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Emmys 2012: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

July 17, 2012

Ahh, the Emmys. Every year, I hope that the NATAS gets it right. Every year they prove that there isn’t a “right.” I guess I should just let it be. We know the same people get nominated year after year (whether it’s deserved or not). We know that some of the best performances will be overlooked (because that’s just the way it is). And we know that people who write about television will always make lists. Here’s mine.

Here’s how we’ll play it this year: I am working from the Emmy ballots that were sent out to NATAS members. That means, if Rose Byrne is really considered a supporting actress by the fine folks on the Damages set, I won’t complain. I won’t get it, but I won’t complain. Too much. It is what it is. The voting has ended, and now we’re just waiting to see who makes it into the magic six. The nominees will be announced on July 19.

Now we’re up to Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Here are my picks.

ActorTimothy Olyphant


Pros: Olyphant snuck into the lead actor race last season and is looking to hold on.

Cons: Well, those Justified nominations last year could have very well been based on the buzz surrounding Margo Martindale’s career-defining role and people who watch the screeners realized how good the rest of the show was.

Bottom Line:  This one’s a tough one. Does he deserve it? Yes. Will they come calling again? I’m leaning toward no, but I don’t like that answer.

ActorSteve Buscemi

ShowBoardwalk Empire

Pros: Boardwalk pulled 18 nominations and 8 wins last year. Expect a high rate again this year.

Cons: The bad news is that Buscemi was one of the losses. That being said, this is a prestigious character actor on a prestigious show on a prestigious network.

Bottom Line: He will be nominated.

ActorBryan Cranston

Show: Breaking Bad

Pros: With three consecutive wins in this category for this role, Cranston is pretty much unstoppable. There is absolutely zero chance he won’t end up on the ballot.

Cons: This is 100% going to happen.

Bottom Line:  I said, this is 100% going to happen.

ActorJason Isaacs


Pros: He had tough material to play, but Isaacs pushed through, giving one of the best performances of the year.

Cons: Awake was an intelligently-written and well-acted show that attracted absolutely no one.

Bottom Line:  No nomination, but he should.

ActorMichael C. Hall

Show: Dexter

Pros: Hall was nominated for the past four years for his portrayal of Showtime’s serial killer with a cause, Dexter Morgan. He’s a member of the club.

Cons: A lot of critics felt that this was not as strong a season for Dexter. Some of them would be right.

Bottom Line: Hall could fall out of the category this year.

ActorJon Hamm

ShowMad Men

Pros: Four nominations in a row on the reigning drama series winner.

Cons: Hmmmmmmmmmm…………..

Bottom Line:  Yes, he’s in.

ActorPeter Krause


Pros: Krause has three nominations and no wins from Six Feet Under. He took that role after appearing on the absolutely brilliant Sports Night. He’s now on Parenthood, working with one of the best casts on TV. His pedigree is impeccable.

Cons: Parenthood might be too close to home. Or too smart. Or too something. Hell, I don’t know why it has such low viewership and gets no real recognition; it’s a great show. Krause does a great job.

Bottom Line: If he gets a nomination, I’ll babysit Max for a month.

ActorHugh Laurie


Pros: Six nominations, with no wins and this was the final season of a beloved show.

Cons: Cancelled shows either get showered with love or ignored. We’ll soon see where House falls.

Bottom Line:  He might squeak in one more time.

Actor: Damian Lewis


Pros: His first time at bat and he’s considered the one to beat.

Cons: I said “one to beat,” which implies that everyone already expects the nomination. There’s not a chance it doesn’t happen.

Bottom Line: He’ll be nominated and he’ll win.

Actor: Andrew Lincoln

ShowThe Walking Dead

Pros: Licoln’s Rick Grimes is the heart and soul of AMC’s breakout hit, which garners both critical acclaim and viewers.

Cons: Zombies and Emmys?

Bottom Line: I think not.

Actor: Kelsey Grammer


Pros: He won the Golden Globe for this role already and has seventeen career Emmy nominations and five wins. His name might already be engraved in the award.

Cons: Boss hasn’t been as well-received as his previous work and it is not as meaty a role as some of these guys have.

Bottom Line:  If he does get a nomination, someone more deserving will be disappointed when the nominations are announced.

Actor: William H. Macy

Show: Shameless

Pros: Another well-known character actor taking the lead in a cable series, Macy has turned what was a laughable role last season into a really interesting, albeit crazy, character.

Cons: Even though there was some heavy dramatic lifting this season, Frank Gallagher is still primarily a comedic role.

Bottom Line:  He won’t get a nomination, but I would support it if he did.

ActorJeremy Irons

ShowThe Borgias

Pros: He’s Jeremy Irons; he’s won an Oscar, two Golden Globes, two Emmys, a SAG Award, a César and a slew of other awards.

Cons: None of them were for The Borgias.

Bottom Line: He’s a non-starter.

ActorAnson Mount

ShowHell on Wheels

Pros: Another AMC show with great production and acting. Mount straddles the line between good and evil with finesse and charisma to spare.

Cons: AMC has bigger hits (The Walking Dead) with more acclaim (Mad Men, Breaking Bad).

Bottom Line:  If he didn’t have as stiff a competition among his network peers, Mount could make some serious waves.


Which six (6) actors would you nominate for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series?


Want more? Check out these:

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series


Not following me on Twitter yet? Get on the sofa: @josephrileyland

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