Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Emmy Ballot, 2009

The real Emmy nominations get announced on Thursday, and just like I did last year and the year before, I'm going to pretend like I have a say-so and present my own pretend ballot. This year, the actual Emmys have expanded the acting categories to 6 nominees, and far bet it from me to not follow suit. Please do hit up the comments and offer up your own choices, and I'll try to get back here Thursday or Friday with analysis of the (sure to be inferior) real nominations.

Battlestar Galactica
Big Love
Friday Night Lights
Mad Men
True Blood

True Blood juuust edges out Fringe to join the five shows that I found to stand head and shoulders above all dramatic TV this year. Big Love made a giant leap in its first season as HBO's senior hourlong drama, while FNL made a giant leap BACK into my good graces with one hell of a rebound third season. Mad Men and Lost both had fantastic seasons while facing historical TV speedbumps (for Mad Men, the sophomore slump; for Lost the perils of time-travel). And the final season of Battlestar Galactica was more polarizing than I expected it to be, but I was firmly on the side of the Starbuck-shaped angels.

Runners-Up: Fringe; Damages; Gossip Girl

Kyle Chandler - Friday Night Lights
Jeffrey Donovan - Burn Notice
Jon Hamm - Mad Men
Josh Holloway - Lost
Ian McShane - Kings
Edward James Olmos - Battlestar Galactica

This is always the least interesting category for me, mostly because the most solid leading men (Hamm, Olmos, Chandler) don't really change from year to year. Even including Ian McShane for the handful of Kings episodes NBC allowed to air before yanking it from the spring schedule feels like a paler version of his perpetual nods for Deadwood. Two notable additions here: Jeffrey Donovan, who has proved to possess a quirkily compelling style on the always fun Burn Notice (and puts paid to my years of Blair Witch 2-based shilling on his behalf); and Josh Holloway, whose presence here would have shocked the July 2008 version of me into incoherence, so much was I never a fan of Sawyer. But the time-leaps in Season 5 did wonders for his character, and Holloway was more than up to the challenge of new, mature, finally heroic Sawyer.

Runners-Up: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad); Jonny Lee Miller (Eli Stone); Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment)

Connie Britton - Friday Night Lights
January Jones - Mad Men
Mary McDonnell - Battlestar Galactica
Elizabeth Moss - Mad Men
Chloe Sevigny - Big Love
Jeanne Tripplehorn - Big Love

New year, new hierarchy under which I appreciate the women of Big Love. Nicki (Sevigny) owned Season 1, and Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) shined brightest in Season 2, and Season 3 once again belonged to Nicki, whose exile from the family hit hard. It should be noted, however, that in true First Wife fashion, Tripplehorn has been the quiet backbone of the entire series and is never a threat to miss my nominated shortlist. The other double-dip in this category belongs to Mad women Jones and Moss, who were both rewarded with increasingly complex Season 2 storylines and absolutely rose to the occasion. Speaking of which, McDonnell got better material in the final Battlestar season than she had in the previous two -- and delivered her typically fierce and flawless best -- and Britton was as much a beneficiary of the resurgent Friday Night Lights as anyone.

Runners-Up: Glenn Close (Damages); Sally Field (Brothers & Sisters); Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love); Rose Byrne (Damages)

Nelsan Ellis - True Blood
Michael Emerson - Lost
Enver Gjokaj - Dollhouse
Michael Hogan - Battlestar Galactica
Vincent Kartheiser - Mad Men
Terry O'Quinn - Lost

Emerson and O'Quinn rocked all season long as the Cain and Abel (the Statler and Waldorf? the Tom and Jerry?) of Craphole island. Kartheiser finally let all that Angel-era brattiness blossom into '60s-era impotent smarm, to wonderful effect. Michael Hogan was the best thing about Battlestar for almost three full seasons at the end there. I've spoken about my insane love for Ellis's Lafayette Reynolds before (AIDSburger aside, his combination of transgressive sexuality and keen survival instincts are pretty much everything Alan Ball's trying to do with this show). Finally, I need to once again give some love to Enver Gjokaj, whose performance as Victor, starting around episode 4 or so, never stopped blossoming in new and surprising ways.

