Part 2: Best Actor In A Drama
With Bob Odenkirk and Kevin Spacey ineligible, and Anthony Hopkins practically so for Westworld, that leaves four holdovers from last year. Apart from my continued objection to Ray Donavan, I have no problem with the other three nominees being considered. I don’t know if the Emmys will go to seven nominations, as they did last time out, but there are definitely some genuinely good new blood. I’m not certain whether Freddie Highmore will get the pull he did for The Good Doctor, and I am curious to see if Jason Bateman can be the first man in history to be nominated for Best Actor in a Drama and in a Comedy in the same year. But here are my preferences.
Sterling K. Brown, This is Us
He’s won basically every Best Actor prize between last year’s Emmys and this years. But much like Bryan Cranston, I wouldn’t mind if he made it three in a row. Watching perfection seeking Randall try to better himself and those around him through the life of Deja, while still reeling over the loss of his birth father, was just as fascinating to follow this season as he was last year. He’s increased his profile tremendously, but this series still represents his best work. I hope to see more of him in it.
James Franco, The Deuce
At first glance, it would be see to see Franco’s as to working class brother in 1971 Times Square as another gimmick to demonstrate histrionic. But, as we should know, David Simon doesn’t do gimmicks.. And as a result, both Frank and Vincent come across as very different characters trying to achieve the American Dream. This shouldn’t change the fact that Franco does a marvelous job playing two people who look alike but are distinctly different. There is a tendency to call Franco as, well, nuts, but he’s still a great actor who should be rewarded for his work.
Paul Giamatti, Billions
It’s always hard choosing which of the two leads of this dynamic, underrated series should be recognized. But this time out, I’m going for the dogged district attorney over the increasingly arrogant billionaire. Watching him try to manipulate events -prosecuting Bobby without getting singed, manipulating the justice system to get away from it, his political planning, his decision to dump, his attempt to bring down the Attorney General, and how he was outmaneuvered — led to some of the most intense drama of the year so far. Chuck Rhoades may be down, but he’s never out. The Critics Choice nomination he got this year would seem like there’s a chance for him.
Freddie Highmore, The Good Doctor
Once again, I have pulling for this brilliant actor, even though he’s been nominated for the wrong series. But the fact remains that this brilliant former child actor has the remarkable ability to play characters who never seem comfortable in their own skin. To see him play th young Norman Bates was mesmerizing, and this series continues to demonstrate his versatility. He’s already demonstrated that he’s becoming a vibrant hyphenate. I look forward to seeing what else he can do, even when the series he’s on isn’t worthy of him.
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Philip could have easily been the weak link of this brilliant series final season — after all, he did leave espionage behind to concentrate on the running the agency. But his revelations that he was never very good at either his fake job or his real one, his personal agony as he had to spy on Elizabeth, his turning on everything he stood for featuring the simmering anguish that has purveyed his soul since the early seasons. And of course, in the final episode — from confessing that Stan was his best friend to that choked final phone call son — was another of those master classes in acting. I really hope he gets it. I hope he wins.
Milo Ventimiglia, This is Us
Yes, we now know how he died. But considering Jack Pearson as summed up by his final act — magnificent though it was — would not be doing him or Ventimiglia credit. We saw him dealing with his demons involving alcohol, fix his marriage, try to help his children for their most horrific moments, and save his family from the fire that destroyed the Pearson home. To then have one of the more tragic final moments with his wife (who we’ll get to in the next category believe me) before succumbing was one of the high points of the 2018 season. He may be gone, but Jack’s story is not over. And I look forward to seeing him prove it.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
It seems a little odd that I should have to push for an actor who won in this category just two years ago, but he, and the series, fell out of favor last year. But they charged back full force this season as Elliot came to grips with more betrayals, more manipulations, and trying to fix the 5/9 hack. The magnificent one-take episode of the series may be one of his most incredible achievements yet, and it doesn’t even come close to topping his accomplishments. I hope that the Emmys will find room for him, and not Liev fricking Schrieber.