Sat. Jul 11th, 2020

2019 Emmys: Is the Drama Best Actor a race between Pose’s Billy Porter and Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington?

It would appear the race for Best Drama Actor is between four-time nominee Bob Odenkirk for Better Call Saul and this year’s SAG Award winner Jason Bateman from Ozark. Factor in Golden Globe winner Richard Madden’s (Bodyguard) snub and these two also-rans could finally get their chance at winning an acting Emmy. 

Not so fast! Let’s take a look at the last eight winners:

  • Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) 2011—final season
  • Damian Lewis (Homeland) 2012— first season
  • Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom) 2013—first season
  • Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) 2014—final season
  • Jon Hamm (Mad Men) 2015—final season
  • Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) 2016—first season
  • Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us) 2017—first season
  • Matthew Rhys (The Americans) 2018—final season

Notice a trend? The last eight winners have ether come from first season or final season series.

Should this trend continue this would eliminate both Odenkirk and Bateman. It would also eliminate the father-son duo of Brown and Milo Ventimiglia from This Is Us. Leaving the race between freshman and Tony winner Billy Porter from Pose and slayer of the mother or dragons Kit Harington from Game of Thrones. Let’s take a look at why each could win and what might trip them up. 

Strike a Pose with an Emmy

Porter is a Tony and Grammy winner for his performance in Kinky Boots. He is arguably one of the most accomplished actors in the category— especially in comparison to Harington.  Pose is currently airing its second season and as voting is taking place Porter turned in a career best performance “Love’s in Need of Love Today” (aired July 23, 2019). Keep in mind the voting has changed from a ranked ballot of 80-100 panels watching episodes to a plurality vote.  So, they may be voting for his performance for season one with season two on their minds. 

Should Porter win he would be only the fifth African American Actor to win joining; Bill Cosby for I-Spy (1966-1968); James Earl Jones for Gabriel’s Fire (1991); Andre Braugher for Homicide: Life on the Street (1998) and Brown (2017).

Strike a Happy Face for the winner

The television academy likes but doesn’t love Pose with the series only receiving six nominations— with Porter’s and a Best Drama Series nod the only two above the line. Does Pose, have enough momentum for Porter to win?

The End was better than expected

While the final season of Thrones was polarizing— the criticism centered mainly around Harington’s co-star Emilia Clarke’s character Daenerys. As the series had just wrapped up airing its final seasons Harington entered rehab to deal with alcoholism and depression. This could make Harington a sympathetic choice for his fellow performers. It’s easy to understand how after being a part of the biggest television series in the world could leave a person needing help. Keep in mind Hamm similarly entered rehab after Mad Men and finally picked up his Emmy afterwards.

Game of Thrones received 10 acting nominations this year. Three of Harington’s co-stars will compete for Best Drama Supporting Actor and four will compete for Best Drama Supporting Actress. If voters are motivated to vote for the series performers unlike his co-stars Harington is alone. This could help tip the race in his favor.

See if Drogon can make you an Emmy

While the series received a history making 32 nominations and has always done well at the Emmys its performers have not had similar success. Only Peter Dinklage has been nominated for all eight seasons and has won Best Drama Supporting Actor three times (2011, 2015 and 2018). Emilia Clarke has received three Best Drama Supporting Actress nominations (2013, 2015-2016). Diana Rigg for her work was nominated four time for Best Drama Guest Actress (2013-2015, 2018). Lena Headey has been unable to translate one of her four Best Drama Supporting Actress nominations into a win (2014-2016, 2018). Maisie Williams wasn’t able to slay the competition for her previous nomination in the Best Drama Supporting Actress (2016) race. Two-time Oscar nominee Max von Sydow did not walk away triumphant as the Best Drama Guest Actor (2016). Nikolaj Coster-Waldau lost Best Drama Supporting Actor to his onscreen brother (2018). And Harington lost Best Drama Supporting Actor (2016) even after his character rose from the dead. Factor in Dinklage’s five losses and that’s 20 losses for the series out of 23 nominations.

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