BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Oh, it just keeps getting more and more difficult. Adding to the problem is the fact I don’t know what the deadline is for eligibility requirements. Tatiana Maslany deserves to repeat, but I’m not certain if she’s eligible until next year. Does Robin Wright fall within the deadlines as well? And does this mean that the Emmys will now have two opportunities to slight Carrie Coon? (Stay tuned to Limited Series/Movie to see.) Its always difficult to winnow the number of deserving ladies to six, but here are my best guesses.
Christine Baranski, The Good Fight
Diane Lockhart was one of the great creations of The Good Wife, her trials and tribulations often mirroring that of the series as a whole. And now, given the chance to be the lead, the Kings seem determined to make her suffer even more. But by now, as anyone who watched either series knows, what doesn’t kill Diane will make her stronger. The Emmys also have a habit of nominating actors who appear as the same character in multiple series, and she got six nominations during Good Wife’s run. A long shot, but I think a safe bet.
Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder
This series has been headed in a downhill direction for the last season and a half. But one thing you don’t bet against after an actress had the year that Davis did is against her. Giving an Emmy nod to someone just for winning an Oscar may be specious reasoning, but Davis is still the only reason to watch this show. And I have to admit, watching the episode where she dealt with her imprisonment in near total silence, only speaking to lash out, and the final episode where, as much as she possibly could, took responsibility for her actions, were powerful moments.
Claire Foy, The Crown
It takes a lot of prowess to play a real-life monarch when she was little more than a slip of a girl. It takes even more prowess to do it and show the humanity behind her. And this virtual unknown has managed to do so in a fairly stunning fashion. She’s already won the Golden Globe and the SAG award for Best Actress over some pretty potent competition. It’s going to take some doing for her to take the Emmy away from this group as well. But you never bet against the Queen..
Keri Russell, The Americans
One of the many, many acts of daring that this series has done is make the female protagonist in the series the more determined to stick to the agenda, with little sign even at home, of inner compassion. And that has been one of the great talents of Keri Russell as Elizabeth on this series. But perhaps even more remarkable this season was the fact that, in the last episodes, she managed to finally show a level of humanity that we weren’t sure she had, except in rare occasions with her daughter. The scenes where she finally admitted she wanted to end their tour, told a younger agent that he was going to be broken by this job, and finally told Philip it was time for him to retire were brilliant moments. If she gets another nomination, it won’t be for laziness’ sake. She earned it.
Winona Ryder, Stranger Things
There were a lot of good performances in Season 1 of this Netflix phenomenon. (Another performer who should be listed here may end up in a different category). But as Nancy, a mother convinced, against all evidence to the contrary that her son is alive — and the lengths she is willing to go to prove that he is — she was arguably as much the center of this brilliant series as those scene stealing children. She’s been languishing in Hollywood obscurity for far too long. There are a lot of great female leads for Netflix. Let’s honor her too.
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld
I’m still not a hundred percent convinced that this HBO series is anything ultimately more than smoke and mirrors, even if it is brilliant acted at times. But one can’t deny the overall force of the performances. And frankly, Evan Rachel Wood has been one of my favorite actress way back she was the youngest daughter on Once and Again. Watching her play a seemingly helpless farmer’s daughter replicant who turned out to have a far bloodier history than even she knew was one of the best demonstrations of her abilities in a very long time. The fact that she took the Broadcast Critic’s Prize for Best Actress last year would seem to demonstrate that she’s already in their thoughts/
Carrie Coon, The Leftovers
Alright, I know I said I’d hold off mentioning her till later. But damn it, her work on this series has been among the most quietly understated and yet very bitter performances. Determined to try and ignore the reality of the loss of her family because of the Departure has been at the crux of her character for the entire series. And in perhaps the most daring move of the entire last season, the series took its much anticipated final episode not with a bang, but focused almost entirely on Nora. It seemed like an alternate history for much of it, but the last ten minutes were centered on a monologue by Nora in which she finally seemed to reveal what had happened to the people who had left seven years earlier. It was a brilliant piece of TV that couldn’t have worked without Coon’s quiet presence, and for that moment alone, she deserves a nomination.