Dream Emmy Ballot: Supporting Actor (Drama)

Not sure if you’ve heard the scuttlebutt, but there’s a heck of a lot of excellent television these days, and a great deal of it seems to flourish in the mystical land of drama.  Like my previous list of outstanding supporting actresses, I found this particular field of noteworthy gentlemen difficult to whittle down.  My first pass at this had a list of ten men who just had to make the final cut.   I know, I know #TVWatcherProblems.

But hey, before you climb up on your high horse and start pooh-poohing this arduous process, I’ll admit that having an overstuffed field from which to pluck possible nominees is a great problem to have.  We’re in the midst of TV’s Golden Age (forgive the dramatics, your honor), and the men listed below–not to mention the several other excellent performers that didn’t make the cut–all contribute to the preservation of that legacy.

Here we go, folks!  My dream Emmy ballot for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series!


Get A Room                                         lannister

Josh Charles,                                                                   Charles Dance,

The Good Wife                                                                 Game of Thrones      


lannister 2                                         dean

Peter Dinklage,                                                                  Dean Norris,

Game of Thrones                                                                 Breaking Bad


jesse                                         chalky

Aaron Paul,                                                        Michael Kenneth Williams,

Breaking Bad                                                                 Boardwalk Empire


Honorable Mentions: Jeffrey Wright, Boardwalk Empire; Walton Goggins, Justified; Pedro Pascal, Game of Thrones; Michael Kelly, House of Cards; Noah Emmerich, The Americans


“Show your work…”

When it comes to Breaking Bad, Dean Norris’s Hank and Aaron Paul’s Jesse played significant roles in maximizing the already outstanding quality in the show’s final season.  Few scenes floored me as much as Walt confronting Hank in the Schrader family garage in the season opener, and that sequence’s excellence has as much to do with Norris as Cranston; the man radiated anger and betrayal from every pore of his body, but his eyes allowed us a peak beneath the blow-hard bravado and at the bruised ego and terrifying powerlessness lurking there.  Meanwhile, Jesse’s sense of obligation to Walt clashed with his morality in fascinating ways, and Paul played those reversals and counter-reversals brilliantly.  But Paul’s best work came in his depiction of Jesse’s downward spiral, as this young man found himself subjected to such physical and mental cruelty that reduced him to a dehumanized shell of his former self, culminating in his gut-wrenching reaction to the death of a truly innocent bystander.  Needless to say, Breaking Bad had a banner year–did it ever not have one during the course of its run?–so you might as well get used to hearing its name called repeatedly in the drama categories come Emmy night.  Consider this a glimpse into the future.

There’s this other show on television, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it.  It’s called Game of Thrones?  Oh, you have heard of it because you’re a human being currently residing on this planet called Earth.  Gotcha.  Anyway, in addition to showcasing wedding massacres, this show also features one of the most upsetting father-son relationships on television in Charles Dance’s Tywin Lannister and Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister.  Despite their names’ passing similarities to one another, the two men could not be further apart.  This season, it was King Joffrey’s death that drove a larger wedge between the two; when Tyrion becomes the lead suspect in the regicide, Tywin sees it as his opportunity to fulfill his longterm goal of removing the member of his family he views as tainting it.  Charles Dance is the epitome of icy resolve, while Peter Dinklage absolutely spellbinds during Tyrion’s trial; his rant, wherein he vows he did not kill Joffrey but wishes he had, saw our favorite Lannister fed up with his almost universal mistreatment and adopting the persona expected of him.  Oh, and the way Dinklage performed the season finale’s big climax?  Happy Father’s Day!

In many ways, season four of HBO’s overlooked Boardwalk Empire is all about Michael Kenneth Williams’ Chalky White.  As the episodes unfold, it becomes increasingly clear that this is–in some ways–the story of Chalky’s personal tragedy as much as it is the story of Nucky’s criminal ascent.  Certainly, Chalky encountered his fair share of tragedy on multiple fronts this year, none as gut-wrenching as the accidental murder of his daughter in front of him.  Is there any performer on this list who so seamlessly vacillates between menacing rage and tender vulnerability with the ease of Michael Kenneth Williams?  Maybe, but Williams takes these moments that most would tackle with Acting (with a capital A, of course) and uses them as an opportunity to showcase his quiet subtlety, and that’s a decision that deserves recognition.

As if Josh Charles hadn’t blown our minds with his desk-clearing meltdown in The Good Wife‘s game-changer “Hitting the Fan,” he had to go and take Will Gardner deeper down the rabbit hole in the episodes that followed.  Will’s bruised ego, his sense of betrayal, his fratboy pettiness–they all rose to the surface.  But even more impressive is Charles’s showcase episode, “The Decision Tree,” wherein this talented actor did so much with the shake of his head or a wry smile as memory flashes revealed the undercurrent of Will’s facade: his continued fascination with (and dare I say love for?) Alicia. It would have been so simple for Josh Charles to play this entire arc with the dramatics of “Hitting the Fan,” but he wisely dialed back, revealing a more contemplative side to Will so that–even when he actively worked against Alicia, as in the scramble to claim the ChumHum account–we couldn’t help but root for the guy.  Josh Charles has been so good for so long, and his work in this season of this excellent show seems as good a time as any to reward him for that.  Plus, Will’s dead so it’s now or never, right?  I say now.  #CharlesInCharge


That wraps up this go around of my Dream Emmy Ballot!  Until next time, whence we dive into Best Actor in a Drama Series!  Hold onto your hat!

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