Week 3, Part 5: Outstanding Supporting Actress in Movie/Limited Series
The category I have the least problem with. Would I have liked to see some of the fine actresses from Little Fires Everywhere and I Know This Much Is True? Sure. But otherwise, this is a good selection. Interestingly enough, every actress in this category has already won at least one Emmy.
Uzo Aduba, Mrs. America: 9–2. For Playing: Shirley Chisholm, New York Congresswoman and the first African American to run for President, now being drawn into a battle for the ERA. Pro: Aduba has become one of the great talents of the new Golden Age (she’s already won two Emmys for Orange is the New Black) so there’s a certain justice to her portraying this pioneering Congresswoman whose name has already been lost to history. Her portrayal is a revelation for those who only know her as ‘Crazy Eyes’ and its easy to see that she could end up pulling an upset. Con: The fact that there are two of her co-stars in this category. It’s rare for someone to win an Emmy in any category with three nominees, and she has won before.
Toni Collette, Unbelievable: 4–1. For Playing: Grace Rasmussen, a hard nosed Colorado detective who begins a hunt for a serial rapist. Pro: From the moment we see Collette in the closing minutes of the second episode, we see one of the great portrayals of a policewoman in history. She knows the odds against catching the monster they’re chasing are remote — but she keeps pressing every single edge she can find until the end — and then backs away. There’s a lot less humanity in this character than so many of the others Collette has played, but paradoxically this leads to its strength. She won the Critics Prize for Supporting Actress, and it wouldn’t shock me if she won the Emmy. Con: Due to recent events, there’s been a backlash against the police procedural, even the real-life ones. Unbelievable suffered as a result, and its not hard to imagine Collette paying the prize.
Margo Martindale, Mrs. America: 6–1. For Playing: Bella Abzug, the memorable New York Congresswoman. Pro: If you’ve ever seen pictures of Abzug, you know there’s more than a passing resemblance between her and this incredible character actress of the New Golden Age. Martindale is one of those talents who can left depth to anybody (I put her down as one of the great actresses of the last decade) so when given a true character like Abzug, it’s hardly surprising what she can do. Never rule her out when she nominated for anything. Con: Martindale’s already won three Emmys over the last decade, and there’s probably a strong argument that this will end up working against her. Besides, she has the same problem as her fellow co-nominees.
Jean Smart, Watchmen: 18–5. For Playing: Laurie Blake, the former Silk Spectre, now part of the FBI anti-vigilante task force. Pro: Smart has played some hard-nosed characters before — most notably in Fargo — but nothing could prepare you for her work in Watchmen. Blake is completely sick of superheroes and vigilantes, she doesn’t have the patience for anybody, not even the plots she’s trying to unravel. If you know her backstory from the graphic novel, it’s completely understandable. If you didn’t, there’s still a lot to enjoy as she by far delivers some of the best one-liners and humor in a very dark series. She won the Supporting Actress prize from the Critics Choice (when Watchmen was still being considered an original series) and I find it very hard to see her not winning. Con: She’s been the front runner before in this category and lost to Regina King (of all people). Other than that, I can’t find a real reason she might lose.
Holland Taylor, Hollywood: 13–2. For Playing: Ellen Kincaid, a talent director for aspiring actresses in 1950s Hollywood. Pro: I’ve long since given up being surprised at the level of talent of this extraordinary character actress.. From the man-hungry judge in The Practice to the unlikely mother of Charlie and Alan in Two and a Half Men, Taylor has been able to show maternity and sexuality often in the same bit of dialogue. Nothing she does astonish me any more, and getting picked out from a fine group of supporting women hardly stuns me. Con: There was a lot of grief when she was picked over Patti LuPone among her own cast, and she’s got a lot of actresses against her. This is going to be a tough sell.
Tracey Ullman, Mrs. America:13–2. For Playing: Betty Friedan, the pioneering feminist in for the fight of her life. Pro: For those who know her only for her sketch comedy series, it always astonishes me what Ullman can accomplish when she’s given a meaty role to work with. And playing this incredible woman who can’t believe the character of the opposition she’s facing, you get a real measure of what she can do. Con: There were a lot of great female performances in this series, and Ullman, like her fellow nominees, was just a sample of what was available. And as a result, I think it’s like the three-way split will end up hurting them all.
PREDICTION: So who will get another trophy for their mantle? I’m betting its Jean Smart — by a hair.
Stay tuned next week when I wrap this up with some choices for writing and directing.