Sunday, September 6, 2015

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Khandi Alexander as Maya Pope, Scandal (Where the Sun Don’t Shine)
Alexander is nominated for the first time this year for playing Olivia Pope’s mother on Shonda Rhimes’ scandalous series. Joe Morton won last year for playing her father, and that bolsters her chances, but she’s not featured nearly as much as he was, given a few choice opportunities to chew scenery and command the screen despite her prison surroundings. She might win, but I think she has the less showy of two Rhimes matriarch performances nominated in this race.

Rachel Brosnahan as Rachel Prosner, House of Cards (Chapter 39)
Brosnahan was a regular player in season one and two of this show and this season appeared frequently as she was on the run from the man who ruined her life and who thought she was dead but never quite gave up looking for her. The season finale is the inevitable climax, an hour that gives Rachel the chance to fight for her life as her past finally catches up with her. It’s a decent performance but not a resounding or overly memorable one given the subject matter.

Allison Janney as Margaret Scully, Masters of Sex (Parallax)
Janney, who won last year for this role, is back in the season two premiere of her show in which her husband tries to change his sexuality to help fix their marriage. It’s not as strong a submission as the one that won her the award last year, but she’s extremely popular right now and might well repeat.

Margo Martindale as Claudia, The Americans (I Am Abbadin Zadran)
Martindale is nominated for the third year in a row after she won in 2011 for her supporting work on “Justified.” I thought I was watching the wrong episode this year since she didn’t appear until ten minutes or so before the end of the hour. Martindale has just one scene that doesn’t give her anything to do, and I can’t imagine anyone would vote for her based on that, especially considering many feel that Lois Smith should have been recognized instead.

Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell, Game of Thrones (The Gift)
This is Rigg’s third consecutive nomination for playing an elder member of a regal family. Her submitted episode finds her meeting with the High Sparrow and gives her a superb opportunity to interact with him on a very intimate and entertaining level. She’s up against some fierce competition, but this is an excellent and fun example of her work.

Cicely Tyson as Ophelia Hartness, How to Get Away with Murder (Mama’s Here Now)
Tyson is a veteran actress who gets to play the monster mother to Viola Davis’ already intense woman. Within moments of her appearance, she’s wiping the floor with the show’s stars, giving her unique definition of a VIP and utterly eviscerating all of them. It’s a fierce and formidable turn if ever I’ve seen one.

Who should win (based on entire season): N/A
Who will win (based on individual episodes): Rigg
Who will win: I think Tyson, but it could be Janney again.

Next up: Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

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