My Predictions (And Hopes) For The 2024 Emmy Nominations

David B Morris
8 min readJun 12, 2024

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

No one from last year is eligible; indeed, none of the major contenders going back three years will be eligible. Therefore this category will be full entirely on new faces.

I’m basically in accord with four of the heavy favorites for nominations this year. I haven’t seen three of the series that may have the most likely contenders, though that will probably change within the next few weeks. So among my nominees will be two slight longshots who have nevertheless gotten Best Actor nominations from other critical groups and may very well do so later.

So let’s get started.

Cosmo Jarvis, Shogun

Blackthorne is the only white character in Shogun but he is anything but a white savior. Jarvis took a character that Richard Chamberlain immortalized forty years ago and not only made it his own but made it so you couldn’t imaging another person playing him. His work as Blackthorne was one of the most brilliant pieces of work in the series because it was radical to have the only white character be by far the most savage and frequently the most clueless to the manipulations around him. Understandably Jarvis was overshadowed by the incredible work of his co-lead in this series but it was nevertheless an absolutely riveting piece of dramatic and brutal work. The move of Shogun to Best Drama has helped his chance of an Emmy nomination the most of any actor in the series; given the caliber of nominees in Limited Series, his chances were remote. Now it looks like he’s rising fast and I think we’re all good with that.

Gary Oldman, Slow Horses

Oldman is one of the greatest actors in history and the role of Jackson Lamb is as iconic among the British as so many of the characters he famously played for American audiences. He’s currently the front-runner for this award according to gold derby and there are signs the Emmys will recognize him. Oldman received a Golden Globe nomination for this last December and he was recognized for this performance two years ago by the HCA. Jackson Lamb is actually the right kind of character for the Emmys to be nominated these days; he’s the perfect balance between anti-heroes and an outright hero, much in the same way Pedro Pascal has for completely different kind of leaders. His character also is having a ridiculous amount of fun in each season and after years of recognizing so many dark, albeit extraordinary characters in this category for the last decade, from Kendall and Roman Roy to the work of Lee Jung-Jae in Squid Game, we’re well overdue recognition for someone who is a genuinely fun to watch. Whether or not Oldman wins the Emmy this year is irrelevant; much like with Pedro Pascal, it’s a matter of when, not if. Nominating him will be a start.

Timothy Olyphant, Justified: City Primeval

Olyphant has been part of the era of Peak TV ever since he played Seth Bullock on Deadwood. Since then he created the iconic character of Raylan Givens on Justified made us laugh on Santa Clarita Diet and a guest spot on The Grinder, has done brilliant guest work on The Mandalorian and last year did fine work on the brilliant limited series Daisy Jones and The Six. He has received a huge amount of recognition from various awards groups over the years: the Critics Choice Awards nominated him for Best Actor five times for playing Raylan Givens, but the Emmys have treated him like a red-headed step-child, only nominated him for Best Actor once and only twice for two other awards, never given him a prize. I honestly think Olyphant needs to go up to the Emmy judges and get them to draw a gun on him, because they truly have it coming.

Olyphant has received another Critics Choice nomination for Best Actor and I suspect there will be one from the ASTRA in a few weeks. But of all the shows the Critics Choice have given love to that the Emmys have ignored, Justified is by far the biggest victim. I’m putting Olyphant in this category for the same reason I did almost every time when I was arguing for the Emmys when Justified was on the air. Each year, he gave an Emmy worthy performance. Each time, the Emmys in their infinite wisdom chose to ignore him and to be very clear many of their alternatives, such as Jeff Daniels from The Newsroom, boggled the mind then and now. I don’t really expect the reality of Olyphant’s brilliant work to make a difference this time: the Emmys have a long and storied history of doubling down on their mistakes no matter how many opportunities they get to rectify it. But I’m still fighting for him and I hope City Primeval comes back to give the Emmys another chance — to ignore him.

