Will ‘Da 5 Bloods’ Oscar buzz propel Delroy Lindo to an overdue ‘Good Fight’ Emmy nomination?

Delroy Lindo delivered one of the most acclaimed film performances of the year thus far as Trump-supporting, Vietnam-War veteran Paul in Spike Lee‘s latest joint “Da 5 Bloods,” but he’s on the Emmy ballot this month for a role on the opposite end of the political spectrum. For four seasons, Lindo has starred on the celebrated CBS All Access drama “The Good Fight” as liberal attorney Adrian Boseman, a named partner of a firm that built its reputation on civil rights activism and fighting police brutality.

Lindo’s role on “The Good Fight” earned him two consecutive Critics’ Choice Award nominations, but the veteran actor has yet to break through at the Emmys. Might the near-perfect timing of his significant Oscar buzz for “Da 5 Bloods” just one month before Emmy nominations voting boost Lindo’s prospects for an overdue, richly-deserved bid for “The Good Fight”?

Reviews of “Da 5 Bloods” certainly put Lindo’s name in both critical and pop culture conversations above and beyond the praise he’s already received for “The Good Fight.” Not only did the film receive particularly strong reviews, but most critics singled out Lindo’s commanding performance. Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun Times), for one, raves about his “magnificent and searing performance,” writing that Lindo “has never been better on film and is as good here as he was in maybe his greatest work, onstage.” Anne Thompson (Indiewire) predicts Lindo will likely score a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his “unforgettable leading role” in which he “confronts the camera with tragic madness on a Marlon Brando scale.”

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These stellar notices seem to have affected Lindo’s standing in this year’s Emmy race, as in the weeks following the premiere of “Da 5 Bloods” on Netflix he has steadily climbed in our combined Emmy odds for “The Good Fight.” On June 12 when “Da 5 Bloods” dropped, Lindo was in a distant 26th place in our odds but in the intervening five weeks he’s up to 14th, which puts him in striking distance of the eight-person lineup for Drama Supporting Actor. The addition of two more slots in the usually six-person category––the result of a new Academy rule that adjusts the number of nominees in each race based on the number of submissions––has given our Emmy experts more room to predict Lindo, too, and he now has the backing of Kelly Lawler (USA Today) and Eric Deggans (NPR).

If Lindo does land his career-first Emmy nomination for “The Good Fight,” he has two standout episodes he could submit to Emmy voters. In “The Gang Gets a Call from HR,” Adrian and Liz (Audra McDonald) get approached by the Democratic National Committee to identify the single greatest issue facing Black voters in the 2020 election. The firm settles on and debates reparations, but the conversation halts when someone reports Adrian to HR for sharing a Vernon Jordan anecdote and quoting a racist Georgia governor’s platform that included the N-word. Lindo has two stellar scenes in which Adrian addresses the HR “investigation,” including a heated exchange with new corporate overlord Gavin Firth (John Larroquette) in which he tells Firth “you don’t dictate which words I get to use or when,” and an emotional conversation with Liz in which he considers resigning.

WATCH our interview with ‘Good Fight’ co-creators and writers Michelle King and Robert King

An even better showcase, “The Gang Offends Everyone” begins with the DNC courting Adrian to run for president in 2024, hoping to keep diversity on the national stage through at least the Iowa caucuses. Lindo plays Adrian’s amused disbelief to hysterical effect, but this excitement runs up against the implications of the offer for his career and his personal relationships. Adrian not only finds himself reluctantly leaning on a transphobic strategy in a case against the US Olympic Committee, who delayed the women’s qualifying swim trial to the benefit of a transgender woman and the detriment of a Black woman, but he also brings this weariness home when he confronts his girlfriend Charlotte (Tamberla Perry) about her judicial corruption. Throughout, Lindo movingly conveys Adrian’s conflicting emotions and deep ambivalence about his legal arguments and his relationship.

SEE Emmy spotlight: Christine Baranski is deliriously good in ‘Good Fight’ fever dream of a Hillary presidency

And if Lindo’s name isn’t called on nomination’s morning this year, he may have better luck next Emmy season. Should Lindo score the Oscar nomination for “Da 5 Bloods” and even potentially win––a distinct possibility at this early point in the race––the prize could catapult him into the 2021 Emmy contest for Drama Lead Actor. Lindo is set to headline the new series “Harlem’s Kitchen,” in which he’ll play a famed restauranteur and family patriarch whose business is thrown into turmoil by an unexpected death. Even if that role doesn’t catch on with Emmy voters, the pandemic might lead Lindo to a Drama Guest Actor nomination if he reprises his “Good Fight” role to wrap up his exiting-character’s storyline.

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