Thursday, September 12, 2019

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.

Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset, Orange is the New Black (Well This Took a Dark Turn)
This is the third nomination for Cox, who was previously nominated in this category in 2017 and in the comedy guest actress race for the same show and role in 2014. Sophia hasn’t been a big part of the show in a while, hence her classification here, and her return in an impactful episode that finds her making a tough choice is a positive showcase of her talents. A win in this category with zero other bids for the show has plenty of precedent, but it’s worth noting that both of costar Uzo Aduba’s victories came in years when her show was contending for the top prize.

Cherry Jones as Holly Maddox, The Handmaid’s Tale (Holly)
Jones was nominated last year for this role, and this is technically her second nomination for the second season of her show, which is a real feat. Her previous nomination, for “24” in 2009, resulted in a win. Jones made an impression as the main character’s mother in flashbacks, but she’s far from the most memorable part of her episode, which finds a new life named in her honor. A win wouldn’t be a shock, but this isn’t the best indication of her work and wouldn’t be an instance of voters actually paying attention the material in the episode submitted.

Jessica Lange as Constance Langdon, American Horror Story (Return to Murder House)
Lange was previously nominated and won for this role for season one of “American Horror Story,” earning another win for season three and additional bids for seasons two and four. Aside from that, she was nominated four times and won in 2009 for “Grey Gardens.” In her submitted episode this year, she returns to the show to reprise her original role, making an incredible impression when she first appears and then continues to dominate the entire hour. It’s a crowded category but Lange stands out, and not having anyone else from her show nominated may not actually be a demerit considering her historical awards reputation.

Phylicia Rashad as Carol Clarke, This Is Us (Our Little Island Girl)
This is Rashad’s third career Emmy nomination after previous bids for “A Raisin in the Sun” and “The Cosby Show.” She is the first female guest acting nominee for her show, portraying Beth’s mother. Her submitted episode shows a mother with a strong influence on her daughter, who herself is a resilient woman crucial to the show’s storyline. I, and many others, wish that Susan Kelechi Watson, who plays Beth, was nominated, and a victory for Rashad would be one symbolic way to reward her. Rashad is indeed impressive in her own right, and the fact that she hasn’t won an Emmy may surprise voters.

Cicely Tyson as Ophelia Hartness, How to Get Away with Murder (Where Are Your Parents?)
This is the fourth overall and third consecutive nomination for ninety-four-year-old actress Tyson for this role, and she has eleven additional nominations prior to that, dating back to 1974 and including three wins, most recently in 1994. I actually think this may be the strongest submission yet for Tyson, who is truly present in her scenes and makes her aging and ailing mother to star Viola Davis’ character very memorable and important. Absent a clear frontrunner, Tyson could prevail, but that hasn’t helped other similarly respected older actresses in past years.

Carice van Houten as Melisandre, Game of Thrones (The Long Night)
This is the first nomination for van Houten. Diana Rigg was nominated previously for HBO’s hugely popular show in this race, and now van Houten has the chance to win for her memorable turn as a powerful sorceress in one of the more impactful and memorable episodes of its final season. If voters want to reward the show as a whole, she would be a great way to do it, and she could also benefit from the show sweeping all its categories. Being a less-known quantity won’t help her, but anyone who watches her episode won’t soon forget her and her role in it.

Who should win (based on entire season): N/A
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Lange or Tyson
Who will win: It’s possible it might be Jones or Lange, but I’m betting on Rashad.

Next up: Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

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