Monday, September 4, 2017

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

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

Viola Davis as Annalise Keating, How to Get Away with Murder (Wes)
Davis won this award two years ago and was nominated again last year. Since then, she picked up an Oscar for “Fences,” which should make anyone question why she bothers to star in this show and how the two performances possibly compare. The season finale gives Davis plenty of ammunition and over-the-top lines to utter, but I think that Davis’ time in this category is limited and she’s certainly not going to win again.

Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth, The Crown (Assassins)
First-time Emmy nominee Foy is off to a fantastic start with Golden Globe and SAG wins from earlier this season for her regal performance. I’ve been speedily catching up on this show after turning off the pilot just five minutes in, unaware of what this show’s future awards potential would be. Foy is certainly great, though I’m a bit puzzled by her episode submission. I would have gone with the second episode, “Hyde Park Corner,” or the eighth, “Pride and Joy,” but instead she chose the same one as costar John Lithgow, which delves into a lifelong friendship and features just one knockout scene at the end. She still has a great shot - awards bodies seem to love her.

Elisabeth Moss as Offred/June, The Handmaid’s Tale (Night)
Moss has been nominated previously six times, all for “Mad Men.” Now she’s back for her stunning turn as a young mother enslaved as a handmaid in a hellish society governed by religion. Moss, who is truly terrific, submitted the season finale, which should still be accessible for viewers since she has to deal with the agony of being separated from her daughter and finally decides to take action to defend herself. This is a crowded category, but it’s also a knockout submission.

Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, The Americans (Dyatkovo)
This is the second consecutive nomination for Russell. Last year, her show was nominated for Best Drama Series, and this year it isn’t. She’s popular and might be able to win next year for the show’s final season with the right submission, but in a category filled with strong women forced to make tough ethical decisions, I just don’t think she’s sympathetic enough. Her episode paints her as cold and unforgiving, determined to kill a traitor even though she’s not completely sure of her identity.

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores, Westworld (The Bicameral Mind)
Wood was previously nominated for an Emmy in 2011 for her supporting role in the miniseries “Mildred Pierce.” If you had to choose one person who’s really the lead of HBO’s head trip, it’s her. She’s terrific in every episode, playing someone who’s programmed to respond a certain way and who knows more than she should because of glitches in both the program and her environment. Her submission is the season finale, in which she takes action on what she’s learned. It’s a great episode for loyal viewers, but I’m not sure it will play as well for those who haven’t followed along. She’d be very deserving of a win but I don’t see it happening.

Robin Wright as Claire Underwood, House of Cards (Chapter 65)
This is the fifth consecutive nomination for Wright. She won a Golden Globe in 2014 but her show has yet to win a major Emmy despite many nominations each year for the past five years running. Just like her onscreen husband is being left behind and Claire is headed for the limelight, Wright is the likeliest member of her cast to eventually win an Emmy. I think her submission from last year was better, but there’s no denying her power shift in the season finale is an exceptional showcase of her skills.

Who should win (based on entire season): Moss
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Moss
Who will win: This seems to me to be a competition between Foy, the early awards favorite, and Moss, the new entry, who is so overdue and also so good in her show. I don’t think this is the year for Wright or Russell, and despite having so many nominations, Wood’s show seems destined to win only technical prizes.

Next up: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

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