Ramon Rodriguez, Will Trent

After Season 1 of Will Trent Ramon Rodriguez received an Astra Nomination, a Critics Choice nomination and a nomination from the Independent Spirit Awards. The only major group not to recognize him were the Emmys. Rodriguez’s work in Season 2 of the series was, if anything, more deserving of a nomination than his first season. And if you’re a reader of my blog or a fan of the show, you know why I think that. Throughout Season 2, we saw Will have to deal with the legacy of his birth father, face the fact that he had a living relative, spend most of the season dealing with a childhood trauma so deep that he spent most of the year ignoring it before he accepted it, was about to move forward with Angie until the season finale when the consequences of her actions in Season 1 turned violent and left five people dead. In the last minutes of the finale he had to face a horrible truth that has changed the course of the series forever.

I’ll be honest, while I think there is little chance Will Trent the show will get nominated the actor who plays him has a slightly better chance. There is the fact of his previous nominations and the more cynical reason is that Rodriguez is LatinX and the Emmys wants to show that it is diverse. I normally chafe at this but if it gets one of my favorite shows and some of my favorite actors nominated, I’ll make an exception.

Hiroyuki Sanada, Shogun

Sanada spent more than five years trying to get Shogun remade and his devotion to it shows in every single aspect of it, not the least of which is his incredible work as Toranaga the feudal lord of Japan who manages to escape death numerous times and spends the entire series doing everything in his power to play the man who does not want to take the role in the title and ends up getting it by the finale. It is not until the end of the series that we realize just how much of a manipulator he has been of everyone around him, and that the man we considered a world-wary fighter raging against politics was just as shrewd and monstrous as everyone around him — he just hid it better. It was a gamble worthy of everything Toranaga did during the series to submit the show for Best Drama, where an Emmy would be hard to win, rather than Best Limited Series where it looked increasingly inevitable. Perhaps Sanada is as gifted a manipulator as the character he plays and if the gamble pays off, it will be difficult not to admire the man who knew how to study the wind.

Dominic West, The Crown

How is it that Dominic West, who has been one of the most dominant figures in television for more than twenty years, has yet to receive a single Emmy nomination? How does the man who broke out in The Wire, stunned us in The Affair and is now playing the current king of England, not have at least one Emmy yet? Most of them, for the record, are his American TV roles: he’s been just as much a force in such brilliant British Limited series as The Hour and Appropriate Adult. He has been winning awards for the latter from BAFTA and got another nomination for playing Richard Burton in a British TV movie. The Golden Globes have done better by him: he’s won nominations for The Hour and The Affair over the years and the Critics Choice Awards nominated him for The Hour both seasons. And yet no matter what West is never recognized by the Emmys, even on the rare occasion the series he stars in is. Even last year when he was considered a near certainty for a nomination for his work in The Crown he was shutout, though in fairness it’s hard to argue which one of the other nominees you would have excluded. (Cough, Brian Cox.)

But it’s time. It’s past time, honestly. This is the final season of The Crown and he’s more than deserving of a nomination. Like Charles the younger, it would be nice if he could take an Emmy too but we’re past the point of arguing he doesn’t deserve one.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

Giancarlo Esposito, Parish

It seems like only yesterday — actually it was last year — that Esposito was being considered the front-runner for an Emmy for his final season as Gus Fring in Better Call Saul. He’d won the Critics Choice and Astra Award for it, but he wasn’t even nominated for Supporting Actor because the Emmys had decided only nominees from Succession and White Lotus were eligible that year.

But it has been Esposito’s fate to have created some of the most iconic characters in television over the past decade — from Gus Fring to Moff Gideon and never win an Emmy. He is a TV icon but he’s never won anything. So maybe a way to make up for it would be to give him an Emmy nomination for the very first series he’s ever played a lead in.

His work as Gray Parish was one of the most riveting performances, even in a series that in its first season struggled to find its groove. Esposito has spent so much time playing villains (and playing them brilliantly) that he’s never gotten to play someone closer to an antihero and he handled it very well every step of the way. As always you couldn’t take your eyes of him.

It’s unclear if the show will get a second season and if it does maybe Esposito will get another chance at this. But for now, even in a field with many other actors I consider worthy, Esposito is my favorite. He’s been the passenger so much in his career. I’d like to see him nominated for being the driver.

Tomorrow I tackle the Outstanding Actresses in a Drama. Expect some slight deviations here too.

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David B Morris

After years of laboring for love in my blog on TV, I have decided to expand my horizons by blogging about my great love to a new and hopefully wider field.