In our final look at the Emmy races before the July 18 nominations announcement, we move into the supporting categories, where the candidates multiply but the number of possibilities stays the same. Here's how supporting drama actor shapes up and shakes out:
Changing station: Unlike some other categories at the Emmys with almost impenetrable stability, this one has repeatedly offered greater turnover. Three nominees from 2010 didn't even have the same parts the next year: Martin Short of "Damages," and Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn of "Lost." From 2011 to 2012, there were only two repeat nominees: Peter Dinklage ("Game of Thrones") and John Slattery ("Mad Men").
Breaking Bad") are the best bets among the 2012 nominees to return this time around. They have combined to win the past three Emmys -- Paul in the past two years he was eligible (2010 and 2012) and Dinklage in between.
Up or 'Downton': Prospects for last year's two nominees from "Downton Abbey" are definitively diminished. Brendan Coyle is not on this year's ballot, and in any case, his storyline as Mr. Bates suffered from the monotony of his time in prison. Jim Carter's Carson stayed the course, but didn't really go anywhere either -- he's sort of due for an Anthony Hopkins "Remains of the Day" moment that hasn't yet come. Either could be leapfrogged by Dan Stevens, who slipped into the supporting race in his final season on the show, if voters didn't hold his uncomfortable departure against him.
'Breaking' away: Giancarlo Esposito, nominated last year for "Breaking Bad," could return as a member of the cast of "Revolution." But given the shows' relative level of prestige, a better bet might be the quiet storm himself, "Bad"die Jonathan Banks, or the steadfast Dean Norris.
Are you "Mad?" There's a vacancy from last year's nominations thanks to 2012 nominee Jared Harris, whose "Mad Men" character swings with the fishes. Slattery, tapped the previous four years, could make a comeback if for no other reason than his reaction to the death of his shoeshiner. Kevin Rahm's surge of importance as Ted Chaough also might have made an impression. But perhaps this could finally be the year the TV Academy thanks Vincent Kartheiser for making Pete Campbell the mad man we love to hate, except when we pity him or occasionally find respect for.
Round-trippers: Three nominees from 2011 are looking to make last year's absence only temporary: Josh Charles and Alan Cumming of "The Good Wife" and Walton Goggins of "Justified."
Veterans in waiting: Norris and Kartheiser are hardly alone in deserving a moment in the Emmy sun. Consider -- just as examples -- Jack Huston of "Boardwalk Empire," Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of "Game of Thrones," Guillermo Diaz of "Scandal," Michael Cudlitz and Ben McKenzie of "Southland," Norman Reeder and Steven Yeun of "The Walking Dead" and David Morse of "Treme." But if I had to pick one man to emerge from this group -- indeed, a serious contender for the big prize -- it would be Mandy Patinkin of "Homeland."
Something new: It'd be easier on us all if we were done at this point, but we haven't even hit the new candidates from the 2012-13 season. Here's another sampling: Noah Emmerich ("The Americans"), Charles Esten ("Nashville"), Freddie Highmore ("Bates Motel"), Mads Mikkelsen ("Hannibal"), David Morrissey ("The Walking Dead"), James Purefoy ("The Following"), Corey Stoll ("House of Cards") and Sam Waterston ("The Newsroom"). Not one of these would seem out of place in the supporting drama actor finals.
One man's wish list: Banks, Goggins, Huston, Kartheiser, Patinkin, Paul. Toughest category to whittle down yet.
One man's best guesses: Dinklage, Emmerich, Huston, Patinkin, Paul, Waterston.
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