2013 Emmy Nominations: Guest Performances
I’ve been vaguely teasing it all week and it’s finally here: iGR‘s own 2013 Emmy Nominations! Now, these are not predictions of who they will be, these are who we would nominate if we were in charge of such things. Joining me in this venture is new contributor Mat Morgan (aka GoGo Yubari in some parts of the internet), whose knowledge of TV rivals yours truly. This is part 1 of a 4-part series so get ready for a lot of Emmy talk leading up to when the actual nominations are announced next Thursday, July 18. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
(Note: My nominees are aligned to the left, Mat’s aligned to the right)
Costabile’s addition to the second season of Suits is, in many ways, a way of vindicating the show’s worth. Costabile has proven himself to be a tremendous character actor over the years and the TV projects he’s been associated with are all outstanding. Saying that, he takes on the role of the season’s antagonist with such ease that it’s easy to see why he’s such a great actor. He’s ruthless but in such a way that it isn’t overplayed like so many other actors would have and that translates well into a memorable villain.
The first of three actors I’ve nominated from Justified, Burns is the one that’s been around the longest. Despite that, he’s gotten little in the way of recognition for his portrayal of Wynn Duffy, a mid-level crime boss in the backwoods of Kentucky just trying to stay alive. The fourth season, though, provided Burns a bigger opportunity to further show just how great he is in the role.
Smits was a standout in his role as Nero on Sons of Anarchy. Admittedly, I couldn’t even finish the latest season but Smits was the lone standout and is so great in his role that it would be a shame not to nominate him, despite the fact that the show quickly became laughably bad in its attempts to keep a certain character on the show.
I have to admit, I did not see this strong of a performance coming from this role originally. An Army buddy of Boyd Crowder, Colton Rhodes starts as a fairly straight-laced guy but ultimately begins a downfall that is quite memorable. If this were any other season of Justified, he’d probably get a lot of publicity for it but unfortunately, there were what seems like a million different actors to put in tremendous work on the show.
Admittedly this nomination may just be rooted in my Friday Night Lights bias but I thought Plemons played his role as Todd perfectly, blending what seems like a sense of naivety with the darkness that ultimately follows.
WINNER: If you think three nominees from Justified is bad, let me tell you that it easily could’ve been six. There were eight actors in the running for this category and each one of them had memorable moments that could’ve easily snagged a nomination but ultimately I decided to limit myself as there were just too many other performances that could use the recognition as well. However, no performance even measures to what Patton Oswalt did as Constable Bob Sweeney. Many know Oswalt as a comedian but after his recent turn in Young Adult and now this role in Justified, Oswalt has proven, without a doubt, to be a pretty great dramatic actor in his own right. That’s not to say that there aren’t ridiculously funny moments but the ones that standout are when Oswalt rises to the occasion as a dramatic actor. That’s why he pulls away with what appears to be an upset victory.
Honorable Mention: Any and all Justified actors that I didn’t nominate. Seriously, this year was stacked with great guest performances.
Walton Goggins being on the show was inevitable seeing as Sons of Anarchy is on a mission to cast everyone who has ever had a major role in The Shield in guest starring roles, but having him show up as a transsexual prostitute was completely out of the blue and perfect; while he was on camera Sons of Anarchy suddenly turned into The Venus Van Damme Show, and honestly was probably a more fascinating show for it.
Jimmy Smits, on the other hand, was able to do great work in spite of the fact that most of his screen time this season involved being trapped in The Gemma Subplot, increasingly the worst part of the show each year. That alone merits a spot on my six.
Harry Hamlin’s Jim Cutler, the funhouse mirror version of Roger Sterling, is runner-up to only Bob Benson as far as the best new character on Mad Men this season goes, and for whatever reason James Wolk wasn’t submitted for that part. I’m guessing/assuming that he won’t be eligible for this next year anyway, because surely he’s going to be made a regular for the final season.
“Clear” by far the best episode of The Walking Dead since the pilot. Coincidentally, both are the only two episodes that Lennie James appears in as Morgan Jones. While the strength of the episode isn’t really entirely rooted in Morgan coming back, the way James plays what’s become of the man that helped Rick Grimes acclimate to the new world he’s woken up to is haunting and brilliant. I’d love for him to come back again, but if he doesn’t, he’s gone on a very high note.
Stephen Root could probably just get a spot by default for being Stephen Root and great at whatever he’s in. He’s especially great as overly-articulate con man Gaston Bullock Means, though, particularly when the character is forced out of his comfort zone. Means is my favorite addition to the Boardwalk Empire cast (likely the most underrated cast in a TV drama going right now) in season 3.
WINNER: Dexter‘s resurgence in the first half of its sixth season owes a lot to the great acting of Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter, but it owes even more to Ray Stevenson as Isaac Sirko, the best antagonist since season 4’s Arthur Mitchell. A season six that would have had more of Ray Stevenson and less of Yvonne Strahovski (who I like a lot, but was saddled with a really boring character) would have been full-on great instead of intermittently great followed by a whole lot of dumb. And the reason he wins? Simple: he made Dexter not suck while he was on-screen, and once he left it spiraled back into oblivion. That’s a definite feat.
