Peter Dinklage is the only “Game of Thrones” cast member to win an Emmy. Might that change this year given the show’s record-setting nominations haul? Here’s how the Emmy drama races are shaping up.
“Better Call Saul”
“Game of Thrones”
“This Is Us”
Winner: “Game of Thrones”
Analysis: With 32 nominations, the most any show has received in a single year, the eventual coronation of “Game of Thrones” is assured. The HBO series has won the drama Emmy for its last three eligible seasons, and no amount of carping from critics and aggrieved fans (“Thrones” actor Conleth Hill called all the griping a “media-led hate campaign”) will keep it from extending its streak.
That record number of nominations was, of course, enabled by the vacuum created by the absence of shows like “The Crown,” “Stranger Things,” “Homeland” and “Westworld,” which didn’t meet this Emmy season’s May 31 deadline. “The Handmaid’s Tale” debuted too late as well, but that didn’t stop voters from handing the Hulu drama 11 nominations for three “orphaned” episodes from its second season. (These episodes were eligible only for categories rewarding individual achievement, which is why the show and its regular actors are absent.)
That 11-nomination haul for “Handmaid’s Tale” (“Blessed be the fruit”) is more than that of any of the other dramas nominated for series this year — another reason “Thrones” is a shoo-in for this top prize. But, hey, next year’s race promises to be plenty interesting!
LEAD ACTRESS DRAMA
Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones”
Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”
Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder”
Laura Linney, “Ozark”
Mandy Moore, “This Is Us”
Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”
Robin Wright, “House of Cards”
Analysis: I understand if you didn’t fully buy in to “Game of Thrones” turning Daenerys into the Mad Queen. Talking to Clarke, I suspect she had her own reservations. But for that split second Dany sat on Drogon, contemplating her next move before laying waste to King’s Landing, Clarke sold it (or, at least, she came awfully close) and that’s no small feat given the short ramp the show’s writers gave her.
Clarke could win her first Emmy if voters decide to give “Thrones” a grand sendoff. More likely though, the Emmy will go to Oh as she likely came close to taking the award last year. (Claire Foy won for “The Crown.”)
Oh’s co-star, Comer, might be more deserving. Playing Villanelle, she shuttled seamlessly between personas and accents, one moment kooky, the next a killer. But this is her first nomination, and I don’t think she’ll leapfrog Oh, who was marvelous herself in delving into the ways Eve’s consuming interest in Villanelle brought her thrillingly alive. Oh would be the first actress of Asian descent to win this Emmy, providing the telecast with a nice historic moment.
LEAD ACTOR DRAMA
Jason Bateman, “Ozark”
Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
Kit Harington, “Game of Thrones”
Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
Billy Porter, “Pose”
Milo Ventimiglia, “This Is Us”
Analysis: I’ve gone on this tangent before, but it’s worth another look. “Better Call Saul” has been nominated for best drama series for its first four seasons, picking up 32 nominations, including four for its star, Odenkirk. The show has yet to win a single Emmy. It has also been shut out at the Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
So, yes, this subtle and often profoundly disturbing examination of moral decay and compromise is due to win something, and rewarding Odenkirk would be a nice start. But [sigh] I have my doubts that it will happen this year. (Voters overlooking Rhea Seehorn, Odenkirk’s talented costar, is not a good sign.)
Porter would make an excellent choice too. “Pose” picked up six nominations for its debut run, and its second season, now airing, is even better. Playing Pray Tell, the flamboyant ball emcee dealing with an HIV diagnosis, provided Porter a strong showcase for his talents. He already has a Tony (“Kinky Boots”). After the Emmys, he might be halfway to his EGOT.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS DRAMA
Gwendoline Christie, “Game of Thrones”
Julia Garner, “Ozark”
Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones”
Fiona Shaw, “Killing Eve”
Sophie Turner, “Game of Thrones”
Maisie Williams, “Game of Thrones”
Analysis: With four “Game of Thrones” cast members nominated, picking the excellent Garner is a pure percentage play. Who knows how the “Thrones” crowd is going to vote? I’m still reeling from the fact that voters nominated four members from an ensemble that barely had any screen time. But the women did have their share of iconic moments and, if I had to pick one “Thrones” actress who might walk away with the Emmy, I’d go with Williams for the thrilling way she dispatched the Night King. (Arya riding the white horse out of the King’s Landing carnage also looked cool, even if its meaning was never explained.)
SUPPORTING ACTOR DRAMA
Alfie Allen, “Game of Thrones”
Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul”
Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”
Giancarlo Esposito, “Better Call Saul”
Michael Kelly, “House of Cards”
Chris Sullivan, “This Is Us”
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, “Game of Thrones”
Analysis: Of all the “Game of Thrones” actors nominated for its final season, three-time winner Dinklage stands as the worthiest choice. He carried the last episodes, gabbing and pleading and manipulating, imparting lengthy monologues with a depth of feeling and a smidge of meaning and, as always, delivering one-liners with pitch-perfect timing. With a win, Dinklage would become the first actor to win four supporting drama Emmys, making him the real winner of “Game of Thrones.”