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Who wins and who goes home empty-handed at each year’s Emmy Awards is sometimes determined as much by politics, longevity and just plain lucky (and unlucky) timing as it is by the quality of the work. THR’s TV team weighs the odds for and against each of the nominees in the comedy and drama supporting actor and actress categories, and picks the likely winners.
SUPPORTING ACTOR DRAMA
Men of a Certain Age
- Pro: With two Globe noms, seven Emmy noms and two Emmy wins, he has cred. Voters of a certain age can relate to his character’s midlife travails.
- Con: Apparently not enough viewers could relate, and the show was canceled. Not good news for Braugher’s chances.
The Good Wife
- Pro: The cable-quality network drama is on a roll with consecutive SAG ensemble noms. Charles’ openly amoral character struck perfect will-they-or-won’t-they sparks with lead Julianna Margulies.
- Con: He and Cumming could split votes. And all acting eyes for Wife are on Margulies.
Game of Thrones
- Pro: Drama series nominee Thrones also got a nom for casting, but everyone was snubbed for acting awards except indie-film veteran Dinklage, in the role of a lifetime.
- Con: When voters think Thrones, they don’t think acting so much as costumes and tech awards.
Walton Goggins (LIKELY WINNER)
- Pro: Voters know they bungled him by snubs for FX’s The Shield. And Justified‘s lack of a series nom means they’re itching to fete Goggins for his wonderful, morally dubious Boyd Crowder.
- Con: Margo Martindale’s likely win could fill the Justified Emmy quota.
The Good Wife
- Pro: The Broadway chameleon was a guest-star nominee last year for Wife and probably would have prevailed if not for John Lithgow’s 12-episode juggernaut on Dexter.
- Con: See Josh Charles.
- Pro: Slattery’s once-aloof Roger Sterling finally got splashy with his emotions last season. If a third nom is a charm, a fourth must be a slam dunk.
- Con: There are a lot of new faces this year, and Slattery’s could feel like old news.
SUPPORTING ACTOR COMEDY
- Pro: Somebody from this white-hot show pretty much has to win. Eric Stonestreet grabbed the statuette last year, so maybe it’s Ty’s turn. Besides, Eric didn’t get a SAG nom this year; Ty did.
- Con: Ty’s style is more subtle. Eric’s is more obvious. Guess which Emmy likes better?
Jesse T. Ferguson
- Pro: He gets plenty of flashy, funny scenes with his TV mate, Eric Stonestreet.
- Con: His scenes are with Stonestreet, who doesn’t necessarily steal them but gets to be way more demonstrative. It’s a good match and a big Emmy advantage for Stonestreet.
- Pro: He won the Golden Globe this year and got a much-applauded surprise Emmy nomination last year. What could go wrong in 2011?
- Con: His character is simply not funny — especially last season — which is why even Colfer himself has been surprised by the noms.
- Pro: The most widely and angrily denounced snub in recent history was Ed’s for last year’s Emmys. A star of two of TV’s most iconic shows gets nada? He did get Family‘s other male SAG nom this year.
- Con: Fellow nom Sofia Vergara overshadows his scenes. Consider this Emmy’s apology.
Two and a Half Men
- Pro: He handled the crudstorm kicked up by Men star Charlie Sheen with witty grace. He’s had way more than two and a half noms (six, including a win).
- Con: Emmy shuns bad news. His nom is a consolation prize for getting shafted by a martian.
Eric Stonestreet (LIKELY WINNER)
- Pro: The previous year’s Emmy winner often wins again. Especially when he also gets a 2011 Globe nom.
- Con: The show’s historic quadruple supporting noms are a blessing and a curse. Votes tend to cancel one another out. There’s such a thing as too much talent.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS DRAMA
The Good Wife
- Pro: The nine-time nominee and one-time winner (Cybill) had a meatier supporting role in Wife’s second season, earning a second nom for the part.
- Con: Wife co-star Archie Panjabi won last year, and their nominations again this year could split the academy’s attention.
- Pro: Drama favorite Boardwalk won the SAG ensemble award; frontrunner and co-star Steve Buscemi consistently did his best work in scenes with her.
- Con: The newest face of the bunch, Macdonald might be a touch too sweet and understated to make a lasting impression.
- Pro: The cable staple (In Treatment, True Blood) had the season’s most wrenching role as a mother grieving for her murdered daughter, earning Forbes her first nomination.
- Con: Killing‘s dark, drizzly tone, slow pace and general unevenness were turnoffs to some.
Margo Martindale (LIKELY WINNER)
- Pro: She dominated the Kentucky pot market, killed people and died from poisoned moonshine. No one else had that much fun — or was that scary.
- Con: She strategically submitted herself as supporting instead of guest, which some might see as trying to beat the system.
- Pro: A second nom was deserved for her most heartfelt work ever during Men‘s four seasons. Her pregnancy cliffhanger was the season’s most exciting turn.
- Con: The lack of Men acting awards to date might be a signal that the academy is ready to move on.
The Good Wife
- Pro: Last year’s surprise winner, Panjabi enjoyed an even stronger second season, chock full of lies, manipulation and sexual intrigue.
- Con: If Wife scores any wins for acting this year, the accolades should go to last year’s snubbed lead, Julianna Margulies.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS COMEDY
- Pro: One of the tube’s most gifted in physical comedy, the two-time nominee is Family‘s perfect bedraggled Everymom.
- Con: Everyone on the show is an ace, which makes it nearly impossible to stand out. And she and co-star Sofia Vergara each lost last year for that reason.
- Pro: Everything she says is funny. And with her second nomination this year for Family, Vergara has elevated herself from “hot-mama side character with a funny accent” to one of the medium’s most endearing personalities.
- Con: See Julie Bowen.
- Pro: Krakowski earned her third nom for a season that showcased just how willing she is to do anything for a laugh. Make out with Will Forte while both are dressed in drag? OK!
- Con: As with lead contender Tina Fey, the show’s best years are in the rearview mirror.
Hot in Cleveland
- Pro: She’s Betty White! With 18 nominations and five wins, including last year’s guest nod for her SNL host stint, there’s no one more loved and venerable.
- Con: TV Land’s Cleveland is missing a comedy series nomination and the critical cachet of a Modern Family or Glee.
Jane Lynch (LIKELY WINNER)
- Pro: Last year’s winner — and this year’s minted Emmy Awards host — won a Golden Globe in January for making her Sue Sylvester the best reason to watch Glee. She is the funny lady of the moment.
- Con: Overall, Glee fatigue could be setting in.
Saturday Night Live
- Pro: With her third nomination for SNL — and the year’s most important comedy film victory in Bridesmaids — Wiig has cemented her place as one of the genre’s most influential and gifted performers.
- Con: Some might feel a weekly sketch-show performer doesn’t belong here.
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