Deadline Awards Columnist and Chief Film Critic Pete Hammond gives his take on the top acting contenders for the 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards. Here, he breaks down the categories of Outstanding Lead and Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Three newcomers to this category add some fresh blood to make it just a bit more interesting. One is a multiple former Emmy winner—decades ago, in the same category—and a beloved TV star; another returns after an extended hiatus from production and the Emmy Race, while the third is a major SNL star who struck out on his own and created, stars in, writes and directs the darkest entry by far. On the other end of the equation are returnees Anthony Anderson of Black-ish, 14-time nominee William H. Macy, and last year’s winner Donald Glover. The latter probably holds the title of frontrunner, but you never know. Here’s how we see it going down…

Anthony Anderson
Black-ish
ABC

A perpetual nominee here as either producer or star of Black-ish, Anderson would seem to be overdue, though it remains to be seen whether recent allegations of misconduct might torpedo his chances for a show that often strikes a serious chord between the laughs, and has the kind of gravitas voters love. If he can weather the storm of some damaging press, perhaps he could pull off an upset. But it looks more likely that his losing streak will continue.

NBC

Ted Danson
The Good Place
NBC

A whopping 16-time Emmy nominee and two-time winner, it wasn’t until the eighth season of Cheers that Danson finally snatched a victory in 1990, after being nominated every single year. He would win again three years later at the end of the iconic show’s run, and then go on to a few nods for another series, Damages. Now he is back in the game and an industry favorite to pull off another victory, but he has stiff competition.

Larry David
Curb Your Enthusiasm
HBO

HBO

A 12-time nominee for writing and producing the iconic Seinfeld, as well as a two-time winner for that series, Larry David was no stranger to the Emmys when Curb Your Enthusiasm came along, for which he could add the title of series star. Six nominations have come his way since, essentially playing himself on the hilarious series, but that hasn’t translated into an Emmy win in the acting categories. That makes him a long shot to take this home, even after a long hiatus during which time you can be sure he was missed.

FX

Donald Glover
Atlanta
FX

This quadruple threat has racked up four nominations this year, to add to the other four he received last year, which led to him winning two Emmys for Atlanta. Glover looks to continue the momentum of being the cool new kid on the block, and there is no reason to assume that in a sensational second season, he won’t continue to add to his victories. Look for a big win again in this category, unless someone unexpected comes along to steal his thunder. 

Bill Hader
Barry
HBO

HBO

Hader is the winner of an astounding five personal nominations this season, including four for this very dark HBO comedy, and one for returning as host of Saturday Night Live. The latter appears to me to be his most likely win, as Barry, in the end, might not turn out to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s a testament to Hader’s talents, though, that he has made it this far on just one season’s worth of episodes, and it sets the table for future wins for this multi-talented actor.

Showtime

William H. Macy
Shameless
Showtime

A two-time winner for his dramatic turn writing and starring in Door to Door, Macy has cashed in on the move of Shameless from Drama Series to the comedy categories, where he has now received his fifth consecutive Lead Actor nomination. A multiple SAG winner for the show, he is clearly an Academy favorite but represents the only major recognition this venerable Showtime series receives year in and year out. 

PETE’S PICK: Donald Glover, Atlanta


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

With Veep out of the picture this year, the category has opened up to include some new possibilities, even if it still seems to want to honor nominees from years past, including the last two consecutive Emmy winners in this category—Louie Anderson for Baskets and Alec Baldwin for Saturday Night Live. The liberal bent in Hollywood favors Baldwin’s Donald Trump impersonation to triumph once again, and few expect Anderson to be able to jump back to success after losing in his second season last year. Still, that dress is irresistible. 

Otherwise, Tituss Burgess of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Brian Tyree Henry, in his first go-round for Atlanta, look like uphill climbs against the competition, which also includes veterans Kenan Thompson of SNL and Henry Winkler as the drama teacher in Barry, providing strong reasons for a vote in their favor. However, three-time winner Tony Shalhoub seems poised for a win with the first season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, since he is also riding momentum from his recent lead actor Tony win in The Band’s Visit—and voters love anointing a proven winner.

WINNER: Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

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