With More Enthusiasm Than For The Golden Globes, I Attempt To Predict The Winners for The Critics Choice TV Awards
Part 1: Outstanding Drama Awards
Ever since the Broadcast Critics started giving awards for television back in 2011, they have been by far the most satisfying group when it comes both to nominations and overall awards. It is rare for their choices to overlap with the Emmys (or indeed, most other awards shows) but that’s the main reason I enjoy them so much; the Critics will put certain actors and awards on the map that most series will overlook. (Among their better choices over the past decade have been The Americans, Master of None and The Leftovers; and the Emmys still haven’t caught up with recognizing such talents as Walton Goggins, Carrie Coon, and Melanie Lynskey. ) The Emmys tend to reward shows show by putting on you on the list for life no matter how much the quality of the series may diminish from year to year; with some notable exceptions (the Breaking Bad based series; The Americans) there is far less consistency from year to year, which has lead to a greater variety of nominees and winners.
There is an incredibly good chance that this year Critics’ Choice may very well end up foretelling next year’s Emmys in drama and comedies but in both cases, it’s because the major winners are the kinds of series and actors that not even the Emmys would dare to overlook any more. So let’s get started — as I always do — with drama.
OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
I don’t quite feel confident that the Golden Globes will give Best Drama to Better Call Saul this year. With the Critics Choice, it’s basically a lock. It is the most nominated drama series by a good margin, the cast members have a great track record with the Critics going back almost since the series debuted in 2015 (Bob Odenkirk alone has taken three Best Actor prizes) and the parent series Breaking Bad received a lot of recognition its final two seasons. Throw in the fact that the HCA gave it almost every award it could this past summer, that its ending has cemented the show in the pantheon of greatest series of all time, and I think everyone knows that the Critics will call Saul. The Crown’s already done very well in this category; Severance will get more than its share of chances, and as for House of the Dragon and Euphoria — who cares?
Should Win/Will Win: Better Call Saul.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Much as I would love to see Jeff Bridges or Adam Scott end up triumphing in this category, Bob Odenkirk absolutely has this one in the bag. He’s won three so far, I know, but just as with Bryan Cranston anyone who has watched his work for the last six seasons knows that you can never give Odenkirk enough awards (unless you’re the Emmys, of course) We felt more empathy for Jimmy this entire series, and when he finally officially became Saul, the writers didn’t give him much screen time because we didn’t need to know who he’d be — we already knew who he’d been, and that’s the tragedy. Indeed, the decision to put the remainder of the series in the future was Gilligan’s greatest decision because we learned about Jimmy’s true nature and when the resolution came in the final episode, we realized that he had gotten a happy ending because he did something Walter White never could — take responsibility for his actions. Now let’s complete the happy ending and give him one more prize.
Should Win/Will Win: Odenkirk.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
I think there’s an excellent chance Zendaya ends up taking the Best Actress prize, but because they are the Critics and not the Emmys, there is very much the possibility for an upset, perhaps far more than with the Golden Globes. Indeed, two very deserving but completely opposite wives and mothers are by far the most deserving nominees — and for each of them, this is their last bite at the apple. I would very much like to see Mandy Moore take home the grand prize for her triumphant work as Kate Pierson on This is Us. She was the heart of the series for six seasons, and no one who watched her arc for the series can argue she didn’t earn it. The fact she wasn’t even nominated last year after her performance in the penultimate episode of the series was one of the biggest robberies of last years’ Emmy (and as you’ll recall, that’s saying a lot.) Moore should get it. I also wouldn’t object to seeing Laura Linney prevail for her work as Wendy Byrde on Ozark; much as I loathed the series, Linney’s work was one of the more complex roles on a series that had little subtlety. So Critics, give it to Linney or Moore. Hell, you give out a tie a year; maybe give it to both of them, or some combination along with Zendaya. Just don’t let Rue take all the glory. She hasn’t earned it.
Should Win: Moore.
Will Win: Moore or Zendaya (sigh)
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
There are interesting possibilities here. Neither of the heavy favorites in the Globes — Jonathan Pryce for The Crown or John Turturro for Severance — are in this category. Could the critics pull a rabbit out of their hats and pick someone the Emmys might never pick, such as Michael Emerson for Evil or Andre Braugher for The Good Fight. It’s possible, but I’m inclined to think it will go to one of the other season veterans in this category: Giancarlo Esposito for Better Call Saul or John Lithgow for The Old Man.
Both have much to recommend them. Esposito has been playing the same character on two series for a decade and has received relatively little attention from the Emmys. Lithgow is a seasoned veteran who has been nominated in this category for multiple series. Both men have won this prize before (Esposito for Breaking Bad; Lithgow for The Crown) and both men did play characters who appeared to be the heavies in their initial appearance, but in the end had more human connections then we thought. It’s a close question, but this time I’m not going with Saul (though Esposito won I wouldn’t mind). I’ll give Lithgow the edge.
Should Win: Lithgow.
Will Win: Esposito/Lithgow.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
This is an easy one. Barring an upset victory by Jennifer Coolidge (The White Lotus was inexplicably nominated in this category) or perhaps Julia Garner for Ozark, this is Rhea Seehorn’s to lose. And this is not a difficult or close question. Kim Wexler has been the breakout character of Better Call Saul, the ultra-ethical attorney we met who gradually became more and more of a bad girl, and who we now know for sure was Jimmy’s soul mate. Many people (myself included) were certain Kim was destined for a body bag because we never saw her in Saul’s life in the first series, but when she broke up with Jimmy in one of the final episodes, I think every viewer (as well as Jimmy) had their heart stomped on. Seeing what Kim had become in the penultimate episode seemed somehow worse. But let’s not kid ourselves, in those last two episodes, Kim redeemed herself even more than Jimmy did. And its pretty obvious Jimmy’s decision to do the right thing was done out of his love for Kim as much as anything else.
And Seehorn deserves all the prizes she can get; the fact that her Emmy nomination last year was the first she’d gotten in five seasons was reprehensible. The HCA prize she took for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama was a long time coming and in my opinion, the first step towards the Emmys she’s deserved for years. The Critics will treat her fairly.
Should Win/Will Win: Seehorn.
Tomorrow, I take on Comedy which if anything will be more fun than Drama and maybe more rewarding.