This is Sarah Paulson’s year to finally win the Emmy she should have won two years ago for American Horror Story: Asylum. Only a major upset in this category will hold Paulson back from claiming an award she is due and has earned. Her role in Freak Show was not only pivotal to the plotline of the show’s fourth season, but it was also the most difficult role of the entire cast. Sarah Paulson had to convincingly portray Siamese twins with two differing personalities, aspirations, and motivations who had to co-exist side-by-side. This was a true achievement for Paulson to accomplish and she ought to be commended for it. Her submission episode, “Tupperware Party Massacre” showcases this style of acting Paulson incorporated into her performance that also includes a spectacular five minute scene where Paulson’s two characters converse with each other emotionally about the possibility of being surgically separated. This scene alone ought to give Paulson her award and it would be a true upset if she were to lose.
Yet there are never any guarantees, as evidenced by Sarah Paulson losing for American Horror Story: Asylum, a year everyone universally agreed she would take home the win, but ultimately didn’t. It is fair to acknowledge that Paulson does have competition that easily could pull an upset on her. Paulson’s co-star, Kathy Bates, submitted the episode, “Edward Mordrake, Part 1,” which is an episode that showcases her character’s vulnerability when she is diagnosed with a terminal illness and is additionally confronted with her past. Kathy Bates was the surprise winner last year, is well liked amongst voters, and easily could take home another win for her Freak Show work. The last Freak Show nominee is Angela Bassett, who was unfairly considered a surprise nominee in this category. Bassett deserves a place in this category, and would have been in a great position to pull off an upset if she had submitted the season finale, but she didn’t. Instead, Bassett submitted the episode “Show Stoppers,” which is an episode that barely captures any depth with her character or range with Bassett’s acting. She essentially threw away her chances with her submission episode choice.
Regina King’s polarizing performance in American Crime was another surprise nominee in this category. Her submission episode, “Episode Four,” showcases both the fury and manipulation of the character she portrays in the racial court drama. King’s acting may not have tremendous range, but the episode at least demands and gets the attention of the viewer, which could potentially work to her benefit. It is the opposite with Zoe Kazan, the last surprise nominee in this category for her performance in Olive Kitteridge. Kazan’s meek and restrained performance was the very embodiment of innocence in the limited series. Without ever having to try, Kazan’s scenes stole attention from the limited series’ main characters due to her fragile portrayal of a young newlywed who suddenly is confronted with a tragic circumstance. Kazan should not be underestimated at all in this category and if Olive Kitteridge sweeps at this year’s Emmys, Kazan may go along with the momentum to win.
However, it is Mo’Nique who may prove to be Sarah Paulson’s biggest competitor in this category for her stunning work in the HBO film Bessie. In truth, Mo’Nique is only in the film for a handful of minutes, but she utilized every minute she was on film as if she were handling a precious gem. Mo’Nique’s performance is the very definition in perfection in subtle acting by beautifully portraying her character as a mother figure to the film’s title character who encourages, yet also offered tough love to her protege. Additionally, Mo’Nique did her own singing in the film, which will undoubtedly sway some voters in her direction due to the tremendous singing talent she reveals herself to have. Mo’Nique’s singing had to stun viewers in order for her to provide credibility to her performance of being a mentor to the title character, and Mo’Nique did not disappoint in the slightest. Her blues singing was extraordinary to watch, which puts her performance at the same level of Sarah Paulson’s, which offers the possibility that she could win the award in this category over Paulson.
Angela Bassett – American Horror Story: Freak Show
Kathy Bates – American Horror Story: Freak Show
Zoe Kazan – Olive Kitteridge
Regina King – American Crime
Mo’Nique – Bessie
Sarah Paulson – American Horror Story: Freak Show
Will Win: Sarah Paulson
Could Win: Mo’Nique
Should Win: Sarah Paulson or Mo’Nique
Could Upset: Zoe Kazan