My Predictions(And Hopes) For This Year’s Emmy Nominations: Week 2, Part 2
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
I fully acknowledge that there will be more than a fair share of leads from series I don’t particularly like, even though there are some actors who I clearly do. That said I have no intention of giving credit to either Jason Bateman for Ozark or Brian Cox for Succession. No matter how great their work is, my loathing for both the series they are a part of and their individual characters makes me utterly unwilling to give them the credit they are due. So I will give credit to the actors whose work I admire more, and might well be overlooked.
Sterling K. Brown, This is Us
As the only one of the Pearsons (to date) who has received any love from the Emmys, it somehow seems that Brown receives too much credit — and never enough. Randall Pearson has always been the heart of This is Us, the one going through the most pain as a father, as a husband, and as a son — and of course, as a black man in a white world and a white family. As he always seems to, he spent the final season in an extensive amount of agony as Rebecca deteriorated and then finally passed away. He had no idea where to go next after all this. So in the final ten minutes when we finally saw him see joy — both as a son and a grandparent — it was by far one of the most profoundly exhilarating and moving moments of the entire series. Brown will inevitably move on to his next project (he did that even while the series on the air). I don’t have to tell you he deserves one more bite at the apple.
Kevin Costner, Yellowstone
A couple of these potential nominees are on this list as much because of my personal admiration for them as actors as their work on the series that they do. At this point is there anything left to say about Kevin Costner who has in the past decade regained his spot as one of the great actors of our time? Yellowstone has become one of the great cultural phenomena of TV and he is as much a part of his success as any actor out there. Costner has been a symbol of the western pretty much since the beginning of his career in great films and mediocre ones. His role in the closest equivalent to a modern Western since Justified ended in 2015 is one of the great reasons for its success. I hope that the Emmys recognize him.
Lee Jung-Jae, Squid Game
When Jung-Jae upset all three male nominees for Succession this past February, it stunned even him. When he matched it with a similar win at the Broadcast Critics a few weeks later, it officially made him the favorite. As the protagonist desperate to survive a game that starts out as deadly and the carnage only gets worse from there, we find ourselves looking at the true mirror of what survival truly means and what we will do to live in the world of capitalism. In my opinion, Jung-Jae should be far ahead of either of the Roys when it comes to what great acting means. If he ends up winning the Emmy this time, he shouldn’t be as shocked as before.
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
If the Emmys were excessive in their recognition of Bryan Cranston when Breaking Bad was on the air, they’ve overcorrected far too much in the other direction for Bob Odenkirk. (I grant you I’ve more or less agreed with all of the actors who ended up defeating him, but that doesn’t excuse the Emmys nominating Steve Carell instead of Odenkirk the last time he was eligible.) At this point the Emmys, like Saul himself, are running out of time to give Odenkirk the recognition he deserves. (Considering his heart attack while filming last year, they almost ran out of time period.) And as you watch Odenkirk run marathons in his efforts to frame Howard (which involved scenes in a country club, stealing his car and throwing out a prostitute, and getting beat up by him at one point) which showed a fair amount of comic potential — and then saw how the mid-season finale ended up climaxes for him and Jimmy on the ultimate shocker — you really wonder why the hell so many people on this list are ahead of him at this point. Seriously Emmys, you’ve got two chances left. Give him a call.
Adam Scott, Severance
Another one of my all time favorites. I have yet to officially put Severance on my watch-list (if the Emmys actually do nominate it for Best Drama, it’s the first thing I’ll start watching) but as someone who has loved basically everything Adam Scott has done over the past decade and am still absolutely astonished he has yet to earn a single Emmy nomination for more than a decade of excellence is frankly appalling. Considering his versatility in one of the greatest comedies in history (Parks and Rec) and his quietly brilliant work in drama (all of the women in Monterey must have overshadowed his quietly sublime work in Big Little Lies) its frankly amazing that the Emmys haven’t nominated him once. Considering that he is finally getting cast as the lead in one of the most bizarre phenomena so far in 2022 is something that is a long time coming. Please Emmys finally reward him.
Jeremy Strong, Succession
I have always found Strong’s work in Succession one of the few truly meritorious things about the series. Kendall has tried everything in his power to get what he truly seems to be owed, only to be constantly thrown aside by a father who never respected him. His move at the end of Season 2 appeared to be a game-changer (it definitely earned him an Emmy) but one of the most frustrating things about Succession is that nothing ever changes the game. (Somehow people seem to love it for just that reason. What do I know?) Watching Kendall unravel slowly while trying to seem like he has a position that can lead him to win was perhaps the best thing about this deeply flawed series, as he slowly deteriorated through a birthday party that was anything but a celebration. He wasn’t even allowed to convince the sin that has plagued him for two seasons without being pushed aside for another crisis. None of the Roys are worthy of leading Waystar, but the tragedy of Succession is that Kendall will always suffer no matter what he does. I’m not sure Strong deserves to win another Emmy, but he deserves to be nominated again. And he’s one of the few actors on this series I genuinely believe in.
Milo Ventimiglia, This is Us
Ventimiglia’s work as Jack Pearson, the mythical perfect father we only see in flashbacks, has never quite seemed to get the respect it deserves from the Emmys: he’s only been nominated once in the entire series run. That’s always struck me as unfair the more of Jack’s backstory we learn. From seeing his battles with alcohol, the way he struggled with his relationship with his parents, the way he has always felt a greater burden then his children ever knew. And watching ‘Don’t Let Me Keep You’ — the Jack-centric episode that dealt with his last real visit to his drunken father and his broken mother — was exactly the kind of episode that usually does get nominations in a normal year. Ventimiglia has been in so many classic series over the years and has gotten so little credit for it. Let’s see if the Academy can honor the perfect father one last time.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Paul Giamatti, Billions
I’ll fully admit that one of my once favorite series of all time has taken a major hit the last couple of years. It’s the main reason I haven’t advocated as strongly for it to get nominations the last couple of times out. (The fact that the Emmys and other awards shows have basically ignored have also caused me to get the message.) But as deeply flawed as much of Season 6 of the series, Chuck Rhodes’ bulldog determination to triumph against Mike Prince and the billionaire class he represents illustrated yet again why Paul Giamatti is one of the greatest actors in history. His climatic speech in ‘Hindenburg’ when facing impeachment from the council, he delivered his greatest closing argument was powerful and convincing even to the man who arranged it. The fact that it failed him doesn’t change the fact that it showed yet again why Giamatti remains one of the great actors of our time. Even for a flawed series, he deserves to be nominated.
Tomorrow, I tackle Best Actress in a Drama. Spoiler alert: there’s going to be one gaping absence.