Several leading men have their last chance at Emmys

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These Are The Shows That Need Emmy Noms

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Though the TV Academy is often criticized for giving Emmy nominations to the same shows and performers year after year, 2015 is all about change. With "Breaking Bad" and its multiple Emmy winner Bryan Cranston out of the competition — plus seven comedy and drama acting slots instead of six — the lead actor categories could end up looking a lot different this time around.

There's certainly plenty to choose from among new series, but several critical favorites ended their runs this season, giving Emmy voters one last chance to award their deserving performances. Steve Buscemi ("Boardwalk Empire"), Jon Hamm ("Mad Men"), Charlie Hunnam ("Sons of Anarchy"), Timothy Olyphant ("Justified") and Ricky Gervais ("Derek") all ended on a high note that could earn some attention.

Among last year's six drama nominees, only three — Jeff Daniels ("The Newsroom"), Kevin Spacey ("House of Cards") and Hamm — are eligible this year, which opens four slots for nominating long-overdue actors. Spacey has the only returning series and has never won. Daniels won once in 2013, but the final season of "The Newsroom" didn't exactly earn raves. And Hamm, who has seven Emmy nominations for his role as ad exec Don Draper, has never won the trophy for a show that relies heavily on its brooding leading man.

"Sons of Anarchy" creator Kurt Sutter naturally hopes to see Hunnam get recognized for his pivotal, ultimately tragic role as biker Jax. Hunnam dug deep as Jax set out on his final course, a performance Sutter says was helped because his fate was unambiguous.

"Towards the back half of the season, he was able to bleed that into his performance, so that it wasn't so much about rage and retribution," Sutter says. "He was really struggling with this almost spiritual journey, and yet it means doing things that are incredibly painful and devastating. (That) was some of his really potent stuff this season."

While Hunnam has never been nominated, Sutter says he's glad for the attention from critics and fans, regardless of what happens with the Emmys.

"You really have to figure out how to make your show noisier just so it gets through, and some of that is about money and marketing," Sutter says. "But my belief is that shows get good buzz because they're good shows."

Buzz buoyed Gervais' "Derek" for its two-season run, which, like the British "The Office" and "Extras," ended with a special this year and vies for attention in the TV Movie categories. The funnyman has an acting trophy for "Extras," but has yet to win for his warm-hearted role as Derek.

"Derek's slightly different," Gervais says. "With the characters I usually create, we're laughing at them. We're laughing at their blind spot, whereas Derek doesn't have a blind spot. So 'Derek' was instantly more of a drama. The reason I made the characters flawed superficially was so kindness could come along and trample that. They were losers but they were caring for other people and deep down they were winners because they were kind."

Gervais made a joke of not winning at last year's ceremony by delivering his acceptance speech for "Derek" while presenting the variety-writing Emmy. Nevertheless, he says it's nice to be nominated for a project that he's done on his own terms.

"When you start changing something thinking this might win an award or this might get a bigger audience, you're finished," he says. "You've gone to the dark side, and I don't want to know you. If you do it your way and more people see it and it wins awards, then so be it."

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Several leading men have their last chance at Emmys

Jon Hamm as Don Draper - Mad Men _ Season 7B, Episode 11 - (Photo by Justina Mintz/AMC)

