Why Woody Harrelson Deserves the Emmy Matthew McConaughy Will Win

If Walter White doesn’t stop him.

The 2014 Emmy nominees were announced at some ungodly hour of morning today and, predictably, most of the list is a snooze. (Modern Family, still a thing). But there is at least one interesting matchup in the “Best Actor in a Drama” category: Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are both nominated for their performances in HBO’s True Detective

If you’re a betting man, it would be wise to put your money on McConaughey for the win. After all, he’s been the man to beat this year; they don’t call it a “McConaughnaissance” for nothing. And if – after next month’s telecast – he goes home with an Emmy to keep his Oscar company, no one will say he didn’t deserve it. His performance as tortured homicide detective Rust Cohle on True Detective was positively stunning. But wouldn’t it be refreshing to see Woody Harrelson – who was every bit as compelling in his role as Cohle’s partner, Martin Hart – standing on that podium, instead of watching MM deliver another “Alright, alright, alright” speech?

Think about a one-man Rust Cohle show. It doesn’t work. Think about a one-man Martin Hart show. Totally works. We’re not saying that we’d watch that show – True Detective was about dialogue, not monologue – but at least it would have a coherent plot. Martin Hart made sense. Rust Cohle was a cosmic wacko. Playing a high-strung but normal guy in an unusual situation is harder than playing an absurd guy in an absurd situation.

Still, McConaughey is an absurd guy in an absurd situation, and that situation is this: He can’t lose. It’s a popularity contest and, this year, David Wooderson is prom king. 

The only person with real potential to upset McConaughey is Bryan Cranston, who could take advantage of the detective team of rivals and win for his final turn as Walter White on Breaking Bad. That’s fine. They’re all great. Let this just serve as a reminder that Woody is the man.

Photos by Jim Bridges / HBO