Unlike the film academy, where every member votes on the winners of the Oscars, the acting categories of the Emmy Awards are decided by a panel of 50-75 judges. To help make their decision, the judges are required to watch one episode that the acting nominee selects from the eligible season. We previously wrote about the importance of picking the perfect episode to submit, and we now know what episodes were selected by each acting nominee.
Let's have a look at nominees in the drama categories.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Hugh Bonneville – “Downton Abbey” ("Episode 7 Christmas")
Steve Buscemi – “Boardwalk Empire” ("Two Boats and a Lifeguard")
Bryan Cranston – “Breaking Bad” ("Crawl Space")
Michael C. Hall – “Dexter” ("Nebraska")
Jon Hamm – “Mad Men” ("The Other Woman")
Damian Lewis – “Homeland” ("Marine One")
The surprise here: Damian Lewis went with the season finale of “Homeland,” rather than the pilot. The pilot seemed like a safer bet, introducing his character in what would be a season full of twists and turns. But there’s no arguing Lewis was terrific in the finale, as well. Lewis’ biggest competition, Bryan Cranston, also went with a later episode from the fourth season of “Breaking Bad.” Both actors find their characters in tight situations in these episodes, and both go to some pretty dark places. On the other hand, Jon Hamm chose an episode of “Mad Men” entitled “The Other Woman,” where he shows a kinder side—his Don Draper tells Christina Hendricks’ Joan Holloway she shouldn’t prostitute herself for a client. It will be interesting to see if the judges favor Hamm’s more likable character over the others.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Kathy Bates - Harry's Law ("Onward and Upward")
Glenn Close - Damages ("I've Done Way Too Much For This Girl")
Claire Danes - Homeland ("The Vest")
Michelle Dockery - Downton Abbey ("Episode 7 Christmas")
Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife ("Parenting Made Easy")
Elisabeth Moss - Mad Men ("The Other Woman")
Interestingly enough, Elisabeth Moss also selected “The Other Woman” as her Emmy episode. Her Peggy Olsen decides to take another job, providing some great scenes between her and Hamm. Not that it matters—Claire Danes could submit any episode from “Homeland” and win. (For the record, she went with the penultimate episode from Season 1.)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Christine Baranski – “The Good Wife” ("Alienation of Affection")
Joanne Froggatt – “Downton Abbey” ("Episode 7, Christmas")
Anna Gunn – “Breaking Bad” ("Cornered")
Christina Hendricks – “Mad Men” ("The Other Woman")
Archie Panjabi – “The Good Wife” ("The Dream Team")
Maggie Smith – “Downton Abbey” ("Episode 1")
No surprise, Hendricks selected “The Other Woman” as well. It really only came down to two episodes for Hendricks, either “The Other Woman” or episode four, “Mystery Date,” in which Joan finally leaves her rotten husband. But “The Other Woman” lets her do it all—she’s sexy, fun, tragic—and this could finally be her year.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jim Carter – “Downton Abbey” ("Episode 2")
Brendan Coyle – “Downton Abbey” ("Episode 7, Christmas")
Peter Dinklage - Game of Thrones ("Blackwater")
Giancarlo Esposito – “Breaking Bad” ("Hermanos")
Jared Harris – “Mad Men” ("Commissions and Fees")
Aaron Paul – “Breaking Bad” ("End Times")
Much like Danes, Giancarlo Esposito could have picked any episode from the fourth season of “Breaking Bad” and won this race. He ended up going with “Hermanos,” an obvious choice as it features a flashback to his character’s early years, juxtaposing the innocent he was with the ruthless killer he’s become. Everyone else should know it’s an honor just to be nominated.