2012 Emmy preview: ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Breaking Bad’ in Supporting Actor hunt

Who really has a shot at this?

For our newest installment looking ahead at the 2012 Emmys, we have a category that is going to turn out to be quite a good one. Why? You have so many great actors who play supporting roles on drama series, and in any other year many of them could win.

However, this easily has to be one of the most-competitive categories in recent years, and there are quite a few snubs that even we aren’t pleased about.

The deserving nominees

Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones” (HBO) – If you ask around, Dinklage is the consensus pick to win this award — and based on Tyrion Lannister’s final two episodes of season 2, he’s certainly deserving. The irony here really is that Dinklage is the closest thing the show has to a lead at this point, and could have made a case for being submitted in that category.

Giancarlo Esposito, “Breaking Bad” (AMC) – The only person who should really have a tangible chance of beating Dinklage for the trophy. What makes this race particularly interesting is that Esposito may be better off being the sole “Breaking Bad” nominee than with Aaron Paul joining him — there are a good many voters who don’t love the show’s graphic violence, and it has a polarizing effect.

As for Esposito’s performance, though, it’s impossible to be polarized about one of the most terrifying characters we have seen on TV in Gus Fring.

Vincent Kartheiser, “Mad Men” (AMC) – We know that the Emmys love John Slattery, but this was really the year of Pete Campbell. We saw him weasel his way into a deal to get Jaguar courtesy of the deal he (and his partners) struck with Joan, and he also had a bizarre sort of romance with Beth — a character who did not even end up remembering him after she went for electroshock therapy. We want to dislike Pete, but Kartheiser makes it impossible.

Joel Kinnaman, “The Killing” (AMC) – In the midst of everyone deciding to hate “The Killing,” it’s been lost just how fantastic of a performance Kinnaman has given this year as Holder. He’s been the quiet anchor of this series throughout season 2, and without him we’re not sure we would care as much about the Rosie Larsen case.

John Noble, “Fringe” (Fox) – Season 3 was to us the season of Anna Torv. Season 4, meanwhile, was the season of John Noble. He has a slim chance of actually getting nominated, but shouldn’t sci-fi get a little bit of love with a character as complex as Walter is?

Robert Carlyle, “Once Upon a Time” (ABC) – There’s been some confusion as to whether or not Carlyle is submitting as a lead or a supporting actor — but we’re including him here mostly because this is where he really should be.

Does Rumpelstiltskin have a real shot at this? It’s unlikely with people like Peter Dinklage in the mix, but without his delightfully evil sort of charm, we don’t know where “Once Upon a Time” would be.

Honorable mentions: Robert Sean Leonard (“House”), Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”), Jared Harris (“Mad Men”), Walton Goggins (“Justified”), Michael Pitt (“Boardwalk Empire”)

Will Dinklage win again?

The likely nominees

Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones” – As we’ve said, Dinklage is the hands-on favorite to win this. The fact that he is the reigning champ also proves he is in the heart of voters already.

Giancarlo Esposito, “Breaking Bad” – Considering that both Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul have won Emmys before for this show, you have to give Esposito a serious shot.

Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad” – At the same time, Paul’s past history also works for him. The problem? It’s not so much that Jesse had a bad year — but Esposito’s Gus had an even better one.

John Slattery, “Mad Men” – We wonder if they are going to show Slattery’s rear end on the Emmys as we saw it during the “Mad Men” finale Sunday night. While we know the voters love him, that was unfortunately the biggest highlight from Roger Sterling’s story this past season. Give it to Vincent Kartheiser or Jared Harris instead.

Mandy Patinkin, “Homeland” (Showtime) – “Homeland” is looking to become an Emmy darling this year and Patinkin is a big reason for that. While he may not be on our list, it’s hard to argue against this nomination.

Josh Charles, “The Good Wife” (CBS) – Meanwhile, we will make a case against “The Good Wife” using the same critique we have over the past few weeks — the show was off its game at times during season 3.

Likely to receive votes: Joel Kinnamin, Walton Goggins, Michael Pitt, Alan Cumming (“The Good Wife”), Ron Perlman (“Sons of Anarchy”)

Who do you think will end up being the winner of this race? As always, be sure to share your thoughts below! Also, be sure to visit the rest of our Emmy features by hitting up this link.

Photos: Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, HBO

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