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Before Emmy Gold: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

We’re taking a look at this year’s Emmy nominees and digging into their past work and credits that may have influenced their Emmy-nominated work this year.

Now it’s on to the dramas! And based on who the nominees ended up being, it looks like Emmy voters were only interested in three or four shows this past year. I’m sure it’s… possible, that only four shows this past year had genuinely awards-worthy supporting performances, but more likely I suspect that Emmy voters just got lazy and were only interested in checking out the only drama shows being talked about on social media and the talk show circuit.

But who am I to judge? I haven’t seen any of these shows, but I have seen several of these actors in other contexts, including…

Nicholas Braun

Nominated for: Greg Hirsch in Succession

Past Emmy Nominations: Primetime Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Emmy for Succession in 2020

Previous Awards: San Diego Film Critics Society Best Ensemble Performance Award shared with the cast of The Perks of Being a Wallflower in 2012

Hidden Gem: Sky High

The first popular drama I need to glean the general “vibe” of is Succession, which funnily enough is described as a dark comedy by Wikipedia. So is this the wrong category for it to be competing in? Or is the humor so incredibly dry and acerbic that most regular viewers can’t tell, like how the for-some-reason-still-not-extinct Hollywood Foreign Press Association decided The Social Network and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri were “dramas.”

But what of Nicholas Braun, who plays the bumbling grandnephew of Brian Cox’s stubborn patriarch of a large but vulnerable corporation that his offspring are all fighting for control over? Well, this is his second crack at the award and is almost certainly known by the vast majority of pop culture consumers for this role despite being in quite a few popular sleeper hit films as well, including the ambitious tweet-thread-adapted comedy/thriller Zola, the sweet coming-of-age teen drama The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the Kevin Smith horror movie Red State that… well, I hated, but Editor Joey Magidson loves it, and so do a lot of other people so you might want to check it out.

One movie you may have forgotten about, but really shouldn’t because it’s quite a charming family film and has more personality than most modern superhero movies these days, is Sky High, the high school comedy where all the kids have superpowers. Seriously, it holds up!

Billy Crudup

Nominated for: Cory Ellison in The Morning Show

Past Emmy Wins: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for The Morning Show in 2020.

Previous Awards: Independent Spirit’sRobert Altman Awardshared with the cast of Spotlight in 2016, Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Award shared with the cast of Spotlight, Berlin International Film Festival Award for Outstanding Artistic Contribution shared with the cast of The Good Shepherd in 2007, and the National Board of Review Breakthrough Male Performance Award in 1998 for The Hi-Lo Country.

Hidden Gem: Jesus’ Son

I’ve always been very fond of Billy Crudup, the only nominee here not for Succession, Severance, or Squid Game. He’s got the good looks and charm of a movie star. He occasionally does show up in big movies like Alien: Covenant and Oscars Cheer Moment Twitter Sweepstakes winner Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

But he always seemed way more comfortable in smaller, human-sized dramas: Jackie, Spotlight, Public Enemies, Big Fish, Almost Famous, and one of my absolute favorite films of the previous decade 20th Century Women. A breakout role of his that many of you may not have seen is Jesus’ Son, starring him as a troubled man who may have the gift of premonition struggling with addiction and a life of crime. Among the unfortunate deluge of awful barely-veiled partisan propaganda, it’s an unusually humane and gentle faith-based drama, and he’s terrific in it.

Kieran Culkin

Nominated for: Roman Roy in Succession

Past Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Succession in 2020.

Previous Awards: Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Young Actor Award for Igby Goes Down in 2003.

Hidden Gem: The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys

Second Succession nominee! And it’s a member of the Culkin family. Side note, isn’t it interesting that the siblings of famous child stars who were known (if they were known at all) at the time as “the other one” throughout their childhoods became more prolific and regularly cast as adults while the child icons quietly retired? Same thing with the Olsen Twins compared to their sister Elizabeth. Not sure what to make of that, or which one is the enviable position to be in, but it’s worth pointing out.

