Jon Hamm

2014 Emmy Preview: The McConaissance vs The One Who Knocks

Yesterday we went over the stupidity of Tatiana Maslany not getting nominated despite giving far and away the best performance on television. Her male counterparts do not suffer from such an egregious snub. Yes, Jeff Daniels and Kevin Spacey have no business being nominated, but the formidable foursome of Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston, Matthew McConaughey, and Woody Harrelson are all there. Since no one outside of these four actors deserve to win the Emmy it is hard to get too upset over snubs, but I’ll try anyways.

Undeserving Nominees

Then put an end to your performance, Frank.

Then put an end to your performance, Frank.

 

Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards” – Oh man, look at that Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood manipulative and cunning with his grand monologues direct to camera. Is there no end to his brilliance? Spacey’s campy, over-the-top, scene chewing performance would be highly entertaining on a Funny or Die video or maybe even a feature film, but over the course of a 13 episode season it is just grating. A lead character doesn’t need to be likable, but he should be at least interesting and multidimensional, ala Tony Soprano. Underwood is a cartoon villain in the flesh. Just like House of Cards is a 80s primetime soap opera masquerading as quality television, Spacey is delivering an annoying, over-the-top performance that dupes everyone into believing it is brilliant. Tone things down and find some humanity in the character, Kevin, and oh yeah, learn how to throw a fucking baseball.

Jeff Daniels, “Newsroom” – Daniels is not undeserving because of his performance. In fact it is a great acting job considering Aaron Sorkin’s writing lends itself to falling down the same overacting well that Spacey did. He’s undeserving of nomination simply because he stole the award last year over far more deserving performers, top of the list being six, now seven, time nominee and zero time winner, Hamm as Don Draper. It would be perfectly acceptable for Daniels to take the sixth spot in this category every year. A nice face to pop up at the show, but to actually win the damn thing is unacceptable.

Snubs

Michael Sheen, “Masters of Sex” – Sheen is a brilliant actor able to slip into the skin of an array of characters with ease. He does it again as the cold, calculating, sex research pioneer, Dr. William Masters. Sheen brings out the humanity in this cold scientific man, especially in scenes he shares with the equally brilliant Lizzy Caplan. It is not a showy role, but rather reserved and complicated one, which is more difficult to pull off effectively. An actor of Sheen’s brilliance playing the complicated role of a real life figure is more than deserving of a nomination.

Hugh Dancy, “Hannibal” – It is rare for a broadcast network lead to break into this category with all the powerful male characters on cable these days, but Dancy’s Will Graham belongs in the conversation with his cable counterparts. It is the quieter role of the two leads on this psychological thriller, but with his arc of getting arrested and constantly having to deal with his own fragile psyche Dancy pulls off a memorable performance deserving of more recognition.

Best Bets

There are only two people to bet on in this category since only two people have any chance of winning, McConaughey and Cranston. It comes down to odds, McConaughey at (4/9) or Cranston at (3/1). Any time a former three time winner with a submission episode that was the best episode of television last year has (3/1) odds, you have to take it.

Should Win

Could Don slow dance his way to Emmy gold? Unfortunately not.

Could Don slow dance his way to Emmy gold? Unfortunately not.

 

Breaking my own rule of only considering the current season in which their eligible, but only slightly because he was still absolutely brilliant, Jon Hamm is the most deserving actor in this category. Don Draper and Walter White are pantheon characters in the history of television and will always be linked together since they appeared on our screens over the same time period. Cranston is absolutely incredible and the journey he took from High School Chemistry teacher to Drug Kingpin was unlike any ever seen before on TV. However, Hamm’s performance as Don Draper is slightly more impressive.

The character beats of Walter White are easier to see as the plot directs the changes in his attitude. Cranston nails all of these, but it becomes a showier performance thanks to the extreme change in White. Draper is a more muddled character, by design, and therefore more difficult to nail down. Yet Hamm knocks it out of the park. While he never gets badass lines to say like “I am the one who knocks,” or “Now, say my name,” he is able to floor me with the slightest facial movements that speak volumes.

