Emmy upset explained: How ‘Boardwalk Empire’ star Bobby Cannavale beat the odds

Bobby Cannavale (“Boardwalk Empire“) was ranked in lowly fourth place at Gold Derby’s predictions center, but he staged an impressive upset in the Emmy race for Best Supporting Drama Actor. How did he prevail? Below, some views of Gold Derby writers:

DANIEL MONTGOMERY: “The speech is what counted. Though he had markedly less screen time than his competitors, there were few moments of emotional fireworks throughout the six submissions. Cannavale supplied a big one when he erupted in a tirade against God before robbing a church. No one else in the category gave voters a moment quite so explosive. The irony is that several years ago Martin Sheen also railed against God — in Latin! — in a famous episode submission of ‘The West Wing,’ but couldn’t pull off a win. Maybe President Bartlett should have robbed the joint.”

MATT NOBLE: “A showy character with an emotional scene in a category where there was no clear frontrunner.”

ROB LICURIA:Bobby Cannavale invigorated HBO’s prestige drama in its third season. He brought to life one of the most terrifying yet captivating villains TV has seen; a hot-headed crazy Sicilian gangster immigrant terrorizing the denizens of Atlantic City. Cannavale has been celebrated for this, and even though he had better episodes to choose from (like 3.03 ‘Bone for Tuna’), he still gets to show off some range and impact in his episode submission ‘Three Sundays’ as he curses and screams at God in a church. I had Cannavale in third spot but wanted to pick him as #1. I wish I had the cojones!”

CHRIS BEACHUM: “Again, an over-the-top speech (this time in a church no less) did the trick. He is also a past winner, so we knew they liked him from before. I think his theater work on Broadway and off-Broadway also helped.”

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