If you like variety and change, look no further than the Best Drama Supporting Actor category at the Emmys. There has not been a repeat winner since Ray Walston (“Picket Fences”) prevailed in 1995 and 1996. Since then 14 different men have won this award and none of them are contending this year; last year’s champ Aaron Paul was ineligible as no new episodes of “Breaking Bad” aired.
After viewing all of this year’s episode submissions, our Emmy experts Chris Beachum and Rob Licuria both believe it to be a very competitive derby that could be won by just about anybody, depending on what the judges want to reward.
After working for the last two decades in television, Josh Charles earned his first Emmy nod for the role of law firm partner Will Gardner on “The Good Wife.” The season finale “Closing Arguments” is a showcase for Charles, who could have been considered a lead based on screentime and character dominance. In the episode, he uses wily courtroom tactics to extend jury deliberations, trying to buy time in a murder trial to dig up new evidence. And his ongoing flirtation with Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) culminates with them in a hotel suite at the end of the episode.
His co-star Alan Cumming has already been on the Emmy radar for portraying politico Eli Gold, picking up a bid last year as Best Drama Guest Actor. Bumped up to series regular, Cumming has a crisis of conscience in “Silver Bullet.” He can gain a political advantage by exposing a rival canidate’s illegal nanny (America Ferrera), but he likes her and worries that his actions could get her deported.
John Slattery picked up his fourth consecutive bid for playing advertising executive Roger Sterling on “Mad Men.” He has his strongest submission with “Hands and Knees.” Roger not only finds out that his mistress Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) is pregnant but also that his firm is losing its biggest client. Slattery displays a full range of emotions over the hour — rage, fear and concern — before cracking under the pressure.
On “Game of Thrones,” Emmy rookie Peter Dinklage makes the most of the meaty role of Tyrion Lannister who is equally charming, intelligent, and cunning. While his episode “Baelor” is notorious for the beheading of leading man Sean Bean, Dinklage is very impressive in an extended scene set at a drinking game. Filled with rich dialog, viewers finally got a real taste of the character’s background.
Walton Goggins is another Emmy newcomer, recognized for his work as repentant murderer Boyd Crowder on “Justified.” In his episode “The I of the Storm,” Boyd just wants to be left alone to work at his coal mining job and then drown his sorrows, but he keeps getting interrupted by people wanting to talk about his past. His pent-up anger is evident throughout until he finally unleashes this fury and drags a man down the road.
Andre Braugher is a two-time Emmy champ (Best Drama Actor, “Homicide: Life on the Streets,” 1998; Best Movie/Mini Actor, “Thief,” 2006). He was nominated in this category last year for his role of Owen Thoreau on “Men of a Certain Age.” His episode “Let the Sunshine In” offers a great character study of both Owen and his two buddies (Scott Bakula, Ray Romano) who go on a retreat to get colonoscopies. None of the three men really stand out from amongst each other in a truly ensemble piece.
While Slattery leads among our users, our experts and editors are divided between all of the nominees save for Braugher.
Gold Derby founder Tom O’Neil dishes this competitive race with Beachum and Licuria below.