Anyway! He apparently plays the middle child from Brian Cox’s second marriage and is the more impulsive, immature, and venal of his children who all vie for control of his father’s company. This is definitely Kieran Culkin’s most awards-attracting role, though he was quite an indie darling before landing this show; he was recently in the woulda-been-perfect-but-for-those-ugly-fisheye-lenses heist thriller No Sudden Move, but most of you probably know and love him best as Scott Pilgrim’s sharp-witted and acid-tongued roommate in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Me? I’ve always been partial to the underrated coming-of-age dramedy The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, a terrific little bildungsroman.

Park Hae-soo

Nominated for: Cho Sang-woo in Squid Game

Past Emmy Nominations: None.

Previous Awards: Chunsa Film Art Best New Actor Award forYangjamoolrihak in 2020, Blue DragonBest New Actor Award for Yangjamoolrihak in 2019, and Seoul Drama Best New Actor Award for Seulgirowun Gamppangsaenghwal in 2018.

Hidden Gem: I am ashamed to admit I have not seen any of Park Hae-soo’s work. Please educate me in the comments, readers!

Oh, dear. I’m usually pretty good at keeping up with international stars and cinema. But not this time. Not only have I not had a chance to see the dark dystopian thriller/comedy Squid Game, despite taking Netflix by storm last year, but I have never seen anything nominee Park Hae-soo has starred in. Heck, looking up his previous awards, I don’t even think I can pronounce those films I listed above.

Can anyone educate me on where to start with this man, besides Squid Game, where he’s nominated for playing a fellow contestant trapped because of his massive debt from bad investments? Are The Pirates, Time to Hunt, or Yaksha: Ruthless Operations good movies? Or should I try one of the numerous TV shows he’s been attached to? I’m open to suggestions, folks!

Matthew Macfadyen

Nominated for: Tom Wambsgans in Succession

Past Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Succession in 2020.

Previous Awards: BAFTA TV Best Supporting Actor Award for Criminal Justice in 2010 and Royal Television Society Male Actor Award for Secret Life in 2008.

Hidden Gem: The Assistant

Interesting… I vividly remember Matthew Macfadyen in a vicious corporate setting, but not as Sarah Snook’s ambitious husband in Succession. If you’ve seen The Assistant, you know what scene I’m talking about – that stomach-churning, deeply unpleasant single scene where Julia Garner’s junior assistant tries to take her concerns to the Human Resources office, only to meet with Macfadyen’s HR Manager, who then proceeds to condescend to her, belittle her credibility, ascribe ulterior motives to her desire to speak up, and then brush her aside with the clear implication that he will do nothing.

It is a horrific scene, and the menace with which he plays it was effective in all the most unsettling ways. If he’s even half as memorable in Succession as he was in that one scene in that one movie, I say give him the Emmy.

John Turturro

Nominated for: Irving Bailiff in Severance

Past Emmy Wins: Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for Monk in 2003.

Previous Awards: Berlin International Film Festival’s Outstanding Artistic Contribution Award The Good Shepherd in 2007, Cannes Film Festival’s Camera d’Or Award for Mac in 1992, David di Donatello Best Foreign Actor Award for Barton Fink in 1992, Sundance Film Festival’s Tribute to Independent Vision Award in 1992, and the Cannes Film Festival’s Prix D’interprétation Masculine Award for Barton Fink in 1991.

Hidden Gem: Summer of Sam

It’s kind of… amazing, how prolific and instantly-recognizable character actor John Turturro – a man who has appeared in multiple blockbusters and critically acclaimed films, including a huge number of movies directed by the Coen Brothers – hasn’t won more awards. Winning Best Actor at Cannes is a major achievement, to be sure, but he’s never been nominated for an Academy Award, and he’s never been nominated for a Tony despite his work on and off Broadway. He’s never won anything from SAG or the Broadcast Film Critics Association or the Spirit Awards or the Golden Globes.

