Monday, June 22, 2015

Emmy Predictions 2015: Who Will and Should Be Nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama Series?

Voting has commenced for The 67th Annual Emmy Awards. Until June 26, voters will cast their ballots for the biggest awards in all of television. And now, it's our time to predict on what will happen - and what we would really like to.

Next up for analysis is Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

The Nominees in 2014:
        Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex
        Claire Danes, Homeland
        Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
        Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife (WINNER)
        Kerry Washington, Scandal
        Robin Wright, House of Cards

All six nominees from last year are once again eligible. Not only that but Taylor Schilling who was nominated in the lead comedy actress field last year is competing in this category now. Plus, there are several high profile additions like Viola Davis from ABC's How to Get Away With Murder and Taraji P. Henson from FOX's Empire. That makes this race more competitive than ever before.

Before I start my speculation on who's mostly likely to pick up a nomination this year, I have to break down the rules for this post. First of all, my 6 picks are essentially the nominees I would select if I was an Emmy voter filling out a ballot. That means I can only pick the actors who submitted themselves for consideration in the field. Plus, I have to honor the Emmy's new rules regarding what classifies as a drama vs. a comedy as well as who is a supporting actor vs. a guest actor. As much as I believe Orange Is the New Black is a comedy and Shameless is a drama, I have to honor the way that the organization has decided to classify them. It's also fair to assume that some stuff that could be deemed spoilers for any of the following shows will come up in discussing an actor's performance on said show. And now, without further ado.....

My 6 Picks for Who Should be Nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama Series:
  • Eva Green in Showtime's Penny Dreadful: Nothing was more transfixing of the last year than Green's commanding performance on the Victorian period drama as the long-suffering Vanessa Ives. It was a powerful and central performance that was violently thrown on an epic and traumatic journey. Green brought so much depth and texture to the character that it was stunning to watch as increasingly worse supernatural forces conspired against her. That only made her acting abilities shine ever better - especially whenever she became possessed.
  • Keri Russell in FX's The Americans: The ice began to thaw somewhat as the personal stakes of the mission truly began to effect Russell's Elizabeth in a profound way. She was given strong and weighty emotional material to have to deal with. She dealt with the pending death of her mother as well as her daughter learning the truth about her identity and life style. It was a brutal season for Elizabeth but that only made Russell's performance better than ever.
  • Taylor Schilling in Netflix's Orange Is the New Black: Schilling's Piper is one of the more polarizing characters on the prison dramedy's deep ensemble. It was a risky venture to open the second season entirely from her perspective as she was taken on an extreme journey. And yet, that also led to Schilling's most powerful performance on the show so far. It was stunning and emotional in its deep uncertainty and Schilling excelled at all of it.
  • Lizzy Caplan in Showtime's Masters of Sex: Caplan's turn as real-life sex researcher Virginia Johnson was a strong career shift for her in the first season. She became even more compelling to watch in the period drama's second season - especially in the third episode "Fight" as she maintained her own sense of power and control while realizing the extent of her relationship with Michael Sheen's Bill Masters.
  • Caitriona Balfe in Starz's Outlander: From the very beginning, this epic drama was the story of Balfe's Claire as she went on a journey that she could never have fathomed during her time as a combat nurse. Under such intense circumstances, a great performance was born as the audience watched as Claire desperately had to find her way in this foreign, Scottish community. She ultimately found love again but that only created more personal devastation - and watching all of it through Balfe was phenomenal to behold.
  • Taraji P. Henson in FOX's Empire: Henson began stealing scenes as Cookie Lyon since her first appearance in the premiere. And her character only became more compelling to watch as the season progressed as she attempted to take control of her own life while trying to make amends with her family. It was a complex journey and one that was made wonderful to watch because of Henson.
  • Also in the conversation: Hayley Atwell - ABC's Agent Carter; Claire Danes - Showtime's Homeland; Viola Davis - ABC's How to Get Away With Murder; Lisa Edelstein - Bravo's Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce; Julianna Margulies - CBS' The Good Wife; Tatiana Maslany - BBC America's Orphan Black; Elisabeth Moss - AMC's Mad Men; Ellen Pompeo - ABC's Grey's Anatomy; Abigail Spencer - SundanceTV's Rectify; Kerry Washington - ABC's Scandal; and Ruth Wilson - Showtime's The Affair.

My Predictions for Who Will Actually Be Nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama Series:
  • Claire Danes in Showtime's Homeland: Danes continues to be a stunning force of nature in this role. The fourth season was a strong creative rebound that should keep her comfortably in this race.
  • Viola Davis in ABC's How to Get Away With Murder: Emmy voters really do love movie stars coming to TV. Plus, Davis commands the screen every single time she appeared on the drama's first season. It was a dynamic and powerful performance delivered with so much conviction that basically forces the voters to take notice. 
  • Robin Wright in Netflix's House of Cards: Name recognition has carried her to two nominations so far for her performance on the political drama. Despite increased competition, it's hard to imagine her falling off the list to make way for the new.
  • Taraji P. Henson in FOX's Empire: There is just so much buzz around Henson's performance on the music drama. It's been that way ever since the series began. It would be so nice and rewarding if she gets a nod - though it's not a certainty.
  • Michelle Dockery in PBS' Downton Abbey: So many of last year's contenders have the potential to fall of the list because of the increased competition. And yet, I still think that Dockery will stick around because voters love the prestige of Downton Abbey. Why? That's still not abundantly clear.
  • Taylor Schilling in Netflix's Orange Is the New Black: Last year proved that voters really enjoyed what the prison dramedy was doing. The move to the drama categories will certainly complicate things. And this final nomination really is up for grabs. In order to nominate Schilling, many deserving contenders have to drop out - including last year's winner Julianna Margulies! There are so many options that literally anything is possible. I think Schilling will have a presence in this race though.
  • Also in the conversation: Caitriona Balfe - Starz's Outlander; Halle Berry - CBS' Extant; Connie Britton - ABC's Nashville; Lizzy Caplan - Showtime's Masters of SexVera Farmiga - A&E's Bates Motel; Eva Green - Showtime's Penny Dreadful; Tea Leoni - CBS' Madam Secretary; Julianna Margulies - CBS' The Good Wife; Elisabeth Moss - AMC's Mad Men; Keri Russell - FX's The Americans; Kerry Washington - ABC's Scandal; Olivia Williams - WGN America's Manhattan; and Ruth Wilson - Showtime's The Affair.

Do you agree or disagree with my picks? Who do you think should be nominated in the Lead category this year? Speculate below in the comments!