My Predictions (And Hopes) For This Years Emmys, Week 2, Day 4
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Yes, I’m more than aware that the likely winner in this category is going to be Kieran Culkin for Succession. And given how entertaining his Roman like speech was in front of the Critics Choice, I wouldn’t mind if he ended up winning. But much as was the case every time Peter Dinklage ended up winning three out of four years for Game of Thrones, I’m not going to advocate a nomination for a character I basically find repugnant. (That doesn’t mean I won’t give Succession some credit below, as you’ll see.) I intend to advocate for actors whose work I truly thought was worthy. And there are a lot of them in this category. So before we nominate half the cast of Succession, here are some alternates I hope the Emmys will at least consider. (Some are obvious choices, but that didn’t lead to some gaping omissions the last couple of years.)
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
It’s nearly as offensive to me that by this point in nearly a decade into his work as Mike Ehrmantraut; Banks has yet to earn a single trophy. Hell, by this point in Better Call Saul, he’s should already have won, by my count, at least two Emmys. (Damn you, Peter Dinklage!) If anything his work on Saul has more than demonstrated that the calmly efficient fixer that we met all those years ago handling Gus Fring’s dirty work, not only had a heart but a sense of loyalty that we didn’t really expect from this man. Picture the scene in the second episode where he stubbornly expresses loyalty to Nacho even with a gun in his face from Fring and seems utterly calm as his cell phone begins to ring. His relentless patience in the sense of the demands of his boss, as well as the fact that even in the middle of the security ramp up from the threat of Lalo, he still finds a way to be a devoted father and grandfather, makes you truly realize (if we had any doubt) how many layers this man who calmly deals death has. I’m not necessarily saying Banks deserves to win this year, but they’re running out of time and he’s truly earned it.
Billy Crudup, The Morning Show
Billy Crudup’s has always been one of the most toned down and subdued characters of the 21st Century. So it’s kind of surprising to see him play Cory Ellison as something of a real prick. Not the typical jerk of a boss, but the kind of boss who seems like a nice guy even as he’s quietly calling you and idiot and holding your job in front of you. (Oh, and singing a lot because he can.) I wasn’t necessarily thrilled that Crudup won the Emmy two years ago, but then I was very disappointed with almost all the nominees in the category that far back. There are other actors I’d rather have nominated, I admit, but consider how much I admired Crudup before The Morning Show, I don’t have a problem with being nominated again. His character’s a prick to be sure, but he’s the kind of prick I enjoy watching.
Griffin Dunne, This is Us
There are a lot of actors in the incredible supporting cast of This is Us that are more than worthy of nominations and that are more likely to get them than Griffin Dunne. Indeed, I could just as easily use this space to advocate for Chris Sullivan, who should have gotten an Emmy by now or Justin Hartley, whose work as Kevin has never gotten remotely the attention of either Brown or Chrissy Metz. But the main reason I choose to push for Dunne’s work as Uncle Charlie is because of the growth that we have seen his character go through since we learned he was still alive back in Season 3. A near total recluse when Kevin found him, he has slowly but surely managed to find his way back to humanity (usually fumblingly and against his will) and to become a member of the Pearson clan and a real friend (the episode where he discussed with a fellow veteran about the fall of Afghanistan was truly timely and powerful) was one of the most quietly brilliant things about this work of art. The final episode, where in typical Charlie fashion he ‘blamed’ Kevin for making him a real person again and where one of the last images was of him playing Pin-the-tail on the donkey with his grand-nieces and nephews pulled the heartstrings in just the right way. Throw in the fact that for nearly half a century Dunne has been one of the quietly greatest character actors in history with almost no acknowledgment of it, and I think you understand why I’m pushing so hard for him.
Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call Saul
It’s actually remarkable that there was once a time when Esposito was being ignored by the Emmys. Given the fact that he’s now likely to see nominations for his work in The Mandalorian and The Boys when Saul ends later this year, it is now a matter when Esposito gets an Emmy rather than if. But I would still argue that much of his best work remains for his flagship character of Gus Fring. And we’ve actually seen more depth to this eerily calm chicken magnate/drug kingpin this season than we usually get. When he realizes that despite his best efforts Lalo is actually alive (Tony Dalton himself would be a formidable contender in other seasons), when his demeanor about the threat caused the mechanical man to make mistakes we’ve never seen Fring show before, when we saw him walk away from Nacho’s death unsettled, and when he learned that his suspicions that Lalo was alive, we’ve seen real feeling in this all too meticulous man. I don’t think Esposito needs to get the Emmy for his work on Saul as much as Banks does (he already has two jobs lined up) but I’d like to see him nominated again for what I consider his finest role.
