Katie McCarthy: A tough call for 2011 Drama Actor Emmy

September 16, 2011 

When I think about who I would grant an award to during Sunday night’s 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards it is based on my personal preference. I assume the voting members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences use a more precise, less biased method.

But I bet most of you at home do as I do and root for your favorites.

Which can be a problem when you have multiple favorites up for the same award.

As a big fan of “Mad Men,” “Dexter” and “Boardwalk Empire,” this is a dilemma I’m currently working through.

I’ll save my predictions for my blog and focus on what might be the most hotly-debated category this year: Lead Actor in a Drama.

Bryan Cranston, who has won the last three years for his portrayal of chemistry teacher-turned meth cooker Walter White on AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” isn’t eligible for the top prize this year because the series’ fourth season didn’t air during the 2011 eligibility period.

With him out of the way, many are calling this the year for “Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm, which, given his stirring portrayal of Madison Avenue ad man Don Draper in the series’ fourth season (notably the submitted episode “The Suitcase”), would be well-deserved.

However, after “Boardwalk Empire’s” impressive showing at last week’s Creative Arts Emmys (it picked up seven awards), HBO’s prohibition-era drama starring the enigmatic Steve Buscemi may prove a formidable opponent.

Also in contention are Michael C. Hall, who’s been playing the titual character on HBO’s “Dexter” for five murderous seasons; Hugh Laurie, who’s been passed over for seven seasons as Dr. Gregory House on the FOX medical drama “House,” which begins its eighth season next month; Kyle Chandler for “Friday Night Lights”; and Timothy Olyphant for FX’s “Justified.”

Is it obvious I’ve never watched the last two?

Regardless, a case can be made for each of these actors -- which is precisely why they’re nominated in the first place.

Amid the talk of this being Hamm’s year, it’s important to note that “Boardwalk’s” Buscemi won both a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, the boot-legging treasurer of 1920’s Atlantic City.

I’ll conclude with an exemplification of why I wouldn’t make an effective critic/award-panel voter:

As much as I adore “Mad Men” and Jon Hamm, “Dexter” and Michael C. Hall, just thinking about how much I enjoyed the first season of “Boardwalk Empire” and Steve Buscemi’s performance makes me positively giddy. (I rely far too heavily on feelings.)

We’ll see what happens at 8 p.m. Sunday when the Emmys show, hosted by Jane Lynch, airs on FOX.

Katie McCarthy, features writer, can be reached at kmccarthy@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8515.

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