Interestingly enough, there was a time when, before the actual nominations came out, voters would narrow down all the contenders to the “top 10″. They obviously don’t do that anymore. But…we can still assume which contenders are at the top of the voter’s minds. Before I release my official nomination predictions around early July, I am going to run down which 10 or so contenders are the biggest threats…and maybe some personal long shots that I believe voters should consider. Here we go!
(Yeah…I copied that opening paragraph from last season…deal with it.)
For more Emmy stuff, click here.
Here are the top Emmy contenders for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. In alphabetical order…
Similar to “Supporting Actor in a Drama Series,” this is also an especially tough category to pin down and I went back and forth with a lot of these contenders, but, ultimately, I chose a whopping 16 actresses I think had the best chance at getting a nomination this year. Here we go!
1. morena baccarin (homeland): PRO: Last year, Homeland surprised everyone by winning Drama Series and the two lead acting races. With so much momentum coming into this year, Homeland could probably pick up a few more acting nominations. Besides Mandy Patinkin, Morena has the best chance at benefiting from this momentum for her overall strong performance on the show. Her character certainly had a lot to do this season. Voters like these “wife of monster” roles (see Anna Gunn or even January Jones during her prime). CON: Besides an Ensemble Award at this year’s SAG, she hasn’t gotten any recognition for this role. It is hard for her to make a name for herself against the heavy hitters (Danes, Lewis, Patinkin) right beside her.
2. christine baranski (the good wife): PRO: A perennial Emmy favorite, she has consistently gotten nominations for various programs since her first (and only) win in 1995 for Cybill. She has received nominations the last three years for The Good Wife. Although, sometimes it seems like she’s (unfortunately) underused on the show, other times, she is given stuff to work with, including dealing with her law firm’s financial problems and considering a political career. There are definitely some stand out episodes she could submit if nominated. CON: It’s a toughie. After the show itself was left out of the Drama Series race, how long will the Emmys continue nominating TWO supporting actresses from a show they’ve stopped loving? Similar to what happened to Oh and Wilson for Grey’s Anatomy, I could see the voters dropping both Baranski and Panjabi in one cruel swipe.
3. rose byrne (damages): PRO: Although snubbed last year, she was nominated for the two eligible years before then. It being the show’s last season, Byrne could be invited back to the race, especially if voters watched either the series finale or “The Storm’s Moving In.” CON: Damages used to be a reliable Emmy force…but ever since it moved to DirecTV, only Glenn Close seems to still be getting notice, and even she’s not a complete lock this year. If Byrne couldn’t get in last year with Bridesmaids possibly working in her favor, I don’t much see her getting in this year.
4. laura carmicheal (downtom abbey): PRO: As the “homely” middle child, Edith, she had her share of ups and downs…and downs. In the beginning of the season, she’s preparing for her wedding. And then she’s dumped at the altar. And then she falls into a deep depression. And then she discovers her love of writing. And then she meets another man…and seems to be falling in love…until it’s revealed that the man is still married and is unable to get a proper divorce. This season, viewers were actually able to relate to Edith and feel sympathy for her at the same time. This is the first year Carmichael would actually deserve a nomination. CON: No previous nominations. No other work outside of Downton Abbey. Only her performance will help her…assuming the voters actually liked it.
5. emilia clarke (game of thrones): PRO: This is tough for me because I know virtually nothing about this show or her character. In fact…I can’t even remember her from the three episodes I’ve watched from previous seasons. So…I don’t know much about her character or what about her character that would make it Emmy bait. However, I do know that year after year people single her performance out and this year seems to be no different. She was nominated for a Monte-Carlo award last year and a Critics Choice Award this year. Maybe it’s time for someone besides Peter Dinklage to get a nomination. CON: I think after two seasons of snubs, maybe (because this is a fantastical world) voters just can’t take the performances too seriously. Maybe it’s the type of show where they appreciate the world and the direction and the writing and even the characters…but not necessarily the actors behind the characters (except “MVP” Peter Dinklage.)
6. michelle fairley (game of thrones): PRO: Same sitch as Clarke. I know very little. However…I did watch the last few minutes of “The Rains of Castamere” since everyone was talking about it. Clearly, Fairley will no longer be a cast member on the show after the episode, which could lead to some sentimental votes a la Jared Harris (this isn’t a slight against them of course.) Fairley also drew a lot of praise for her performance in the episode. I actually believe out of all the supporting female performances on the show, she has the best chance at sneaking into an Emmy race. CON: Does that mean I’m predicting her? I’m not sure yet. Like I mentioned above…voters seem to only appreciate Peter Dinklage.