There is no chance that Hamm wins it this year, making it seven nominations in a row without a win, and leaving him next year as his last chance. It should be his best one as Cranston, McConaughey, and Harrelson will all be ineligible, but it seemed like last year was his year and Daniels swiped it away, so with that luck Kevin Spacey will probably take home the gold next year.

Will Win

As I mentioned earlier, this is a two horse race. Let’s take a look at the case for and against each actor. Walter-White-I-Am-The-One-Who-Knocks-Breaking-Bad

Bryan Cranston: 

In His Favor – A three time winner nominated for the final episodes of an iconic television character. He has the best submission episode in ‘Ozymandias,’ which is sure to grab voters attention. There is a ground swell of Breaking Bad support as voters seem intent on honoring the show as much as possible on its way out. Cranston is also a very well-liked actor that has waited a long time to get this kind of recognition for his work.

Working Against Him – A three time winner nominated for the final episodes of an iconic television character. Where have I seen this before? The late, great James Gandolfini won three straight Emmy awards, three straight that he was eligible for as the long break between seasons meant a year with no Sopranos, for seasons 2-4 only to never win another for his last three years of being eligible including losing to James Spader in the final season. The parallels are very similar between these two and voters may decide again that three Emmys is enough recognition for this iconic character. Also, Cranston may be beloved, but he does not have the cache of McConaughey coming off an Academy Award as well.

Matthew McConaughey: tumblr_n22t898ntl1tumz3so1_1280

In His Favor – An Academy Award winning actor being eligible for an Emmy in the same year? This just does not happen in the world of television. Voters are sure to be thrilled that a movie star of this caliber chose to “slum it” on TV, even if only for 8 episodes on HBO. It was also a fascinating character in which he had to play three different incarnations of in a show that covered 20 years of time. It is a both showy and reserved role, which speaks to its brilliance. The mystery crime elements of True Detective never fully came together, but no one cared cause the real pleasure of the show came from watching McConaughey and Harrelson work together. And while Harrelson still does not get enough credit for his performance, there is no denying the McConaughey was truly something special to watch for 8 weeks at the beginning of this year. Plus everyone wants to see another McConaughey speech on Monday night.

Working Against Him – Perhaps voters are turned off by this outsider masquerading as a TV star for only 8 episodes and instead honor one of their own. There also may be some McConaughey fatigue at this point considering he spent the winter racking up award after award. True Detective has also been receiving some backlash since Nic Pizzolato has opened his mouth and given interviews. This might hurt the show’s chances to rack up as many awards as possible and McConaughey could get pulled under as well.

Prediction: 

The McConaissance continues. It is just impossible to imagine voters not voting for him. He just has far too much momentum and with three Emmys already on his shelf no one feels the pressure to give Cranston any more.

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My Perfect Sunday

One major change I’ve noticed in my post-college life is my favorite day of the week. Back in elementary and high school it was Friday, the standard flashy pick. Back then it was a day to slack off in class, hang out with your buddies, play video games and order pizza, and then eventually to grab a 30 rack and hang out in the park till we heard about a party that night. It was a great, exciting release from the boredom of the school week.

In college, it was a tie between Thursday and Saturday. The school week was less boring and monotonous, so Fridays lost some appeal. Thursday nights became the biggest party night of the week. The bars always had the best deals and people either didn’t have class on Fridays or didn’t care enough to show up. Then Saturdays always brought the best day parties, whether tailgating in the fall or making up for the lack of tailgating by throwing the biggest ragers in the spring, Saturdays always brought something big to the table.

However, my new favorite day of the week has appropriately landed on the day of rest, Sundays. I used to dread Sundays as a kid. Between dressing up in uncomfortable clothes, to sit on uncomfortable wooden pews, and listen to a man that made me feel uncomfortable for an hour and the reminder that the weekend is over, Sundays sucked. Nowadays I’m too tired from the work week to make Fridays truly count on a weekly basis and while Saturdays bring a fair share of day parties/brunches it does not bring the same level of joy as Sundays.

