The Best Actress in a Drama Series seems to be the more unstable category this year with show veterans having their nominations threatened by fresh blood in the field. In any other year such show veterans would be seemingly guaranteed their annual nomination, but this year has the potential for many of these actresses to lose out on their nominations due to various breakthrough roles. Those vulnerable who were nominated last year are Lizzy Chapman for her role as “Virginia Johnson” in Showtime’s Masters of Sex. The show has lost much of its appeal with voters since its first season and Chapman is likely to not see a second nomination as a result. Other actresses who may miss out this year are Kerry Washington for ABC’s Scandal and Michelle Dockery for PBS’ Downton Abbey. In recent years many pundits have downplayed Washington and Dockery’s Emmy chances, but is this the year they are finally accurate in their predictions?
There are three actresses from last year who are guaranteed their nominations. The first would be last year’s winner, Julianna Margulies for CBS’ The Good Wife. Robin Wright seems a sure bet with her role as “Claire Underwood” in Netflix’s House of Cards. The last is Claire Danes for her role in Showtime’s Homeland, yet she has the potential of being snubbed this year due to the show’s decreasing popularity. However, Danes is a favorite with voters and that may be enough to keep her afloat with another nomination this year.
Former nominees also may find themselves having another shot at being nominated once again. Elisabeth Moss may find herself with a final nomination with Mad Men if voters show enough love for her and the show. Vera Farmiga could potentially grab a second nomination for the lesser-known Bates Motel. Farmiga has gotten some of her best reviews this past year as “Norma Bates,” which the voters may feel is worthy of nominating. Katey Sagal, too, has gotten some of her best reviews for her performance as “Gemma Morrow” on FX’s Sons of Anarchy. Sagal has been repeatedly ignored by the Academy over the years, but perhaps a nomination for her could potentially honor the popular FX show. Another possibility is Tatiana Maslany as “Sarah Manning” on BBC’s Orphan Black. Maslany was expected to be nominated for her highly versatile performance last year with the show’s first season, which had most pundits and fans stumped as to why when she wasn’t. It can be speculated that this was because Orphan Black wasn’t at the forefront of voters’ mind when selecting their nominees,opting out for more popular shows. Maslany could see herself nominated this year to remedy her snub from last year, but also because she offered a stunning and complex performance that is hard to ignore.
The nominees with better odds are from freshman shows who have loyal fan bases. Viola Davis’ turn as “Annalise Keating” in ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder is likely to get nominated, especially after her SAG win for the role earlier this year. Ruth Wilson’s performance as “Alison Bailey” in Showtime’s The Affair also seems a likely nomination after her Golden Globe win back in January. Also likely is Taraji P. Henson’s performance as “Cookie Lyon” in FOX’s Empire, whose performance has been praised by fans and critics alike. However, the one outlier that could upset these three actresses’ chances of being nominated is Taylor Schilling’s performance as “Piper Chapman” in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. Schilling was nominated the previous year for Best Actress, but in the comedy category. This year Schilling is finding herself in competition with some stiff dramatic performances and this could easily hurt her chances of being nominated. However, if the voters embrace Orange is the New Black with open arms going into the nomination process, Schilling could see herself nominated, much to the chagrin of another actress.
Below are Dan’s predictions for Best Actress in a Drama Series:
1. Viola Davis – “How to Get Away with Murder”
2. Ruth Wilson – “The Affair”
3. Julianna Margulies – “The Good Wife”
4. Tarji P. Henson – “Empire”
5. Robin Wright – “House of Cards”
6. Claire Danes – “Homeland”
Spoiler: Taylor Schilling – “Orange is the New Black” or Elisabeth Moss – “Mad Men”
Long Shot: Vera Farmiga – “Bates Motel”