Runners-Up: John Noble (Fringe); Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica); John Slattery (Mad Men); Bruce Campbell (Burn Notice)

Marcia Gay Harden - Damages
Christina Hendricks - Mad Men
Elizabeth Mitchell - Lost
Katee Sackhoff - Battlestar Galactica
Amanda Seyfried - Big Love
Kate Vernon - Battlestar Galactica

This is by far the most stacked category on the whole ballot, and any of the seven runners-up below would be beyond worthy of a nomination. Perhaps next year, when the peerless Katee Sackhoff won't be bouncing Starbuck off of the nearest warm body or brick wall; or when the Kate Vernons of the world aren't popping back into the scene for a tour-de-force final-Cylon turn; or when Elizabeth Mitchell is reduced to guest-starring turns as My Beloved Juliet. Elsewhere, Hendricks helped Joan Holloway evolve without losing that steely jiggle; Harden transcended the act-with-your-gams nature of Claire Maddox to reveal a crouching tiger; and Amanda Seyfried broke my heart about a half-dozen times en route to her strongest performance yet.

Runners-Up: Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad); Janine Turner (Friday Night Lights); Grace Zabriskie (Big Love); Mary Kay Place (Big Love); Carrie Preston (True Blood); Hope Davis (In Treatment); Gabrielle Anwar (Burn Notice)

30 Rock
Flight of the Conchords
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Party Down
The Office
United States of Tara

This field kind of narrowed itself down -- I love Greek as much as anyone, but a perfectly executed little trifle is still a little trifle. Party Down was a strong late entry that bumped Weeds off at the last minute. Fantastically funny show, though. The other new show on the block, United States of Tara, is probably the one I love the best. But the cream of the comedy crop remains 30 Rock and The Office, the latter having come on strong with one of its strongest seasons.

Runners-Up: Weeds; Greek; Better Off Ted

Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock
Steve Carell - The Office
Jermaine Clement - Flight of the Conchords
Chris Lilley - Summer Heights High
Lee Pace - Pushing Daisies
Adam Scott - Party Down

Once again, it's easy to see this category as "Baldwin, Carell, and everyone else," but everyone else is pretty great this year. It's doubtful we'll see these six back again next year, with Pace, Lilly, and possibly even Clement on shows that aren't coming back. Lilley probably has the highest ratio of performance quality to chances of an actual nomination, though I honestly won't expect to see any of the "lower four" get actual nominations. Which is a shame.

Runners-Up: Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia); John Krasinski (The Office); Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords)

Tina Fey - 30 Rock
Toni Collette - United States of Tara
Jenna Fischer - The Office
Kaitlin Olson - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Mary-Louise Parker - Weeds
Amy Poehler - Parks and Recreation / Saturday Night Live

This is pretty much my same lineup as last year, with Toni Collette added to the mix as a sixth (and with Poehler getting recognized for Parks and Rec as well as SNL). Toni's no sixth wheel, of course. Of this group, only Tina Fey impressed me nearly as much as Toni's multiple-personalities performance(s). I still wish there would be an awards body somewhere willing to show Kaitlin Olson the love she deserves.

Runners-Up: Lizzy Caplan (Party Down); Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?); Sarah Chalke (Scrubs)

Kier Gilchrist - United States of Tara
Neil Patrick Harris - How I Met Your Mother
Nick Offerman - Parks and Recreation
Chris Pratt - Parks and Recreation
Michael Urie - Ugly Betty
Rainn Wilson - The Office

I've done personal Emmy ballots on this blog for the last three years, and every year I've tipped my hat to Rainn Wilson, NPH, and Michael Urie. And much as I'd like to shake things up, they've all been too strong this year to ignore. Michael Urie, in particular, was by far the best performer on his show, and has become, for me, the real emotional centerpiece of the show (I've mentioned this before). The two Parks guys were the shining lights of that show, helping it power through some growing pains. And Kier Gilchrist is just my total hero, and often the best part of a very good show. BTW, it absolutely kills me to leave Ryan Hansen and Jonathan Slavin off this list. Maybe next year when the category is expanded to 8 nominees.

