Emmys 2012: Who Should Win Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series? Take Our Poll!

After a one-year hiatus from the Emmy race for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston is back — and that’s probably not good news for his fellow nominees.

Cranston has won three consecutive statuettes (2008-2010) for his work as a high school teacher-turned-meth-dealer Walter White, only sitting out the 2011 race because his AMC drama didn’t air during Emmy’s eligibility period.

Of course, Cranston will have to have to overcome a trio of a perpetual Emmy bridesmaids, plus two neophytes, if he hopes to go for the four-peat. Chief among his competition are Michael C. Hall and Jon Hamm, who’ve both been nominated five years running for their respective work in Dexter and Mad Men. (Hall also scored a nod in this category in 2002 for Six Feet Under.) Similarly, Boardwalk Empire‘s Steve Buscemi is making his second straight run at the Lead Actor statuette (after racking up three additional nods — and no wins — in various catgeories between 2001 and 2008).

Perhaps Cranston’s most imposing rival, though, is Damian Lewis from Showtime’s freshman hit Homeland, nominated by Emmy for this first time this year. Hugh Bonneville, up for his role on Downton Abbey, is the category’s other first-time contender.

What would you do if you had the power to send one of these fine actors to the podium when the Emmys are handed out in September? Take our poll below to vote for your favorite — TVLine voting closes Sept. 14, so act now! — then hit the comments to justify your pick!

Every day for the next month, we’ll launch another “Who Should Win” Emmy poll, so come back to TVLine.com every day to weigh in on who’s most worthy of TV’s biggest honor, and to stay up to speed on all our races, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. ben says:

    Damian Lewis is my pick hands down.

  2. Glenn B says:

    Bryan Cranston…2 words “crawl space”

    • Kevin H. says:

      That scene was effing amazing, as was Cranston. Still scares the shiz out of me. So hoping Cranston wins but if he doesn’t, it will only be because BB will take home Best Drama (I hope both win).

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      That’s the episode he submitted too.

    • Matt says:

      First off I’ve followed all these shows. In reply to Gleen B’s comment. You hit the nail on the head with this one man. Cranston at the end of “crawl space” was the best acting I’ve seen come through my television screen, movies included. The chills I experienced watching this scene has forever changed the way I watch shows. If Cranston doesn’t win the Emmy you know somebody bought it, not earned it.

  3. Emily says:

    Sigh, Michael C. Hall and Jon Hamm are going to be like Hugh Laurie. They should have won earlier, but at this point, they probably never will, no matter what they do.

  4. Ashley says:

    I fear living in a world where Jon Hamm doesn’t get an Emmy for his portrayal of Don Draper. So I will pick him for every poll, every year.

    • Jake says:

      Golf derby reported that his submission wasn’t very good

      • Superhero says:

        He didn’t really have a standout episode like The Suitcase. Last year was his best chance at getting a win, and at this point I don’t think he’s ever gonna get it.

    • Stephen S. says:

      At least it’s still possible for Hamm. I imagine he’ll have some good stuff whenever Mad Men decides to end. But it’s no longer possible for Hugh Laurie to win. Now THAT is a crime IMO!

  5. Alan says:

    any win that isnt a downton win is good enough for me

  6. BH says:

    Cranston (Crawl Space) and Lewis (Marine One) have the strongest episode submissions. It really only is a battle between the two of them

  7. Seedless says:

    Cranston. Unless all of the main actors from Game of Thrones could somehow be nominated as one, he is unstoppable.

  8. VCI says:

    As much as I love Jon Hamm and he’s past due for a win. Bryan Cranston hands down. the last 5 seconds in “Crawl Space” alone deserves a special award.

    the emmy should have been Hamm’s last year with the Suitcase especially with Cranston out of the running, but somehow Chandler sneaked in there. UGH!

  9. Seedless says:

    The only thing John Hamm and Mad Men are good for is putting me and my kid to sleep. I gave that show two-and-a-half seasons to show me something, which is more than i give any show before I give up. What a bore. Hamm is a good actor, but i personally find him and the show overrated

    • Mark says:

      I totally agree! I just CANNOT. GET. INTO. IT. And I’ve watched two seasons! It’s weird when people constantly tell you how amazing a show is and you just don’t see it. I felt the same about the Wire. I watched the first two seasons and it was such a struggle and a chore to work through the loooong boring stretches for the occasional good moments. thats how i feel about Mad Men.

