Will Paul Dano’s ‘Escape’ into the supporting race result in an Emmy win?

Although first submitted in lead alongside his “Escape at Dannemora” co-star Benicio del Toro, Paul Dano will now be contending in the Best Limited Series/TV Movie Supporting Actor category. Will his lead-to-supporting escape translate into an Emmy win?

In “Dannemora,” directed by Ben Stiller, Dano plays David Sweat, the real-life former inmate at Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York, who in 2015 helped his fellow inmate Richard Matt (del Toro) orchestrate an escape from the maximum-security prison. With the help of prison worker Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell (Patricia Arquette), both men managed to successfully escape. After a three-week manhunt, however, Matt was killed by the police while Sweat was captured and then sent to Auburn Correctional Facility, a new maximum-security prison.

Dano visibly transforms into Sweat, a man convicted for being involved in the killing of a police officer with two accomplices, as they were caught unloading looted firearms. Despite not playing the awards-friendly winking devil, Dano’s layered, nuanced performance could catch voters’ attention. Even though two convicted criminals are the protagonists of the show, you never sympathize with them or root for their escape attempt. Much of that credit goes to the actors, especially Dano, who breathes life into Sweat without justifying his actions.

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Dano is a co-lead on the show, and his defection from the lead race is no doubt to avoid competing against del Toro (the two were nominated in lead at the Critics’ Choice Awards, but lost to “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”‘s Darren Criss). But the supporting actor race is not a co-star-free zone for Dano, as both Eric Lange and David Morse could land bids. Lange plays Tilly’s husband, Lyle Mitchell, a maintenance worker at Clinton Correctional Facility, while Morse plays Gene Palmer, an inmate escort guard. Despite very little screen time, Lange’s seamless transformation into Mitchell – he gained 40 pounds for the role and had to wear a wig as well as prosthetic teeth – is a real eye-catcher. Voters could check him off based on sheer respect for his physical transformation alone. Lange has already received a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for his performance.

The good news for Dano is that vote-splitting isn’t always a factor, if there’s a clear standout among the nominated co-stars. Ultimately, his main advantage is that he’s a lead actor in a supporting category; he has more screen time than both Lange and Morse. While del Toro is the one contending in lead, the show is about Sweat as much as it is about Matt. This could automatically put Dano ahead of his co-stars and other nominees, who may only be featured in limited capacity on their respective shows.

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We often see shows go on massive sweeps, picking up not only the series prize but also writing, directing and multiple acting awards; recent examples include “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (eight wins, 2018), “The Handmaid’s Tale” (eight wins, 2017), and “Big Little Lies” (eight wins, 2017). If “Dannemora” gets multiple acting, writing and directing and decisive below-the-line nominations, then this could be an indication of strong support for the show. If it ends up being the heavy favorite and goes on a sweep, Dano could go along for the ride.

In our combined Emmy odds, Dano is currently in seventh place with odds of 20/1. As he was added to the supporting actor category later on, he could still climb his way up to the six-actor lineup, which is currently occupied by Ben Whishaw (“A Very English Scandal”), George Clooney (“Catch-22”), Norbert Leo Lutz (“Fosse/ Verdon”), Kyle Chandler (“Catch-22”), Hugh Laurie (“Catch-22”), and Lange.

PREDICT the Emmy nominees now; change them until July 16

In the near future, you can check out how our experts rank this year’s Emmy contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own 2019 Emmy predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on July 16.

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