2011 Dream Emmy Ballot: Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series

It’s that time again, folks. The Emmy nominations will be announced on July 14, which means I have almost an entire month to flood this space with hopes, dreams and predictions about what could happen come nomination time. To kick things off, I’ll be bringing back the Dream Emmy Ballot. It’s something I did last year and even with my much smaller readership back then, folks seemed to enjoy it. You can find the archives of previous Dream Emmy Ballot posts here.

In any event, just a qualifier or two: This is obviously my Dream Emmy Ballot. Meaning, these initial picks are going to be who I would love to see be nominated for the awards. I know that many of these people don’t actually have a chance in garnering a nomination, just as I know that I will miss some of your personal favorites because I don’t watch that series. I watched more television than ever this season, so I imagine my personal picks will more closely align with more “official” selections, but nevertheless, this is all based on my personal taste and wishes. I’ll do more concrete, objective analysis as we get closer to the actual nomination announcement. Secondly, these picks are all based on the official nomination ballot, just so you know.

After a few days off, the Dream Emmy Ballot returns! Today, we continue the move through the guest categories with Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. This is a category that is always particularly packed thanks to the glut of broadcast series that bring in high-profile names for one-off episodes that raise the eyebrows of Emmy voters. Because of that, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the category that saw absolutely no overlap between my dream picks and the official Emmy voter selections. There are just too many big names in this list. Last year, there were seven nominees in this category and I wouldn’t be shocked if that kind of glut continued this year. I, however, am sticking with six nominees.

Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife

If there is one nominee on this list that I feel confident in getting nominated for real, it’s Michael J. Fox. Everyone loves him, it makes for a great story and oh yeah, his performance on The Good Wife is really damn good. The Wife world is populated by so many unique, oddball characters, but Fox’s Louis Canning is probably the best. He’s ruthless and manipulative, but so easily able to compartmentalize those traits when he leaves the courtroom, which makes him an intriguing antagonist for the series’ lead Alicia Florrick. This performance smartly uses Fox’s medical issues to its advantage, but thankfully doesn’t milk them for too much sympathy or melodramatic storytelling (although the Emmy voters would probably love that).

Michael Cristofer, Rubicon

I would be willing to bet a large sum of money that Rubicon will not sniff the Emmy awards, in any category. This is severely unfortunate, despite the issues I had with the series overall. Michael Cristofer’s performance was tremendously compelling. Sometimes, his Truxton Spangler was charmingly aloof. Other times, he was stringently and stuffily intense. But no matter what the series asked of him, Cristofer delivered. He made the point-man for the global conspiracy seem somewhat sympathetic even as he ordered the death of API employee and probable threat, Will Travers. The Emmy ballot is vague in description of what episode Cristofer is submitting, but let’s hope it’s “The Outsider,” so the voters can experience the tie speech.

John Corbett, Parenthood

Much like Rubicon, I don’t suspect Parenthood will find much Emmy love this year, despite a very good second season. The latter half of that very good season was improved by the re-appearance of Sarah’s apparently deadbeat ex, this time played by John Corbett (he was played by another actor in an early S1 episode or two). I’ve never had much of an opinion on Corbett either way. I didn’t like him on Sex and the City and sort of liked him in Lucky. Nevertheless, his guest work on Parenthood was wonderfully raw. Corbett played the fairly standard role that went through standard beats (deadbeat dad doesn’t show up!), but he brought a nice level of misguided sadness to the performance that overcame those limitations. Corbett’s chemistry with Lauren Graham makes them a believable former pair but also a good duo for present day screaming matches and heart-to-hearts about the trials and tribulations of parenting.

Noah Emmerich, The Walking Dead

I have all sorts of problems with the first season of The Walking Dead and even the finale episode in which Noah Emmerich makes his lone appearance. But Emmerich does a wonderful job of bringing just-introduced character to life. His lone remaining doctor at the Atlanta CDC was the right mix of calm, insanity, hope and hopelessness. Doctor Jenner is really only in one episode (he appears at the end of episode five) and goes through a pretty substantial transformation within the confines of that one episode. In the hands of a lesser actor, Jenner wouldn’t have been interesting, he would have been a convenient plot device in living and an even more convenient one in death. If The Walking Dead takes over the Emmys like some are suggesting, I could see the generally well-known Emmerich actually grabbing a nomination in this category. I’d obviously be cool with that.

Jeremy Davies and Brad William Henke, Justified

I thought long and hard about which of these two Bennett brothers I wanted to bestow the honor of my fake nomination and in the end, I just couldn’t do it. Heck, I almost considered giving their co-star Raymond J. Berry some room and pushing this duo to a trio. Both Jeremy Davies and Brad Henke deserve credit for their performances in the stand-out season of television that was Justified season two. Dickie and Coover fit seamlessly into the series’ version of Kentucky and even though they were clear antagonists from the very beginning, both Davies and Henke made certain that their characters would still seem pathetic, misguided and sympathetic just the same. Even with Margo Martindale turning in one of the best performances of the year as their mother Mags, Coover and Dickie ended up being tragic, heartbreaking figures in their own right. I expected this kind of stellar work from Jeremy Davies, but Brad Henke’s performance was surprising, which would make it all the more sweet if he were actually nominated. Justified didn’t get Emmy love after its first, I strongly hope that changes for season two.

Notable performances left just off the list: Jack Houston, Boardwalk Empire; Raymond J. Berry, Justified; Andre Royo, Fringe; Jonny Lee Miller, Dexter

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