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Emmys 2011: Making a Case for Michael C. Hall

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Sep 08, 2011 | 4:06am EDT

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michael c. hallThe men who have been nominated in the Emmy category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama series is a bit unique this year, because it mostly consists of people who have been nominated several times before but have never actually walked away with an award. I’d guess that the majority of the public hopes the statue goes to Jon Hamm for his role of Don Draper on Mad Men, because he’s been nominated four times and has yet to be recognized by the academy. However, there are two people in this category who have been nominated and lost more times than Jon Hamm: Michael C. Hall has been nominated (over the course of his career) 5 times (mostly for playing Dexter Morgan on Showtime’s Dexter), and Hugh Laurie has been nominated six times for his role of Dr. Gregory House on House. But I believe this just isn’t Hamm’s time to shine (because when was the last time Mad Men was actually on TV, anyway?), that two Golden Globes are enough for Laurie to feel good about himself, and that we should all direct our attention to why Michael C. Hall deserves the Emmy this year.

In the past, Hall has been nominated against some pretty outstanding actors. And while his repeated losses are unfortunate, they’re also slightly understandable. In 2002 he lost to Michael Chiklis for his role of Vic Mackey on The Shield (I did not watch The Shield but I’m told it was extraordinary). In 2008, 2009 and 2010 he lost to Bryan Cranston for his unforgettable and incredible portrayal of Cancer patient turned meth distributor Walter White on Breaking Bad. This year, in addition to Hamm and Laurie, he's up against Timothy Olyphant for Justified, Steve Buscemi for Boardwalk Empire, and Kyle Chandler for Friday Night Lights. It would be astonishing if Olyphant were the award’s recipient because this is his first nomination and general consensus seems to be that he needs to spend a bit more time in the big leagues before he gets to eat his dinner next to an Emmy. Steve Buscemi has also been nominated for four Emmys in his career but this is his first one he received for his work on Boardwalk Empire, which is a fairly new show that’s good enough to not be going anywhere anytime soon so Buscemi's in no real rush. Then there’s Kyle Chandler, who’s just received his second nomination for FNL, which of course ended this year to the dismay of a very few (but very passionate) fans. But since the show ended and everyone can’t stop talking about it, the category could easily go to Chandler. However, is the end of little show about football in Texas the reason to hook an actor up? Not exactly.

Now, the above analysis of the Halls' fellow nominees is not meant to suggest that Hall isn't worthy of a win. Instead, it's meant to show two things. The first point I was making was that an award finally applauding Hall's contributions to the entertainment industry has been continuously just out of reach for him, but he's never let it convince him to give up acting or stop pursuing great projects for himself. He is an actor who's dedicated to his job, and is someone who doesn't allow praise or criticism to affect whatever he does that lets him churn out radiant performances like hotcakes. And the second point I was getting at was that throughout all the shows that have come and gone over the last nine years, Michael C. Hall has always maintained a significant presence in our televisions and homes, and has quite truly established himself as an icon of the small screen.

But why else should Michael C. Hall win an Emmy this year, especially if this most recent season of Dexter wasn’t the series’ best? The main reason is that he’s demonstrated a repeat ability to brilliantly humanize a reject of society, and it’s just his time. But his performance this year was particularly riveting because he exposed us to Dexter’s emotional side, which is something the writers did not develop for him (basically because in previous episodes, they described it as something that was completely absent from Dexter’s personality). And so after Rita’s murder at the end of Season 4, Hall had to essentially create something for his character without the help of the writers or anyone else. He had to figure out a way to express the feelings of a person who really believed he had no feelings, but then suddenly became aware of them after losing the person he planned to spend the rest of his life with -- and that’s not something anyone could’ve helped him convey. Hall created something out of nothing, and I can’t see how any other actor in his category managed to do the same -- and that's why I'm hoping he finally gets what's been a long time coming to him.

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