The 2011-2012 season comes to an end this week. With the growth of the cable universe, the season never really stops anymore, and considering that in the couple of months we will be graced by the final seasons of Damages and Breaking Bad, new seasons of Episodes and Louie, and the premiere of Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO collaboration The Newsroom, one can hardly say that the best is behind us.
However, for at least one group of people, there is something that they will have to consider: the official contenders of this year’s Emmys. Now it’s safe to say that I have undergone years of frustration with the Emmy voters. Hell, they’ve ignored Homicide, Buffy, The Wire and Brotherhood in favor of lesser shows. But considering that the last four or five years, they have been more and more frequently recognizing quality when they see it, I’m beginning to come to the understanding that there are certain talent they will recognize. So I’m going to try and gently point them towards actors and actresses who might not get the recognition they deserve in programs that probably will get recognized. They may not be as flashy or have as many big moments, but one can not deny their talent.
I’ll start with choices from five dramatic series.
Boardwalk Empire (HBO): Jack Houston and Gretchen Mol.
It is very likely that Michael Pitt and Kelly Macdonald will be honored for their performances in larger roles, and I would be hard-pressed to argue that they don’t deserve recognition. But in his portrayal of World War I sniper turned bootlegger Richard Harrow, Houston lifts what might have been merely a variation of The Sopranos and turned it into a work of genius. His halting delivery, plus the wonder of what he is thinking behind that mask, has demonstrated he is nearly as talented an actor as his aunt Anjelica. He is disfigured, but you can’t turn away from him. And Gretchen Mol has taken an attractiveness that somehow never led to film stardom, and turned into a showgirl whose very presence gives new meaning to the term MILF. Combine that with her unhealthy relationship (that we eventually learned was incestuous) and you have an unforgettable performance. I don’t know what future either character has with show any more, so recognizing them now would probably be in the Academy’s best interest.
Justified (FX) Neil MacDonough
Oh, there was gold in Dixie this season. It’s going to be excruciating for voters to have to pick from the superb villains on Season 3. Myketl Williamson created a crime boss who seemed charming even as he was discussing the literal slaughter of his enemies, and Jere Burns demonstrated that he has become the most gifted actor shifting between comedy and drama since Ted Danson did on Damages. But from the moment that Robert Quarles made a gun appear from the sleeves of his suit, he created one of the most memorable bad guys on TV so far this decade. Add to this the fact that he’s been deserving of an Emmy since his unforgettable work on another Graham Yost series Boomtown, and you have the recipe for an Emmy nomination.