The Fifth Annual Andy TV Awards – Drama Series Acting

I just learned something interesting: The Andy Awards are an actual thing. Apparently, they’re given to honour the best in international advertising. Oops. Ah well, if you’ve come to this blog in search of information on the actual Andy Awards, as opposed to a lazily-named post series on some dude’s blog, I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place. But feel free to stick around, and read up on who I think should have been nominated and who should win awards for the best dramatic performances on television in the 2009-10 season. (And while you’re at it, go back and look at my picks for the best guest stars and comedy performances).

As a reminder, I don’t watch House, Damages, The Closer, or Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and gave up on Treme, so you won’t see any nominees from those shows. I did, however, watch 12 different dramas from whom I drew these nominees, which is pretty solid (and for those of you scoring at home, yes, I watch a whole lot of TV).

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
The nominees are…
Christina Hendricks in Mad Men
Elisabeth Moss in Mad Men
Archie Panjabi in The Good Wife
Chloë Sevigny in Big Love
Maggie Siff in Sons of Anarchy
Aimee Teegarden in Friday Night Lights

Some changes from last year here, in part because a couple of the nominees from last year submitted as lead actresses this time, while last year’s winner in that category, Elisabeth Moss, moved down to supporting (a fair recognition of her place in the season, I say). Last year, Chloë Sevigny won this category for her work in the best season in the short history of Big Love. This year, she earns a nomination for her work in its worst season. Still, she was great with what she was given, and as the series continues, it strikes me that Nicki’s journey will be the most interesting.

Christina Hendricks repeats as nominee here, and if this were an actual award show, I might go ahead and give her award just to get her more airtime. That, and she’s really deserving, albeit with a reduced role in season three. Still, she made an impact in her limited time, reminding everyone how essential Joan is to the entire operation. It’s possible that there isn’t much more to Archi Panjabi’s role on The Good Wife than acting enigmatic, and her role is one part mystery, one part wardrobe. We’ll see if her performance expands in later seasons, but for now, Kalinda is one of the best elements of the show. Aimee Teegarden’s acting has always been an underrated element of Friday Night Lights, and has improving with each season. She got a lot of emotional arcs last season, turning in one of the better teen performances in recent memory as a result. Sons of Anarchy made a great leap forward in its second season, with Maggie Siff’s performance being one of the many reasons why. As Tara gets more involved with Jax, she gets deeper into the world of SAMCRO, giving Siff more layers to play as she fights to keep from being dragged down.

The award goes to…

Elisabeth Moss in Mad Men
Moss continues Peggy’s evolution from the mousy secretary we met in the pilot to a confident, gifted young woman who will not only come to symbolize the era we think of as the 60s, but also more and more looks to be the one hero of the show. While her role was reduced a bit in season three as the show focused more on the marriage of Don and Betty Draper, she still had a number of great moments, from “I’m Peggy Olson and I want to smoke some marijuana”, to her seduction of that college student in a bar, to creating a pitch off of Kinsey’s lost idea on the spot, to finally standing up to Don. Moss makes Peggy’s evolution as natural as it is enjoyable.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
The nominees are…
Michael Emerson in Lost
Ryan Hurst in Sons of Anarchy
Terry O’Quinn in Lost
Dean Norris in Breaking Bad
Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad
Matt Ross in Big Love

Always the hardest category to limit to six, as much of the best acting comes from character actors. To make things a little easier on myself, I decided to limit the Lost actors to two, choosing Michael Emerson for his continued brilliance (particularly in the “Dr. Linus” episode), and Terry O’Quinn for his ability to slip into another character after five seasons, while adding new dimensions to his previous character in the flash sideways, but I could’ve easily given nominations to Nester Carbonell and Josh Holloway as well.

They’d at least get consideration, although it was also difficult to limit the Breaking Bad actors to two as well, thus leaving out Giancarlo Esposito. Dean Norris went from a straight-up comedy character in season one (and not that interesting one) to the feature character in possibly my favourite hour of television last year (“One Minute”). But limiting both those shows to only two actors gives me the chance to spotlight two under-appreciated performers in Ryan Hurst and Matt Ross. Hurst’s performance has been so great that they keep expanding his character (and keeping him alive) to get more of it. He’s the emotional ballast of the club of outlaws outside of the Jax/Clay split, so of course they put him through the ringer. Whatever problems there were in the past season of Big Love, Matt Ross’ performance as Alby wasn’t one of them (other than the fact that they didn’t give us enough of it). Alby was alway interesting; in season four, Ross made him human, without sacrificing the oddball element that made him interesting in the first place. Heartbreaking stuff.

The award goes to…

Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad
Aaron Paul’s portrayal of Jesse Pinkman is probably the biggest reason why Breaking Bad went from being a good show to an all-time great show. Whereas Bryan Cranston had been great since the pilot, the show grew as Jesse’s role grew and Paul revealed what an astounding actor he is. The danger with Breaking Bad‘s approach to Walter White’s declining morality is that the show could become purely intellectual in terms of resonance. As he moves from anti-hero to straight up villain, Walt loses our sympathy and thus our emotional involvement. Thanks to Paul’s performance, our emotional involvement simply switches to Jesse, resulting in some of the most powerful moments in television last year, a large cry from the annoying wannabe street dealer we were introduced to when the series began.

