Jesse Plemons (‘USS Callister’): Top 5 reasons I’m predicting an Emmy nomination for his ‘Black Mirror’ baddie

Jesse Plemons stars in the acclaimed “Black Mirror” episode “USS Callister” as Robert Daly, an insecure tech genius who creates a “Star Trek”-like computer simulation where he terrorizes the crew of his star ship. He’s a contender for Best Movie/Mini Actor for his performance, but he’s currently an underdog with 100/1 odds. Perhaps that’s because “Black Mirror” has yet to be nominated for acting. But here are five reasons why I have a hunch that he’ll make the cut.

1. “USS Callister” is the front-runner for Best TV Movie

“Black Mirror” won the Emmy for Best TV Movie last year for “San Junipero” even though it wasn’t nominated for any acting awards. So it’s possible “USS Callister” can also take top honors without support from the TV academy’s actors. But the fact that “Callister” is so far out front in the top category based on our predictions — it has support from most of Gold Derby’s Experts, Editors and Top Users — means it would be foolish to completely discount the show’s actors.

2. Emmy voters already know and love Plemons

Plemons earned an Emmy nomination for Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor for playing Ed Blumquist in the second season of FX’s “Fargo.” That’s his only bid thus far, but at just 30-years-old the actor has already established himself with major roles in Emmy winning shows: “Friday Night Lights,” “Breaking Bad” and “Olive Kitteridge.” In addition, his roles in films like “The Master,” “Black Mass,” “Bridge of Spies” and “The Post” have put him in the company of top-shelf industry talent. He has undoubtedly worked with a number of Emmy voters over the years, and likely impressed many others he hasn’t worked with yet.

3. He plays dual roles

Well, sort of. His only character in “USS Callister” is Robert Daly, but that character has drastically different personas. In the real world he’s awkward and pitiable. But in his carefully curated digital world he’s imperious and sadistic. It’s a wide-ranging performance with many facets, and voters often love actors who showcase their versatility like that. Consider the actors who won for multiple roles like Toni Collette (“United States of Tara”) and Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”).

4. He’s a scenery-chewing villain

Normally it helps to play a sympathetic character when you’re trying to win an Emmy, but that’s not always the case. Al Pacino won this category for playing the monstrously corrupt lawyer Roy Cohn in “Angels in America” (2004). James Cromwell won Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor as a Nazi doctor in “American Horror Story: Asylum” (2013), and just last year Alexander Skarsgard won Movie/Mini Supporting Actor as a brutally abusive husband in “Big Little Lies.”

And we mustn’t forget the three Best Drama Actor Emmys won by mob boss James Gandolfini on “The Sopranos” (2000-2001, 2003) and the four won by drug kingpin Bryan Cranston on “Breaking Bad” (2008-2010, 2014). Sometimes it’s good to be bad, especially if you get to put on a grand theatrical show of your villainy like Plemons does in “Callister.”

5. You don’t have to be the biggest star to win anymore

Emmy voters often gravitate towards the most recognizable, prestigious name in a category. Consider the legendary Ellen Burstyn and her infamous nomination for a 15-second cameo in HBO’s “Mrs. Harris” (2006). It seemed like that could have been exacerbated by the Emmys’ switch to a plurality vote where academy members check off one name for the winner instead of ranking them in order of preference.

But the new system has resulted in winners like Riz Ahmed (“The Night Of”) over well-known Oscar champs Robert De Niro (“The Wizard of Lies”) and Geoffrey Rush (“Genius”) for Best Movie/Mini Actor last year. And Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) took down A-listers Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) and Kyle Chandler (“Bloodline”) for Best Drama Actor in 2016. Judging from those outcomes, Plemons could not only be nominated, he could even win.

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on July 12. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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