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This may be one of the most difficult Road to… pieces that I’ve ever written, as I’m truly in love with all of this year’s nominees for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. There’s one clear frontrunner among the six nominated actors, though, who should – and hopefully will – take home the gold statuette.

Aaron Paul
Jesse Pinkman – Breaking Bad

As a past winner, Aaron Paul probably won’t win again this year (it’s going to take more than Jesse Pinkman to buck a decades-old trend). He is absolutely deserving of the nomination, however, as he continues to remain one of the most gifted young actors on television today.

Giancarlo Esposito
Gustavo “Gus” Fring – Breaking Bad

Giancarlo Esposito seems to be this year’s frontrunner, and he’s my personal pick to win as well. His portrayal of the eloquent and eerily calm drug lord Gus Fring has always been astonishingly good, but his performance during this past season was just extraordinary – to say the least.

Brendan Coyle
John Bates – Downton Abbey

I was a little surprised to see both Coyle and Carter’s names on the nominee list, but I suppose if there were ever a time for Downton to be recognized at the Emmys, that time is now. The buzz generated by the show’s second season debut in the U.S. was insane; rarely have I ever seen a show so universally adored by the public and critics alike.  That being said, while Coyle is obviously an incredibly talented thespian who made the world fall in love with Mr. Bates, I can’t see him winning considering the other tour de force performances represented here.

Jim Carter
Mr. Carson – Downton Abbey

While Jim Carter is certainly a force to be reckoned with as Downton Abbey’s stern-but-lovable butler Mr. Carson, I just don’t think his role is substantial enough to warrant a win in this category. I’m thrilled that he was nominated, but when placed alongside the likes of Esposito and Dinklage, he just doesn’t stand a chance.

Jared Harris
Lane Pryce – Mad Men

Believe it or not, no Mad Men actor has ever won an Emmy (what!?), so it wouldn’t necessarily come as a shock for Jared Harris – whose character had more than a few memorable moments this season – to finally break that pattern this Sunday. I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s definitely not outside the realm of possibilities.

Peter Dinklage
Tyrion Lannister – Game of Thrones

As I said earlier, we rarely see repeat winners in this category, which should theoretically rule Peter Dinklage – who took home the award last year – out. But just like Tyrion Lannister, you can never discount Dinklage, who seriously wowed audiences during the second season of Thrones as his character grew to play a more pivotal role in the series. Add to that the fact that his submitted episode, “Blackwater,” is nothing short of a masterpiece, and the odds for a second Dinklage win start to look pretty damn good.
My prediction:

Giancarlo Esposito should win and will win.
Peter Dinklage might win.