Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:
Michael Emerson, Lost "The Man Behind the Curtain"
Pro: Emerson has 23 minutes of screentime in which he slowly reveals to Terry O'Quinn, the secrets of the island and himself. It culminates with a creepy scene with an invisible (or is he?) man named Jacob. Considering Emerson is a past Emmy winner for The Practice plus his ability to overcome bigger names to make the nominees' list could mean he is a potential threat to win. Also to consider is his scene-stealing performance in O'Quinn's submission.
Con: Emerson's main weakness is his role and performance. He's cold, ruthless and at times insane. It's not a sympathetic performance and even in his scenes from O'Quinn's submission, the impression that he will leave with voters is not a positive, but more a bitter one. O'Quinn has the better submission which could mean potential for a vote-split.
Michael Imperioli, The Sopranos "Walk Like A Man"
Pro: Imperioli has a commanding 22 minutes of screentime, where the editing down of tapes, work to his advantage. His arc feels complete without any missing information or performance. He also relapses into drinking again and he pretty much confesses to Tim Daly what really happened to the girl he was involved with (Adriana, we miss you). P.S. while not in this episode, but voters know that Christopher Moltisanti is no longer with us. It's voters last chance to award Imperioli, who has previously won for this role.
Con: Despite all of that, there is no sense of urgency to reward Imperioli again. He wasn't in all of the episodes this year and he had very little screentime in the ones he did appear. Plus when he won the first time, it felt appropriate to honor Christopher along with Adriana.
T.R. Knight, Grey's Anatomy "Six Days Part One and Part Two"
Pro: Having the most screentime of the six nominees (30 minutes), Knight has a lot more in his favor. In his submission, his father is dying of cancer in Part One and then his family says goodbye in Part Two. He has mirror scenes, one, where we see tender moments with Knight and George Dzundza as his father (Dzundza confesses running over Knight's dog when he was younger; Knight later confesses that he did beat up a neighbor when he was young). The second mirror scene is when he asks Chandra Wilson to not sugarcoat anything, but then later he lashes out at her for not telling him that his father wanted to fight the cancer. His final moment with Sandra Oh (where she bitterly invites him to the Dead Dad's Club) further cements this devastating performance.
Con: Washingtongate might hurt his chances overall. While there will be voters who will not only feel sympathy for Knight in his coming-out this year, there might be others who will resent Knight for what happened to Isaiah Washington.
Masi Oka, Heroes "Five Years Gone"
Pro: Playing a double role allows Oka (a Globe nominee this year), to showcase two different performances. Future Hiro is strong, obssessive and confident about his powers, which constrasts with present Hiro, who is unsure of his abilities, weaker and timid.
Con: The show does not work well with the edits, which will leave voters very confused over which character's which and how the scheme of the overall timeline works. Added to that, Oka has the least amount of screentime of the six nominees (17 minutes).
Terry O'Quinn, Lost "The Man From Tallahassee"
Pro: O'Quinn towers over Emerson in their shared performance here. With 29 minutes of screentime, O'Quinn is no slouch when compared to his competition, as his submission will also garner more sympathy than Emerson (we finally learn how Locke became paralyzed). Unlike Emerson, O'Quinn also gets more to do in his flashback sequences.
Con: If voters watch the submissions in order, it will be tricky for voters to hold viewers' attention with another action/adventure submission. Emerson, unlike O'Quinn, is a previous Emmy winner, but O'Quinn was nominated in the first season, so a vote-split could happen, but it is unlikely. More likely than not, Emerson will siphon votes from O'Quinn, which could cost him a win.
William Shatner, Boston Legal "Son of the Defender"
Pro: Shatner's Denny Crane role has previously earned him two Emmys, which proves it's a performance that voters love. Not only does Shatner have a present-day trial he also does a flashback to when he first tried the case. It's clearly aimed at Emmy voters who love a nod to the old shows of the 50s. His final scene with James Spader is also quite touching, where he reveals that his father disowned him.
Con: However, Shatner's performance is pretty bare. It feels like there's more reactions shots to Shatner rather than any real action from him. Plus in the flashback sequences, Shatner is overshadowed by Ralph Bellamy's performance
Masi Oka is not winning this year and with another co-star nominated, it's doubtful that Michael Emerson will be the Lost star to win this year. Unless voters are really looking to send The Sopranos off with buckets of Emmys, I also don't think Michael Imperioli is winning. That leaves three nominees. Had Lost been nominated for Drama Series, I think Terry O'Quinn could have been a bigger threat, but I think voters are starting to cool on the show. In the end I think the strength of T.R. Knight's performance will downplay the name recognition of William Shatner, which should give Grey's Anatomy its first major Emmy win.
1. T.R. Knight
2. William Shatner
3. Terry O'Quinn
4. Michael Imperioli
5. Michael Emerson
6. Masi Oka