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
The nominees are…
Connie Britton in Friday Night Lights
Anna Gunn in Breaking Bad
January Jones in Mad Men
Julianna Marguiles in The Good Wife
Katey Sagal in Sons of Anarchy
Jeanne Tripplehorn in Big Love

Elisabeth Moss moved out of this category, while Connie Britton and Katey Segal (both nominated by me as supporting actresses last year) moved in, joining holdovers January Jones and Jeanne Tripplehorn. Connie Britton has been giving one of the best performances on TV for years now, so I was overjoyed when I heard that she’d finally received an Emmy nomination. There’s debate whether or not January Jones is giving a great performance, or whether she’s simply perfectly cast. I’d say “Souvenir” and “The Gypsy and the Hobo” prove it to be the former. Jeanne Tripplehorn wasn’t given as much quality to work with in the fourth season of Big Love, but she always gave quality work.

Julianna Marguiles is certainly the most LEADING actress in a drama series, which in itself deserves some recognition. You don’t see a lot of network shows built around actresses, at least not outside Friday night. That CBS, the number one network on TV, decided to give a big push to a female-led show, resulting in solid ratings and critical approval should be commended (even though it shouldn’t have to be in the year 2010). I was surprised to find myself enjoying The Good Wife despite its procedural trappings, with much of the credit owing to Marguiles’ performance. On the flip side is Anna Gunn, who is probably the least leading actress on this list. I’m not sure I agree with the strategy of submitting here instead of as supporting, where she may have had a better shot at an Emmy nomination. Either way, her performance was strong enough to warrant consideration, but she’ll have to settle for an Andy nomination.

The award goes to…

Katey Sagal in Sons of Anarchy
Of all the snubs of the actual Emmys, none was worse than Katey Segal for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series. In the second season of Sons of Anarchy, which started out absolutely horrifically for her character, Segal gave one of the top five performances on TV last season, taking Gemma in unexpected directions throughout. In the first season, Gemma was the series’ Lady Macbeth, with her cold manipulations making her one of the stronger female characters on TV. In the second season, she showed us what inner strength truly meant, especially when it’s shaken up. The results were stunning. The only way you could avoid recognizing Segal’s performance is if you didn’t see it, which must describe the viewing habits of the Academy despite Sons of Anarchy‘s smash cable ratings.

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
The nominees are…
Kyle Chandler in Friday Night Lights
Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad
Matthew Fox in Lost
Michael C. Hall in Dexter
Jon Hamm in Mad Men
Charlie Hunnam in Sons of Anarchy

Supporting Actor in a Drama is the toughest category to limit, while this is the toughest field to crack. There are two new nominees here, but there was two openings as a result of The Shield finishing its run and In Treatment taking the year off (incidentally, there’ll be two openings next year too, with Lost finished and Breaking Bad gone for the entire year). Kyle Chandler, Bryan Cranston, Michael C. Hall, and Jon Hamm have had a stranglehold on this category for a few years now (well… Cranston would have if I’d seen Breaking Bad in time for the third annual awards), while Matthew Fox stepped up his game for the final season in reclaiming Jack Sheppard’s status as the star of the show. Charlie Hunnam was a bit uneven in the first season of Sons of Anarchy, but cleared it up for its stunning second season (well, except for his still shaky American accent) equalling the fire of his character. Still, it’s possible I may have bumped him for Timothy Olyphant if I’d caught up with Justified (which I’m loving), but maybe not, since Hunnam is great in his own right (hopefully, there’ll be room for both of them next season).

My joy over Connie Britton’s Emmy nomination was equalled with Kyle Chandler’s long overdue nomination for his excellent work as Coach Taylor. Nobody does more under a ball cap and wraparound sunglasses than he. Michael C. Hall has been doing amazing work for four seasons now on Dexter, even as the show’s formula grows stale. This year he got to go head-to-head with John Lithgow and more than held his own.

For the second year in a row, this award comes down to Bryan Cranston and Jon Hamm, giving the two best performances of the year in the two best shows of the year. Hamm has created perhaps TV’s most indelible character in Don Draper, putting on a clinic in “The Gypsy and the Hobo” when all of the confidence and poise of Draper drained out of him, leaving Hamm sunken like a deflated balloon. Cranston has been mindnumbingly good for three seasons now and just picked up his third straight Emmy to validate it, but has yet to pick up the not-at-all prestigious Andy Award.

The award goes to…

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad
That ends now! I get chills thinking about the work Cranston did this year, be it his drugged near-confession in “Fly”, standing up to Mike the Cleaner in “Full Measure”, letting Gus know he’s figured out his scheme in “I See You”, or the simple, unforgettable utterance of “Run” in “Half Measures”. Sure, it’s a little boring when the same guy keeps winning awards, but it’s impossible to deny that he deserves it.

Up next: Best Comedy Series

Related Reviews:
The Fourth Annual Andy TV Awards – Best Supporting Actress
The Fourth Annual Andy TV Awards – Best Supporting Actor
The Fourth Annual Andy TV Awards – Best Leading Actress
The Fourth Annual Andy TV Awards – Best Leading Actor

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3 thoughts on “The Fifth Annual Andy TV Awards – Drama Series Acting

  1. Pingback: The Fifth Annual Andy TV Awards – Outstanding Comedy Series « Critically Speaking

  2. Pingback: The Fifth Annual Andy TV Awards – Outstanding Drama Series « Critically Speaking

  3. Pingback: The Sixth Annual Andy TV Awards – Drama Acting « Critically Speaking

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