The only major televised awards ceremony outside of a film festival that called his name up to their stage was the Emmys, in 2003, for playing Adrian Monk’s agoraphobic brother in the beloved Monk episode “Mr. Monk and the Three Pies.” While most cinephiles very persuasively argue that he should have been at least an Oscar nominee for Barton Fink, I always felt he was most unfairly passed over for his work in Robert Redford’s Quiz Show, playing the hapless accessory to the Twenty-One scandal. It’s one of those situations where I can’t help but wonder if voters just got lazy and decided to nominate Paul Scofield instead because, well, he’s Paul Scofield so he’s probably nomination-worthy, right?

Most people are likely aware of those films he’s been in, but did you know he was also in Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam? It joins Zodiac and Memories of Murder among my “Holy Trinity” of genuinely insightful serial killer movies, and… you don’t “see” him in the film, but he definitely plays a memorable role in it.

Christopher Walken

Nominated for: Burt Goodman in Severance

Past Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for Sarah, Plain and Tall in 1991

Previous Awards: Critics Choice Best Acting Ensemble Award shared with the cast of Hairspray in 2008, National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor Award for Catch Me If You Can in 2003, BAFTA Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Award for Catch Me If You Can in 2003, SAG Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Catch Me If You Can in 2003, New York Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actor Award for The Deer Hunter in 1979, and the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for The Deer Hunter in 1979.

Hidden Gem: Pennies from Heaven

I mean… what is there to possibly say? Who isn’t aware of this living legend? Who doesn’t love to see this prolific actor, who has been in movies for over four decades, one of the greatest Saturday Night Live hosts ever, one of the best Best Supporting Actor-winning performances in the history of that category, the haunted Vietnam veteran who gives Butch his fateful gold watch heirloom in Pulp Fiction, the only Johnny Smith I recognize, the future Emperor of the Known Universe, and the one-man wonder in Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” music video?

I have no idea what role he plays in the science fiction corporate thriller Severance, but I’m sure he makes an uncanny impression in it, as he always does. I’m more curious about how many of you are aware of, or have seen, some of his less-famous but no less amazing work in under-the-radar gems. Specifically, as the demonic tap-dancing, strip-teasing pimp in the infamous box office bomb Pennies from Heaven?

No, I’m not kidding. He really did a tap-dancing number while taking off his clothes in an unrelentingly depressing musical. Check it out:

I have no idea why Film Twitter doesn’t regularly obsess over this movie.

O Yeong-su

Nominated for: Oh Il-nam in Squid Game

Past Emmy Nominations: None

Previous Awards: None, Squid Game is his only awards vehicle

Hidden Gem: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring

I have only seen one movie featuring O Yeong-su, the second nominee in this category for Squid Game, playing a terminally ill old man who’d rather take his chances in the death challenges than sit around and wait to succumb to his mortality via natural causes. But luckily, it’s a really good movie that I would recommend to anyone looking to broaden their exposure to films exploring religious faiths other than Christianity.

It’s called Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring, and it might very well be the most definitive movie about Buddhism yet made. It’s literally exactly the kind of movie you’d expect a Buddhist to make if they wanted to cinematically depict the general vibes and tone and thematic content of Buddhist life: a young monk raises an orphan boy into maturity in a Buddhist monastery floating on a lake as the seasons come and go. There’s no overarching “plot” so much as a series of vignettes with their own humble little lessons at the end of each one. That premise sounds saccharine, I know, but the movie itself doesn’t lend itself to pat morality plays or pandering treacle. It’s beautifully shot, poignant in ways you don’t expect, and provides a window into a culture and aesthetic far removed from most of us here in the United States.


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Written by Robert Hamer

Formerly an associate writer for recently-retired Award Circuit, Robert Hamer is a military veteran who now spends his time obsessing over movies and pop politics.

He is returning to film and awards season commentary to return to a sense of normalcy in these plague-ridden times of rising fascism and late-stage capitalist dystopia. Join him, won't you, in these unorthodox attempts at cinematic therapy?

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