Emmys: Scott Feinberg on Drama's Supporting Smackdowns

THR's awards analyst digs deeper into two wild-card races as Aaron Paul and Peter Dinklage meet again, and first-timer Morena Baccarin faces the formidable Maggie Smith.
Peter Dinklage on "Game of Thrones"

This story first appeared in the Aug. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.


Jonathan Banks
Breaking Bad (AMC)

PRO: The TV veteran created an unforgettable bad guy in Mike Ehrmantraut, an intense old-school hardass who somehow also was likable and left the series in the most memorable of ways. His work last year has earned a Critics' Choice Award nomination and his second Emmy nom.

CON: Giancarlo Esposito, Walter White's other colorful nemesis, was nominated last year but lost to (now two-time winner) Aaron Paul.

Bobby Cannavale
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

PRO: Few psychos have been more sadistic and entertaining than Cannavale's Gyp Rosetti. The actor won in 2005 for guesting on Will & Grace and has been nominated two years running for Nurse Jackie.

CON: Boardwalk was shut out of all other major categories, making him the only nominee in this race whose show isn't also up for best drama series. Also, some argue he should have been nominated for guest star.

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Jim Carter
Downton Abbey (PBS)

PRO: The veteran British character actor has managed to score noms in back-to-back years. (This year, his wife, Imelda Staunton, also is nominated, for her supporting role in HBO's movie The Girl.) His Mr. Carson is the series' endearing moral compass.

CON: Downton lacks the flash of its competitors, and season three was somewhat panned as too soapy. Also, Carter is only one member of its sprawling ensemble.

Peter Dinklage
Game of Thrones (HBO)

PRO: Nominated each of the past three years (he won in 2011), Dinklage is on a series that has more total noms than any of the category's other nominees -- and that could matter in a close race.

CON: It is highly unusual to win one year, lose the next then win the next (though Aaron Paul did so without a nom in between). Also, Dinklage is unapologetically allergic to press and campaigning for himself, which might rub some voters the wrong way.

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Mandy Patinkin
Homeland (Showtime)

PRO: The bearded and beloved vet -- a four-time nominee most recently nominated 14 years ago for Chicago Hope, for which he won in 1995 -- is immensely likable as Saul, Carrie's noble, no-nonsense CIA mentor. His scenes with a prisoner in "The Clearing" episode were among TV's best this year, and he was rewarded with a Golden Globe nom.

CON: The series has been off the air for eight months and might not be the freshest on voters' minds.

Aaron Paul (Most likely to win!)
Breaking Bad (AMC)

PRO: Considering his Jesse Pinkman wasn't supposed to survive beyond season one, Paul has had a nice run playing him: He has been nominated four of the past five years, winning in 2010 and 2012. He also has the bonus of the show's final eight episodes bowing during the voting period, a luxury also enjoyed by Paul's co-star Banks.

CON: Breaking Bad fans might want to celebrate Banks, who won't be eligible to compete next year.

STORY: Emmys: Scott Feinberg Handicaps the Drama Leads


Morena Baccarin
Homeland (Showtime)

PRO: As Jessica, the housewife of a soldier long presumed dead who returns from war, the first-time nominee broke down in season two and revealed the pain of lost love.

CON: A few key scenes aside, it's tough for Baccarin to measure up to the critical praise heaped on her co-stars, 2012 winners Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. Also, recent history suggests voters might prefer veterans here (Smith, Margo Martindale).

Christine Baranski
The Good Wife (CBS)

PRO:The 11-time nominee hasn't won since her first nom 18 years ago for Cybill but has made a compelling case for herself during each season of this series. This year, she is the category's sole nominee from a network show.

CON: She's the only competitor in this category whose show isn't nominated, and Good Wife seems to have faded from the zeitgeist. It snagged only five total noms, and there isn't one for lead Julianna Margulies.

Emilia Clarke
Game of Thrones (HBO)

PRO: The delicate Brit proves she's tough as nails as Daenerys Targaryen, a quiet but smart woman in exile who has been changed by her time among the Dothraki, during the third season of the epic fantasy series, for which she also received a Critics' Choice Award nomination.

CON: It's her first Emmy nom, and she's but one member of an ensemble of award-worthy actors. Also, no woman has won for acting in a genre series.

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Anna Gunn
Breaking Bad (AMC)

PRO: As Skyler White, the long-suffering wife of Walter (Bryan Cranston), Gunn hasn't had an easy go of things. Part one of season five finally allowed her to break bad and have some fun. She also earned a Critics' Choice Award nom this year and has done a decent amount of press to support the show.

CON: Even as Walter has descended into darkness, he has remained more popular with voter fans, many of whom continue to resent Skyler.

Christina Hendricks
Mad Men (AMC)

PRO: As single mom Joan Harris, who has risen (through what some might call questionable means) from secretary to ad agency partner, four-time nominee Hendricks remains one of TV's most intriguingly layered personas.

CON: No Mad Men actor or actress has won an Emmy. Hendricks had a better story arc -- and therefore a better shot -- and more screen time last season, for which she won a Critics' Choice Award.

Maggie Smith (Most likely to win!)
Downton Abbey (PBS)

PRO: The septuagenarian legend has made the Dowager Countess -- the prickly matriarch of the Crawley family -- one of TV's iconic characters, delivering cutting looks and biting lines in a manner second to none. And she has won twice for the role.

CON: With seven noms during the past 20 years, some will feel it's time to give someone else a shot, especially because Smith doesn't really campaign or even attend the Emmys.