Best Actress In A TV Movie/Limited Series
And this is the killer. I think that for this category to accurately reflect the level of talent, the Emmy judges may have to expand the number of nominees to seven, and even then a lot of eligible contenders may get either shutout or regulated to the Supporting category. What do you say to a category that will likely have four Academy Award winning actresses contending? There were many brilliant performances this year that trying to pick a winner is going to be even harder, particularly when you consider what’s about to be listed.
Carrie Coon, Fargo
There’s a very good chance that she might get regulated to supporting as well. But anyone who watched this multi-faceted actress (see The Leftovers) can’t deny the simple dignity of her performance as Gloria Burgle, the former chief who gets no respect from anybody, including her own bosses, yet who somehow managed to plow ahead and try to find justice for someone she cares about it in a world where not even her son seems to mourn the victim, where the world seems determined to turn a blind eye to her. I don’t if there’s room for her to return in the next incarnation of the series, but I really hope so.
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
There were a lot of great female performances in this series final season, and unfortunately the best may end up being farmed out to the Supporting category as well. (I’ll get to them in due time) But Huffman’s work as a wife who can’t turn a blind eye to the carnage in her family, who wants to get away from it, but who is dragged back in by her own addict sister, was among the most heartbreaking of a series of great performances. Huffman has always played the most different characters in each incarnation of this series, and there is no way that she will be ignored for the final one.
Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies
Each of the lead actresses in this series played remarkable characters, each one of them damaged in their own way. But by far the most wrenching portrayal was Kidman’s work as Celeste, the woman who had a picture-perfect marriage that was very quickly revealed to be the most abusive of the entire group, a woman who couldn’t admit even to herself how trapped she was to a man who was by far the most dangerous. I think any one of the three leads could end up the winner, but Kidman’s portrayal is the most unlikely to be ignored because there were far more dangerous levels to it.
Jessica Lange, Feud: Bette and Joan
Lange owes the majority of her career revival to Ryan Murphy, having already won two Emmys for appearing in his American Horror Story. Here, however, she got to do something even she probably wouldn’t have thought possible: step into the shoes of another Hollywood legend. Its very likely that she and Susan Sarandon will cancel each other, but playing the far more balanced Joan Crawford, she took an actress that has been regulated to satire and camp, and turned her into a real person again.
Susan Sarandon, Feud: Bette and Joan
Sarandon has been reviving her career far more subtly in the world of television, and playing Bette Davis, one of the greatest actresses and acerbic tongues in all of Hollywood, would seem to be an easy fit. But it says something that more than the makeup and anything else, her personality managed to take this far larger than life talent and turn her into someone human. Even though the Great Better would probably be appalled to be considered simply that.
Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies
Of the three great actresses in the leads in this series, Madeline was by far the character who gave me the most pleasure. Maybe it was simply seeing her channel a much older (if not more mature) Tracy Flick as a power mom, who can’t get over the fact that her ex-husband has moved on, even though she’s remarried and has a new child. She might be the catalyst of everything that went wrong from the first episode on, but the fact is, we did eventually feel a certain degree of sympathy for her, even though she really didn’t deserve it.
Shailene Woodley, Big Little Lies
I’ve been an admirer of Woodley for a very long time, but watching her play Jane, a relative newcomer to Monterey who has darker impulses on her mind then getting her son a proper education may be her greatest hour. Her character had perhaps the darkest path of anyone — having to suspect her own child of stark abuse knowing bad things about his heritage — and watching her try to find who might be responsible, not even knowing herself what she would do when she found the father was riveting. She’s the most likely of the three to get ignored. She really doesn’t deserve it.
Lauren Graham, Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
This is more of a Hail Mary because I know there’s no real chance for her to get a nomination. But come on. This is one of the great actresses of our time, playing one of the great characters ever created. She’s always been fun, and this may be the last real chance we get for some time to give her a nomination for anything. So pretty please? You honor Netflix for much lesser works. Honor for it a good one..