If there’s one guarantee in the Best Drama Actor category at the Emmys this year, it’s that whoever wins this competitive category will do so for the very first time. For the last three years in a row, Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) has had a stranglehold, winning for all three times he has been nominated. The six men vying for the Emmy this year can breathe a sigh of relief however, as Cranston is ineligible this year as no new episodes of “Breaking Bad” aired last season.
Nominated for the fourth year in a row, Jon Hamm of “Mad Men” is a formidable frontrunner in this race. His entry, “The Suitcase,” is an excellent showcase as the episode focuses almost entirely on his character, adman Don Draper and his underling Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) who get drunk at the office one night after Don learns of someone’s death.
Having won both the SAG and Golden Globe, Steve Buscemi could claim an Emmy for his role as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson on “Boardwalk Empire.” As a powerbroker pulling the strings during prohibition-era Atlantic City, he gives a subtle and layered performance, highlighted in his entry “Return to Normalcy,” the season finale of the show’s freshman season. As the presidential election takes center stage, Nucky faces some hidden truths about his personal life, finally opening up to Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) about painful secrets from his past.
For his second season as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens on the critically acclaimed “Justified,” Timothy Olyphant reaped his first Emmy bid. In this modern-day Western, Olyphant exudes charm and confidence as the no-nonsense Givens tackles drug-trafficking thugs in small-town Kentucky. In “Reckoning,” the penultimate episode, Givens is in hot pursuit of whoever is responsible for a brutal home invasion, which ultimately pits him against Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies), one of the show’s most memorable villains.
As the beloved Coach Taylor on “Friday Night Lights,” Kyle Chandler is back in the race for the second consecutive year. Chandler is at his very best in the show’s final episode “Always,” in which he strives to win the State championships for the defunct East Dillon Lions, and then agrees to move across the country to support his long-supportive wife Tami (Connie Britton).
Michael C Hall reaped his fourth consecutive bid as “Dexter,” a Miami P.D. blood splatter expert who is also a vigilante killer living with the pain of a traumatic childhood. In “Teenage Wasteland,” Dexter and his protégé and lover Lumen (Julia Stiles) are on the hunt for a new victim, all the while becoming more and more attracted to each other.
Hugh Laurie has played the irascible Dr. Gregory House on “House” for seven years, earning six Emmy nods but no win. In “After Hours,” the penultimate episode, House discovers that he has three tumors, which he attempts to remove himself to dire consequences, leading to some uncharacteristic soul-searching at the end of the hour.
Gold Derby founder Tom O’Neil discusses the race with senior editors Rob Licuria and Chris Beachum.
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