The Sixth Annual Andy TV Awards – Drama Acting

I’ve now covered the guest acting and comedy acting awards, time to move on to the drama awards. I pretty much watch all the dramas that matter besides Treme and Fringe, but the Academy went ahead and nominated some people from shows that don’t (or no longer) matter as well. Those include actors from Dexter, House, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Harry’s Law, and The Killing (which I believe I saw four episodes of). So while it’s possible those performers are doing bang-up jobs on shows I don’t want to watch, you won’t see them nominated here.

Read on to see who you will see nominated, and who would win in a perfect world. Yes, my definition of a perfect world is one where I am the sole authority on arbitrary media awards.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
The nominees are…

Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones
Walton Goggins in Justified
Arliss Howard in Rubicon
Michael Pitt in Boardwalk Empire
Michael Raymond-James in Terriers
Michael Stuhlbarg in Boardwalk Empire

This is always the most loaded category of the entire show, due to the simple math that there are more supporting actors than leads (or actresses, for that matter). You could give me ten nominees, and I’d still leave someone great off the list, including John Slattery and Vincent Kartheiser of Mad Men, Alan Cumming of The Good Wife, Andre Braugher of Men of Certain Age, Michael B. Jordan of Friday Night Lights, Dax Shepard of Parenthood, or the other two Michaels of Boardwalk Empire (to say nothing of all the great things I hear about John Noble on Fringe that I’m sure I’ll love when I get around to watching the show a year from now). But I had to narrow it six, and what a great six they are. That we never got the chance to peel back the layers of Arliss Howard’s enigmatic Kale Ingram was probably the biggest loss of Rubicon‘s cancellation. Walton Goggins has been one television’s best performers for years (having won the award on this blog two years ago for his work on The Shield), so it’s very satisfying that people are finally starting to notice. Were he to win the Emmy (which he won’t), we could rightly say it was owed to him as much as he earned it with his work this past season Justified. Michael Raymond-James was a co-lead of Terriers, but I get not wanting to ruin whatever snowball’s chance there was to get some post-mortem attention for the show by not directly competing with Donal Logue. Theirs was the best chemistry on TV, making the show instantly beloved by the hundred or so of us that saw it. For the record, I would’ve nominated him as a lead given the opportunity. Michael Stuhlberg’s charismatic turn as Arnold Rothstein was an instant highlight for a show that some felt dragged at the beginning, and continued throughout the season given us a different take on a mob kingpin, eclipsing his more famous counterparts in Al Capone and Lucky Luciano. I know many weren’t believers when Michael Pitt was cast, but I’m hoping all right-thinking viewers were turned around at least by “I wasn’t going to, but you kinda talked me into it”, if not much, much sooner. When you have a show led by a protagonist that gets by through negotiation and persuasion as much as Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson, you need a more driven counterpart like Jimmy Darmody, who is basically responsible for the entire driving action of the season.

The award goes to…
Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones
Fantasy isn’t my thing. The plot mechanics and setting usually don’t interest me at all. I’ve never even seen Lord of the Rings (*GASP*). But Game of Thrones? Yeah, I dug it. There are many reasons why it held my interest where others haven’t, from its uniformly excellent cast, to focusing on political machinations rather than magic and made up languages, but the most immediate reason was Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. His wit and depth were an instant oasis while I struggled to figure out all the characters, the setting, and how they connected. The series started off a little slow while it did its world-building, and its possible that without Dinklage, I would’ve let me bias take over and given up altogether. Which really would’ve sucked for me.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
The nominees are…

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks in Mad Men
Kelly Macdonald in Boardwalk Empire
Margo Martindale in Justified
Archie Panjabi in The Good Wife
Kiernan Shipka in Mad Men

An interesting mix of characters and performers here. Emilia Clarke started off as a naive child in a part that could’ve easily been exploitive to emerge as perhaps the series’ most powerful character and featured in the most iconic shot of the first season. Kelly Macdonald started off similarly meek in Boardwalk Empire before slowly recognizing her emerging power and the moral choices that accompanies it. Christina Hendricks and Archie Panjabi each masterful used the sex appeal inherent in their characters (and their selves) in different eras and workplaces, with Hendricks showing the limits pressed upon her by society while Panjabi struggles to overcome the choices she’s made as a result of not accepting any limits. Perhaps the only good thing to come from the long hiatus between seasons four and five of Mad Men is that it allowed Kiernan Shipka to catch up to whatever time jumping Matthew Weiner will want to do. They can replace Bobby Draper every season for all I care (in fact, I kind of want them to because it’ll be funny), but they can’t afford to lose what they lucked into with Shipka. The heartbreaking depth she brings to the role has allowed the show to go into areas it may not have otherwise, and the series is better for it. Hell, at this point, Shipka is also the best justification for keeping Betty on the show as well.