What was once Sunday’s weakness, being the end of the weekend and beginning of another week, is now its strength. I appreciate Sundays because it is my last chance to enjoy the weekend before another monotonous week begins. It brings higher stakes to everything that I do. Do I want to release some more steam before I go back to work? Then it is time for a boozy brunch and swing by my favorite beach bar, Big Dean’s. Do I have more errands I need to run? Well, let me think about if it will improve my life in a significant way, otherwise I’m not going to waste my Sunday. I could get some extra activities in, play tennis, golf, go for a run, hit the beach for some volleyball, or pump some iron on the Bowflex in the garage.

Sundays make me think about what is important to me and make sure I accomplish that before the weekend is over, even if that means accomplishing sitting on my couch doing nothing while I catch up on all the TV I missed during the week. Speaking of TV, Sunday has the best of the whole week. Between 10 straight hours of non-stop football in the fall and prestigious cable television at night, Sunday TV brings it all year round. And at this moment is my perfect Sunday TV lineup.

Currently playing on Sunday nights is my most exciting show on Television, Game of Thrones. As thrilling as it was to watch Walter White cook his last batch of crystal blue persuasion and as mesmerizing as Harrellson and McConoughey were for the 8 week stretch of True Detective, no show matches Thrones as far as thrills. It’s really unfair to compare it to any other show because it is at such a higher scale. There is a vast number of characters that are intertwined in a complicated plot that I have no idea where it is heading. The anticipation of what is going to happen next and how everything is going to come crashing together seals it as the most exciting show on television.

Also playing on HBO on Sundays is my current top comedy on television, Veep. Certain shows may give me bigger laughs, but none is more consistently enjoyable. Julia Louis Dreyfus is his a Grand Slam week in and week out. I never would’ve bet on her creating a more iconic character that Elaine Benes, but as far as I’m concerned she has done it. Dreyfus is first ballot TV Hall of Famer and it is a pleasure to watch her work week in and week out and Veep would be great if it were just her surrounded by a crap cast, but luckily for TV viewers the cast around her more than holds their own. “My Girl” Anna Chumsky wipes away all traces of her child stardom by playing the constantly bitter Amy Brookheimer. Speaking of breaking away from past characters, despite playing another character with attachment issues Tony Hale’s Gary Walsh is nothing like Buster Bluth. Phenomenal blogger and big time Chicago Bears’ fan Matt Walsh is pitch perfect as sad sack Media Specialist, Mike McClintock. And Timothy Simons Jonah Ryan is the comedic gift that keeps on giving.

Rounding out my Sunday lineup is my favorite show on television, Mad Men. It may not be the most exciting show or the funniest, but there is no show that is more of a pleasure to watch. Don Draper is the most fascinating character to grace television screens since Tony Soprano ordered onion rings for the table. Last week I talked about what I want to be when I grow, the focal point of everyone’s life. Don has that same desire, which is why he constantly reinvents himself. He’s searching for what will get him the attention and praise that he so covets.

It is a shame that Jon Hamm will most likely never win an Emmy for this role. He is up against the stiffest competition in Male Lead Actor Drama Series history. The winners since Hamm became eligible, Bryan Cranston (2008-2010), Kyle Chandler (2011), Damian Lewis (2012), and Jeff Bridges (2013). Cranston’s Walter White will most likely be the more remembered character in the annals of TV History, but Hamm’s performance is more impressive. He brings so many layers and can deliver a well of emotion with a subtle look.

People like to throw around the term, slow, when referring to Mad Men, but what that really means is that the plot movements linger in order to delve into how it affects each character. Rather than ripping through plot developments, Mad Men lets its characters breathe. It allows the audience to gain a greater understanding of each’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions, which is a good because these characters are all complicated and none is very easy to understand. I know that I’m in the minority, but I’d gladly do away with thrills in order to get more three dimensional human characters rather than vessels for dramatic, action packed events.

Mad Men is the perfect cherry to my current ice cream “Sunday” of a lineup.