Get a metaphoric knife and try to slip it between some of the nominees of the following close Emmy categories.

Supporting actor in a drama and supporting actress in a comedy may be the most competitive. Jane Lynch ("Glee") may be the slammiest of dunks, but don't be shocked if Holland Taylor of "Two and a Half Men" pulls an upset.


Supporting actor in a drama

Andre Braugher, "Men of a Certain Age"

Owen Thoreau Jr., forlorn car dealer of a certain age with father issues, is a big departure for Braugher from Det. Frank Pembleton of "Homicide." Voters may reward his stretch.

Michael Emerson, "Lost"

Emerson won this last year, and in a sense his work on the final season - although great in every detail - didn't quite match the breadth and depth of his work on the fifth season.

Terry O'Quinn, "Lost"

This is O'Quinn's third nomination, and while he won in 2007, that doesn't necessarily spell "repeat" this year. But O'Quinn had another brilliant season, so . . .

Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad"

Twice-nominated before, Jesse Pinkman is as important to this series as Walter White - played just as brilliantly by Bryan Cranston. Why no cigar for Paul?

Martin Short, "Damages"

Short's oily legal weasel Leonard Winstone would appear to be the weak link in this category, but Short, as always, was superb. Label this entry a "dark weasel."

John Slattery, "Mad Men"

This is Slattery's third straight nomination, and he's still waiting for his little statue. By the way, so is equally deserving Jon Hamm.


Supporting actress in a comedy

Julie Bowen, "Modern Family"

Inscrutable are the ways of Emmy, which placed Bowen in supporting, not lead, actress. If voters give the major awards to "Glee," they may try to balance by giving "Family" its due here.

Jane Krakowski, "30 Rock"

If Jane Lynch wasn't such a sure bet, Krakowski might nail this; oh, wait, I forgot about Sofia Vergara of "Modern Family."

Jane Lynch, "Glee"

What a season! What an incredible season! I still haven't figured out a scenario in which she doesn't win.

Holland Taylor, "Two and a Half Men"

Ah, Ma Harper. No one disputes her excellence, but this field is crowded. Still, this is her fourth nomination - inexplicably passed over last year. Could 2010 be her year?

Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family"

Vergara has an edge over Bowen because she was one of prime time's real breakouts last season as gloriously ditsy Gloria Delgado-Pritchett; it's a toss-up between her and Lynch.

Kristen Wiig, "Saturday Night Live"

"SNL's" presence on this list seems odd, but Wiig was in the same spot last year; a win would be a real Emmy shockeroo.

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