I Try To Predict This Year’s Emmy Winners
Conclusion: Best Supporting Actress in A Movie, Mini-Series or Special
It may just be me but as long as I have been covering this category, this has always had some of the best performances on television and it is always difficult to pick a winner. Ever since Regina King went back to back for American Crime, the actresses in this category have almost always given the most fascinating performances. I haven’t always agreed with every choice — I’m still not sure why Merritt Weyer won over Penelope Cruz in 2018 — but it’s a great listing. And for me, this year will be agony because two of my all time favorite television actresses are up against each other and the most likely favorites. Here we go.
Renee Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton: 11–2. For Playing: Angelica Schuyler, the woman Hamilton loves and gave up. Pro: Goldsberry is an actress whose work I’ve admired for some time, and to be clear her performance in Hamilton is one of the more memorable aspects of it. Playing the Schuyler sister who was first in Hamilton’s heart but out of his reach, it was a truly heartbreaking role. Con: Like Daveed Diggs and Anthony Ramos, Goldsberry deserved to be nominated this year…for her work in Girls5eva. She was an Emmy favorite for giving an inspired comic and musical performance which is really difficult. And just as Rachel Bloom found out (over and over) it’s hard to get nominated for those kinds of roles. Was this some kind of guilty measure by the Academy? It does seem that way.
Kathryn Hahn, Wandavision: 69–20. For Playing: Agatha Harkness, the wacky next-door neighbor to Wanda…until we learn the truth. Pro: Let’s leave aside her performance for a minute. For the past decade, Hahn has been one of my favorite actresses in all of television. From her wry turns on Parks and Rec to her more accomplished work on Transparent to being the most unlikely MILF of all in Mrs. Fletcher, there is nothing Hahn can’t play. It kind of sickens me that she’s only received a single Emmy nomination to this point. Then you consider her work on WandaVision which she spent two thirds of basically tweaking the comic personas she’s played over the years — which was entertaining enough — until near the end of the last episode when we realized — and she got her own theme song — ‘It Was Agatha All Along!” Hahn has played many roles over the years but never a villain and I’m kind of astonished how magnificent she was. The world thinks so too: when you win awards from the MTV crowd and the HCA, clearly you have a wide group of fans. Add to that the wonderfully charming acceptance speeches she’s given, and it’s hard to understand why anyone who want to deny her an Emmy. Con: Hahn has spent her entire career (to this point, anyway) being overlooked and there are a couple of women in this category who could overtake her. I’m about to get to them.
Moses Ingram, The Queen’s Gambit: 13–2. For playing: Jolene, the orphan who grows up with Elizabeth and returns to her life at just the right time. Pro: I’m not sure I gave Ingram enough credit for her performance back when I reviewing this series the first time. Jolene was an important character in Elizabeth’s life in the first two episodes and it’s pretty hard to imagine she could’ve come out of her stupor if she hadn’t appeared to serve as a jolt to get her in the direction. Ingram’s performance was atypical for many of the performers — she was one of the few who always seemed to know what she was doing and always self-assured even if the darkest moments. Ingram deserves credit for that. Con: Just as I think the Emmys made the wrong call when they nominated Thomas Brodie-Sangster over Bill Camp, there’s a similar disconnect between nominated Ingram over Marielle Heller, who had gotten nomination for her work as Elizabeth’s doomed adopted mother. I’m not saying that Ingram’s performance was a bad one, but I do think the voters may think twice before they consider given the prize to a second choice.
Julianne Nicholson, Mare of Easttown: 4–1. For Playing: Lori Ross, Mare’s best friend who finds her family falling apart due to the case Mare’s working. Pro: Nicholson is one of television’s great actresses, full stop. I’ve been an admirer for nearly twenty years but I’ve been in awe of her for ten, ever since she started playing the most unlikely of roles in my favorite series. A female prosecutor going after Nucky Thompson in Boardwalk Empire; a pioneering OB-GYN in the criminally underwatched Masters of Sex and a widow trying to come to grips with her husband’s accused crimes and then the unspeakable in last year’s The Outsider. She’s been in everything from Ally McBeal to Law and Order: Criminal Intent. If I’m sickened Hahn has only one nomination; I’m appalled that this is Nicholson’s first. You throw that in with her performance here. In the early episodes, she just seems to have the thankless role of supportive best friend. But as the investigation deepens, we see that Lori is far more involved than she wants to believe. And when the final twist was revealed in the last episode, she gave one of the rawest performances of anger and grief that I’ve ever seen on television. Nicholson deserves to win an Emmy, and even I’m not wild about Mare as a series, I have no problem with her winning for it. Con: Hahn has gotten the lion’s share of the attention for the pre-Emmys awards and that won’t help. Plus, well, see below.
Jean Smart, Mare of Easttown: 5–1. For Playing: Helen, Mare’s mother who always seems to be in the way and counts her daughter second. Pro: I remember reading in the New Yorker earlier this year that Jean Smart basically owns HBO. It’s an exaggerating but considering her magnificent performances in this series and Hacks and her extraordinary work in Watchmen (in my opinion she was robbed of an Emmy in this very category), it’s not much of one. And if nothing else, Smart’s work more than shows the vast array of her talent: honestly, can you believe she played her and Deborah Vance in the same year? Like Nicholson and Hahn, Smart has always been one of TV’s most undervalued actresses; the main difference being, of course, she’s been underrecognized for much longer. And when you consider that the anger that was under the surface in so many of the scene’s she had with Kate Winslet and how hard it was to keep her secret, you know that this is the work of one of the great actresses of our time. Con: As everyone who read my article to this point knows, Smart is almost certain to win for Hacks Emmy night. I’ve been watching the Emmys for more than twenty five years; I have yet to see any actor win for two separate roles on the same night. And much as I love Smart and think she hasn’t received nearly enough recognition from the Academy, I just can’t see her making even more history than she already will
Philippa Soo, Hamilton: 7–1: For Playing: ‘Eliza’, Hamilton’s wife. Pro: Nope. Just as in Jonathan Groff’s case yesterday, I can’t justify this nomination at all, and I’m really not sure how the Emmys can either. The fact that Jessie Buckley, who gave one of the most remarkable performances of quiet evil in Fargo was overlooked for Soo is hard me to fathom. But seriously, you couldn’t nominate Ingram and Marielle Heller for The Queen’s Gambit? Hell, in hindsight Teyonah Paris or Kat Demmings for WandaVision were far more deserving than I made them out to be. Certainly they were superior to Soo’s. I imagine the Emmy voters are seriously going to need to take a look at how they do things if a nomination like this keeps coming up.
PREDICTION: My brain says Hahn will win. My heart really wants Nicholson to win. Hahn gets it by an inch, and her speech will be hysterical.
This concludes my extensive articles on the Emmys. I’ll have one more piece a little later on when I make my decision on writing and possibly directing for all three major categories. Otherwise, see you on the 19TH.