Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama et al
Would I have preferred to see Millie Bobby Brown or some of the deserving ladies from This is Us nominated? Of course. But all things considered with only one exception, this is a superb group of actress. I have a couple of overwhelming preferences in this category and there are some I’d like to see win because I admire their work. So let’s begin.
Patricia Arquette, Severance: 17–2.
For Playing: Miss Cobel, the disapproving department head at Lumon. For Her: I think Arquette is truly one of the great actresses in television history. I’m glad she won an Emmy in 2019, but I’d have preferred that she had won for her previous collaboration with Ben Stiller Escape at Dannemora. Just as she does here, Arquette disappears behind a hair cut and makeup and plays someone unlike her previous characters — someone in authority, someone untrustworthy, someone who when she appears as Mark’s next door neighbor you are automatically suspicious of and not surprised. No one at Lumon is trustworthy, but Cobel is fundamentally frightening at how brittle and uncaring she seems to everybody. It’s a master class of villainy and some of Arquette’s best work. Against Her: Arquette was one of the few cast members of Severance not to win an acting award at the HCA a couple of weeks ago. And there is a general consensus that there are younger nominees in this category who have a better chance. This will not be Arquette’s year.
Julia Garner, Ozark: 5–1.
For Playing: Ruth Langmore, the teenage associate of the Byrdes involved in their final act. For Her: Garner is, in my opinion, the only thing of any value in Ozark. I may not have been thrilled by both of her Emmy wins, but I understood why. For all the world-weariness we see in Ruth throughout the series, even though she’s lost everything she loved and held dear because of her association with the Byrdes, she has been their most loyal soldier throughout the run. Was it because of some desire to be part of the Byrde family instead of her own? She should have known better. Because when it came to preserving her life at the cost of their own safety in the finale, the Byrdes didn’t hesitate at putting themselves first. Her final moments onscreen — where she displayed the brutal realism she showed throughout even facing her death — are the kind of thing that typically wins Emmys. Its small wonder Garner is still the favorite. Against Her: In a major upset, Garner lost Best Supporting Actress in a Streaming Drama to Sadie Sink in Stranger Things, someone who wasn’t even nominated by the Emmys this year. Given that this category has far stronger nominees and many actresses who have won more awards the past year, Garner’s momentum may well be fading.
Jung Ho-Yeon, Squid Game: 13–2.
For Playing: Kang Sae-Byeok, the teenage pickpocket playing to save her family. For Her: Ho-Yeon was actually an even bigger upset when she took Best Actress at the SAG awards this year over Sarah Snook and Jennifer Anniston, among others. But if you watch the series, it’s no secret why she won. Kang comes off as battle-scarred and utterly unsentimental throughout the first half of the series, refusing to trust anybody in the game, not willing to help. Then when she is forced to play marbles with her life on the line, she has a conversation about the reason she’s here and what’s she playing for. Her opponent throws the match upon hearing it, and it scars her. She received a clearly near fatal injury in the next-to-last game which she does her best to hide. Seong, given a chance to take her life, does everything he can to save her and her inevitable death is even more tragic as a result because she was the only player who had a purely good reason for everything she did. Like the character she plays, Ho-Yeon deserves a win. Against Her: There are a lot of good nominees in this category, and several of them have deserved victory longer than we even knew about Squid Game.
Christina Ricci, Yellowjackets: 17–2.
For Playing: Misty, the busybody nurse trying to get the bottom of the blackmail scheme of her ‘friends’. For Her: You get the feeling the moment we meet Misty that this is the character that Ricci has been waiting her entire career to play. Wednesday Addams all grown up, this is someone the survivors utterly don’t trust and are inclined to believed the worst in. From what we see the young version of her do and what she does trying to help, it’s impossible not to think they’re right. Ricci utterly dominates the screen in every scene she’s in and we know all the horrible things we see her do — for good reasons — are the tip of the iceberg with her. Setting all that aside, Ricci has been one of my favorite actresses since I was a child and I really want her to win. Against Her: There are just so many great nominees in this category! Quite a few of whom have been acting as long as Ricci, some of whom are also currently child stars. I know in my heart Ricci will one day win an Emmy for Yellowjackets. It’s just not going to be this year.
Rhea Seehorn, Better Call Saul: 7–1.
