Sunday, August 21, 2011

Emmy Awards 2011 - Who Will Win in Guest Comedy Actress?

        In less than a month, the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards will be held hosted by Glee's Jane Lynch. These awards will reward the best in television this past year. Leading up to the announcements of who will win, I will be looking at all of the acting categories and trying to predict who I think will bring home the trophy.
        Today, I will be looking at the competition in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series category. 

The Nominees
     Elizabeth Banks - 30 Rock
     Kristin Chenoweth - Glee
     Tina Fey - Saturday Night Live
     Dot-Marie Jones - Glee
     Cloris Leachman - Raising Hope
     Gwyneth Paltrow - Glee

        Out of these six nominees only two have previous been nominated for these same roles: Fey (2009-2010) and Chenoweth (2010). Fey won in this category at the 2009 Emmy Awards. Three of these nominees (Banks, Jones, Paltrow) are completely new to this category. The final contender, Leachman, has quite the resume in this category. She holds the records for most nominations (8) and most wins (3). She won at the 1975, 2002, and 2006 Emmy Awards for her roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Malcolm in the Middle
        The winner in the category is determined by Emmy voters watching an episode each nominee submitted for consideration which they believe offers the best work they did this past year. Voters will then cast their ballot on who they think was the best.
        Just like Emmy voters, I have watched all six of the episode selections and my opinion will be based solely on how I think Emmy voters will react to the material in these episodes. Here is a breakdown of my thoughts. 

Elizabeth Banks: Episode "Double-Edged Sword"
     - She is really funny in this episode where she has to give birth to her and Jack's baby in Canada. I really do hope that there are no Canadians on the voting panel because she offers some real funny one-liners about them. Unfortunately, I am going to rank her quite low because in this episode her story is not the main plot and even when she's on screen Alec Baldwin always outshines her. The battle between Tina Fey and Matt Damon is the real highlight of the episode and although that helps them in their categories (both submitted this episode as well), it really hurts Banks' chances. 

Kristin Chenoweth: Episode "Rumours"
     - Her appearance in this episode is almost like blink and you miss her. Last year, her episode really highlighted her singing and comedic talents and she was an actual contender for the trophy. But, the writers clearly didn't give her as worthy material this time around. She does sing a song (which is always good) that sets up the theme for the overall episode but that's about it. This episode was funny but Chenoweth didn't offer any of the memorable moments and I didn't think her one-liners were all that funny. She was outshined by many of the other performers on the program. 

Tina Fey: Episode "Host: Tina Fey"
   - Hosts of Saturday Night Live usually have the upper leg in these categories because they have so much more screen time than the rest of the contenders. But unfortunately that shouldn't really play a factor here. Fey's best moments during this time as host were her opening monologue where she sings with the lovely Maya Rudolph about how great it is to be pregnant and the Republican debate sketch where she does her famous Sarah Palin impression (which already won her this Emmy in 2009). Those were the first two moments of the episode and set up the episode to be great but after that it went drastically downhill. However, I wouldn't quite rule her out of this category because she has won so many Emmy awards before for acting and writing that voters may just want to give her another one.  

Dot-Marie Jones: Episode "Never Been Kissed"
     - First off, I would just like to congratulate Dot-Marie on getting nominated in this category. In recent years, the guest acting categories have been comprised of the most famous movie stars who appeared on TV this year. During the nomination phrase, voters don't have to watch any episodes to cast their ballot which means they'll just check off the people they know. Jones isn't famous but it is outstanding that she touched enough people with her performance this year for voters to push her into this category. That being said, although I love her character, she really doesn't have a chance of winning. She is the vocal point of the episode but she doesn't offer a ton of screentime and really isn't the funny lady voters are typically looking for in this category. I love her dramatic speech near the end but it will not win her this Emmy. 

Cloris Leachman: Episode "Don't Vote for this Episode"
     - Emmy voters love repeating themselves. I think I've said that before and Leachman clearly is an Emmy magnet. She is the biggest wild card in this category. People may just vote for her because she is Cloris Leachman! However, if people were to just judge this category by the performances in the episodes, I would rank her quite low. This episode is a flashback to when Leachman's character was lucid with her memories and kicked the rest of the family out of the house. She is never really on screen for more than a minute and doesn't really offer anything memorable or extremely hilarious. It is touching near the end of the episode where she's sitting at the table waiting for her dead husband because it is the start of her present-day dementia. But, there just isn't enough substance to guarantee her another win. However, I have to rank her high in this category because of her name recognition but I do hope that voters take the advice from this episode's title. 

Gwyneth Paltrow: Episode "The Substitute"
     - When it comes to the Emmys, there is always that one or two categories were the outcome is pretty much guaranteed (ex. Betty White in this category last year). Paltrow's performance in this episode is that moment this year. She offers everything voters love in this category: great comedic time, hilarious one-liners, great presence in the episode, some dramatic material, plus she sings several songs. She embodies everything that a guest actor should do in this category. Her character is the focus when she's on the screen but she really doesn't take away from the rest of the cast. 

       In my opinion, in this category there are two big divides amongst the nominees: the bottom three, the two past favorites, and a clear frontrunner. Based on everything I have said here, I feel very confident that Paltrow will walk away with this trophy. If she doesn't win, I will truly be shocked. 

My Rankings
     1. Gwyneth Paltrow
     2. Tina Fey
     3. Cloris Leachman
     4. Dot-Marie Jones
     5. Elizabeth Banks
     6. Kristin Chenoweth