My Predictions And Hopes For This Year’s Emmy Nominations, Week 1, Part 2
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy
First of all, a not-so-minor complaint about last year. If the brand new HCA could find six qualified nominations for Best Lead Actor in broadcast and cable alone, then why in the name of Sid Caesar could the Emmys only come up with five nominees? Don’t tell me there weren’t enough qualified lead roles; they’d had no problems coming up with six eligible nominees three straight years. I don’t know what the explanation was, but if they do it again this year, something is screwed with the academy.
To be safe I’m going to list six lead candidates for Actor, though if I was pressed I could come up with at least three more without thinking twice. Five of my choices have a connection to Saturday Night Live. Two were among the most legendary cast members of the 2000s and 2010s; two are comic legends who link to the more distant past (one had one very memorable year; the other has hosted so many times they created a role for him) and one auditioned for the series and in their infinite wisdom, Lorne and the crew passed up the chance to hire them. The last has no obvious connection; he’s just played one of the most iconic roles on television in the past decade.
Anthony Anderson, black-ish
Will Anthony Anderson go down in Emmy history as the creator of one of the most famous roles in sitcom history to never have won an Emmy? It doesn’t seem fair that Anderson should join the company of Paul Reiser, Steve Carrell and Amy Poehler in that regard. (Admittedly, part of that reason is due to three of the nominees in this very category and it’s really hard to argue that none of them earned it at the time.) Still Dre Johnson was one of the most memorable characters in television the past decade and it may be a very long time (sad to say) before broadcast television sees a character like him ever again. There may be those who say that black-ish was never as groundbreaking a series as the world ever thought it would be. But it’s hard to argue it wasn’t one of the most entertaining series in TV history of the past decade. Anderson may ended up having an 0 for 8 for his run on black-ish which is, of course, ridiculously unfair. But it’s the kind of thing that Dre, of all people, could understand, if not be happy with. You never know. He might beat the odds.
Donald Glover, Atlanta
I may be stretching things a bit to consider Glover in this category. As those of us who watched Season 3 of Atlanta are well aware, Glover wasn’t front and center the way he has been in the previous seasons, considering he wasn’t even in three episodes and in two he only gave a cameo appearance at the end. Now you can argue (and I shall) that Glover’s work behind the scenes as the showrunner gives him a level of consideration that almost none of the other nominees in this category deserve. But every time you watch Earn deal with the surreal events that so often surround him — whether it was trying to find out what happened to Alfred’s cell phone, a bizarre party at a billionaire client’s house, or trying to fathom what was happening to Van — you couldn’t forget how great a performer he is. When you add to that the fact that this will be one of the last chances the Emmys gets to give him the credit he is due, I think we can allow that Glover should get another nomination.
Bill Hader, Barry
My favorite for this year’s Emmy if I have one is Hader. Set aside the fact that he co-wrote and directed every episode of this season, something not even Glover was willing to do. Hader gave one of the most wrenching performances of anybody in this category and arguably of the entire season so far. Barry spent all of Season 3 broken beyond repair and trying to find a way to earn forgiveness. The two most important relationships in his life — with Gene and with Sally — ended up being irrevocably destroyed, both times as a result of his only violent actions. He spent the second half of the season trying to avoid the group of killers that Fuchs sent his way. In the penultimate episode, he didn’t say a word as he lingered near death and learned where he was going. In the final episode, he tried his best to save Sally only to watch her run. And in the final minutes, he suffered the greatest betrayal so far this season that really makes you wonder how Season 4 can possibly turn out. Watching Hader work this year was a master class acting. No comic performance equaled it, and few dramatic ones did as well. If Hader were to win, it would be his third straight win in three seasons. Normally I have a problem with consecutive winning streaks. When it comes to Hader, I absolutely don’t.
Steve Martin, Only Murders in the Building
Steve Martin has been one of the great forces in comedy for half a century. So much so that it’s frankly appalling that it’s taken him this long to finally become a series regular. In another sense, maybe it’s a good thing. Because it’s hard to imagine him playing Charles Hayden-Savage, the former star of an iconic TV mystery, at any time in his career before this. And it’s hard to imagine any era but that of Peak TV created a role that is so perfect for him. It’s hard to say his work in Only Murders is his role of a lifetime, but it’s the one that shows him at a level you don’t think is possible. He delivers his usual wry commentary; he demonstrates a level of action hero daring do that you wouldn’t expect of an actor half his age, and in his relationship with a musician in the Arconia, you get to see some of his sweetest and saddest moments that Martin almost purposely seemed to stay away from even in his best work. Only Murders is a modern classic and even if he doesn’t win the Emmy this year, he’s more than proved he’ll get another shot.
Martin Short, Only Murders in the Building
Short has been a legend nearly as long as Steve Martin has, and its not fair to truly compare the work the two pros give in this show. Short’s work as Christopher, a Broadway producer with a long history of failure, is more comically annoying that of Martin’s; his character is the kind of man you try to avoid in any setting at all, much less trying to solve a murder. He’s more devoted to the idea of the podcast than that of the actual murder, which makes his kind of annoying comedy — a kind that Short has managed to perfect over the years — one of the more intriguing joys of this series. He’s lost far more than Charles has, but is putting up a far braver face to the world. Every time he and Martin are on the scene, the palatable dislike Charles seems to have for him is so remarkable that you have to remind yourself its an act. Both men have been dominating the Lead Actor nominations for much of the past year, so it’s an inevitability that both will be nominated. Will they end up cancelling each other out for the grand prize? Well, that’s something these pros can handle.
Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso
Is there anything left to say about Jason Sudeikis’ work in the title role at this point? No matter what problems you might have with season 2, no matter what problems you have with the psychology that ends up being the center of that season, how can anyone deny the other joy that Sudeikis manages to bring on to the screen in every scene he’s on the show? There seems to be nobody he can’t charm (well, except the shrink) no way he can’t endear himself to us further (the wonderful moment when the woman he had a one-night stand with shows up in Rebecca’s office and he becomes tongue-tied) no way he can’t make you like there’s absolutely no pop-culture reference he can’t make work for him (I love the way he uses Pat Benatar to a reporter and watches that reporter fumble towards a correct response) Sudeikis has dominated the Actor in a Comedy awards so far this year, much like last year. Will he be able to repeat against competition that is likely going to include far stronger nominees (see Bill Hader)? I can’t say. But I still love watching him, and as much as I’m against repeats I wouldn’t object.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Martin Freeman, Breeders
The HCA gave Freeman a nomination for Best Actor in a Broadcast or Cable series last year for his impressive work as Paul, an angry dad who doesn’t want to let go of the demons that burden him. If the Emmys had allowed for six nominations, I’m certain Freeman would have earned one (I know for sure he probably deserved it more than Keenan Thompson). Considering the level of competition this year, it’s more unlikely that he’ll earn a nod this time around. Which is a shame because in many ways, his work is superior to last year’s. Seeing him try to mend his relationship with his son and succeeding, having problems at his job that he can’t deal with, starting to have trouble with his wife’s own anger (I’m actually going to get to that in tomorrow’s entry), Freeman continues to demonstrate why he is one of the best actor in television, comedy or drama. This series deserves love from the Emmys, and Freeman is one of the reasons why.
Tomorrow, I handle Outstanding Actress in a Comedy.