There is nothing official about this post. It’s just my way of keeping a list of actors that have gone above and beyond during the 2021-22 television season. It’s my way of acknowledging the greatness that is acting, and the individuals that have stood out from a crowd of so many talented artists. This is my list of actors that, based on their performances this season (and in one case, over SIX seasons), should already have Emmy wins locked up this September. Is it a guarantee? Nope. But, if voters have been watching what I’m watching… it should be. Check my list of five below, and tell me if you agree or disagree. Always up for a great debate.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
What has worked for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel over its first three seasons was just how great the cast worked together. They defined the term ensemble, with several of the cast claiming Emmy wins. This fourth season, the one we just watched, the one that showed for the first time what happens when the writing slips and the ensemble has been disassembled for more than a year due to a global pandemic, there is only one member of the ensemble that deserves to be mentioned in any Emmy conversation.
Yes, it’s Alex Borstein, who figuratively carried this season on her back, with her character Susie Myerson navigating mourning a close friend, managing a still fledgling comedian, a vintage Broadway star, a fumbling magician, and opening a physical office, all while still being mistaken for a man once an episode. Give her another Emmy, Academy. She’s definitely earned it.
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
Dominique Fishback already has a face you will never forget. What’s been going on the past few years is that now she’s building a resume you can’t ignore. I can’t tell you how many folks have told me over the last few days that they remember Fishback for “the Jamie Foxx movie” she starred in last year, remarking that the film was horrible but she was amazing.
That’s how you know you’re memorable: when folks mention even the terrible films you’ve been in. And then, of course there was the mesmerizing performance in the Oscar-winning film Judas and the Black Messiah. All of that was great. And noteworthy.
However, this role, the one as Robyn in the limited Apple TV Plus series The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, was next level acting. Her chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson was palpable. Her ability to act with her face and her words was unmatched. It will be difficult to find a more deserving winner for a supporting role. Make it easy, Emmys. Let’s reward Ms. Fishback for her work this season.
Samuel L. Jackson
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
Samuel L. Jackson called this performance a pet project. And all I have to say to that is if THIS was how he treats a pet project, I’d hate to see how he treated a role in an Oscar contender. Jackson, as Ptolemy Grey in the Apple TV Plus limited series The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, based on the novel by Walter Mosley, put on an acting master class. And that’s saying something for a thespian that has spent most of his career giving us standout performances.
It must have channeled his days at Morehouse where he could inhabit a character and give it all of the broad strokes and small touches that lifted it off the page and into our consciousness. This is the year where Samuel L. Jackson has claimed his position as an elite performer. Yes, he won what was basically a lifetime achievement award from the Oscars.
Well, he doesn’t need a lifetime award from the Emmys. He just deserves all of the accolades possible for giving one of the best performances we will see–and have seen–in a long, long time.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
No, we didn’t see a lot of Luke Kirby during what was the most uneven season in the history of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. In fact, there were only two episodes this season where Kirby made an appearance as comedian Lenny Bruce who, in this fictional world, is friends with fledgling comedian Midge Maisel.
And although there weren’t more times when the two crossed paths, the times they did–especially during the show’s season finale–was pure magic. This season made it clear that those moments are what make the show run. What make it special. What make it even watchable. It’s not the comedy. It’s not the family dynamics. It’s not whether or not Midge will ever find her place in a world that is pitted against women doing comedy.
No, it’s the moments where Kirby is on the screen as Bruce, connecting with Midge, bantering with Midge, consoling or counseling Midge. You get the picture. Kirby is special presence on the screen, and this season’s finale where he delivered one of the best monologues the series has ever seen should earn him another Emmy statuette.
This Is Us
OK, Emmys. It’s enough. For six seasons the voters have found a way to ignore the performance Mandy Moore is delivering on the NBC hit show This Is Us. For six seasons they’ve been able to look past what has been an incredible run for Moore as family matriarch Rebecca Pearson without any repercussions. Well, that time should be ending now. It is the final season of a series that took the world by storm and proved itself to be a network classic.
And at the center of all of that has been Moore, who is the only cast member that interacts with every person on the show, which is no small feat. Her shifts from a young mother and wife to a sudden turn as a widow to an older version suffering from the beginning stages of dementia have been amazing. And the fact that she’s never been recognized for that work is glaring.
So, in order to make things right, it’s past time for the Academy to give this actor her flowers in the form of her first Emmy win. Voters, just take a look at the tapes. Moore has more receipts than most other performers… and honestly, it’s not even close. Let’s go Mandy. You deserve it all.