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From Phil Dunster to Molly Shannon, 7 Emmy nominations we’re pulling for

By July 11, 2023No Comments6 min read
Emmys 2023

Emmy Nominations will be announced July 12 and, looking ahead, there are a few obvious selections we’re likely to see. Succession and Barry both dominated the conversation this past spring, their final seasons offering some of the greatest performances of the year from Kieran Culkin to Anthony Carrigan.

Considering the award body’s penchant for recognizing past favorites, there’s no doubt series such as Only Murders in the Building and Abbott Elementary will receive a number of nominations with Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Quinta Brunson being locks. Expect a plethora of love for Ted Lasso despite a lackluster final season and for Season 1 of The Bear following a year of awards love as it missed the cut-off date for 2022’s awards. 

However, while there are plenty of nominations we can easily guess will be announced, there’s always room for surprises. Over the years, it’s becomes increasingly apparent how little awards actually represent the “best of the best,” with many of the strongest series and performers “snubbed.” But there’s still hope that a personal favorite makes the cut. With that said, here are seven performers who deserve Emmy recognition this year, from those sitting right outside of the main predictions to definite long shots. 

Lead Actor in a Comedy — Kayvan Novak, What We Do in the Shadows 

The entire ensemble cast of FX’s What We Do in the Shadows is hilarious, and Matt Berry should earn countless awards for his off-kilter line deliveries. That said, Kayvan Novak as vampire Nandor continues to balance the more difficult role of the series—not able to lean strictly into slapstick comedy, he’s the “straight man” archetype against the other vampires he lives with. His earnestness, cautious physicality, and perpetual obliviousness to modern-day culture and expectations make for an enriched character whose success is built off of the self-satisfied grins Novak weaponizes. 

Lead Actress in a Drama — Sophie Nélisse, Yellowjackets 

Season 2 of Yellowjackets ended on a frustrating note, but the actors, especially those playing the teenage version of the characters, continued to find new layers and depths. As was the case in the first season though, Sophie Nélisse remains the highlight as teenage Shauna. As Shauna processes her sense of guilt and loss over Jackie’s death, struggles with her pregnancy, and succumbs to adolescent rivalry, Nélisse never takes a wrong step. She’s as believable in moments of petty immaturity when it comes to her belief of who should be leading the camp of survivors to the visceral grief she experiences in Episode 6, “Qui.” The sheer vulnerability she gives during “Qui” and the fearsome physicality it entails deserve recognition alone. 

Lead Actress in a Limited Series/TV Movie — Dominique Fishback, Swarm 

While Swarm was a divisive series, one needs to only look at the premiere episode to recognize Dominique Fishback’s considerable talents. As Dre she maintains, at first, a childlike disposition, her main objectives in life being her sister and Ni’Jah, a world-famous pop star, with whom she’s obsessed. Watching Fishback shift and change throughout the story as Dre’s journey becomes increasingly violent and hostile demonstrates her chameleon abilities, maintaining a level of empathy for her character even as she commits heinous and unforgivable crimes. It’s a masterclass and as her star continues to rise with feature parts in films such as Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, it will be exciting to see what roles she sinks her teeth into next. 

Supporting Actor in a Comedy — Phil Dunster, Ted Lasso 

Despite Ted Lasso‘s third and seemingly final season struggling under the weight of expectations and messy and rushed plotting, Phil Dunster’s Jamie Tartt remained unscathed. As one of the only main cast members to not have received an Emmy nomination yet, Dunster is more than deserving, delivering one of the most heartfelt and hilarious performances of the year with a character who was given the best character development on the series. Dunster has been fantastic since the very start of the series but is allowed to further flourish in Season 3 through his tremendous chemistry with Brett Goldstein, and ability to flip from drama to comedy—sometimes in the same scene. His charisma is boundless and if anything at all from Ted Lasso deserves recognition, it’s him. 

Supporting Actress in a Comedy — Molly Shannon, The Other Two 

The entire main cast of Max’s The Other Two is superb and only got better in the third and final season. However, Molly Shannon is simply on a different level as Pat, the matriarch of the entertainment industry-driven family unit. Her ascension to superstardom works so well and keeps her as the most likable character of the series because she never loses the character’s sincerity. From her exhausted catwalk in the Season 2 finale to her dismay at Simu Liu’s sexual prowess (or lack thereof), Shannon imbues the role with a level of heart and heartache, as she continually embraces her role as a public figure while trying to find new, increasingly chaotic ways to reconnect with her past. Shannon has been a comedy icon for ages and The Other Two understands her strengths. Few actors are able to smile the way she does—full of glee that barely contains the more disruptive emotions. 

Supporting Actor in a Drama — Stellan Skarsgård, Andor 

Andor delivers the best writing of any Star Wars project and Stellan Skarsgård gets to deliver its best monologue while simultaneously delivering the saga’s greatest performance. Playing the role of an observer, someone who will defy the expectations of the hero by forgetting his own morality for the sake of a brighter future, Skarsgård nails the fatigued gray area of this character. From practiced flamboyance to rigid contempt, Luthen is a fascinating character through the writing alone but is brought to greater depths and humanity through Skarsgård’s poise. 

Supporting Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie — Young Mazino, Beef

While Ali Wong and Steven Yeun are likely shoeins for their categories for their work on Netflix’s Beef, here’s hoping that Young Mazino as Paul, Danny’s (Yeun) younger brother, doesn’t go unnoticed. While the world around him grows increasingly unhinged, his plight remains simple in comparison and it’s that simplicity that allows him some of the series’ funniest moments. He shares tremendous chemistry with both Wong and Yeun and his sweet nature and off-the-cuff delivery create a character we can’t help but root for, even if he’s constantly making mistakes that are avoidable. The entire early sequence of him lying face down in the pool as Danny goes off on his bloated ambitions is comedy gold. 

Allyson Johnson

Based in New England, Allyson is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of InBetweenDrafts. Former Editor-in-Chief at TheYoungFolks, she is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. Her writing has also appeared at CambridgeDay, ThePlaylist, Pajiba, VagueVisages, RogerEbert, TheBostonGlobe, Inverse, Bustle, her Substack, and every scrap of paper within her reach.

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