Friday, September 1, 2017

Emmy Predictions 2017 - Who Will Likely Win for Lead Actor in a Drama Series?

The nominations are in for The 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. The final round of voting has occurred. So, it's time to speculate on who is likely to win in each major category. Next up for analysis is Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

The Nominees:
  • Sterling K. Brown for NBC's This Is Us - "Memphis"
  • Anthony Hopkins for HBO's Westworld - "Trompe L'Oeil"
  • Bob Odenkirk for AMC's Better Call Saul - "Expenses"
  • Matthew Rhys for FX's The Americans - "Crossbreed"
  • Liev Schreiber for Showtime's Ray Donovan - "Rattus Rattus"
  • Kevin Spacey for Netflix's House of Cards - "Chapter 53"
  • Milo Ventimiglia for NBC's This Is Us - "Moonshadow"

For all of the acting categories that I've looked at so far, I've talked about how co-stars competing against each other may actually be a good thing because of the episode submissions. It allows them to shine in more episodes than just the one they've asked to be considered for to the voters. It can usually allow one of them to emerge victorious. Of course, vote splitting is still a concern based on the episodes actually submitted. Despite all of this conventional wisdom, it seems unlikely to help either of the This Is Us men. Both Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia chose episodes where they shined but barely feature their co-star. Between the two, Brown has the edge because he appears just a little more in Ventimiglia's episode than vice versa. Plus, "Memphis" is just an overall better episode than "Moonshadow." Plus, the narrative around the show has always been about how great Brown was in the show. Meanwhile, the story about Ventimiglia is largely just endless speculation about when and how his character will die which is a mystery that has become too big to be taken seriously.

And yet, it seems likely that Brown will win in this category. He'll win back-to-back Emmys for two completely different shows and performances. That's a narrative the voters can easily get behind. And yet, there are several deserving nominees in this category as well. Matthew Rhys is clearly giving the best performance amongst the nominees Sometimes that leads to victory and sometimes it doesn't. It was impressive that he returned to the category after getting his first nomination last year. The Americans doesn't have a strong track record at the Emmys outside of Margo Martindale - and even she couldn't get nominated after moving from guest to supporting. It would be incredible if Rhys won. It would be recognition of a wonderful performance on a tremendous show. It would make the Emmys seem relevant once more. It just seems very doubtful given the momentum behind several of the other nominees.

Bob Odenkirk, Kevin Spacey and Liev Schreiber are becoming the veterans of this category. Each year they get nominated which shows that the voters still enjoy their respective series. And yet, none of them have won. For Spacey and Schreiber, that's not too disappointing because House of Cards and Ray Donovan are popular but not all that great. I quit both of those early in both of their runs. But for Odenkirk, he's actually on a great drama and he's giving such a surprising and wonderful performance. It's so completely unexpected to see him in this category year after year. But he really deserves it as well. The third season was the best for Better Call Saul so far. Yes, it's very disappointing that Michael McKean wasn't nominated. He clearly had the best performance of the season. But Odenkirk was more than capable of holding his own opposite him. The episode submission is a little weird. But this was an overall strong year for Odenkirk. If he won, it would be something worth celebrating.

But perhaps the biggest spoiler in this race is Anthony Hopkins. He is a legendary actor working for the first time in television on Westworld. The HBO drama picked up a number of key nominations on the overall ballot. It ensured that HBO still had a dominating presence at the Emmys despite the lack of Game of Thrones. It's bound to win a couple in the technical categories as well as for a few performers. Hopkins could very easily be one of them solely because of his stature as an actor. He brought a mysterious intrigue to the show. When looking at the context of the entire season though, there wasn't a whole lot of actual dimension to the character. He was mostly just the plot point that forced everything else to happen. That was intriguing and necessary but also a waste of an actor like Hopkins. It would be weird if that led to his victory. But it could very easily happen as well.

Should Win: Matthew Rhys
Will Win: Sterling K. Brown
Dark Horse: Bob Odenkirk