Sunday, September 6, 2020

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.

Alexis Bledel as Emily Malek, The Handmaid’s Tale (God Bless the Child)
Bledel is one of several performers this year to jump back to her original category. She won this prize for season one of her show then competed as a supporting actress for season two. Now, she’s back here for an episode that once again demonstrates the deftness with which she approaches the deeply traumatic events Emily must endure. Her show no longer has the buzz it once had, but she’s just as terrific as ever.

Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset, Orange is the New Black (God Bless America)
This is the fourth nomination for Cox, who was previously nominated for this role last year, in 2017, and in the comedy guest actress race for the same show and role in 2014. I suggested that her chances were minimal last year given that her show isn’t in contention for anything else, and the minimal and near-cameo nature of her brief return to the show definitely doesn’t merit her inclusion this year. That said, it’s her last chance to win for this part, which has been significant and trailblazing, and last year’s winner had even less screentime, so don’t count her out completely.

Cherry Jones as Nan Pierce, Succession (Tern Haven)
Jones won this award last year for barely appearing in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” her second consecutive nomination for that part, and she also won in 2009 for her supporting role on “24.” This time, she’s here for a more substantial recurring arc as the head of a rival company considering major business dealings with the Roy family. It’s a solid performance that holds up well opposite the rest of the cast. Only one performer – Margo Martindale – has won this award two years in a row, and Charles S. Dutton did it for two separate shows in guest actor. I think Jones is more than capable of pulling off the same feat.

Phylicia Rashad as Carol Clarke, This Is Us (Flip a Coin)
This is Rashad’s fourth career Emmy nomination after a nomination for this role last year and previous bids for “A Raisin in the Sun” and “The Cosby Show.” Even though there were a few serious contenders like Pamela Adlon and Jennifer Morrison who could have joined her, Rashad remains the only female guest performer from her show nominated. Her submission this year is terrific, showing how she interacts with her daughter and son-in-law both when she first meets Sterling K. Brown’s Randall when he is in college and when her daughter opens a dance studio in the present. If voters actually watch her work, she could win, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Cicely Tyson as Ophelia Hartness, How to Get Away with Murder (Stay)
This is the fifth overall and fourth consecutive nomination for ninety-five-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. Her submission is the series finale of her show, which isn’t nearly the showcase that she provided last year in an episode that focused much more on her. A win this year would be a tribute to the fact that she’s still acting at her age, which could very well happen.

Harriet Walter as Caroline Collingwood, Succession (Return)
This is Walter’s first Emmy nomination. She plays the ex-wife of Brian Cox’s Logan Roy and mother to three of his adult children, able to exert a different kind of manipulative power over them even though she rarely sees them. She’s good but doesn’t quite compare to the other actors in her scenes, and she’ll likely get a boost from her more significant and worthwhile role on another Best Drama Series nominee, “Killing Eve),” and the limited series “Belgravia.”

Who should win (based on entire season): N/A
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Jones or Bledel
Who will win: I think Jones repeats.

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