Tied for fifth place with no votes are Masi Oka from Heroes and Michael Imperioli from The Sopranos. In a tie for second place, with two votes each (22%) are TR Knight from Grey's Anatomy, Terry O'Quinn from Lost, and William Shatner from Boston Legal. But the winner is Michael Emerson from Lost.
Let me get this out of the way first: I think that the Academy is going to give the Emmy to Michael Imperioli for The Sopranos. Not necessarily on the merit of his performance of course although Imperioli's performance as the drug addicted mobster and wannabe film writer Christopher Molasanti is usually riveting. No, I think he'll win because it's The Sopranos' final season and they're going to reward just about anyone associated with the show. Just my opinion of course.
Okay, so having said why I think the Emmy is going to go to Imperioli, let's look at the other nominees. I'm going to suggest that Masi Oka's nomination has a lot to do with Heroes being one of the few real successes of the 2006-07 crop of new series. It doesn't hurt that the show is Science Fiction, a genre that tends to regard itself as being under-represented. Nor does it hurt that Oka stands out in the ensemble cast but he is part of an ensemble cast. That said, his nomination is probably his Emmy moment. Sad to say, the same goes for Terry O'Quinn, the difference being that he's been here before. O'Quinn is a solid supporting actor though and sad to say the Outstanding Supporting Actor nomination usually goes to an actor who is usually closer to being the second lead in a show, and even more this year than in previous years Locke is more of a supporting character. William Shatner falls into that position of being second lead. Denny Crane has a lot more prominence in Boston Legal than most of the other actors on the series. A problem for Shatner is that while Boston Legal is labelled – rightly or wrongly – as a Drama, a lot of what makes Shatner stand out in the role of Denny Crane is comedic.
Which leads us to Michael Emerson. Playing Ben, the leader of "The Others" on Lost, he is in a role that is a supporting actor's dream. He plays a villain, which gives him a lot more prominence within an ensemble show than one of the protagonists. It helps considerably that Emerson isn't the usual type of villain. He's a small man which means that he leads with his intelligence and wits. Best of all is Emerson's theatrical training. It lets him position Ben as a calm but dangerous psychotic, almost like a cult leader who reigns by sheer force of will and calmly expressed and twisted "reason". It is deserving of an award, and I think he'd get it if he weren't up against a cast member from The Sopranos.