Louis C.K. and 5 others who might be pleasant Emmy surprises
That notion probably comes from shell shock after seeing people like John Larroquette, Kelsey Grammer and James Spader either get nominated or win year after year, even if the shows they were on had long passed their primes.
The academy still gets repetitive to some extent, which is why they keep throwing nominations at Hugh Laurie even though "House" is a shell of its former self. But they've done a much better job spreading the love around, as evidenced by last year's supporting wins by Aaron Paul, Eric Stonestreet and Archie Panjabi. So while some of the people listed below might seem like long shots to get a nod from the academy, it wouldn't be a complete surprise if they did slip in there:
Louis C.K., "Louie": The FX comedy starring the now-ubiquitous stand-up star flew under the radar when it aired last summer, but it seems to be getting increasing attention from critics as its second season approaches. C.K. wears many hats on the show, of course, from showrunner to director to writer to star, but his acting work on the complicated, often bizarre series can't be dismissed. Yes, he played a more put-upon version of his put-upon self, but how many guys could look believable cowering to bullies in one episode and calling Osama bin Laden an "a--hole" in another? If C.K. isn't nominated for his acting, it's not a stretch to think that he'd be nominated in the outstanding comedy series category, as well as the writing and directing categories.
Joel Kinnaman, "The Killing": This AMC show is getting a ton of Emmy buzz, even if it's not quite up to the high standards of some of the channel's other shows. Because of that, we're hearing Kinnaman's name in the mix for outstanding supporting actor in a drama, but it's a crowded category with a lot of worthy nominees. Kinnaman would be a pleasant surprise here because a) this is his first major role on American television, and b) his role of Detective Stephen Holder is one of the creepiest "good guys" seen on TV in quite some time. He's managed to combine the creepy, though, with a sensitivity and a emotional core that not many of the other characters on the show have.
Melissa McCarthy, "Mike & Molly": Sure, "M&M" feels like a pretty by-the-numbers Chuck Lorre comedy, with the usual mixture of sappy sentimentality, off-color body part/size jokes and wacky misunderstandings that the current King of Sitcoms seems to favor. But McCarthy's performance as the sweet but tough Molly Flynn has transcended the silliness. Fans of "Gilmore Girls," "Samantha Who?" or the current hit movie "Bridesmaids" know that McCarthy commits to whatever generates a laugh, but now she's doing it as the star of her own show.Whether it's rolling her eyes at her mother's and sister's antics, accidentally getting drunk before a date with Mike, or being a patient girlfriend only to a point, McCarthy has been charming and funny during the show's bumpy first season.
Nick Offerman, "Parks and Recreation": It seems that, given all the deserved attention Offerman has been getting this year for playing Ron F---ing Swanson, his nomination still isn't a slam dunk. Why? Well, there's a pretty good shot that at least three stars from "Modern Family" will get nominations in the supporting comedic actor category, including a "make-up" nomination for Ed O'Neill. Pair that up with Chris Colfer's inevitable nomination -- the guy did win a Golden Globe, after all -- and the fact that Jon Cryer seems to get nominated every year, and this is a tough category to crack. But if anyone deserves a nomination, it's Offerman, who really personified one of the best sitcom characters in at least a decade.
Ray Romano, "Men of a Certain Age": Why not? People were surprised that he didn't get nominated last year, and his performance this season has been just as vulnerable and layered as it was last year. And with Bryan Cranston not eligible, the field is a bit more wide open (though many think Steve Buscemi is a lock for a nomination). Maybe academy members can't envision Ray as a dramatic actor, but the second season of "Men" has proven that he's got the ability to pull it off.
Amy Ryan, "The Office": As we mentioned last week, she should have probably entered herself as a guest actor, where she would have likely gotten a nod. But the members of the television academy are suckers for actors with "prestige," which basically means anyone who's either been nominated or won an Oscar. Not that Ryan doesn't deserve a nod; as usual, she did a fantastic job playing Michael Scott's soulmate Holly Flax, and it's a surprise that she hasn't been nominated in the past for the role. This season, though, she got an extended -- and high-profile, given Steve Carell's departure -- chance to play Holly on a weekly basis, which may give the members enough of an impetus to give her a nomination.