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Whose Dramatic Support Was Most Outstanding?

Put another way: which performers in the Outstanding Supporting Actress and Actor Emmy categories are most likely to snag the slot that might actually be up for grabs?

Welcome to The Final Slot, the online Thunderdome where Joe Reid and Mark Blankenship debate who should get the dark horse nomination in the major Emmy acting categories.

Today's challenge: Fill the final slots in the supporting drama categories.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Let's start with the basics: Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey) and Christine Baranski (The Good Wife) are institutions who aren't going anywhere. Neither is Christina Hendricks, realistically speaking, though lord knows she'll be limited in the episodes she submitted for consideration since Joan was so egregiously underutilized this season (though "A Tale of Two Cities," featuring Joan's Avon maneuver, should do the trick). After getting her Emmy baptism last year, Anna Gunn should easily ride Skyler White's breakdown to another nomination (and a possible win? Don't tell the Dowager Countess). And honestly, that's where the sure things stop. There is certainly a lot of internet fervor for Monica Potter's performance in Parenthood, but it took Connie Britton five full seasons before she got nominated for a low-rated family drama on NBC, and Friday Night Lights was much buzzier with critics. Homeland's Morena Baccarin feels like a much more likely candidate, but she didn't get nominated last year, and good luck finding anyone who thinks that Homeland improved in its second season. Then there's Elizabeth McGovern, nominated for Downton Abbey's first season, though not its second. Season 3 gave her a good bit of grieving to do, which has seldom served an awards-seeking actress ill.

Joe: Just you watch: that sixth slot is going to Kiernan Shipka of Mad Men. I know I just made the case for the internet not getting what it wants re: Monica Potter. But that's Parenthood and this is Mad Men. The Emmys rarely widen their gaze to different cast members once a series gets going, it's true, but if they love a show enough, and if a character emerges strongly enough, they will. Think Drea DeMatteo on The Sopranos. Sally Draper had some fantastic moments this season, and the fact that she was so integral to the major arc of the season -- that being The Downward Spiral of Don Draper: Man's Man -- makes her more of a merit-based inclusion than even Joan this year.

Mark: I gotta give it up to my girl Kate Mara, who brings all the crazy to House of Cards. Plus, almost all of her important scenes are with Kevin Spacey, who's guaranteed a nod in the leading actor category. That means anyone who watches him will also end up watching her, and looking back on Season 1, it's hard to imagine Francis's oiliness being nearly as effective without Zoe's naive, grasping ambition to balance it. They need each other on the show, and they should both send their actors to the ballot.

Joe: Kate Mara is 100% my preferred Mara, and she should already have an Emmy nod under her belt for American Horror Story, but I'm not here to correct past wrongs. In terms of a nomination, I guess I would feel more confident if I knew how much love Emmy voters had for House of Cards as a series. I think Spacey is a lock and Robin Wright a good bet too, but will it show up in Outstanding Drama? If so, I think supporting slots are totally in play. I KNOW how the voters feel about Mad Men, however. (They like it.)

Mark: Yes, but how often do we see children nominated in these categories at all? The Emmys aren’t the Oscars, where baby teeth often work in your favor. With Hendricks there to siphon votes from the Mad Men camp and January Jones around to possibly steal support from her fake daughter, Lil’ KiKi’s gonna have a hard time standing up to Mara’s much bigger role and lack of competition from her own co-stars.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

For some reason, there are internet pundits who don't think Jonathan Banks is a lock for his final season as Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad, but that's bollocks. His soulful killer/deadly grandpa brought chilling calm to an maniacal season, and he deserves to be rewarded. And if fellow Breaker Aaron Paul can upset Giancarlo Esposito for a win, then he'll obviously be getting nominated this year. Meanwhile, in all the griping about Homeland's second season, pretty much everyone had to admit that Mandy Patinkin was killing it as Saul, and honestly, if people are tired of voting for Paul, they might hand Patinkin the trophy this year. Previous winner Peter Dinklage ought to return, thanks to the fever pitch of enthusiasm for Game of Thronesand Sam Waterston's status as the Grand Old Man of Series TV should secure him a nod for The Newsroom. Downton Abbey has probably cooled too much to get last year's pair of nominees any consideration, and over on Mad Men, John Slattery didn't have a strong enough episode the year to stand out, and if it hasn't happened for Vincent Kartheiser by now, it's never going to happen. There's a strong possibility that Noah Emmerich could get tapped for The Americans, but since he's not the star, he'll probably haver to wait until his show is more of an institution. Even Aaron Paul had to wait until season 2.

Mark: But despite what I just said about Emmerich, I think voters will make room for supporting newcomer Corey Stoll on House of Cards. After all, they won't get another chance to honor his alternately craven and empathetic turn as a morally bankrupt senator. Remember how burch and awesome he was as Ernest Hemingway in Midnight In Paris? That just makes his weaselly weakness on this show all the more impressive.

Joe: I try not to be a cynical awards predictor, but the nominations year after year make it so, so hard. And sometimes, a performance is so over-the-top terrible that voters are hard-pressed to ignore it. Boardwalk Empire is probably not going to be a huge Emmy presence in this, its third season. But featured villains on dramas have historically done pretty well, Emmy-wise, and the bigger the better. They don't come much bigger than what Bobby Cannavale was doing with Gyp Rosetti. No piece of scenery was safe, and he'll have no shortage of big, blustery episodes to submit.

Mark: Old Man Joe, Crotchety Emmy Pundit! I mean... call me Pollyanna of the Airwaves, but I don't think that Cannavale, whose constant employment in theatre and television mystifies me, is going to be rewarded for his braying bullshit. And especially not for Boardwalk Empire, which might as well be NCIS for as much as anybody talks about it. House of Cards is a buzzy, must-watch show, Corey Stoll is hot without his shirt on, and there is sometimes justice in this world.

Joe: Don't tell me about raving over Corey Stoll without his shirt on! I invented raving about Corey Stoll without his shirt on! I think my reservations for a Kate Mara nomination all count for Stoll as well: Basically, I have no idea how much the Emmy voters will like House of Cards as a series and not just a Spacey/Wright vehicle. Best-case scenario, it's Damages (two supporting nominations in its first season, with a Zeljko Ivanek win that actually feels very Stoll-like). Worst-case, it's Dexter, a leading-actor vehicle and nothing but.

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