Saturday, September 14, 2019

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.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones (The Last of the Starks)
This is Clarke’s fourth nomination after bids in 2013, 2015, and 2016 in the supporting race. She wasn’t successful when she was first promoted to this category last year, but now she contends for the final season of her show, in which she played a huge part. She could have chosen any of the six eligible hours, and she opted for one in which she has to fight for her right to rule with words rather than with actions, which I think might have been a stronger bet. Her performance isn’t quite on the same level as most of the other nominees in this category, but enthusiasm for her show shouldn’t be counted out since it could most definitely lead to a win.

Jodie Comer as Villanelle, Killing Eve (I Hope You Like Missionary)
I’m thrilled that Comer finally managed to score her first major awards bid after her costar Sandra Oh had previously taken all of the acclaim. She also submitted a formidable hour that shows the range of her talents, creating a character to get close to a suspect and having fun with it in typical style. Oh isn’t featured extensively in this hour, while Comer does still play a substantial role in Oh’s. She’s a long shot at best, but anyone who watches her show should realize that she’s such a crucial part of it who absolutely deserves to win.

Viola Davis as Annalise Keating, How to Get Away with Murder (He Betrayed Us Both)
This is Davis’ fourth nomination in this category but her fifth overall. After winning for the freshman year of her show, she earned two more bids and then, last year, missed out in this race in favor of a guest bid for playing the same character on a “Scandal” crossover. It doesn’t feel like she should be in this race anymore, and even if Davis is good, her character is so poorly written and the show so terrible in comparison to everything else here. Spiraling out of control in her episode is far from compelling, and I’d be both shocked and disappointed if she won this year.

Laura Linney as Wendy Byrde, Ozark (One Way Out)
Linney has won four times out of five nominations, taking home trophies for TV movie “Wild Iris,” miniseries “John Adams” and “The Big C: Hereafter,” and comedy guest acting for “Frasier.” She’s nominated for the second season of her show, and in her submitted episode gets to show just how in control of a situation where she’s not objectively in charge she manages to be. It’s a good showcase that allows her to standout from costars Jason Bateman and Julia Garner, but I don’t think it’s enough to help her win.

Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson, This Is Us (The Graduates)
After turning in an incredible performance in her show’s second season that I thought would earn her a place on this last year, Moore is now nominated for the first time, joining returning nominees Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia, and fellow newcomer Chris Sullivan. Moore manages to be very sympathetic in her submitted episode, which finds her having a tough time going through monumental life cycle moments without her husband. This is a competitive category, and I think she would have had an easier time pulling off a win last year.

Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri, Killing Eve (You’re Mine)
Oh, who has five previous nominations in the supporting category for “Grey’s Anatomy,” made history last year as the first Asian actress to be nominated in this field. She is also nominated for hosting SNL this year. She took home both the Golden Globe and the SAG Award this past year, and seems primed to win this prize too. Her submission of the season finale, in which she makes a crucial decision that proves to be very transformative is smart. Her biggest competition, honestly, comes from costar Jodie Comer, nominated now after being snubbed last year.

Robin Wright as Claire Underwood, House of Cards (Chapter 70)
This is the sixth nomination for Wright, who has now been nominated for every season of her show, returning to this lineup after her show took last season off. Being promoted to the only lead after Kevin Spacey was written out gives her a major showcase in a season that I personally hated, and her submitted episode epitomizes what I didn’t like about it. There’s supposed something clever about Claire playing into the role of the unstable, weak woman president, but I found this performance unbelievably irritating and I can’t imagine enough voters actually liked it to propel her to a win.

Who should win (based on entire season): Comer
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Comer
Who will win: Julia Roberts wasn’t nominated, and previous winners Claire Foy, Elisabeth Moss, and Tatiana Maslany aren’t in contention. This feels like Oh’s year, though costar Comer could snatch it away from her or Clarke could be rewarded if voters go nuts for her show.

Next up: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

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