Emmys ’11 Predictions: Comedy & Drama Lead Actor

Senior Television Writer
09.13.11 30 Comments

The 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards are on September 18th, and it’s time once again for Fienberg and I to discuss whom we think should and will win(*) some of the major categories. We’re continuing to double up categories in order to finish in time, this time with the two Outstanding Lead Actor categories, for both comedy and drama.

(*) As always, we remind you we do not have impressive track records at prognostication. Place your wagers (or, preferably not) accordingly.

Your comedy nominees:

Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
Steve Carell, “The Office”
Louis, C.K., “Louie”
Johnny Galecki, “The Big Bang Theory”
Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes”
Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”

Should win

Alan’s pick: Steve Carell has never won an Emmy for playing Michael Scott. That is, frankly, ridiculous, and even if he hadn’t done especially strong work this season, I’d almost be in favor of him getting a sentimental legacy win. But he did, in fact, do strong work – some of his best on the series – as Michael won back the love of his life and, through her, found the courage to leave his surrogate family and dream job in Scranton. Baldwin’s marvelous, Louis C.K. was as much a revelation in front of the camera as behind it, Parsons is still funny in the bank, but Carell. Period.

Dan’s pick: It’s hardly fair. Carell doesn’t just have a super-sized episode to work with, but he has a super-sized episode in which he made viewers laugh and cry and an episode in which he successfully makes an over-the-shoulder basketball shot. Michael’s farewell to Scranton brought out the best in “The Office” — a level of quality that hadn’t been seen for a while — and it brought out the best in Carell. I once handed Carell a TCA Award for his “Office” work and I’d hand him my Emmy vote here. If I had an Emmy vote. Which I don’t.

Will win

Alan’s pick: I feared that Baldwin had it in the bag with the “30 Rock” 100th episode, where he got to play multiple versions of Jack Donaghy. (Again, with Emmy voters, “more” almost always equals “better”). But he didn’t submit that one, which was either a tactical mistake or a kind gesture towards a departing rival. Baldwin’s actual submission is still good, and of course you have Parsons as your reigning winner, but I’m going to think kindly of the Emmy voters and assume that “Goodbye Michael” is too rich an episode – one where, in a way, Carell got to play multiple versions of Michael Scott – to be ignored.

Dan’s pick: Last year, Sheldon + Alcohol = Emmy for Jim Parsons. With “The Agreement Dissection” he has an episode perfectly tailored to reproduce that winning formula. But no. Sentiment reigns supreme. Steve Carell is one of Hollywood’s most loved actors and in this case, his “Office” departure will lead to a fitting tribute Emmy.

And your drama nominees:

Steve Buscemi, “Boardwalk Empire”
Kyle Chandler, “Friday Night Lights”
Michael C. Hall, “Dexter”
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
Hugh Laurie, “House”
Timothy Olyphant, “Justified”

Should win

Alan’s pick: Hamm. As I said with Elisabeth Moss, please go watch “The Suitcase” (along with the rest of a season in which Don Draper was falling to pieces and then slowly rebuilding himself) and then try to argue for any of these other guys (all of whom were great in their own way, and several of whom have smashing submission episodes of their own) to beat him. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I ain’t seeing it.

Dan’s pick: Kyle Chandler was SO good in the “Friday Night Lights” finale. SOOOO good. He should have a couple Emmys. Hugh Laurie should have at least one Emmy. Michael C. Hall probably should have an Emmy. Bryan Cranston’s dominance has transformed this into a category of worthy paupers. But this year’s most worthy pauper is Jon Hamm, who everybody expected to get his Emmy three years ago when “Mad Men” was shiny and new. He deserves it even more this year, for a season in which he got to take Don Draper apart and then begin to put him back together again. “The Suitcase,” which finds Draper in full-on deconstruction mode, is Hamm at his best.

Will win

Alan’s pick: Bryan Cranston has dominated this category for the last three years, but he’s not eligible, which means it could finally be time for one of Hamm, Laurie or Hall – or it could be that Buscemi slips in on his first try and keeps them all Emmy-less. Buscemi seems to be the trendy pick, and he has both movie credibility (remember: Emmy voters have an inferiority complex towards the movies) and is a likable, respected industry veteran. On the other hand, Nucky Thompson doesn’t seem as flashy a role as some of the others in this category, and, again, I have a hard time picturing the majority of voters in this category watching “The Suitcase” and picking anybody else.

Dan’s pick: Woot! I get to be “trendy.” Buscemi won the Golden Globe and he won the Screen Actors Guild Award. I’m predicting he takes the Emmy as well, meaning that instead of the frequent bridesmaids sneaking in and winning an Emmy in Cranston’s absence, they all just get to play bridesmaids to a different bride.

What do you think?

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