      • Tammy2 says:

        Count me in as well. I have watched every episode, burning through the first 4 seasons in quick time, and still see nothing special about it. It’s so damn dull a lot of the time,and Hamm and the character of Don Draper are nothing to squeal about. There was a few plot points in the first season that hooked me and that’s why I continued on, but those things were either forgotten or amounted to nothing much in the end. I love that there are people who aren’t drinking the Mad Men Kool-Aid. It’s terrible stuff!

        • Seedless says:

          Yes, the Mad Men Kool-Aid is definitely sugar-free and quite bitter. Too many annoying characters, too. Pete Campbell and “Birdie” make me want to stick forks in my ears and eyes.

  10. Britta Unfiltered says:

    I wish I could vote for Jon Hamm or Damian Lewis here. I really do. Sigh. But yeah, I voted for Cranston. How could I not? The Emmy voters for sure will feel the same way. Hopefully Hamm at least gets an Emmy for the guest actor in a comedy category so he doesn’t go home empty-handed.

  11. KND says:

    Crawl Space….nuff said

  12. itsme says:

    I think this category has been wasted on too many previously nominated actors and actors who get nominated because of who they are (Buscemi). Many other deserving actors out there.

  13. Dani says:

    I love Cranston but there is no better show on tv the Boardwalk Empire! Steve Buscemi is by far the most talented actor on the list!!!!

  14. John DeMayo says:

    Jason Isaacs. Nathan Fillion. Hugh Laurie.

    Oh… wait…

  15. anna says:

    I would give it to Damien Lewis. I wish Jon Hamm had won when Don was still an interesting character. He’s never going to win an Emmy now.

  16. This says:

    Damian Lewis. He’s always snubbed by awards, especially for Homeland. He gets a nomination, but he never wins. I felt really bad for him at the Globes when both Homeland and Claire Danes won and he didn’t…

  17. This says:

    That thumbnail of Lewis looks straight out of Band of Brothers from far away.

  18. maggie says:

    Sad that Hugh Laurie will never win an Emmy for his brilliant performance as House.

  19. Jay says:

    Bryan Cranston without question.

  20. Scott K says:

    I honestly don’t care who wins. I’m just happy that TV is so great right now that 5 out of 6 of the nominees are from fantastic shows, and the other is a decent way to kill an hour.

  21. Alexis says:

    If not Bryan Cranston – the clear favorite and gives an acting masterclass every week – then definitely Damian Lewis. He broke my heart on Homeland, more than he broke Carrie Mathison’s for sure.

  22. peter says:

    they never gave an emmy for Hugh Laurie in 8 years
    and this year they didin’t nominated Robert Carlyle

    nothing against Cranston but the emmys i realy don’t know what to think about who votes in this things

  23. justine says:

    UM….how do u spell emmy?
    John Hamm in the Suitcase Episode.

    Nuff said

    • Seedless says:

      ***Spelling correction**** Emmy is spelled C-R-A-N-S-T-O-N

    • Alice says:

      He submitted that episode for last year, but he didn’t win. He submitted “The Other Woman” this year, but I think Cranston will beat him again. I don’t watch Homeland. Apparently Damian Lewis is the only one enough juice to score an upset.

  24. Lily says:

    Seriously, how many times does Bryan Cranston have to win?! Michael C. Hall, because he’s earned a win.

    • De Niro says:

      He’s deserved every single one of his wins, and I don’t really think I have to say this again but ok: It’s not about giving the ones that haven’t won before an award, it’s about the best, and Cranston has always been the best.

  25. Stephen S. says:

    Timothy Olyphant. Oh, wait. He’s not nominated. Stupid emmy voters! :( Since Olyphant isn’t nominated I’ll gladly see Damien Lewis win instead. I love Cranston. But it’s time for someone else to win and I REALLY hope it’s Lewis.

  26. Greg says:

    Crawl Space. “Skylar!!! Where is the Emmy?!!!”

  27. Lily says:

    My money is on Damian Lewis this year, Brody’s character is one of best of past season and Damian’s performance is amazing

  28. lucaltair815 says:

    One of those actor is the best actor that television has seen for the last decade, and that actor should win every time he competes. That said, since they’ve already honored Bryan so much, there’s the possibility that the prize will go elsewhere, maybe in Hamm’s hands.

  29. elle says:

    Bryan Cranston all the way! Everyone that I know loves Breaking Bad. There isn’t a better show or Lead Actor on TV. In fact ever since I had the pleasure of watching the first episode I thought it was way too good for TV (not that I’m complaining) Cranston is definitely the King. These other shows are jokes by comparison.