Best Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series
Again, there are many good options — perhaps too many to sort of through. There’s a very good chance Lady Gaga, who won an upset victory at the Golden Globes, will get a nomination. It is my hope, however, that the problems with this incarnation of ‘American Horror Story’ will be ignored for several, subtler, performances. Here are some of my candidates.
Gillian Anderson, ‘The X-Files’
This is a little bit of a cheat, considering Anderson got four previous nods and one Emmy for her work in the series original run. But considering the general level of her work once again demonstrated why Dana Scully was one of the great characters in the lexicon of TV, I think she’s entitled. And considering the series featured her dealing with the world if her son had stayed with her and the moving hour when she dealt with her mother’s incapacitation and death, that was her wheelhouse when the show was on the air, and the Academy loved it then.
Kirsten Dunst, ‘Fargo’
As Peggy Blumquist, the Minnesota resident whose accidental hit-and-run sets everything that happens into motion, it would be easy to type cast her as some kind of addled blonde, considering how deluded she seemed to be much of the time. But considering her naive yet calculated performance as her actions spiraled out of control, still thinking all the while she would come out ahead, was one of the more ingenious pieces of acting. The Broadcast Critics already named her Best Actress, she’s almost certainly going to be on the short list.
Felicity Huffman, ‘American Crime’
As the prep school dean determined to keep her charge under control after a devastating sexual assault involving her basketball team, it would be easy to make her come across as the villain. Certainly many of the characters saw her as such. But just as last year demonstrated that there were many layers to the character she played, watching her deal with the consequences — including a school shooting where she narrowly missed being the victim — demonstrated why she remains one of the great actors of our time.
Sarah Paulson, ‘The People V. O.J. Simpson’
I’ve never been a real admirer of this actress’ work. But playing the horribly put upon Marcia Clark, the prosecutor who naively thought that the facts would be enough to convict her high-profile defendant, Paulson revealed something I had rarely seen in any of her performances before — subtlety. And watching her try to keep up with the media circus that surrounded the trial was one of the more heartbreaking elements of this exceptional series.
Lili Taylor, ‘American Crime’
So far left out of the discussion for the candidates for this category is Taylor’s work as a poverty-stricken mother whose efforts to get justice for her son after his assault lead to even greater tragedy than she ever imagined. But she’s always been one of the great actresses of this generation. And watching her trying to find some kind of recompense, despite everyone — including her own son — telling her to let it go was one of the most poignant performances of the TV season,. She deserves this nomination far more than some of the other candidates.
Kerry Washington, ‘Confirmation’
We’re so used to seeing her playing the ultimate Washington insider that it was something of a revelation to see her playing one of the most famous outsiders, Anita Hill. And we’re so used to seeing her act with such self-confidence, that seeing her shaky, uncertain testimony before the Senate Judiciary — just before her life would be shredded was something remarkable. I’m nowhere near her biggest fan, but she deserves a nomination here.