Honorable Mention: Here’s where I confess that I’ve only seen the first two seasons of Justified. Judging from those, I’m going to guess that Raymond J. Barry would have been a shoe-in for my ballot for his work as Arlo Givens. But I can’t nominate what I haven’t seen, sadly.
It’s sometimes easy to forget how good of an actress that Brie is because she’s not asked to do much in her bigger gig on Community but she shined as Trudy Campbell this season. There’s a specific moment during the season that will be a standout for anybody who watches the show and she follows that up with a display of great drama.
She’s not even on the show much but she makes such an impact with her ability to put Charles Dance’s Tywin in his place as Olenna Tyrell that it’s hard not to nominate her. Add the fact that there’s an air of mystery surrounding where her intentions truly lie and you have a recipe for success.
Much in the same way that Jere Burns has been overlooked for his work as Wynn Duffy, Abby Miller hasn’t been given a ton of recognition for her portrayal of down-on-her-luck prostitute Ellen May. She hadn’t been given much material to work with prior to the latest season but she really took the ball and ran with it when she was given the opportunity.
Cardellini really shows a different side of herself after years of playing relative goody-goody characters. The arc was pretty boring in general but Cardellini made that role her own when it easily could’ve gone the way of the arc itself.
Fraser is pretty perfect in her role as Lydia that it’s easy to forget that it’s an actress playing the person and not just some near-OCD person they found off the street to play the part. If it wasn’t for a performance by a certain legend, she’d be a practical shoe-in to win.
WINNER: Jane Fonda embodies the role of the show’s most prominent antagonist to such a degree that it’s hard to imagine that she’s not playing herself. Fonda is also one of the bright spots of a largely vilified season. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have some star power, which Fonda easily has. Her effortless performance leads to the win.
Honorable Mention: Constance Zimmer is great in House of Cards but not quite great enough to warrant a nomination. Natalie Dormer not even being eligible for Elementary in this category is a major oversight, too.
Alison Brie wasn’t on Mad Men a lot this year, but she makes my list for her killer scene with Vincent Kartheiser at the end of “Collaborators.” It’s a scene that a lot of Mad Men fans have likely been waiting for for a long time, and it it really delivered. It’s easy to forget what a great dramatic actress Brie is when her more famous TV role is as Annie Edison on Community. That Pete/Trudy scene is a great antidote for whenever that happens.
Linda Cardellini, meanwhile, had the most thankless task of anyone I’m listing in these categories. The Don Draper/Sylvia Rosen relationship was ugly and awful and uncomfortable, and deliberately so. Sylvia was a character who by design couldn’t really have the same spark as, say, a Midge Daniels or a Rachel Menken, but at the same time she also had to be sympathetic. Cardellini walked that tightrope well.
Lydia Rodarte-Quayle was the best new character on Breaking Bad last year. Well, it was her or the German “Franch” guy. Much of that is owed to Laura Fraser’s performance, where she nails every single panicked, neurotic mannerism of one of the most off-kilter characters on a show stacked to the rafters with off-kilter characters. I, for sure, rewatched her initial diner scene with Mike more than I’ve watched any other scene featuring a character in this category. It’s just fantastic.
The following two nominees are the first and won’t be the last nominations you see for Hannibal. Basically any year there’s a Bryan Fuller show on the air (miraculously we’re looking at two in a row with Hannibal’s renewal) I’ll probably be nominating a bunch of actors from his shows, because he has a great eye for ensembles. Watching Anderson probe at and analyze Mads Mikkelson’s Hannibal Lecter was deeply fun.
The second Hannibal nomination, Rohl handles the dramatic weight that falls on her as Abigail Hobbs and handles it extremely well. I could’ve easily included Gina Torres as well, because she’s great but I ended up with going with Anderson and Rohl.
WINNER: Diana Rigg being nominated for her role in a drama is misleading, because really her primary function was to break the tension and drama and mass character death and whatnot going on in other plots with fantastic quips and putdowns. But that’s what Maggie Smith does on Downton Abbey and she gets Emmys, right? Right. (NOTE: I have never ever watched an episode of Downton Abbey.) Watching her interact with anyone and everyone else on the show is fun, but especially her battle of wits with Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance, who deserves Emmy recognition himself). For sure my favorite addition to the Game of Thrones cast in the third season. Rigg wins, though, because basically any time I got to see Olenna Tyrell interact with any Game of Thrones character she hadn’t interacted with before that point I got ridiculously excited. Fraser was damn close, though.
Honorable Mention: Natalie Dormer has bizarrely not been submitted for her fantastic work on Elementary. This sucks for me because she was my immediate first thought for this category. Pity.