Sunday, June 5, 2011

Emmy Musings: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Now that the 2010-2011 TV season is officially over, it’s hardly too early to start thinking about the Emmy nominations, which will be announced in July. Consider these preliminary thoughts rather than official predictions – look for those at the beginning of July. As always, chime in with your reactions and predictions in the comments, and don’t hesitate to let me know if I left any strong contenders off the list!

Last year’s ineligible nominees: Glenn Close (“Damages” returns later this year)

Last year’s eligible nominees:
Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights)
Along with her costar Kyle Chandler, Britton finally got her due last year as she received her first nomination, for the fourth season of the NBC-DirectTV football drama. The show’s fifth season was its last, and so this is Britton’s last shot as well. Like Chandler, she might be a better bet had she not been finally nominated last year, but she’s still a decent bet to return since voters have proven that they do realize the show exists.

January Jones (Mad Men)
Count Jones out of this race for two major reasons: she most definitely did not have a leading role in the show’s fourth season, and her number one competitor, Elisabeth Moss, who edged her out for a nomination when they were both in this category during season two, is back in this race against her, and Moss most definitely had a leading role this year. It took Jones until season three to earn her first nomination, and it would be quite a feat if she earned another nod for the stellar yet small part she had in season four.

Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU)
Hargitay is just the kind of contender who you’d expect to appear one year and not the next, and maybe just fall out of the race altogether due to the procedural nature of her show. Every time I write predictions, I think that she’s done that, but it turns out that’s only the case with the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards. Hargitay’s run has been straight through her first nomination in 2004, and while I’d suspect she’d be the first to go when new contenders came along, I guess that’s not the case.

Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
Margulies is back with a vengeance this year, as her guaranteed victory from last year was snatched away by an overdue win for Kyra Sedgwick. Margulies had a stellar year, as did her show, and has multiple episodes she could choose to submit that would net her a win. She’s a lock for a nomination, and a good frontrunner to win as well.

Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)
Sedgwick is in a precarious place, having finally won last year on her fifth nomination for the TNT procedural. Now that she’s won, she could easily be left off the list and considered duly rewarded. The fact that she’s leaving her show doesn’t help matters since she’s technically not leaving for two more seasons, so it’s not like this is the last chance to honor her. I’ll hazard a guess that she doesn’t make the cut.

Past nominees:
Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
Performance-wise, she’s got what’s needed. What will be trickier for two-time Emmy nominee Moss is jumping back to the lead actress race after being in the supporting race last year, and in the lead race the year before. Her show is popular enough, and her internal competition minimal enough, that she shouldn’t have much of a problem earning another nomination in this rightful category.

New contenders:
Kathy Bates (Harry’s Law)
Even though I can’t hope to comprehend it, this show was a hit and NBC has decided that voters should be subjected to a second year of it. Given Bates’ reputation and the inexplicable love Emmy voters have for all things David E. Kelley, I’d count Bates among the strong shots for a nomination this year, though by no means a sure thing.

Jennifer Beals (The Chicago Code)
Now that FOX has cancelled this show, it doesn’t have too much of a shot. However, one of this short-lived cop show’s strongest elements was the fierce portrayal of Chicago’s incorruptible police superintendent. It would be a breath of fresh air to see an actress like Beals get recognized for a show like this. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, unfortunately.

Mireille Enos (The Killing)
The star of AMC’s latest hit has been tossed around as a strong contender thanks to the serious nature of the show and the prominent featuring of Enos in every episode. Female performers on AMC shows don’t have a good track record with the Emmys, so I wouldn’t count on her getting nominated. She’s not a familiar (or easily pronounceable) name, and that could definitely hurt her chances.

Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs)
It seems a bit silly listing Perabo as a contender, given both the light nature of her show and the relative lack of depth and believability in her performance. Yet somehow Perabo managed a Golden Globe nomination, knocking out some powerful women, and therefore it’s necessary to at least consider her for a moment. Previously mentioned handicaps aside, the lack of historical Emmy love for USA shows should be enough to stunt her.

Emmy Rossum (Shameless)
If there’s any justice this TV season, Rossum will be recognized for fiercely portraying the de facto matriarch for the Gallagher family on this nutty and wild Showtime show. There’s no denying Rossum’s talent, whether this is a comedy or a drama, and hopefully her young age and the strange nature of this series won’t keep her out of the race.

Sarah Shahi (Fairly Legal)
After spending two years doing little to nothing on NBC’s “Life,” Shahi has found a role that fully utilizes her talents, and then some. Even if I wasn’t a fan of the show, USA was, renewing it for a second season. It’s the kind of role that could be a shoo-in for an Emmy nomination were it on any other network other than USA. Don’t count on her contending.

Other possibilities:
Lauren Graham (Parenthood)
This long-neglected former Gilmore Girl didn’t earn any attention for this role last year, and given the fact that she’s been front-and-center in several plotlines this year, she might have a shot this time around. Still, NBC’s family drama hasn’t been quick to pick up any awards, so this may not the time for its lead star either.

Melissa Leo (Treme)
This show underperformed last year with Emmy nominations, and its second season isn’t likely to garner many more accolades. What’s worth noting is that, in addition to having a sizeable amount of strong storylines this season, Leo is also going into this race as a newly minted Oscar winner, which could net her some attention. Additionally, she is now the only performer classified as a lead on the show, which can only help her chances.

Anna Paquin (True Blood)
If Paquin was going to be nominated, one of the last two years would have made sense, especially season two when the show itself managed to break into the Best Drama Series field. That’s not always the way the Emmys work, though, so Paquin could earn her due too late for the show’s underwhelming third season. It’s an enormous long shot at best.

Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy)
After being snubbed for the show’s first two seasons, Sagal managed to score a Golden Globe nomination – and win – for season three. There’s no debating her merits, and it’s only a question of whether Emmy voters will be open to such a violent and often shocking show. Sagal deserves to be nominated, and I think that she will, though I’m not entirely confident in the open-mindedness of Emmy voters.

Next up: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series


Greg Boyd said...

I actually think Enos has a decent shot. Also, I don't think the Emmy voters are biased against female leads on AMC shows. The fact is that apart from Moss and Jones on "Mad Men", no other show on the channel (to my knowledge, anyway) has featured an actress in any sort of leading role. So it's really a lack of opportunity.

I for one hope Enos does get recognized. She deserves it, even though the show's been fairly disappointing.

Anyway, that's about all I've got to say. As I believe I've mentioned previously, I really don't care about the Emmys. They've snubbed too many great shows ("The Wire", "BSG", "FNL", etc.) over the years for me to take them seriously. I am looking forward to your AFT awards, assuming you're planning on doing them this year.

Movies with Abe said...

Anna Gunn, who was officially a lead for season three of "Breaking Bad." Otherwise, you're right. We'll see! AFT Awards will definitely be happening at some point, and glad you're looking forward!

Andrew K. said...

I'm biased because I love the show but Kyra was excellent this last season of the show - and I don't see them leaving her off.