One of the biggest surprises on Emmy nomination morning was the Best Drama Actor bid for Milo Ventimiglia for “This Is Us.” It’s the first major awards recognition for the veteran star, best known for his roles in “Gilmore Girls,” “Heroes,” “American Dream” and “The Whispers.” He is recognized for playing Jack Pearson, the patriarch of a large and diverse family, on the NBC drama, and has submitted the Season 1 finale “Moonshadow” for Emmy consideration.
In this segment, we learn through flashbacks how both Jack met his wife, Rebecca (Mandy Moore), and how the two eventually split up. Back from Vietnam, 28-year-old Jack is trying to save up enough money to move out of his parents’ house. In return for fixing his neighbor’s Chevy, he gets five dollars and a blind date with the owner’s friend’s granddaughter. Desperate for cash, he and his buddy get in on a seedy poker game at a local dive bar, Ray’s. After winning a big jackpot, the two are beaten and robbed in an alley by some of Ray’s henchmen. He decides to get his money back by robbing Ray’s bar, blowing off his date. He stops when he sees Rebecca singing at the bar, having just left her own blind date with a boring finance guy.
In the ’90s, things are falling apart between Jack and Rebecca. He drunkenly drives to Cleveland to confront an unwanted suitor of hers at a singing gig. He beats the man up, prompting Rebecca to leave the band and drive back to Pittsburgh. The two fight about the dreams they’ve squandered, and the next morning Jack moves out, but not before telling Rebecca that their love story is just beginning.
Can Ventimiglia win for this episode? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:
Last year’s winner, Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”), didn’t return this time, leaving the door open for a new victor. Will it be newcomer Ventimiglia, previous winners Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”), Anthony Hopkins (“Westworld”) or Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”), or overdue veterans Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”), Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) or Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”)?
Ventimiglia is a longtime actor with decades worth of television work on his resume. Voters who know and like him may feel inclined to reward him.
This episode is a showcase for Ventimiglia, filled with drunken rages and proclamations of love. It offers a wide range of emotion that may impress the actors branch.
“This Is Us” was one of the breakout hits of the season, snagging 10 nominations, including Best Drama Series. Should it win the top prize, might Ventimiglia get carried along?
Will Ventimiglia split the vote with co-star Brown? It’s entirely possible that the two Best Drama Actor nominees will pull support from each other, swinging the win toward either Hopkins, Odenkirk, Rhys, Spacey or Schreiber.
Many viewers were left unsatisfied when the finale failed to answer the question of how Jack died. Could that hurt his chances?
Ventimiglia failed to show up at either the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice, or SAG Awards, making Brown (who did compete at SAG) look like the stronger contender.
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