This year’s Lead Actor in a Drama Series race is as competitive as always, with one past winner, three previous nominees, one first-timer, and one previously nominated for the same role in the supporting category, now taking his first shot at Lead Actor. The nominees don’t have to contend with running against last year’s winner, Matthew Rhys of The Americans, because that show is off the air. Other than Sterling K. Brown, who took the win here in 2017 for the first season of This Is Us, this category promises to be one where a perpetual bridesmaid finally brings it home.
This TV veteran has now received a total of seven Emmy nominations overall, including four for acting. Specifically for Ozark, he’s been recognized once again with nominations in both acting and directing. So it’s possible the odds are increasing that Bateman, who thus far has never won, takes something home this time. He has some momentum behind him, since he’s coming off a SAG Award win earlier this year for the same role.
Sterling K. Brown
This Is Us
Brown has been something of an Emmy favorite in recent seasons, not only picking one up for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story in 2016, but also the following year for his leading role in This Is Us. He lost last year to Rhys, but without that kind of competitor this time around, could he return to the winners’ circle? He has already proven that competing against a co-star—Milo Ventimiglia—is not an impediment to a win.
Game of Thrones
Harington has had a checkered career so far with regard to Emmys. Jon Snow has earned him a nomination only once in Game of Thrones’ run since its 2011 start, and that was as a Supporting Actor in 2016. But now, with voters realizing this is their last chance to honor the iconic character and the actor who plays him, he has his first chance in this lead category. It took six seasons to honor Rhys, so the same fate might await Harington, who represents just one of Game of Thrones’ record 32 nominations.
Better Call Saul
Overall, Odenkirk is the most decorated in the category this year, with 12 nominations in previous years, and two wins. However, those wins were for writing on Saturday Night Live and The Ben Stiller Show. As Jimmy McGill in this Breaking Bad spinoff, he’s been nominated for each of Better Call Saul’s four eligible seasons, and he is probably the one here with the biggest fan factor. Is this finally his year?
The only first-time Emmy nominee in the category this year, Porter is known for his Broadway work and Tony-winning performance in Kinky Boots. FX’s dazzling early summer 2018 entry was not forgotten by voters, who handed Porter this bid. The actor is always a winner on the red carpet with his outrageous outfits, but can he be a winner inside the Microsoft Theater?
This Is Us
A veteran of several TV series, Ventimiglia receives his third Emmy nomination in a row for the complex portrayal of Jack Pearson on the NBC series This Is Us. And again, for the third time, he must face off against his co-star Sterling K. Brown, who took the prize in their first go-round together two years ago, although last year, both of them lost. So, is it Ventimiglia’s turn this time?
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
Peter Dinklage has been nominated for every one of Game of Thrones’ eight seasons, taking home three Emmys along the way. There may be the feeling he doesn’t need another at this point, especially since he’s competing against two of his co-stars: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau—on his second nom for the series—and Alfie Allen, with his first. So let’s move on to Better Call Saul and its pair of nominees: Giancarlo Esposito and perennial contender Jonathan Banks, who’s looking at his sixth overall nomination this year. Both actors were previously nominated for these same characters during Breaking Bad’s run, with neither having won, but Banks has four consecutive nods on Saul, which gives him the edge. That leaves single nominees Chris Sullivan from This Is Us, and Michael Kelly with a fourth nod for his House of Cards role, having finally had a killer scene—the kind voters love. This is a tough one, but Emmy does like to repeat.
WINNER: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones