• Hugh Bonneville, “Downton Abbey” (Episode 7: Christmas)
• Steve Buscemi, “Boardwalk Empire” (Two Boats and a Lifeguard)
• Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad” (Crawl Space)
• Michael C. Hall, “Dexter” (Nebraska)
• Jon Hamm “Mad Men” (The Other Woman)
• Damien Lewis, “Homeland” (Marine One)
It’s such a surprise that given the Downton love last year, Hugh Bonneville failed to make it in the Lead Actor Miniseries line up despite having six nominees. This year, he wasn’t the MVP of the series, but his episode is satisfying enough to justify his nomination. We get to see a lot of aspects with Bonneville’s character as a patriarch, a father, a son, a master, and Bonneville showed all of that with effectiveness. If anything though, his nominations is his reward. This is Steve Buscemi’s second shot for a nomination, and while the quality of the show increased from the first to the second, the buzz for the show decreased from the second to the first. His episode was okay; however, the problem is that it was too subtle and quiet for Buscemi to be the standout in this field. If he can’t win last year with the Globe and SAG wins, plus the buzz that Boardwalk had, I don’t see him winning this year. Bryan Cranston, so far, still has a perfect record for his performance as Walter White in the Emmys, and this is his year where in he’ll be tying with Dennis Franz if he wins a fourth one. And Cranston definitely nailed his episode submission with “Crawl Space.” The good thing with Cranston is that regardless if it’s a single tape system or a season long performance, he certainly delivers and is worthy of his Emmy win year in and year out. And with no real solid alternates, it’s easy for Cranston to get that fourth one. Michael C. Hall is on his fifth consecutive nod for the show, and he still hasn’t received any Emmy for this role. Hall’s best shot was in 2010, but he screwed up his submission resulting to a loss. This year, with Dexter falling out of the Best Drama Series category, and no major arc that led to a guest spot nom (Jimmy Smits, John Lithgow, Julia Stiles), the possibility of Hall finally winning an Emmy for this role is getting more impossible. I wouldn’t be shocked if he joins the list of other Emmyless performances with the way things are turning. Jon Hamm, like Hall, is on his fifth bid for a win now and still hasn’t received an Emmy. Don Draper is an iconic role already, but for some reason, the voters don’t feel the same way. During the previous years, the main con that people say why he keeps on losing is that his performance is too subtle as compared to others; however, he still lost last year with a very baity and over the top tape. Is it just a case of voters not really liking the role that much? While his tape this year is also good, he shares the episode with both Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks, so he doesn’t get to own it from start to finish. The only one who stands a chance in beating Cranston is first time nominee Damian Lewis who also gives a very competitive performance in Homeland. He also submitted a winning tape via “Marine One”, which also happens to be one of the most lauded episodes of the show. Lewis showed range, emotion, screentime, and impact in his submission, and had it been a weaker year, it will definitely be the frontrunner. Don’t count his chances out though.
This category could have been stronger, as the snub for Kelsey Grammer turned this into a different ballgame. However, in the end, this is just between two men: Bryan Cranston and Damian Lewis. Cranston is the logical choice especially with the support that the show receives every year at the Emmys, and a fourth one is very much in reach. If there happens to be a Cranston fatigue, then I see Damian Lewis as a very deserving alternate to take home the trophy.
Prediction: Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”
Dark Horse: Damien Lewis, “Homeland”