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2019 Emmys: The Drama Acting Races

Amanda Spears returns for more Emmy coverage and thoughts, this time taking on the Drama acting races.

LEAD ACTOR

Game of Thrones’ final season looms so large over the Drama categories at the 2019 Emmys that many series’ have decided to sit this cycle out. The one category that hasn’t been too badly affected is Best Drama Actor.

Best Drama Actor has three returning nominees; recent SAG award winner Jason Bateman for Ozark and the onscreen father and son pair of Milo Ventimiglia and Sterling K. Brown from This Is Us.  Last year’s winner, Matthew Rhys, won for the final season of The Americans and since Westworld is not going to air episodes during the eligibility period both Jeffrey Wright and Ed Harris are out. This leaves 3 open slots to fill. 

Let’s take a look at who could possibly receive a Best a Drama Actor nomination. 

Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul (AMC)

Most Likely:

Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Odenkirk has received a nomination for each of Saul’s previous three seasons. The show did not air episodes during last year’s eligibility. Odenkirk should easily earn a fourth consecutive nomination.

Brothers or Cousins?

Kit Harington, Game of Thrones 

Richard Madden, The Bodyguard

Harington was bumped up to lead last year and got snubbed. But with the buzz around Jon Snow’s actual parents being confirmed, look for Harington to have a big season. Also, with GoT back airing in April right before voting he will be top of mind. Madden is fresh off a Golden Globe win but like the series his chances of gaining a nomination will depend on how aggressively Netflix campaigns for him. 

Billy Porter, Pose (FX)

Award Nominees: 

Stephen James, Homecoming 

Billy Porter, Pose

John Krasinski, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

Both James and Porter scored Golden Globe nominations. Krasinski surprised many with a SAG nomination and while he’s not unknown to the television academy he was never nominated for The Office. The one to look out for is James who more than held his own starring opposite Julia Roberts. And with the tv academy tuning into see Roberts he could easily go along for the ride.

Sam Heughan, Outlander (Starz)

Now or Never:

Ian McShane, American Gods

J.K. Simmons Counterpart

Sam Heughan, Outlander

The trio of gentlemen all are from shows on the Starz network. McShane could be helped by the Deadwood movie—although it’s far more likely he’ll pick up a Best Limited Series/Movie Actor nomination. Oscar winner Simmons plays two characters but his show was recently cancelled and he also couldn’t get a nomination last year in a category that wasn’t that competitive. Heughan has yet to receive any attention for his performance as Jamie on the cult hit.

My Preliminary Picks:

  • Jason Bateman, Ozark
  • Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
  • Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
  • Richard Madden, The Bodyguard
  • Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
  • Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us

LEAD ACTRESS

Who will join Sandra Oh in the Best Drama Actress Category:

Sandra Oh made history as the first Asian Actress nominated for Best Drama Actress at last year’s Emmys for Killing Eve. Now she’s the only returning nominee left. But she shouldn’t get too cocky yet–this will still be one of the most competitive categories. 

Both Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) and Kerri Russel (The Americans) competed for the final season of their respective series. Elizabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld) are sitting this cycle out as their series do not want to compete against Game of Thrones final season. And last year’s winner Claire Foy (The Crown) is being replaced by Olivia Colman but like Wood and Moss her series is also afraid of the dragons and will not air during the eligibility period. 

Let’s take a look at who’s most likely to join Oh in the Best Drama Actress race. 

Possible Returnees:

Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder

Robin Wright, House of Cards

Davis may have fallen out of favor not making the lineup last year but sometimes the television academy will go back to a favorite. While House of Cards fate may be unknown — Wright stepped up and took over and should reap a sixth consecutive nomination.

Laura Linney, Ozark (Netflix)

The once overlooked

Laura Linney, Ozark

Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones 

Linney did not receive a nomination for the first season of Ozark. However, with an increased storyline she reaped a SAG nomination earlier in the year. Linney, should be considered not only formidable for a nomination but also a win. Clarke was promoted to lead last year and snubbed but with GoT back in its usual time spot look for Daenerys to take one of the open spots.

Hollywood Royalty 

Julia Roberts, Homecoming 

Roberts announced that she will not be coming back for season two. But she’s one of the most well-known actresses on the planet and gives a performance we haven’t see from her before. Snubbing Roberts would be a huge shock.

Jodie Comer, Killing Eve (BBC America)

The Question Mark

Jodie Comer, Killing Eve

Comer has had trouble getting out from underneath Oh’s shadow. Comer was snubbed last year at the Emmys and did not receive a Golden Globe or SAG Award nomination. The producers of Killing Eve would be wise to the put the hit-woman in Supporting where she’d be a real threat of slaying the competition. 

Now or Never

Caitriona Balfe, Outlander 

Mandy Moore, This Is Us

Many thought Moore would make it in last year but this could be her best chance to crack the top six. Balfe has received four consecutive Golden Globe nominations for the Starz network’s biggest show. For Balfe to get her first Emmy nomination Starz will need to run an aggressive campaign.

My Preliminary Predictions 

  • Jodie Comer, Killing Eve***
  • Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
  • Laura Linney, Ozark
  • Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
  • Julia Roberts, Homecoming 
  • Robin Wright, House of Cards

***Should Comer drop to Supporting I would put Mandy Moore, This Is Us in the likely lineup. 

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Who will try and stop Peter Dinklage from winning four Best Drama Supporting Actor prizes?

Peter Dinklage is on the verge of making Emmy history. Currently Dinklage is tied for the record with Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) with three wins each. Should Dinklage win a fourth Emmy for his performance as Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones he would hold the record for most Best Drama Supporting Actor wins.

