The Emmy nominations will be announced tomorrow. This year, there are so many great stand-out television series that the Emmy voters — who are already consistently behind the curve by two or three years — will have a very difficult time narrowing down their nominations. Either that, or they’ll just nominated five Modern Family actors and three Big Bang Theory actors and call it a day.
It’s a tough field, so there’s bound to be a lot of great performances that will get left behind. There are a few sure things: Amy Poehler in her last year of Parks and Recreation; Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss for the final year of Mad Men; Jonathan Banks in Better Call Saul; and Ben Mendelsohn in Bloodline, a series that may have been somewhat ignored that boasted a performance that was impossible to ignore.
As for the rest? Who knows, although based on previous years, you can probably expect many of the same faces from House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Game of Thrones (Lena Headey is a shoo-in for that Walk of Shame, right?), and both Jane the Virgin and Empire, freshman shows that were too big too ignore.
Here, however, are ten actors and actresses who will likely be ignored, despite being deserving.
Aden Young (Best Actor, Rectify) — For reasons beyond my understanding, one of the quietest, most understand characters on television, in one of the most understand series, has yet to be recognized by any of the major awards ceremonies. Young is so soulful as man putting his life back together after serving 19 years for a rape and murder he may or may not have committed that he can break open your heart with a single look. It’s not a showy performance, and that’s part of why it’s so impressive that he commands so much focus when he’s onscreen.
Andre Holland (Best Supporting Actor, The Knick) — Holland gave what I consider to be the single best supporting actor performance of the year in The Knick, where he plays the lone African-American doctor trying to gain respect in a turn-of-the-century hospital. Again, like Young above, he is commanding in a quiet role, delivering heartbreak with subtle reactions to that racism that surrounds him. Unfortunately, despite the presence of Steven Soderbergh as the series creator and director, I don’t see a Cinemax series gaining a foothold with the Emmy voters just yet.
Noel Fisher (Best Supporting Actor, Shameless — The only character on television that has equalled the series-long transformation of Melissa McBride’s character, Carol, on The Walking Dead, is Noel Fisher’s Mickey Milkovich in Shameless. He began as the white trash bully thug of Shameless, but over the course of five seasons, he’s grown into one of the most dynamic characters on television: A strong-armed bully with a huge soft spot for his boyfriend, Ian Gallagher. Noel makes up one half of the best gay couple on television, and his performance has been so surprising that it’s even cured some of their homophobia.
Christopher Eccleston (Best Supporting Actor, The Leftovers) — The first season of The Leftovers is a year old now, and may have been forgotten by Emmy voters already. Those that do remember the series about coping with grief are most likely to single out the performance of Ann Dowd, and I hope they do, because she was incredible as what was essentially the show’s Mags Bennett. Overlooked, however, is Christopher Eccleston’s performance as Reverend Matt Jamison, perfectly described by the AV Club “as a walking wound that God can’t help pouring salt into.” Eccleston was bloody fantastic, and in the season’s third episode, transformed The Leftovers from a show with a high-concept premise into a character study, as Eccleston brought out both the heart — and the heartache — of Damon Lindelof’s series.
Aya Cash (Best Actress, Comedy)— Courtney nailed why Aya Cash should receive an Emmy last year, in her explanation of why everyone should be watching You’re the Worst: “As Gretchen, Aya Cash is perfection. She’s snarky and she’s mean and she’s strong and weak and flawed and amazing. She’s selfish and self-aware and self-possessed and she cares. She hates how much she cares, she hides how much she cares, but she does. She nails it. Aya Cash should be and if there is a God she will be a massive star.”
Sharon Horgan (Best Actress, Comedy) — Add ten years and a British accent, and the exact same thing that was said about Aya Cash above could be said about Sharon Horgan on Amazon’s Catastrophe. Alas, the series is almost certainly going to be overlook in favor of Transparent, in part because so few people stateside saw Catastrophe. But you definitely should watch.
Vincent D’Onofrio (Best Actor, Drama) — He has an Emmy nomination already and should have an Oscar nomination for Full Metal Jacket, but the Emmy voters aren’t ready to recognize comic-book series, even ones that are as impressive as Netflix’s Daredevil. Maybe the biggest reason why it was so impressive was the performance of D’Onofrio as the villain, a fully-formed character that managed to be both ruthlessly evil and sympathetic. He was a bad guy, but we understood why. You don’t find that very often in any villain, much less a superhero villain, and certainly not a superhero villain on television. D’Onofrio is 50 percent why Daredevil is the best superhero show in TV history. The only tragedy here is that Wilson Fisk may not return.
Martin Starr (Best Supporting Actor, Comedy) — I don’t truly understand why so many around these parts find his Silicon Valley character, Gilfoyle, to be “sexy,” but I do understand that (along with Kumail Nanjiani) have been the MVPs of one of TV’s best comedies. I also understand how transformative Starr has been since his Freaks and Geeks years. You may think that it’s easy to be a scabrous curmudgeon and still be one of the two best characters on a comedy, but it’s not. Martin Starr just makes it look easy.
Keri Russell (Best Actress, Drama) — Consistently recognized as one of the five best series on television by critics, the Emmys still haven’t quite caught up to the dark, brilliant complexity of the FX’s The Americans (aside from their love of Margo Martindale). This year, Keri Russell stepped it up to another level, somehow turning a tooth extraction scene into something that felt weirdly sexual in one episode, and eliciting a heartbreaking life story from an elderly woman in another episode, right before she executed her. It’s in Russell’s character where you truly feel the weight of the sacrifice, and what it means to stay loyal to a country you haven’t lived in for years.
Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Best Guest Star, Comedy) — Wouldn’t it be amazing if Cuba Gooding, Jr. followed up his Oscar win nearly 20 years ago in Jerry Maguire with an Emmy nomination for playing himself? It’s not going to happen, because no one watched Big Time in Hollywood, Fl., but Gooding was unreal playing a coked-out larger than life version of his already larger-than-life personae. He’s taken a page right out of Neil Patrick Harris’ White Castle notebook, and if anyone ever watches Big Time in Hollywood, Fl., it may be a role that will pull Gooding out of a career in Redbox movies.