David Harbour, Stranger Things
Has anyone ever been so relieved at the end of Season Three when we learned that Harper was alive? Is anyone shocked that Eleven considers him her hero? Of course we all love Harper and we all love David Harbour. He’s the father of this misbegotten family of misfit, the man who tries to be a bulwark of stability in the literally upside down world of Hawkins, a man trying desperately to cling to reality even after all the horrible things he’s seen. There’s nothing about Harbour work over the past four seasons of Stranger Things that I haven’t outright worshipped over the long stranger path than Stranger Things has taken — he’s the adult in the room trying to deal with a situation that he is trying desperately to explain even as it unfolds. I love Harbour’s work as Harper and basically every time I see him in public (I’m still chuckling at his online sensation work in GROUCH, the SNL Joker parody of Sesame Street four years ago.) It somehow seems ridiculous that the Broadcast Critics and SAG awards recognize him and the Emmys don’t. Harper wouldn’t say he wants it. I will.
John Carroll Lynch, Big Sky
I may have wasted my energy trying to push for Lynch to earn a nomination as Big Rick on the Emmys, but since the HCA was willing to listen, I figure it’s worth another try. After playing one of the ruthless and cold-blooded characters on network television in recent years (completely against Lynch’s usual image) Lynch took on the role of Rick’s twin brother, a much kinder and gentler appearing man to try to win over the monster in his care. As we saw over time, the Legarski blood was in Wolf, it just took a different form. It was a performance just as engaging and brilliant as we got in Season 1, and even if it was just an excuse to bring Lynch back for another year, no one who saw his performance could argue it wasn’t worth the time. Maybe give him a nod this time before we learn there was a third Legarski brother out there?
Matthew MacFayden, Succession
Again, I don’t like Succession. There are, however, parts of it I admire. And much of the parts I do like is the work that MacFayden does as Tom, Shiv’s relatively middle class husband who on his wedding night learned that his wife didn’t believe in monogamy and has more or less been used as a punching bag ever since. (I actually think the endless bickering he has with Cousin Greg is his own not-so-passive aggressive way of beating up on the only Roy family member who can’t defend himself.) In a sense, being an outsider he knows the score in a way the Roy children either can’t see or are too self-centered to comprehend. So in a sense, I don’t even have to debate the possibility that he betrayed the Roys in the final twist of the season — he did it, and it was the price the younger Roys paid for never truly considering him part of the family even after everything he did. And if you’re willing to acknowledge that — as I suspect most fans have by this point — then it’s pretty clear who the best ‘performer’ in this category was. Culkin might end up winning the Emmy in this category, but it’s MacFayden who deserves it.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Michael Mando, Better Call Saul
Am I pushing things by going for a third nominee from Better Call Saul? Sure. Could I just as easily argue for Tony Dalton’s brilliant work as Lalo or Patrick Fabian’s sly and truly tragic work as Howard? Absolutely. But if I’m going to argue for an original character from Better Call Saul getting an Emmy nomination, it’s pretty hard not to advocate for Mando. For five seasons, he played a relatively decent man under the thumb of the Salamanca clan; a man who’s every effort to earn freedom just got him deeper in a chess game he never signed up for. I had a feeling when Season 6 began he was doomed — but I didn’t expect how the writers and Mando were going to play it out. If any actor earns a nomination solely for his submission, I dare the Academy to look at ‘Rock and A Hard Place’ and not think Mando deserves a nomination. From his final call to his father where he said goodbye though his father didn’t know it, as he accepted his inevitable in the meeting with Mike and Gus, to his being dragged out into the desert to die — and in the last minutes of his life, completely violating the script and revealing the rage he’s felt this whole time. If it’s possible to consider your own suicide a triumph, it is in the case of Nacho, because he died on his own terms, something he could never do when he was alive. It left a team of trained killers utterly shocked, and it did the same to the audience. I’m not saying Mando should get a nomination. I’m just saying he — like his character — deserves it.
Tomorrow I wrap this week up with Best Supporting Actress in a Drama. There will be some nominees I choose unwillingly and some I hope the Academy will without a nudge.