Runners-Up: Ryan Hansen (Party Down); Jonathan Slavin (Better Off Ted); Jack McBrayer (30 Rock); Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords)

Kristin Chenoweth - Pushing Daisies
Portia DeRossi - Better Off Ted
Rosemarie DeWitt - United States of Tara
Jane Lynch - Party Down
Elizabeth Perkins - Weeds
Kristen Wiig - Saturday Night Live

Lots of new and exciting faces in this category, almost all of whom will be snubbed. Jane Lynch and Portia DeRossi are both proven comic talents doing some brilliantly funny work, and much as I'm looking forward to Glee, it's a tragedy that it's going to keep Lynch from season 2 of Party Down. Perkins kept her head above water amid what was a pretty dismal season for Celia; DeWitt gave depth to a what began as a flat, bitchy character; Chenoweth might be the single biggest reason I'll miss Pushing Daisies; and Kristen Wiig might be the funniest woman on television, so...

Runners-Up: Mindy Kaling (The Office); Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords); Judith Light (Ugly Betty); Jane Krakowski (30 Rock)

The Amazing Race
Big Brother
RuPaul's Drag Race
So You Think You Can Dance

Yes, Wipeout. Which gives this category three summer programming entries -- including a rebound (junky, yes, but it was fun again) 10th season of Big Brother and last year's brilliant summer of Dance. The Amazing Race had a delightfully resurgent reason and for the first time would be wholly deserving of their now perennial Emmy victory (which means this is the year they'll probably lose). And Drag Race was probably the most surprising, delightful show of them all. Emmy votes would do well not to sashay away from throwing Ru a nomination on Thursday.

Runner-Up: Survivor


JA said...

That picture of Kristen Wiig alone made me break into unrelenting giggles.

And I'm so going home tonight and finally getting around to downloading Party Down and United States of Tara, by the way, and thank you for the reminder.

Carrie said...

"It's doubtful we'll see these sex back again next year," Freudian typo!

Joe Reid said...

Ha! Typo fixed, if reluctantly.

Jenn said...

Man, I need to get on the True Blood bandwagon.

Nick Offerman love! I don't even watch Parks and Recreation but I have Offerman love from other shows (mainly Gilmore Girls.

mathan said...

Huge props on the Party Down love. That show really impressed me with it's inaugural season. And I also appreciate the Marcia Gay Harden appreciation.

I am a bit mystified at the runner-up status for Breaking Bad. Maybe it's because the second season ended so recently, but I really felt Breaking Bad had the stronger of the AMC sophomore seasons, and I love Mad Men.

Anonymous said...

Who is the redhead in the Best Supporting Actor Comedy category and what show is he on so I can begin watching immediately?

I really have nothing else to add here.

Joe Reid said...

Mathan: I haven't finished the full season of "breaking Bad" yet, which is why they're only runners up. Anna Gunn, in particular, is fantastic and to just miss out on such a stacked category is still pretty good.

Anonymous: not a redhead (though the pic does kinda look like it), but it's Chris Pratt, formerly of Everwood. He's on Parks and Recreation now and is awesome.

That Bootleg Guy said...

I assume you're still picking up pieces of your own skull after the "Family Guy" nomination caused your head to 'splode.


i haven't even heard of Party Down. oops.

btw. i like your nominees better than what came to be (by a wide margin) ESPECIALLY in the "best dramatic actress" category. The Mad Men and Battlestar Galactica women totally kick the asses of all those movie stars getting nominated mostly with the combo of enormous fame + being good on their shows. But nominations should come from being BEST. Which the Mad Men and Battlestar Galactica women are.

and huge props for remembering Enver Gjokaj since no one else ever will. Genre acting = no respect!