Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama
Just as its been for the last decade, this is a pretty crowded category, even with Robin Wright not eligible. One could probably expand the category to seven nominees, and still fill an entire category with deserving contenders. I find it very likely that Elisabeth Moss will be in her, and she has a chance of prevailing. But considering that are likely to be several nominees coming up for the last time, let’s see if we can give recognition to some of the better ones. With that in mind, here are my picks.
Christine Baranski, The Good Fight
The Kings have created some of the most memorable and powerful female roles on any system this decade. But Diane Lockhart has always been one of the strongest, the pillar of whatever version of the firm she works for, the grownup in the room. So when she goes through an existential crisis (no doubt mirroring the ones that millions of women are going through in America), it rocks the foundations of every viewer of the series. The fact that she continues to be the most fascinating attorney on her show and one of the biggest in TV is a tribute to her power. I’d like to see her win something, just once, for her work. I’ll settle for a nomination.
Claire Foy, The Crown
If anything, it was harder to be Elizabeth this season than the last one. As her husband betrayed her romantically, as she was dragged into the darker corners of her family’s personal lives, as she dealt with the struggle of becoming a parent again and growing older — hard enough for any woman, harder still when you’re the symbol of an empire in decline — Foy’s steely resolves and rare signs of vulnerability were remarkable to watch. This is Foy’s last chance as the prize for this series, but I have no doubt we’ll be seeing her again very soon.
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Yes, I realize the final season of this series was a long time ago in TV terms, but I also realize that the Emmy haven’t been nearly generous enough to this actress at the center of a clone conspiracy. And in the final season, Maslany managed to turn everything up to eleven. As the series in its final episodes gave much of the back-stories of the ‘sestras’, as they dealt with the collapse of the conspiracies that managed to take the lives of so many they cared about, and as they finally faced it down and managed to win, it made it very clear that Maslany is one of the great actress in history. She deserves at least one Emmy for every clone, but I’ll settle for one last nomination.
Mandy Moore, This is Us
One of the few people who didn’t get proper recognition from this brilliant series last year was Moore, who established herself as an acting threat. But considering what happened in Season 2 — as she dealt with the fallout of her children’s problems, as she dealt with the grieving process that haunts her to this day — it’s clear that she’s due for a nomination. And that’s without taking into consideration her finest hour — her magnificent performance in the reaction to the sudden death of Jack. If they don’t recognize her this year, something’s horribly wrong.
Keri Russell, The Americans
For once I’m hoping the general laziness the Emmys has in repeating the same nominee for consecutive years will work in Russell’s favor, as she seems to be in danger of slipping under the radar under other, showier performances. Watching Elizabeth Jennings deterioration as the years of spying, carrying on alone, and trying to train her daughter was a work of slow burn that was brilliant. As she realized, like her husband, that the organization she had worked her entire life for was corrupt, watching her do the hardest thing she’d ever done, and then have to keep doing it, was equally stunning. And in the final scene of the episode, as she faced a country she didn’t recognize any more with her family left behind, there came subtlety that I hadn’t expected from Elizabeth.. She’s earned it.
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld
I’ve been a fan of this great actress for nearly twenty years (my God!), but nothing could prepare me as she turned from sweet country girl to cold-blooded assassin, leading a rebellion, and willing to sacrifice anything — and anybody — in order to achieve her ends. But watching her relationship with Teddy spiral out of control, leading her to reprogram him, and then have to deal with his remembering that betrayal led to a scene that even those who have been watching Dolores since the beginning could not have seen coming, as we saw a revelation of her humanity that hadn’t been there. I don’t know what we’ll come in the Season 2 finale, but I know that Wood’s work is a highlight of great things to come.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Deuce
There are a lot of other solid contenders that could get another spot — action heroines Claire Danes and Krysten Ritter are the most obvious ones — but watching this criminally underrated actress play one of the more ambitious prostitutes in the history of — well, anything — was a level I’m not used to from this unconventional actress. As she moved her way into pornography, trying to come up with a relationship with her mother and her brother, and finally coming into a level of self-realization that you don’t expect from a David Simon series makes you realize this is the merger of actress and role that, even in the New Golden Age, doesn’t come around that often. I hope that among the more showy HBO and Netflix projects they find room for her.