to see Atticus being the center of the action. His search for his father in the title area led to the horrors of his family’s legacy. Fighting against fantastic and gruesome creatures, his own brush with a woman in the Korean War, a twisted family who wants his own legacy, and just being a black man in America. When he ended up in Tulsa in 1921 becoming the hero to his father, it was one of the most stirring moments. When he ended up sacrificing his life, it was the most devastating. I don’t know if it’s the right category, but Majors sure as hell deserves a nomination

Not if he has anything to do with it. variety.com

Josh O’Connor, The Crown

Earlier this year I had doubts about O’Connor being listed as a Best Actor for his work as Prince Charles. It didn’t take me long to change my mind in Season 4. We felt a lot of sympathy for his Prince of Wales in Season 3, distrusted by his family and unloved by his mother. Then as he began his wooing of Diana — all while staying close to his mistress — our sympathy quickly dwindled. But O’Connor keeps making us appreciate him as we see a man torn between love and duty, not receiving the former from his parents and not being trusted to the latter. He wants to be his own man, but no one will let him, and as a result he takes it out on his wife. O’Connor has already taken the Golden Globe and Critics Choice prize for Best Actor, and as the series works, he will not receive another chance at this prize. O’Connor deserves it, and in a funny way, so does Charles.

Billy Porter, Pose

It’s hard to imagine a character that had a more heartbreaking arc in all of this season than Pray Tell. Getting loaded to deal with the epidemic of AIDS. Going to rehab after finally realizing how much it had cost him. Facing his impending death by going home…where we learned quite a bit as to how he ended up where he was. And of course, the finale where death seemed inevitable, he was resurrected, and then he sacrificed himself for the man he loved. Even then, we saw at the end that his spirit will never be forgotten. Porter created one of the greatest characters in the history of television. The odds against him winning a second Emmy are remote (see the previous entry for why), but I’d be lying if part of me didn’t really want me to see him up there. It would be an inspiration to millions.

Matthew Rhys, Perry Mason

With each successive role, Rhys continues to demonstrate why he is one of the greatest actors to ever work in television. Taking on one of the most famous roles in TV history, he decided to go in the complete opposite direction of anything Raymond Burr did. Oh boy, did it work. Staring out as an utterly cynical private eye who gets drafted into being an attorney because he’s the only one who believes in the case (and notably, not the client) there is rage simmering beneath how he approaches every aspect of the utter corruption of Depression-era Los Angeles. Rhys’ utterly dominated every scene he was in — even the typical scene where we saw him utterly destroy the accused on the stand was made his when we learned it was a fantasy. Perry Mason would never work without him in the lead, which is why I’m waiting eagerly for him to come back — and for him to start a new series for him to rake in the Emmy nods.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

Justin Hartley/Milo Ventimiglia This is Us

I think there is a good chance that one of the other Pearson men will end up getting a nomination. Ventimiglia has in the past for his incredible work as Jack, and though he had fewer opportunities for great performances, I don’t think I’ll ever forget his angry monologue in the season premiere where while Rebecca struggled to give birth, he utterly castigated God for the horrible hand he’s been dealt and begged him not to punish his wife for it. Hartley has never received the same amount of love from the Emmys despite often being as good as his brother and his father. Watching him in the memorable episode ‘There’’ where he did everything in his power to get to the airport to get Madison while it seemed like the gods themselves didn’t want him to get there, featured some of the greatest moments he’s ever shown, as well as in the brilliant follow-up ‘In the Room where he managed to see his twins born, and start making peace with Randall. I think one or both have earned it.