The award goes to…
Margo Martindale in Justified
Great nominees, but Martindale outshines them all to handily win this award. In one season, she managed to create a complex villain who was equal parts chilling and sympathetic. Justified made the leap from good to great in its second season, and Martindale is almost single-handedly responsible. Basically, the show did everything well that it did in its first season, then Mags Bennett came along to force everyone to raise their game.

Outstanding Leading Actor in a Drama Series
The nominees are…

Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire
Kyle Chandler in Friday Night Lights
Jon Hamm in Mad Men
Peter Krause in Parenthood
Donal Logue in Terriers
Timothy Olyphant in Justified

Much like with the real Emmys, the absence of Breaking Bad from the nomination period opens the field up from defending champion Bryan Cranston. The end of Lost, dip in quality of Sons of Anarchy, and my giving up on Dexter and In Treatment also contributed to slew of new nominees, with only Jon Hamm and Kyle Chandler repeating. If I were to vote sentimentally, this award would be all Chandler’s, whose work over the past five years of Friday Night Lights has been exceptional. But it’s pretty dumb to give out a fake internet award out of sentiment, given that the only value such posts have (assuming they have any) is to let people know my opinion on things. That said, Chandler is damn deserving. But I’m not above giving another award to Jon Hamm, who got to add new dimensions to his character as Don Draper spent much of season four circling the drain. I had hard time settling on the sixth nominee, with Sean Bean and Ray Romano in the running with Peter Krause, so I let my wife pick, and was not surprised when she went with Krause, whom she still calls “Nate”. Timothy Olyphant was the toughest cut from my nominations last year, and as I suspected, he found his way into the field this season and most likely will find himself here for awhile. We knew Donal Logue would have the casual charm needed for the scruffy dog appeal promised by Terriers (um, for the few of us that had heard of it and knew it wasn’t actually about dogs, that is), the only question was if he’d have the dramatic chops necessary for a leading role. He delivered it in spades, elevating the series to another level with his performance at the end of the third episode “Change Partners”, a level he’d reach throughout its unfortunately short run.

The award goes to…
Jon Hamm in Mad Men
Lots of great nominees, but only one of them starred in “The Suitcase”.

I rest my case.

Outstanding Leading Actress in a Drama Series
The nominees are…

Connie Britton in Friday Night Lights
Lauren Graham in Parenthood
Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss in Mad Men
Katey Sagal in Sons of Anarchy
Jeanne Tripplehorn in Big Love

There are three performances I really want to give this award to, so I’ll talk about the other three first. Every year she’s been eligible, I’ve nominated Jeanne Tripplehorn here. Some years it was because she was a worthy contender, some years it was because it’s hard to find 5-6 shows worth watching that even included a lead actress, much less one worthy of awards consideration. This year was closer to that, although she did manage to edge out Lena Headey for one last token nomination, and for whatever problems Big Love had in its final two seasons, Tripplehorn’s performance wasn’t one of them. Katey Segal won this award on the blog going away last year, but was let down by her material in season three. Her performance was still there, but her storylines tended to be among the frustrating ones that hurt the forward momentum necessary for Sons of Anarchy to work. Who doesn’t like Lauren Graham? She laughs, she cries, she worries, she cries, she banters, she cries. Who doesn’t like her? Communists, that’s who. The Big Three of this category are Connie Britton, Elisabeth Moss, and Julianna Marguiles. Through five seasons, Connie Britton delivered hands down the best female performance on television, and it’s criminal that she has no real hardware to show for it. Of the numerous reasons why people should watch Friday Night Lights, I put her work as Tami Taylor at the top of the list. Elisabeth Moss entered as a Supporting Actress last year, and I gave her that award. This year, she rightly went back to the leading actress category as her role grew. Moss was dynamite all season, contrasting the fall of Don Draper with the rise of Peggy Olsen. Marguiles is the most leading actress of any of the nominees, anchoring the best drama on network TV. For much of the first season of the show, Marguiles stuck to her comfort zone of playing Alicia’s icy exterior and ambiguous reaction to her husband’s portrayal. In the second season, the barriers she built started to come down, and Marguiles was more than up to the task.

The award goes to…
Elisabeth Moss in Mad Men
You know who else starred in “The Suitcase”? See above.

4 thoughts on “The Sixth Annual Andy TV Awards – Drama Acting

  1. I have no disagreements with this list and have even seen many of the performances. I could mention that LOTR is about people and politics, but its an old discussion. This list is an example of how great television can be.

    PS You will love John Noble on Fringe :)

  2. Pingback: The Sixth Annual Andy TV Awards « Critically Speaking

  3. Pingback: The Sixth Annual Andy TV Awards – Comedy Series « Critically Speaking

  4. Pingback: The Sixth Annual Andy TV Awards – Drama Series « Critically Speaking

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