“It is striking that the actors went in and singled out Cameron Britton for a show that got no other nominations,” Tom O’Brien tells me and fellow Gold Derby contributors Charles Bright, Zach Laws and Amanda Spears in our slugfest about the Emmy race for Best Drama Guest Actor (watch above). Britton is now the odds-on favorite to win for his breakthrough performance in “Mindhunter,” but our group is skeptical about his front-runner status over fellow nominees F. Murray Abraham (“Homeland”), Matthew Goode (“The Crown”), Ron Cephas Jones (“This is Us”), Gerald McRaney (“This is Us”) and Jimmi Simpson (“Westworld”).
“Britton is a totally unknown actor, so they just nominated him off of the performance alone,” Laws adds. It might seem like a given that an actor would be nominated for his performance, but name-recognition often goes a long way at the Emmys, especially in guest-acting categories. So I am betting on long shot F. Murray Abraham after calling his surprise nomination for his two-minute scene on “Homeland” this season. After all, single two-minute scenes are what won Margo Martindale back-to-back Best Drama Guest Actress Emmys for “The Americans” in both 2015 and 2016.
Laws is also predicting Abraham. He argues, “There’s a lot of people who are glad to see him working steadily again, because he’s really the kind of person who had to age into himself … and now he’s working more than he ever has before. He was even on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ this year, which probably helped him get nominated, so we’ve seen before that it doesn’t matter how short your performance is if you’re a well-liked actor.”
“The one thing that I worry about for Cameron Britton and F. Murray Abraham is they’re not in a nominated series,” Spears says. “We saw last year a complete lockdown” with all of the major drama awards going to the Best Drama Series nominees. The only other drama last year that won an Emmy was “Luke Cage” in Best Drama Stunt Coordination, a category that shut out the Best Drama Series nominees.
Last year’s Drama Guest Actor winner Gerald McRaney was one of two victories for “This is Us,” the other being Best Drama Actor for Sterling K. Brown. McRaney is nominated again for his role, this time against co-star Ron Cephas Jones, who was nominated for Best Drama Supporting Actor last year. “He’s great on that show,” Spears says about Jones, but I caution, “Ron Cephas Jones is playing a very popular character, as is Gerald McRaney on ‘This is Us,’ so I don’t see how they can possibly not split votes.”
A sense that McRaney was overdue for recognition might have helped him win last year. It was his first Emmy nomination after 45 years on television, including roles in “Simon and Simon,” “Major Dad,” “Deadwood” and “House of Cards.” Matthew Goode and Jimmi Simpson haven’t logged as many years in the industry yet, but they may have banked enough similar goodwill to win on their first ever Emmy nominations. Laws argues that “despite Jimmi Simpson’s youth, he is a veteran character actor.” Bright agrees: “He has been working for so long; he’s one of those people who you’ve seen in so much,” from “24” to “CSI,” “The Newsroom,” and another program up for Emmys this year, the TV movie “USS Callister (Black Mirror).”
Meanwhile, “Goode is this British actor who’s just really never gotten the attention that some of his compatriots around his age have,” Spears points out. She notes some of his career highlights including “Downton Abbey,” “The Good Wife” and “Dancing on the Edge” on the small screen, plus Oscar contenders “Atonement,” “Match Point” and “The Imitation Game” on the big screen. “He is not unknown,” so he might have a strong enough pedigree to impress voters.
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