For Amanda Spears, the six nominees for Best Comedy Guest Actor are all “very evenly matched,” which makes this category ripe for an upset. Spears recently joined Gold Derby contributors Charles Bright, Tom O’Brien, and I for a slugfest about the Emmy nominations in this very competitive race. Watch our exclusive video above.
According to our racetrack odds, the category is a match between two “Saturday Night Live” hosts: Bill Hader and Donald Glover. Interestingly, this is just one of five Emmy races pitting the two men against each other, since both are also contending for writing, directing, producing, and starring in their respective comedies “Barry” and “Atlanta.” Hader holds a slight edge here with first-place odds of 6/5, while Glover is in second with odds of 13/5.
Rounding out the category are Sterling K. Brown (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Bryan Cranston (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), and Katt Williams (“Atlanta”).
Although he’s currently ranked sixth with 7/1 odds, I’m looking at Williams to possibly upset for his memorable appearance as Glover’s loose-cannon uncle. Although he doesn’t have the TV pedigree of his competition (this is, in fact, his first nomination), “he is on a show that could win Best Comedy Series.” If numbers matter, “Atlanta’s” massive 16 nominations could bode well for the comedian-turned-actor, especially if the show ends up sweeping. Last year the guest acting wins for Alexis Bledel (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Melissa McCarthy and Dave Chappelle (both “SNL”) were part of sweeps.
Another wild card could be Brown, who has been on an Emmy roll as of late with victories for “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” (Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor, 2016) and “This Is Us” (Best Drama Actor, 2017). He could benefit from showing off his comic chops (he currently holds fourth-place odds of 11/2). But O’Brien is wondering “whether there becomes a limit when we’re putting awards in his hands,” especially since he’s currently expected to repeat this year for “This Is Us.” “This just seems to be an incidental nomination to me,” he adds.
Of the two “SNL” hosts, O’Brien gives a slight edge to Glover, who “carried the whole episode on his shoulders” by appearing both in sketches and as the musical guest under his rap name Childish Gambino. It’s something that worked for Justin Timberlake in 2011, so perhaps it’ll work for Glover too.
Turning to the rival “Curb” contenders, Spears thinks six-time Emmy victor Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) has a better chance than Miranda, mostly because Cranston is “going back to his comedy roots. This is a guy who really should’ve won for ‘Malcolm in the Middle.'” Then he cleaned up with a half dozen victories as an actor and producer for “Breaking Bad,” so Emmy voters “might just go with the guy they really know and like.” Cranston is currently ranked third with 9/2 odds, while Miranda holds fifth-place odds of 6/1.
However, Bright cautions against predicting either “Curb” nominee, and for good reason. “‘Curb’ has never won for acting,” he explains, even with multiple nominations for stars Larry David and Cheryl Hines, plus guest bids for Michael J. Fox and Shelley Berman. Like me, Bright is wondering if we’re underestimating Williams, who gave a performance that exceeded his expectations. “If other voters are watching that and have that same reaction,” he says, “that could be the thing that makes the difference.”
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