Around this time of year, a bunch of academy members from across the states submit their voting ballots for the annual Emmy Awards. The submission deadline passed last week, and the nominations that derive from those submissions will be announced well into this month, with the actual ceremony taking place towards the end of September. It’s a fun, highly exciting time as you root for your favourite actors and shows to take home the most prestigious awards in the television industry. But it’s also fun to speculate on just who those nominees might be–or better yet, who you would nominate if you had a ballot.
So, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing in this post. I’ve taken a look at the complete list of submissions, scoured through to find actors and shows I would contemplate nominating, and then broken that huge list down even more to comply with the standards a ballot-holding academy member would be bound by. These are who/what I would tick boxes next to if I held a ballot, so some of them are not realistic, and some would probably never be nominated considering the voting tendencies we see every year. But they are my dream nominees.
I also decided to begrudgingly omit any of the comedy categories from this post because from looking at the submissions, I found that I unfortunately wasn’t familiar with as many of the shows as I would’ve hoped. Granted, I strongly want actors from shows like Arrested Development, Parks and Recreation, and New Girl to be nominated (if Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson don’t get nominated, hell will arrive on Earth and I will be the catalyst), but the focus of this post and the next will be on the drama categories. Perhaps I will concentrate on the comedy categories at a later date, but not right now.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
- Bryan Cranston (Walter White) – Breaking Bad
- Hugh Dancy (Will Graham) – Hannibal
- Jon Hamm (Don Draper) – Mad Men
- Damien Lewis (Nicholas Brody) – Homeland
- Matthew Rhys (Phillip Jennings) – The Americans
- Kevin Spacey (Frank Underwood) – House of Cards
The lead actor category is always a hotly contested affair that usually ends with Bryan Cranston deservedly taking home his gazillionth award, but last year saw newbie Damien Lewis steal it from under his seat for his work on Homeland’s debut season. And while the actors I’ve chosen from this category are all strong in their own right, I would gladly hand the award over to Cranston to recognise the incredible work he put in to making Walt’s transformation into a monster in Breaking Bad’s penultimate season a brilliant affair. It would make his already bulging awards cabinet practically topple under the weight of the Emmys inside, but he would still deserve it.
Nevertheless, Cranston aside, Damien Lewis deserves to be nominated again because while Homeland wasn’t as compelling in its second season as it was in its first, the pairing of Lewis with Claire Danes is something that always works to near perfection. That being said, while I would have no trouble nominating him (that scene in “Q & A” is enough to compel anybody to nominate him), I wouldn’t like to see him win again. Not over Cranston.
Elsewhere, I decided I’d throw in Jon Hamm’s name not because he should win (not for season six, anyway), or because he would, but because it’s the only recognition he’s ever going to get from the Emmys for his work on Mad Men. I’ve always found it bizarre that while the show itself has gotten tremendous acclaim over the years, its actors haven’t–Hamm especially. So I’ve finally come to the conclusion that if he couldn’t win for an episode as immaculate as “The Suitcase,” he’s never going to. A nomination is as far as it’s ever going to get, unfortunately.
In terms of the newbies, Matthew Rhys’ work on The Americans was impressive and strong enough for me to consider nominating him above stalwarts like Michael C. Hall, whose performance in Dexter’s seventh season was elevated and aided by much stronger material. The pairing of him with Keri Russell as the show’s central characters was something that just worked, and I’d begrudge to write this category without mentioning his name.
Elsewhere, Kevin Spacey’s performance in Netflix’s first major attempt at home-grown content was utterly superb, creating a fascinating and dark anti-hero in Frank Underwood whose increased sense of villainy was fantastic to watch over House of Cards’ first season. Also, I would absolutely nominate Hugh Dancy for this role on Hannibal because his depiction of Will’s downward spiral into a manipulated insanity was simply exquisite. While the show may be named after its chief antagonist, Will Graham is undoubtedly the character that the show revolves around, and it’s only made the better for having Hugh Dancy as the one at the center of it. In the real world, he would never get nominated, but in my dreams, his name appearing in the nominations would be utterly deserved.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
- Glenn Close (Patty Hewes) – Damages
- Claire Danes (Carrie Matheson) – Homeland
- Julianna Marguiles (Alicia Florrick) – The Good Wife
- Tatiana Maslany (Sarah, Beth, Helena, Alison, Cosima etc.) – Orphan Black
- Keri Russell (Elizabeth Jennings) – The Americans
- Kerry Washington (Olivia Pope) – Scandal
I’ll start this category off with mentioning that I fully expect Claire Danes to be nominated in the actual Emmy awards, and I also expect her to win. And with scenes like the one in “Q & A” under her belt, I’d say that it would be deserved, considering how much of an incredible, consistent performer she is. But while I adore Claire Danes (and visibly whooped for joy when she rightly won last year), she wouldn’t be my ideal choice this year.
No, this time around, that goes to Tatiana Maslany. It takes a special kind of actor to be able to play over half of a show’s entire cast, making each character feel completely individual and unique despite sharing identical faces, and Maslany was simply phenomenal in Orphan Black’s debut season. There was never a moment when I disliked her performance even just a small amount, and while it’s incredibly unlikely that she’ll even be nominated in the actual ceremony (this is even with the attention she’s been getting recently), I would give her the award right now if I could. For all the categories.
I also chose Glenn Close for my dream nominations because Damages came to an end last year, and this would be her final chance to be recognised for her role as Patty Hewes. She would have absolutely no chance of winning, but there’s no denying that her performances in Patty’s final moments were exquisite. That single, silent, ice–coldstare during the finale’s final moments was a genuine moment of absolute brilliance on Close’s part.
Of course, I would also nominate Julianna Marguiles because…wait, do you even need to ask? Don’t you already know how much I adore her? Well if you do need to ask, it’s because she consistently provides strong performances in The Good Wife–season after season. She’s won the category before, but season four gave her some very strong material to demonstrate her abilities with–and as expected, she made the absolute most of it.
And now we get to Keri Russell and Kerry Washington (yay for name similarities!). The former I would nominate because whether it was a moment of weakness or dominant strength, Elizabeth Jennings was a fascinating character to watch, made all the more compelling because of Russell’s incredibly strong efforts–and when combined with Matthew Rhys’ character, she contributed to making the Jennings’ marriage one of the strongest stories of The Americans’ first season.
As for Kerry Washington, I genuinely believe that if anybody from Scandal has a chance at getting an Emmy nomination, it would be her. She’s the face of the entire show, its lead character, and the one who, whether struggling with her forbidden romance with the President or putting on a white suit and being flawless, constantly knocks it out of the park with her performances. She’s not the only one from Scandal that would deserve an Emmy nomination, but she is the person who’s most likely to even receive one.
In the second part of this post, I will discuss the supporting categories, as well as the outstanding drama award. Check back soon to see it!