In this publicity photo released by AMC, Jon Hamm as Don Draper is shown in Season 5, Episode 1, of "Mad Men." The nominations for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards are announced on Thursday, July 19, 2012. "Mad Men" is making a bid at Emmy Awards history to win its fifth best drama series trophy. (AP Photo/AMC, Ron Jaffe)
This TV publicity image released by AMC shows Linda Cardellini as Sylvia Rosen, left, and Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a scene from "Mad Men." The program was nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding drama series on, Thursday July 18, 2013. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Emmy ceremony will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. It will air Sept. 22 on CBS. (AP Photo/AMC, Jordin Althaus)
This TV publicity image released by AMC shows Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a scene from "Mad Men." Hamm was nominated for an Emmy Award for best actor in a drama series on, Thursday July 18, 2013. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Emmy ceremony will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. It will air Sept. 22 on CBS. (AP Photo/AMC, Michael Yarish)
In this publicity photo released by AMC, Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson is shown in Episode 11, Season 5, of "Mad Men." Moss was nominated for an Emmy award on Thursday, July 19, 2012 for outstanding actress in a drama series for her role as Peggy Olson. The 64th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be presented Sept. 23 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and airing live on ABC. (AP Photo/AMC, Jordin Althaus)
This image released by AMC shows, from left, Jon Hamm as Don Draper, John Slattery as Roger Sterling, Jared Harris as Lane Pryce and Robert Morse as Bertram Cooper in a scene from the fifth season of "Mad Men." On Thursday, July 19, 2012, the program received a total of 17 Emmy nominations including best actress in a drama series for Elisabeth Moss and best actor for Jon Hamm. The 64th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be presented Sept. 23 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and airing live on ABC. (AP Photo/AMC, Michael Yarish)
This publicity photo provided by AMC shows Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a scene of "Mad Men," Season 6, Episode 1. “Mad Men” returns for its sixth season Sunday, April 7, 2013, on AMC with 13 new episodes. Series Creator Matthew Weiner says he plans one more season for the 1960s drama. (AP Photo/AMC, Michael Yarish)
This image released by AMC shows Jessica Pare as Megan Draper, left, and Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a scene from the season five premiere episode of "Mad Men," where Megan surprises Don with a birthday party. On Thursday, July 19, 2012, the program received a total of 17 Emmy nominations including best actress in a drama series for Elisabeth Moss and best actor for Jon Hamm. The 64th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be presented Sept. 23 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and airing live on ABC. (AP Photo/AMC, Ron Jaffe)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 05: Jon Hamm is seen filming 'Mad Men' on March 05, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by GONZALO/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
This undated publicity image released by AMC shows Jessica Pare as Megan Draper, left, and Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a scene outside of a Howard Johnson's restaurant in an episode of "Mad Men." The actual Howard Johnson's in upstate New York in this scene, was in fact a shuttered, deteriorating one in an LA suburb. Virtual airbrushing was provided by Zoic Studios, which repainted the building, replaced its sign and deleted nearby post-'60s buildings, all digitally. "Mad Men" competes with other contenders now for a special effects Emmy nomination in a new category. (AP Photo/AMC, Michael Yarish)
This publicity photo provided by AMC shows Jessica Pare as Megan Draper, left, and Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a scene of "Mad Men," Season 6, Episode 2. “Mad Men” returns for its sixth season Sunday, April 7, 2013. (AP Photo/AMC, Michael Yarish)
This publicity image released by AMC shows John Slattery as Roger Sterling, left, Jon Hamm as Don Draper, center, and Vincent Kartheiser as Pete Campbell in a scene from the season six premiere of "Mad Men," airing Sunday, April 7, on AMC. (AP Photo/AMC, Michael Yarish)
This image released by AMC shows newcomer Teyonah Parris as Dawn Chambers, left, and Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in a scene from "Mad Men." On Thursday, July 19, 2012, the program received a total of 17 Emmy nominations including best actress in a drama series for Elisabeth Moss and best actor for Jon Hamm. The 64th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be presented Sept. 23 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and airing live on ABC. (AP Photo/AMC, Michael Yarish)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 05: John Slattery, Rich Sommer and Jon Hamm are seen filming 'Mad Men' on March 05, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by GONZALO/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
This TV publicity image released by AMC shows Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson, left, and Kevin Rahm as Ted Chaough in a scene from "Mad Men." The season finale airs Sunday, June 23, on AMC. (AP Photo/AMC, Michael Yarish)
This publicity image released by AMC shows Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a scene from the finale of "Mad Men." The popular drama ended its fifth season on Sunday, June 10, 2012. (AP Photo/AMC, Michael Yarish)
Don Draper portrayed by Jon Hamm, from left, Roger Sterling portrayed by John Slattery, Pete Campbell portrayed by Vincent Kartheiser and Lane Pryce portrayed by Jared Harris appear in a scene from season six of "Mad Men." The final episodes of the popular series begin on Sunday. (AP Photo/AMC, Michael Yarish)
This image released by AMC shows Jessica Pare as Megan Draper performing a French song in a scene from the season five premiere episode of "Mad Men," where Megan surprises her husband Don with a birthday party. On Thursday, July 19, 2012, the program received a total of 17 Emmy nominations including best actress in a drama series for Elisabeth Moss and best actor for Jon Hamm. The 64th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be presented Sept. 23 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and airing live on ABC. (AP Photo/AMC, Ron Jaffe)
This TV publicity image released by AMC shows Jon Hamm as Don Draper, left, and Jessica Pare as Megan Draper in a scene from "Mad Men." The season finale airs Sunday, June 23, on AMC. (AP Photo/AMC, Michael Yarish)
This TV publicity image released by AMC shows Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in a scene from "Mad Men." Olson was nominated for an Emmy Award for best actress in a drama series on Thursday July 18, 2013. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Emmy ceremony will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. It will air Sept. 22 on CBS. (AP Photo/AMC, Jaimie Trueblood)
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