Award Shows, my one weakness. Even if they're meaningless, I can't resist them and so, here is my annual attempt at predicting which actors and shows will become winners. These are predictions for the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards which will be broadcast live on Sunday September 23 on ABC.
To win the Emmy, every actor nominated must submit an episode representative of their best work each season. The episodes submitted are then viewed by a panel that votes for what they deem best. Each actor and his/her publicity team pick which episode to submit. Great submissions can help an underdog, bad ones could prevent a favorite from winning. Let's take a look at what these gentlemen chose. The nominees are...
Giancarlo Esposito in "Breaking Bad" (AMC)
Giancarlo Esposito ended his run on 'Breaking Bad' this year in pretty spectacular fashion. He is probably already the critics' darling and I could see him winning this. He isn't a huge star, but similar unknowns have won for strong episodes (like Zeljko Ivanek who won for 'Damages') and we know voters like the acting in 'Breaking Bad' having awarded Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.
Episode Submission: "Hermanos"
Esposito had a couple of fantastic tapes to choose from this season and "Hermanos" is one of them. It isn't his character's flashy last appearance or when he gets his revenge on a mexican crime-boss (that would be "Salud"), but it is still a very good submission and looking back the first episode in which we got a glimpse at Gustavo Fring's past.
Aaron Paul in "Breaking Bad" (AMC)
Last time he was nominated, he won. His co-star Esposito might have had a stellar year, but at this point Paul always has a stellar year. He has become the moral center of the show and voters might sympathize with his character as much as regular viewers do. He also benefits from the fact that panelists might be watching him on 'Breaking Bad's fifth season currently airing.
Episode Submission: "End Times"
As it is usual with him, Paul gets to do a lot of good stuff on this episode. This could be a winning tape, but there's a little catch: no actor has ever won twice in this category since 1996. Going against a 25 year old trend is not smart when prognosticating award show results, so I won't.
Jim Carter in "Downton Abbey" (PBS)
If there was ever proof that Emmy voters are madly in love with 'Downton Abbey' is the fact that they decided to nominate Jim Carter for playing the eternally elegant and quippy Mr. Carson, supreme butler of the Grantham estate. It's not that Carter doesn't give a good performance (he is probably my favorite character in 'Downton Abbey'), but head-writer Jullian Fellowes so rarely gives him stuff to do...
Episode Submission: "Episode 2"
... which is precisely why, had he picked any episode he had chosen, he would have probably ended up with the worst submission of the lot. He is fine in "Episode 2", in which he is stressed-out about running the house during WWI and gives a piece of advise to Lady Mary, but he is probably the least likely to win, unless voters on this panel have been watching the show and really love Carson.
Brendan Coyle in "Downton Abbey" (PBS)
Coyle, as Mr. Bates, was by far the best performance in 'Downton Abbey's season one. He was restrained yet emotional and ultimately heartbreaking playing a damaged man finding love. As much as I loved him then, though, I must say I found his incarceration storyline to be one of the biggest disappointing aspects of the show's disappointing second season.
Episode Submission: "Episode 7, Christmas"
In this season finale, Bates spends much of the time incarcerated, then has his usual proud Bates moment and finally a lovely scene with his beloved Anna. I could be acting foolishly by dismissing his chances without much analysis, but there such bravura performances in this category that I just don't see him winning.
Peter Dinklage in "Game of Thrones" (HBO)
Last year's champ had an even bigger role in 'Game of Thrones' second season to the point that many people thought he should be nominated for lead actor. He certainly has the buzz going around town for him (he won the Golden Globe earlier this year) and 'Game of Thrones' is certainly a very popular show.
Episode Submission: "Blackwater"
He of course has to fight against the trend of actors not winning twice in this category. Lucky for him, 'Blackwater' is such a great showcase for his character (who gets huge amounts of screentime for Game of Thrones standards) that he might have a great chance of breaking the trend, even better than Paul.
Jared Harris in "Mad Men" (AMC)
As ridiculous as it sounds, no 'Mad Men' actor has ever won an Emmy. Harris comes in rather surprisingly to this category in place of perennial nominee and Mad Men co-star John Slattery. The reason Harris is here, besides for his great performance, must be that his character exited the show this season. And he did it in pretty spectacular fashion.
Episode Submission: "Commissions and Fees"
Harris' submitted episode is, as expected, his character's last and he might weirdly become the first Mad Men actor to win an Emmy. The win would certainly feel a little weird, but not unearned he has done some great work on the show and is rightfully in a position to win this award.
Will Win: If someone was ever going to break the trend of not repeating, I think it would be Dinklage. Most likely, though, the race is between the departing characters: Jared Harris and Giancarlo Esposito. I could easily see either of them winning, but since it just seems so weird that Harris would be the first Mad Men actor to win, I'll go with Esposito.
Should Win: These are all very good performances, I would go with Giancarlo Esposito who was just tremendous.