Cheers were heard from drama actors throughout Hollywood when they realized that Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") was not eligible for this year's Emmy Awards. Cranston has won the past three consecutive trophies as Best Drama Actor for his role of drug-dealing chemistry teacher Walter White, but as his show aired no episodes this year, he won't be back in the race.
Matthew Fox ("Lost") also won't be returning as his show finished, but the other four 2010 contenders are hoping to finally prevail. They are first-time nominee Kyle Chandler ("Friday Night LIghts"), four-timer Michael C. Hall ("Dexter"), three-time also-ran Jon Hamm ("Mad Men"), and five-time runner-up Hugh Laurie ("House").
Other past nominees in this category who would like to bounce back are Simon Baker ("The Mentalist"), two-time nominee Gabriel Byrne ("In Treatment"), two-time contender Denis Leary ("Rescue Me"), and Christopher Meloni ("Law and Order: Special Victims Unit"). Peter Krause would also relish his first nom for "Parenthood" after three previous bids for "Six Feet Under."
Steve Buscemi, who has already won a Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for his role as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson on "Boardwalk Empire," is almost certain to be nominated. He has three previous Emmy bids as guest actor on "30 Rock" and as both supporting actor and director for "The Sopranos." Other newcomers to television this season include Sean Bean ("Game of Thrones"), Oscar and Emmy champ Jeremy Irons ("The Borgias"), Andrew Lincoln ("The Walking Dead"), Emmy winner William H. Macy ("Shameless"), and Tom Selleck ("Blue Bloods") who won this race in 1984 for "Magnum P.I."
From returning dramas, those hoping for their first recognition include Matt Bomer ("White Collar"), Jeffrey Donovan ("Burn Notice"), Charlie Hunnam ("Sons of Anarchy"), Stephen Moyer ("True Blood"), Timothy Olyphant ("Justified"), Bill Paxton ("Big Love"), and Emmy winner Ray Romano ("Men of a Certain Age").
Gold Derby founder Tom O'Neil and senior editors Chris Beachum and Rob Licuria offer up their predictions and discuss the possibilities in this video slugfest. They are among the experts and editors who have ranked the potential nominees in this race.
Watch our three experts slug it out over these other cliffhanger races: