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Emmys: Critics' Choice Awards Noms Could Boost Underdogs

Laura Dern Enlightened - P 2013
Laura Dern in "Enlightened."

From canceled sitcom stars to unknowns playing clones, below-the-radar talent could get a boost from the June 10 event.

This story first appeared in the June 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

One of the many quirks of the Emmy race is its lack of momentum-gathering milestones like those marked during Oscar season (see: box-office buzz and seemingly endless guild awards). This is why the Broadcast Television Journalists Association started its own fete, the Critics’ Choice TV Awards, in the heat of awards season. This year’s event takes place June 10 at the Beverly Hilton, the same day Emmy ballots are posted. This means a handful of underdog performers could enjoy an Emmy bump in the sweet-spot of campaigning:

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Tatiana Maslany
Orphan Black

Maslany is a breath of hip air in a sea of Downton and Mad ladies, playing nearly a dozen women in this engrossing BBC America series about cloning. Unlike her fiercest best drama actress competitor Claire Danes, the Canadian actress is her own ensemble. Also, Emmy voters might be swayed by Maslany’s youthful grit.

Sutton Foster
Bunheads

Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls) scored a coup in landing Tony winner Foster to headline her ABC series about a Vegas showgirl who moves to a small town. With the show’s future in limbo, the actress’ shout-out from the critics for comedy actress could give Bunheads added hope and Foster an unexpected shot at an Emmy.

Jeremy Sisto
Suburgatory

Sisto merits an Emmy for making us forget he played Six Feet Under’s creepiest character, Billy Chenowith. His Critics’ Choice nom for coolish dad George Altman on Suburgatory — just re-upped for a third season — cements him as a true lead in a sea of larger-cast contenders. Ensemble-fatigued Emmy voters could take notice.

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Laura Dern
Enlightened

After HBO canceled Mike White's (very dark) comedy in March about an everywoman’s indictment of corporate irresponsibility, Dern’s chances might have been nil without this dose of critic love. Dern, who won the Golden Globe in 2012, also has a promising precedent in her corner: Julia Louis-Dreyfus earned an Emmy nom in 2010 just after The New Adventures of Old Christine was canceled.

Jonathan Banks
Breaking Bad

Lucky for Banks, critics’ love for AMC’s meth drama bleeds into the whole cast, especially those who perish in their character’s final episode. For instance, Giancarlo Esposito earned a Critics’ Choice nom in 2012 for supporting actor, then one for Emmy. Banks was a Bad friend and foe — a perfect recipe for gold.

Michael Cudlitz and Regina King
Southland

John Wells’ cop drama was axed by TNT in May after five seasons (the first was on NBC). Cudlitz’s John Cooper and King’s Lydia Adams were the show’s relatable moral anchors, like Kyle Chandler, who scored last-chance gold in 2011 for Friday Night Lights. Cue the sentimental votes?