There are so many different options when it comes to supporting roles. Yet, one show from each respective genre dominates half of these two categories on my ballot. Supporting Actor in a Comedy was without a doubt the hardest list to create (many thanks to the cast of Modern Family, who completely screwed me over by refusing to submit as leads). Great arguments could be made for almost 20 different actors. Ensemble comedies like Modern Family, Parks & Recreation, and Party Down offer several competitors. Chris Colfer (Glee), Mark Indelicato (Ugly Betty), and Keir Gilchrist (United States of Tara) all gave touching portrayals of three (very different) gay teens, but I felt they weren't comedic enough to compete against their funnier peers. Then past nominees such as Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) and Tracy Morgan (30 Rock) got overshadowed by an influx of hilarious newcomers. And my list of contenders doesn't even include the much-praised supporting actors from Community, Cougar Town, and Nurse Jackie (I feel like a broken record at this point)! Unfortunately, the academy only allows six nominees (seven, if there's a tie). Ted Danson (Bored to Death) was definitely the toughest omission from my top six, and I'm still not entirely convinced that I made the right decision. But my list doesn't matter anyway!
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Aziz Ansari, Parks & Recreation - Ansari's Tom was my favorite part of season one. Season two gave the actors the chance to become more comfortable in their characters' skin, and Chris Pratt and Nick Offerman, as well as a few others, emerged as new comedic delights for the series. Still, Ansari was able to keep up with his costars as the dim-witted, wannabe ladies' man.
Ty Burrell, Modern Family - Phil Dunphy may not be that bright, but Burrell is a brilliant comedic actor. He's the shows most quotable character (which is saying a lot) and also its most lovable. Burrell portrays the dullness so well and plays off of his costars (especially Julie Bowen) excellently.
Nick Offerman, Parks & Recreation - RON EFFING SWANSON! He hates government. He loves breakfast foods. He is hilarious. Ron Swanson was the breakout character of this season, and Offerman has already begun to earn some recognition in the form of a Television Critics Association nomination.
Rico Rodriguez, Modern Family - He may be young, but that doesn't mean he can't be one of the funniest actors on television. Much like Manny (who acts like a 50-year-old man), Rodriguez seems to have the comedic ability of someone three times his age. The child actor deserves to be recognized alongside the older and well-respected comedians.
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family - This straight actor plays probably the most over-the-top flamboyant gay man on television. Yet Cam is real. And he's hilarious. Nobody else could pull it off like Stonestreet, and he consistently inspires the most laughter on Modern Family.
Michael Urie, Ugly Betty - Though he is arguably the least "comedic" of the six, Urie did a fantastic job in his final season as Marc St. James. He had several heart-warming moments connected to Justin's coming out story but still kept the laughs coming with costar Becki Newton.
Honorable Mention: Ted Danson, Bored to Death and Chris Colfer, Glee
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Michael Emerson, Lost - Last year, he finally won the Emmy he deserved. This year, he continued his tradition of excellence as the eerie Benjamin Linus. Though this season did not showcase his talent as much as previous seasons have, Emerson still delivered, especially in the always great Ben-centric episodes.
Josh Holloway, Lost - Sawyer is arguably the character who has experienced the most growth throughout the series. He went from an angry con man to the loving head of security to the man who lost the love of his life. He had several strong moments this season (most of which were with the fabulous Elizabeth Mitchell), and the series finale's most emotional scene was his reunion with Juliet.
Terry O'Quinn, Lost - Last season the man of faith transformed into the villain of the entire series. This season, whether he was playing John Locke or the Man in Black/Smoke Monster, O'Quinn gave one of the best performances of the year. The flash-sideways world gave him the opportunity to portray the goodness of Locke against the intense evil of the monster.
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad - Since I just finished watching the first two seasons earlier this summer, I have not yet gotten to see the third (and Emmy-eligible) season of Breaking Bad. But what I have seen is absolute greatness. Paul's Jessie unexpectedly became my favorite character on the show, mainly because of his captivating performance. And from what I've heard, season three just gets better.
Martin Short, Damages - I would never have expected Short to appear on a list of dramatic actors, but his work on the third season of Damages has earned him a spot. The comedian displayed his range as the lawyer opposing Patty Hewes with a story as twisted as the series. Throughout the season his character grew and Short showed great depth as more of that story became exposed.
John Slattery, Mad Men - Roger Sterling gets some of the best lines on the show. But it's not just the writing that makes them so great. Slattery steals every scene and makes it his own. He may not be the show's most dramatic actor, but he fills a necessary role in the series and does it exceptionally well.
Honorable Mention: Michael Cudlitz, Southland and Matthew Rhys, Brothers & Sisters
Coming Soon: My picks for the lead comedy roles
Six Feet Under Season 3
Episode 1 - Perfect Circles