Emmys MVP: Michael Kelly steps out of the shadows as ‘House of Cards’ fixer

During the first two seasons of “House of Cards,” Michael Kelly provided solid work as Doug Stamper, the go-to fixer for now-president Frank Underwood, but in season three, Kelly outdoes himself, turning the role into one of the most consistently exciting characters on television. The Emmys have ignored the actor in the past, giving al their attention to stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, yet any voter who watches any one episode from this season would be crazy not to award Kelly with his first nomination for Best Drama Supporting Actor.

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But Kelly is currently ranked in eighth place by our Top 24 Users and ninth by All Users. Why so low? Blame it on a lack of name-recognition and heavy competition in the category: Kelly has to compete against last year’s nominees Jim Carter (“Downton Abbey“), Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones“), Mandy Patinkin (“Homeland“) and Jon Voight (“Ray Donovan“), not to mention Jonathan Banks, previously nominated for portraying Mike Ehrmantraut on “Breaking Bad” and potentially back in the race with its spin-off “Better Call Saul.”

And let’s not forget previous nominees John Slattery, competing for the last time for his role on “Mad Men,” and Alan Cumming, nominated twice before for “The Good Wife.” Oh, and there’s also some new blood in the race from another Netflix series, “Bloodline,” which could a reap a bid for Sam Shepard or Ben Mendelsohn, if not both.

So the category is stacked, to say the least. Working in Kelly’s favor, however, is his series’s appeal with voters overall: “House of Cards” received Best Drama Series nominations for both its first and second season and is likely to receive another one this year. Also, in addition to Spacey and Wright, voters nominated guest actors Reg E. Cathey and Kate Mara for their work last season, so there is precedent for recognition outside of the two leads.

Mostly, though, it’s Kelly’s performance that should work in his favor. Doug Stamper’s arc in season three is one of the most surprising in the show’s history, at times both tragic and triumphant (depending on how you view it). It’ll be tough to choose which episode the actor will submit for Emmy consideration, since there isn’t a false step in all 13, but he couldn’t go wrong with either the season premiere or finale, both of which highlight the character’s stunning transformation.

Does Kelly really have a shot? Let’s consider the pros and cons of this Gold Derby Emmy MVP.

PROS:

Kelly gives his series-best performance.

“House of Cards” is extremely popular with Emmy voters overall.

CONS:

He’s never been nominated before and lacks the name-recognition of some of the A-list stars and past nominees in the category.

The category is over-crowded.

Here’s hoping the odds start to tip in Kelly’s favor, though, because with work this strong, the question shouldn’t be whether or not he’ll be nominated, but whether or not he’ll win.

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Last year the Top 24 Users did the best at predicting the Emmy nominations (78.55%) competing against Gold Derby’s Editors (77.68%), All Users (74.78%) and our Experts (74.64%). Which group will come out victorious this year? (See all prediction accuracy rates here.)

Make your own Emmys picks now – click here – or scroll down to predict the Best Drama Actor winner using our easy drag-and-drop menu. Best predictions will win $1,000. And the 24 Users with the best scores advance to a team to compete against our Experts and Editors next year. Meet the guy who won our contest to predict the Emmys last year – and learn how he did it and how you can be our next Gold Derby superstar.

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