Dinklage is joined with his onscreen brother Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as the only returnees.  Three of last year’s nominees: Joseph Fiennes (The Handmaid’s Tale), David Harbour (Stranger Things) and Mandy Patinkin (Homeland) each of their respective shows have decided to sit out the 2019 Emmy cycle. Matt Smith (The Crown) is being replaced by Tobias Menzies but the series will also not air new episodes during the eligibility period. With four open slot who will join Coster-Waldau and Dinklage.?

Let’s take a look at who might join the Lannister brothers in the Best Drama Supporting Actor race. 

The Potential Returners

Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul

Michael Kelly, House of Cards

Both have had better seasons but in a slimmer field than normal each should once again make the lineup. 

Bobby Cannavale, Homecoming (Amazon)

Past Winners and Nominees

Bobby Cannavale, Homecoming 

Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call Saul

Neither Dinklage or Banks want to see Cannavale in the lineup. The last time he showed up in Best Drama Supporting Actor Cannavale upset for Boardwalk Empire.

Esposito has a previous nomination for his performance as Gustavo Fring on Breaking Bad. While he was snubbed for the previous season he could get a second chance this year to be the first black actor to win Best Drama Supporting Actor. 

Kieran Culkin, Succession (HBO)

Looking for their first nomination

Kieran Culkin, Succession

Peter Mullan, Ozark

Evan Peters, Pose

The most obvious may appear to be Culkin after his surprise Golden Globe nomination. But this category loves to give us a good shock. Ozark, is expected to have a big showing for their second season and if that’s the case look out for Mullan to go along for the ride. Spoiler Alert his character will not be seeing season three and that’s helped many a supporting player make the lineup. Peters who’s never receive a nomination for any season of American Horror Story – this could finally be his chance for some long overdue recognition. 

Beware a GoT third

Isaac Hempstead Wright

John Bradley

With a category that’s usually overwhelmingly competitive, this year looks bleak by comparison. It’s possible that GoT could see this as an opportunity to submit a third in Supporting Actor.  Most likely would be Hempstead Wright as Bran aka the Three Eyed Raven or Bradley as Samwell Tarly.

Now or Never

Justin Hartley, This Is Us

Many thought Hartley would receive a nomination last year for his alcoholism arc. He and Moore remain the only cast members of the adult Pearson clan to not receive an individual Emmy nomination.

My Preliminary Picks

  • Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
  • Bobby Cannavale, Homecoming
  • Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones 
  • Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call Saul
  • Michael Kelly, House of Cards
  • Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Who will try and stop Lena Headey from winning Best Drama Supporting Actress?

Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister may play a queen on Game of Thrones but she’s never snagged the Best Drama Supporting Actress trophy in her past four consecutive nominations. But this could be her year. 

Due to a tie in the nomination process last year, Headey was joined by six other women who just happen not to be eligible. The trio from The Handmaid’s Tale: Alexis Bledsoe, previous winner Ann Dowd and Yvonne Strahovski, Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) and last year’s winner Thandie Newton (Westworld) each of their respective shows have decided to sit the 2019 Emmys out. Vanessa Kirby (The Crown) is being replaced with Helena Bonham Carter but the new episodes will not be ready till after the eligibility period.  Unless there’s another tie — five slots are open.

Let’s take a look at who’s most likely to join Headey. 

Sophie Turner, Game of Thrones (HBO)

The Starks

Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones

Sophie Turner, Game of Thrones

Williams received a past nomination (2016) but was snubbed for season seven. Turner is looking for her first nomination. The Television Academy typically is not that sentimental but in the case of two teenagers who’ve grown up before their eyes they may want to give each a nomination.

Call it a comeback

Chrissy Metz, This Is Us

Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black

Aduba a past winner and Metz a past nominee were both snubbed last year. But each could see their fortunes change in a more sparse field than normal.

It will not be a surprise this time:

Julia Garner, Ozark

Garner will help Williams and Turner with a youth invasion in Best Drama Supporting Actress. Garner shocked most pundits and prognosticators with her SAG Award nomination earlier this year. Now her Emmy prospects seem great and this time it won’t surprise anyone.

Susan Kelechi Watson, This Is Us (NBC)

Previously Overlooked

Rhea Seehorn, Better Call Saul

Susan Kelechi Watson, This Is Us

Jodie Comer, Killing Eve

Seehorn has been a standout on Saul — however, only past Breaking Bad cast members have reaped nominations for the spinoff. Watson had a standout season on This Is Us but the show’s hanging on and it could be hard to break through for the third season.

Comer has been a standout but she hasn’t been able to get out of costar Sandra Oh’s shadow. Comer or BBC America could decide to strategically go supporting — if so look out for a possible upset.

Gwendoline Christie, Game of Thrones (HBO)

The Oscar winner

Sissy Spacek, Homecoming

Depending on how Homecoming performs Spacek could benefit.

A fourth GoT lady

Gwendoline Christie

Carice van Houten

Since GoT is the cause of the lack of competitors it would only make sense for the mega-hit series to take advantage. Van Houten only appeared in two episodes for the prior season as Melisandre and if that is the case this year should compete for Best Drama Guest Actress. Christie would be the most likely to be submitted and would be an interesting addition to the lineup.

My Preliminary Predictions 

  • Julia Garner, Ozark
  • Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
  • Chrissy Metz, This Is Us***
  • Sissy Spacek, Homecoming***
  • Sophie Turner, Game of Thrones 
  • Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones

****Both Metz’s and Spacek’s fates will depend on whether or not Comer drops to supporting and/or Christie being submitted.

About Amanda Spears

Film and television fanatic. Awards expert. Proud founder of #PresentAll24. Freelance entertainment writer. Part time podcast guest. All time dog-mom.

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