With ‘Breaking Bad’ Concluded, Will Cranston Take Home an Emmy?
To the surprise of no one, Bryan Cranston scored his sixth Primetime Emmy Award nomination this year for his portrayal of chemistry teacher-turned-meth kingpin Walter White in the now-concluded Breaking Bad. For Cranston, that means he has now been nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for each of Breaking Bad’s five seasons, including two for Season 5, which was split into two eight-episode halves. To date, Cranston has been nominated for nine Emmys altogether.
First premiering in 2008, Breaking Bad immediately shot Cranston to top of the TV (and now film) A-list after the actor had already enjoyed a critically acclaimed and popular run on Malcolm in the Middle, for which he scored three nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. But for even the biggest fans of Cranston’s take on the inept but lovable father Hal on Malcolm in the Middle, no one could have foreseen that the actor would craft Breaking Bad’s antihero into one of the most iconic characters to ever grace the small screen.
While Cranston has been nominated for his role as Walter White in Breaking Bad six times, the actor has not gone home with the award since 2010, after winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series three years in a row between 2008 and 2010. But if there was ever a year for Cranston to take home the award once again, it is this one. Not only does the second half of the final season carry much of the weight of the first half (which won Outstanding Drama Series last year), but the series finale was also critically acclaimed while smashing TV rating records. To put the numbers in perspective, the fourth season’s finale picked up a solid 1.9 million viewers. The series finale? Try 10.3 million viewers. That’s a 442 percent increase that’s sure to weigh on the minds of Emmy voters.
But while Cranston would be a unanimous shoo-in for the award any other year, this is not just any other year. In a lead actor field filled with top-notch performances, the award seems destined to become a two-man race between Cranston and Matthew McConaughey, whose performance in True Detective as Detective “Rust” Cohle was celebrated as one of the best of the year. In fact, many onlookers have predicted McConaughey to take home the award, which would make him the first actor to win best actor at both the Emmys and the Oscars in the same year, although it should be noted that actresses Liza Minnelli and Helen Hunt pulled off the feat in 1973 and 1998, respectively.
Still, it feels as though Cranston might have the slight upper hand due to the sheer fact that six years of work on Breaking Bad has come to an end. Although the award is technically based on only one season of work, there’s no doubt that Emmy voters are often swayed by the larger body of work, especially when a series has ended. That isn’t to say Cranston doesn’t deserve it; the actor’s haunting depiction of Walter White’s fall from the top and subsequent quest for vengeance in the fifth season’s second half made for some of the most compelling television yet seen in TV’s “Golden Age.”
We’ll know for sure when the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards are held on August 25.
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