For Playing: Kim Wexler, the brilliant attorney increasingly ‘breaking bad’ when it comes to conning her former boss. For Her: Finally! I realize the Emmys have a really hard time nominating the women in Vince Gilligan series, but did they have to wait until the penultimate season to finally give the breakout sensation of one of the greatest series of all time her first nomination? Of course I’m not biased when I say I want Seehorn to win the Emmy this year, and I don’t really have to argue that hard to give a reason. Like every character we met on Better Call Saul, Kim Wexler was not what she seemed on the surface. Initially a brilliant utterly ethical attorney, with each successive season she revealed her potential for darker exploits until this season she basically led Jimmy (her soulmate) in the out and out plan to destroy her former boss and mentor. None of us will forget the moment when, given the choice between helping untold sufferers and going forward with a con, she drove off the road to go on with the con. She did end up paying for it (oh, she’s earned the right to be the favorite for next year right now) but we will never forget any moment Seehorn was on the screen. I was over the moon when she finally took her first award for Supporting Actress from the HCA earlier this month (over many of the favorites in this category!) and I know momentum and the debt the Emmys owe her may be just enough to put the greatest actress I’ve met in years over the top. Against Her: Is all of the momentum (and the great buzz for the second half of the final season) enough to put Seehorn over so many of the other brilliant, earlier award winners this year?
J Smith-Cameron, Succession: 10–1.
For Playing: Gerri Kellman, the loyal put upon counsel for Waystar, reaching positions she didn’t think possible. For Playing: If there is any actor from Succession I want to see win an Emmy without any conditions, its Smith-Cameron. It’s not just that, in almost every scene she’s in, she almost always the adult in the room. It’s the fact that Smith-Cameron has been, quietly, one of the great character actresses working for years. (Those of you who read my original Emmy predictions are aware that I pushed for her nomination ahead of Snook’s.) Usually she plays quiet and restrained characters, as in her most famous role prior to this, the quiet mother of Daniel in Rectify, one of the quietly best series I’ve ever watched. She has an inner calmness and dignity that comes through in all her roles, and in a series where dignity is not a commodity, Gerri manages to hold on to it in the most trying of circumstances. Her character, in my opinion, is the only one who deserves to run Waystar. And I think Smith-Cameron deserves an Emmy for it. Against Her: Being restrained doesn’t usually get you an Emmy, and considering the level of outrage and obscenities that everyone else on the series is known for her, you can understand why it’s remarkable Smith-Cameron earned a nomination in the first place.
Sarah Snook, Succession: 11–2.
For Playing: Shiv, the daughter of the Roys trying to take what she thinks is hers in the struggle for power. For Her: Shiv is a character who started out with some principles, but was more than willing to shed them all and throw anyone — including her husband — under the bus to get what she wants. As much as anyone can be in this family, you get the feeling Shiv feels she’s the closest to Logan when it comes to getting Waystar and she does have his darkest qualities. Snook can often be one of the best reasons to watch this series and in the early stages of this year; she managed to lock herself as the favorite, taking both the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice awards. Snook would seem to be the outside favorite. Against Her: The fact that she lost at the SAG awards and especially at the HCA awards shows that the momentum may be soft. The fact that Julia Garner is still predicted as the front runner despite her awards means that she may never had had much to begin with.
Sydney Sweeney, Euphoria: 9–1.
For Playing: Cassie, a teenager increasingly finding herself in too many compromising positions. For Her: I may not like the characters Sweeney plays (we’ll get to this when he deal with The White Lotus) but the Emmys sure do. I’m less certain as to why her character got more love of awards shows this cycle then the rest of the cast (I’m just grateful Eric Dane wasn’t included) but it seems the overwhelming theme that followed her this season was betrayal. Betraying her best friend with her ex-boyfriend in the bathroom of a New Year’s Eve party. Refusing to come clean about her secrets time and again. Finally getting involved in a hysterical breakdown and brutal fight (that MTV considered the best of the year) and coming away with an uncertain future after the play. Sweeney showed a fair amount of range that demonstrates what a superb actress she could be. Against Her: I’m not going to lie here, while I can understand Zendaya’s nomination, if not agree with it, Sweeney’s is inexplicable based more on love for Euphoria than anything else. Compared to so many of the actresses in this category, she’s a lightweight.
PREDICTION: I think that there’s an excellent chance Seehorn will come out on this with an Emmy, based on past history. (Anna Gunn finally took an Emmy at this exact point in Breaking Bad’s) But I’m also aware there might be enough momentum for Garner or Snook to win. I’m rooting for Seehorn, but Snook might prevail by an eyelash.
As I said when it came to Best Guest Actor and Actress regarding the nominations last year, all of the actors and actresses are in series I can’t find the strength to care about. I do, however, care far more about writing and directing.
Based on earlier awards, I think that Best Director will go either to Severance or Yellowjackets. Considering that the Emmys tend to recognize spectacle over cleverness, it is likely to be the latter. I won’t rule out Squid Game, though, for that same reason.
As for writing, I really want it to go to Better Call Saul for the mid-season finale, but I am a realist and accept that it is far more likely to go to Succession, probably the season finale. Then again, considering the HCA gave this one to This is Us, the bells might not say that it will win.
Next week, I wrap it up with Best Limited Series. (Still not thrilled with a lot of the choices.)