Part 4: Outstanding Supporting Actor In A TV Movie/Limited Series
For all the praise for Hollywood, I think it may be too fantastic even for the Emmys. I may be going more out on a limb for these actors than some of the others. But in my opinion, there were many great performances and it’s only fair to rank them.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Watchmen
For most of the series, Cal Abar just seemed like a loving husband trying to support his wife Angela and her children, the only real normal person in the entire series. Then in the last two episodes, we learned that Cal had just been a performance for Dr. Manhattan, the ultimate superhero who knew everything from the moment he began his relationship with Angela. Those readers of my column know that I’m a fan of performances that have multiple levels, and we sure as hell as got a lot of them as we realized that the man who knew everything knew what was coming — even his own annihilation. Did he do all this so he could enjoy some happiness or was all of this so he could enjoy the oblivion he thought he’d never have? Mateen’s work was one of the more undervalued performances in an extraordinary series, and I think he’s worthy of a nomination.
Joshua Jackson, Little Fires Everywhere
I’ve already listed him as one of the most undervalued performers in television over the past decade, and just a year after appearing in one extraordinary limited series, he makes an appearance in another as Bill, Elena’s husband who seems to support everything his wife does. But as he gets more dragged into the custody case that is the center of much of the actions, he realizes just how duplicitous and perfectionist his wife is, and how she can’t accept any imperfection — including their youngest daughter. Jackson seems to have the book written un put-upon husbands, yet he never seems to get credit for any of his work by the Emmys. It’s a long shot, but I certainly think he’s worth it.
Seth MacFarlane, The Loudest Voice
I’ll admit, Seth MacFarlane’s appeal has always escaped me. His humor has always seemed only slightly more elevated than South Park and with a lot less subtext. Which is why his work as Brian Lewis, Roger Ailes’ right hand man for much of his time at Fox News, was such a revelation. There was nothing amusing about anything he did. He seem brutal and cutthroat and willing to do whatever Roger as — until he was no longer useful, and he was cast aside like so many other servants to the lord. In another year, MacFarlane would be a sure thing for a nomination. I seriously doubt he’ll get it, but what the hell. He has all those Emmys from Family Guy anyway.
Tim Blake Nelson, Watchmen
Considering for the majority of the episode his face was covered by a mirror, Nelson had to a lot of emoting to make his character of Looking Glass stand out among an extraordinary cast. He did. Nelson’s voice was so solemn, you wondered what he was thinking. And then in the episode when we learned about his trauma from the attack that was the climax of the original comic book — and then learned that it was all a lie — he made you feel for him in a way that just resonating in such few words. “Is anything true?” were among the last words we heard him speak for a long time — words that have come to haunt so many of us and had a special resilience in the world of Watchmen. He was the early favorite to win the Emmy this year, and I still consider that he’s the bets candidate.
Jesse Plemons, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Depending on how you look at it, Todd was the most frightening villain that Breaking Bad ever had. The utter blankness in his expression as he killed people, the way he didn’t even seem to consider morality when he was doing something horrible — you actually cheered when Jesse throttled him in the final minutes of the show. Even seeing him in flashbacks and as actual ghost makes you realize Jesse may never get away from this monster. Plemons has always been a good actor — his work in Friday Night Lights and Fargo more than demonstrates it — and it somehow seems wrong that he’s one of the few actors from the Breaking Bad world who never got an Emmy nomination. Somehow, I feel this will be corrected.
John Turturro, The Plot Against America
Under other circumstances, I’d be more than willing to give this limited series far more nominations, perhaps even for Best Limited Series. A series about an alternate America where Charles Lindbergh, Nazi sympathizer, becomes President and we get a picture of America in the 1940s? It was a great book, and its especially relevant now. Problem is, it’s a David Simon and Ed Burns production. And as we painfully know, no matter what they make for HBO, they will never get the nominations they deserve. That said, it’s going to be really difficult to ignore John Turturro, one of the great actors in any medium, playing Lionel Bengelsdorf, a Southern rabbi who becomes Lindbergh’s biggest advisor and the focus of so much wrath. A lot of actors on this series were great and many more deserve to be nominated, but Turturro’s work in particular stood out.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Michael Sheen, Quiz
Does advocated for the Emmys always come down to picking a great Michael Sheen role? We know from his work in the movies in the 2000s, there’s no British personality he can’t play subtly, and we know from the 2010s that he can play calmly or chewing the scenery. Playing Chris Tarrant, the emcee of the original Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Sheen managed to find, as he does so often, a happy medium. As the face of a hit show who doesn’t want to believe that there’s been a massive fraud perpetrated right in front of his very nose, Sheen managed to glean from elements of his David Frost and calmness of William Masters. We all know he should earn a nomination for his work on Prodigal Son, but that’s an even bigger longshot. This role is in the Emmys wheelhouse, and I think his best shot is here. And yes, that’s my final answer.