‘Squid Game’: Can Lee Jung-jae take down BOTH ‘Succession’ guys at Critics Choice Awards?

One of the breakout stars of 2021, Lee Jung-jae from Netflix’s “Squid Game,” was recently recognized by the Critics Choice Awards with a nomination for Best Drama Actor. In order to win the trophy, the Korean star will need to take down “Succession’s” one-two punch of Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox, who lead Gold Derby’s predictions in first and second place, respectively. Might there be a vote split scenario that could help Jung-jae claim victory at his very first American award show?

SEE Critics Choice Awards: Complete list of film and TV nominations

While vote-splitting is sometimes a factor that can affect co-stars’ chances of winning awards, it hasn’t necessarily stopped the “Succession” leads. The two times Strong and Cox have been up against each other (at the 2020 Emmys and the 2020 Satellite Awards), Strong earned enough votes to take out Cox. Elsewhere, Strong prevailed at the 2020 Critics Choice Awards when Cox failed to earn a nomination, and Cox triumphed at the 2020 Golden Globes when Strong was overlooked.

Jung-jae plays down-on-his-luck father Seong Gi-hun on the Netflix hit, who agrees to enter the deadly games in order to make money to support his family. The actor is one of the most sought-after stars in South Korea, most known for his work in “The Thieves,” “New World,” “The Face Reader,” “Assassination,” the “Along with the Gods” series and “Deliver Us from Evil.” Jung-jae recently told me in our roundtable interview that Gi-hun was an “attractive role” to play because “there are just so many different roller coasters of emotions and the character grows so much.” “Squid Game” is also up for drama series and foreign language series at the Critics Choice Awards.

SEE ‘Squid Game’ reveals 10 cast members eligible for SAG Award ensemble prize: Lee Jung-jae, Jung Ho-yeon …

“Succession” returned this fall after taking a year off due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It came back in fighting spirit, with the central Roy family engaged in a civil war as Kendell (Strong) accused his father Logan (Cox) of knowing about his company’s crimes. In all, “Succession” earned a series-high eight Critics Choice nominations: drama series, lead actor (Strong and Cox), supporting actor (Nicholas Braun, Kieran Culkin and Matthew Macfadyen) and supporting actress (J. Smith-Cameron and Sarah Snook).

Besides Jung-jae, Strong and Cox, the other lead actor nominees at the 2022 Critics Choice Awards are Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”), Mike Colter (“Evil”) and Billy Porter (“Pose”). The ceremony was originally going to take place on January 9, but due to the Omicron variant, it has been pushed back to an unknown future date.

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