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Emmy Essays: Predicting the Best Supporting Actor and Actress in a Drama Series Winners

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nicholas Braun, Succession
Billy Crudup, The Morning Show
Kieran Culkin, Succession
Park Hae-soo, Squid Game
Matthew MacFadyen, Succession
John Turturro, Severance
Christopher Walken, Severance
Oh Yeong-su, Squid Game

I want to say this is an odd year, what with so many of the nominees having a co-star alongside them, but it actually happens quite often. I think that part of the reason why this year seems odder than normal is because seven of the eight nominees star in shows that begin with the letter “S”. I know that sounds ridiculous, but look at the list. It’s a weird coincidence, right? It bugs me, which means, for better or worse, you get to read about it.

Getting into the nitty-gritty, Billy Crudup won this award two years ago, and I think has as good a chance as anyone to win it again, but I don’t think he’s going to. Nor, for that matter, is Nicholas Braun, one of the three Succession co-stars to get a nod here. Braun is great as Cousin Greg, but I think he’s overshadowed by his cast mates.

I’ll get to them in a moment, but first, let’s cover three other men who were absolutely terrific, and whose spots here are well earned and well deserved, but who I don’t think have any chance at all to grab the gold. I was pleasantly stunned to see Park Hae-soo’s name listed among the nominees, because I didn’t think that the Squid Game wave would reach quite that far. I honestly thought it would be for lead actor Lee Jung-Jae and Park’s co-star, Oh Yeong-su (and more about him directly), and possibly Jung Ho-yeon, who did, in fact, score a nod in the
Supporting Actress category. That said, his nomination feels like his reward, especially considering the aforementioned co-star.

There are also two Old Pros, Christopher Walken and John Turturro, who were so utterly charming and, really, downright sweet as a timid pair of older men whose clear affection for each other is hampered by their personalities being “severed” by the corporation that employs them in Severance. If you don’t watch the show (and you should, because it’s terrific), that might not make sense, but the truth is, in a weird and compelling show like that one, the relationship between the two characters, and the chemistry between the two actors, is a welcome respite from some pretty intense stuff. In other years, the two of them might be fighting it out for the trophy, but this ain’t that year.

Because, in my mind, it’s a three-way race between Succession’s Kieran Culkin and Matthew MacFadyen, and Squid Game’s Oh. Oh won the Golden Globe in January, for whatever that’s worth anymore, and with Squid Game’s popularity, the old man has a serious chance to win this, especially if Culkin and MacFadyen split the Succession vote. Of the pair, Culkin’s work is much flashier, and so I think he has the advantage, because I don’t tend to give most people, even Emmy voters, enough credit to recognize more subtle work when they see it. Like, for instance, what MacFadyen did this year. Who would I vote for? Honestly, this is one of the toughest categories there is, because if any one of these guys won, even Braun or Park, I’d be okay with it, though I think I would ultimately choose between the other two Succession guys. That said, don’t sleep on an Oh upset.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Matthew MacFadyen
WHO WILL WIN: Kieran Culkin

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Patricia Arquette, Severance
Julia Garner, Ozark
Jung Ho-yeon, Squid Game
Christina Ricci, Yellowjackets
J. Smith-Cameron, Succession
Sarah Snook, Succession
Rhea Seehorn, Better Call Saul
Sydney Sweeney, Euphoria

I am not sure when the strategy was put into play wherein a television show’s final season was broken up into two pieces so as to make it eligible for two different Emmy seasons — I want to say it was Mad Men’s seventh and final season, but I can neither be certain or bothered to check — but whenever it happened, it did two things that seem to have opposite effects. The first thing it did was to allow some actors, like Anna Gunn, to double up on their awards, while also allowing the Television Academy to postpone honoring certain performers, like, say, Jon

I bring this up because there are two performers, specifically, who are affected by this in the current season. I’ll get to Bob Odenkirk in the Best Actor in a Drama section, but today we’re talking about Best Supporting Actress in a Drama, which means we should talk about the amazing Rhea Seehorn.

I don’t think I knew who she was before the first season of Better Call Saul, but she showed her brilliance right off the bat. As the show continued, her work only got stronger, and as she used the audience as a confidant in a way that I don’t recall seeing another performer do, she shone ever brighter, even in the shadow of Odenkirk’s magnificent performance. If this were the Academy’s final opportunity to honor Saul and its performers, I think this wouldn’t even be close. Since, however, there is another chance next year, this race grows more complicated.

First, let’s dispense with the also-rans. I have long been a fan of both J. Smith-Cameron and Christina Ricci, especially Ricci’s work in Yellowjackets, a show I’ll cover further in the Best Actress in a Drama entry, but neither has the slightest chance of winning this, regardless of how good they both were this year. Same with Squid Game‘s Jung Ho-yeon and Severance’s Patricia Arquette (who has won two of these before). Great performances, tough year.

Because aside from Seehorn, there are three actresses whose work really stood above everyone else’s. Sydney Sweeney came into her own this year with not one, but .two Emmy nominated performances (the other we covered in Supporting Actress in a Movie or Limited Series), and is a star very much on the rise. I’m not a big fan of Euphoria, but it’s hard to find any issue at all with her performance on that show. Same with Sarah Snook and Succession. She didn’t just hold her own with an incredible ensemble, she broke out. Snook takes a difficult and sometimes off-putting character and instills her with enough gravitas to make her sympathetic, which is no easy task.

And then there is Ozark’s Julia Garner, who has already won this award twice for playing this role on this show, and thus has to be considered the favorite for her work in its final season. The thing is, it’s hard to think she won’t win again, because she really was spectacular. I tend to think that, this being the last season of the show, the Academy will reward her again, and save Seehorn for next year, but I hope not.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Rhea Seehorn
WHO WILL WIN: Julia Garner

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