Dan and I are continuing our Emmy picks for who should and will win each major category on Sunday night, this time looking at the nominees for lead actor in comedy and drama.
It's a mostly familiar list on the comedy side, with Jon Cryer getting a promotion from the supporting ranks, Larry David returning after a year off and Don Cheadle getting the requisite "you're a movie star and we love you for coming to TV" nomination (for a good performance on a very uneven show).
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
Don Cheadle, "House of Lies"
Louis C.K., "Louie"
Jon Cryer "Two and a Half Men"
Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm"
Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"
Alan's pick: If I'm voting based on the single submission episodes, like the Emmy voters are, then my pick is probably Baldwin, who got to show off his familiar "SNL" versatility in the "30 Rock" live show. If I'm voting on the body of work for a season — which is how the Emmys should, but unfortunately don't, work — then I'll take Louis C.K., whose performance as an exaggerated version of himself was nearly as crucial as his writing and direction to making "Louie" season 2 great. (Though Baldwin had a pretty great season overall, too.)
Dan's pick: I've gotta pick Louis C.K. here just because it seems so boring to say either Alec Baldwin or Jim Parsons. But I like Alec Baldwin and Jim Parsons just fine. I like Larry David, too. I'm not even going to begrudge Jon Cryer. And "House of Lies" isn't Don Cheadle's fault.
Alan's pick: When in doubt, vote the incumbent. Emmy voters like Parsons, he has another splashy submission episode ("The Werewolf Transformation"), and I don't love some of the other submissions choices in the category. (C.K., for instance, gave better performances in "Eddie" and "Subway/Pamela").
Dan's pick: I often get confused on Emmy tendencies versus Golden Globe tendencies. Emmy voters like complacency, which suggests a third straight Jim Parsons victory, another Baldwin win or, possibly, a Jon Cryer victory leaping from the supporting field. Golden Globe voters like shiny-and-new, which would mean a Don Cheadle win. In this case, I'm going with the Golden Globe tendency and predicting that Emmy voters will reward the movie star. And yes, if you've been following my picks, I'm anticipating a VERY good night for Showtime.
On the drama side, Bryan Cranston returns to the category he's owned after "Breaking Bad" took an eligibility year off, and he's joined by a couple of category newcomers from "Downton Abbey" and "Homeland."
Hugh Bonneville, "Downton Abbey"
Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire"
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"
Damian Lewis, "Homeland"
Alan's pick: If we're talking the best performance of the year in the category, it's Cranston (for "Breaking Bad" season 4), the same way it's been the three other years he was eligible. If/when he wins again, he'll be 100 percent deserving. But he also has three of the things, and there have been some other great dramatic performances of the last few years that I'd like to see on the historical record, and if I'm taking a Share the Wealth approach, then it's down to Hamm (playing an almost bi-polar, off his game Don Draper) and Lewis (playing a character who had to keep us interested even as we didn't know what he was thinking half the time). Hamm's arguably had better overall years, but he had enough great moments in this one (Don's fever dream, Don chasing Megan through the apartment, Don kissing Peggy's hand) that I'll go with him.
Dan's pick: Take Bonneville, Buscemi and Hall out of the equation. That leaves Hamm, Lewis and Cranston as manifestly deserving winners in my book. Cranston has three Emmy wins already. He doesn't need anymore. Jon Hamm is JON FREAKIN' HAMM. You want me to take pity on him and give him the advantage? Come on. That leaves Damian Lewis, who is a spectacular actor -- I like to periodically tell people to watch "Keane" -- and a very nice guy and he's terrific in "Homeland," matched up with and holding his own against the best performance on TV. He gets my imaginary vote.
Alan's pick: Cranston. Emmy voters love what he does, and understandably so. And his performance in the final 10 minutes of his submission episode ("Crawl Space") goes to such a raw, terrifying place that it's hard to see any of the others having a shot, unless there's just a wave of support for "Homeland," in which case Lewis' sweaty, riveting work in the season finale might be enough to upset the one who knocks.
Dan's pick: The only thing that can stop Bryan Cranston -- who is awesome and probably deserves to win -- is if "Homeland" is an absolute and total juggernaut and wins EVERYTHING. I seem to be predicting "Homeland" is going to win a lot of things and NEARLY everything, but this is one that goes to Cranston, again. And who's gonna begrudge him? He's that good.