With True Detective and Breaking Bad not being a part of this year’s Best Actor race, that leaves three of the six nominations open for some freshman shows to sneak in their leading actors for their first nomination. These three wildcard slots are, of course, indicative of whether the remaining three slots are actually filled with actors from veteran shows. Jon Hamm is essentially guaranteed a nomination for his final season as “Don Draper” in AMC’s Mad Men. This is Hamm’s last chance to win an award for the iconic role he has played for the last eight years, and many pundits believe this may be the year he finally wins. Of course, that is if Kevin Spacey doesn’t steal Hamm’s thunder in a manner only Frank Underwood himself would deem as necessary. Spacey’s tremendous performance from Netflix’s House of Cards is another guaranteed nomination, especially after his recent Golden Globe win a few months back. This category seems to be shaping up in the fashion of Jon Hamm versus Kevin Spacey, but there is also the potential they could cancel each other out to allow for another to emerge victorious.
Ask Jeff Daniels about such a scenario, which was undoubtedly how he won his Emmy back in 2013 for HBO’s The Newsroom. Daniels, too, seems likely to be nominated for the final season of The Newsroom, though the show is not fiercely popular and it is possible Daniels could find himself snubbed this year. Also with the available open slots in the Best Actor category, we could see Hugh Bonneville nominated again for his performance as “Lord Grantham” in PBS’s Downton Abbey. He has been nominated twice for the show and could see himself nominated again if voters grant Downton Abbey with enough love.
However it is more likely that the three wildcard slots are going to be given to actors in freshman shows. The more obvious of the bunch, especially after his Critics Choice Award win, is Bob Odenkirk for his role as “Saul Goodman” in AMC’s Better Call Saul. Odenkirk made his performance his own and truly separated it from hanging on the success of Breaking Bad, which in itself is worthy of the nomination. Terrance Howard also seems to be getting some last minute traction for his role as “Lucious Lyon” on FOX’s Empire. The popularity of the music industry show could easily propel Howard into grabbing a nomination. The same could be said for Steve Buscemi as “Nucky Thompson” in HBO’s final season of Boardwalk Empire. The popularity of the show has fallen flat for Boardwalk Empire but its loyal fan base and the rave reviews Buscemi received could help him secure a final nomination for the show.
Also having the potential to secure a nomination is Dominic West as “Noah Solloway” in Showtime’s The Affair. If the Academy shows the same love for The Affair as the Golden Globes did, West could find himself with a Best Actor nomination. The same can also be said for Clive Owen’s performance as “Dr. John Thackery” in Cinemax’s The Knick. It is a rarity for an actor to be nominated without its show gaining any overall popularity with voters, which makes Owen’s potential for a nomination unlikely, but not impossible. This is the same scenario facing Liev Schreiber with Showtime’s Ray Donovan or James Spacer with NBC’s The Blacklist. The exception to this is Kyle Chandler’s performance as “John Rayburn” in Netflix’s Bloodline. Chandler is a favorite with the Emmys, having won back in 2011 for Friday Night Lights. While the show hasn’t gotten the same amount of traction as he has, Chandler’s performance has been raved about by various critics, suggesting his nomination wouldn’t be too surprising in the chance it were to happen.
1. Jon Hamm – Mad Men
2. Kevin Spacey – House of Cards
3. Jeff Daniels – The Newsroom
4. Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul
5. Terrance Howard – Empire
6. Kyle Chandler – Bloodline
Spoiler: Dominic West – The Affair or Clive Owen – The Knick
Long Shot: Hugh Bonneville – Downton Abbey