7. joanne froggatt (downton abbey): PRO: Last season, Froggatt received a semi-surprising nomination for portrayal as Anna, a woman who is trying to fight for her husband’s release from prison. This season we saw even more of that. I can’t say I was terribly captivated by her story line (in fact, many times I found it a drag), but I still admire her performance. CON: She’s not going to get a nomination over Maggie Smith. However, if voters decide to nominated two actresses from the show again in this category, then she has a chance at repeating.
8. anna gunn (breaking bad): PRO: It took a couple years (and a switch to supporting), but Anna Gunn finally received a deserved nomination for Breaking Bad last year. Despite a shortened “half season,” Anna Gunn still had plenty to do, especially in her showcase episode “Fifty-One” (which I’m assuming will be her tape). CON: Do people still find the character unlikable? Or have we finally realized that maybe Skyler had a point the entire time? Anyway, I can’t really think of a “Con.”
9. christina hendricks (mad men): PRO: With three previous nominations, Hendricks has become sort of a reliable tent pole in the category. Mad Men does well with getting a lot acting nominations, and Hendricks has the best shot in getting into this category out of all the other actresses on her show that also submitted in this category. CON: This has been a pretty light season for Hendricks, especially compared to season 5. If she couldn’t win last year when she had at least 2 or 3 strong tape possibilities, she probably can’t win this year.
10. kate mara (house of cards): PRO: Buzz. A lot of buzz. Mara’s been in the business for a while (Brokeback Mountain), but this is her first really critically acclaimed role. Similar to Archie Panjabi when she was first nominated (and won), I could see voters congratulating the fresh faced Mara with a nomination, and maybe even a surprise win. CON: It depends on how well the voters will embrace this online series.
11. elizabeth mcgovern (downton abbey): PRO: She received a Lead Actress nomination a couple years ago when the series erroneously competed in “Miniseries/Movie.” Last year, she was passed on in favor of Michelle Dockery in Lead Actress in a Drama Series. This year, with her role becoming less prominent, she opted to compete in Supporting which, IMO, is a nice strategy and increases her chances. This season, from her husband almost losing the estate to her daughters’ marriage issues, she was the calming, American presence throughout the halls of Downton Abbey. Other times, we got some real intense emotion from her, like when Sybill tragically passed away. This was truly McGovern’s strongest season. CON: Did I say her screen time became less prominent? I meant, she has practically become a “featured actress” on the show. When Shirley MacLaine visited as Cora’s mother, you think this would be the opportunity to give Cora something to do and give her her own conflict. Instead, she was an afterthought during that whole debacle. Her limited screen time will ultimately be the thing that will keep her from a nomination despite, in my opinion, a great standout performance.
12. hayden panettiere (nashville): PRO: Nashville has become a breakout network hit, and Panettiere has definitely gotten some buzz and notice since the show’s debut. From dealing with a deadbeat mom to shoplifting to a marriage gone wrong, Juliette Barnes has become one television’s most interesting characters. And Hayden has played her well, becoming my personal favorite thing about the show. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe last winter. CON: While the ratings for the show are steady, Emmy buzz for the show has waned, especially with the introduction of newer cable shows. If the show doesn’t get widespread broad support, Panettiere will have a hard time making a case for herself alone.
13. archie panjabi (the good wife): PRO: She shockingly won the Emmy her first year, and received two nominations afterwards. People like Kalinda. They like how mysterious and badass she is. Panjabi also gives a great performance. Against all odds, she still received a Golden Globe nomination last year. CON: This wasn’t the best season for Kalinda in terms of story arc. The first half was pretty much a giant misfire in terms of her development. They (the writers) made things right by abruptly getting rid of her husband. But, with nothing to fall back on, Kalinda was pretty much given nothing to do for the second half. Panjabi tries her hardest, but this was not the best year for her character.
14. jessica pare (mad men): PRO: After failing to get a nomination last year for Lead Actress, she’s trying her luck in the supporting category. This may be a smart idea considering she was never going to get a nomination over Elizabeth Moss, and that it seems like in the Supporting Actress category, voters are more willing to nominate two actresses from the same show (this has been the case since 2006). CON: Pare does a really good job on the show, but out of all the regular female characters on the show (and this includes Sally and Betty), Megan is the least interesting to me. Maybe if she was dying by the end of the season, she would have a better chance.
15. monica potter (parenthood): PRO: This isn’t a show I’m caught up on yet (I’m still on season 1), but I’m so far impressed with Potter’s performance in the first few episodes. However, it is this current season that Potter seems to be getting a boat load of praise and buzz for her cancer story line. If the voters pick up on this buzz and maybe watch a few episodes from this season before making their final decision, I could see a surprise nomination for Potter. CON: Despite some heavy praise, Parenthood suffers when it comes to both awards and ratings. I have a feeling, despite all the praise, Potter will miss out. Remember when Zach Gilford got a lot of buzz for the fourth season of Friday Night Lights but was still snubbed? I feel like this may be the same situation for Potter. Parenthood just isn’t popular enough with voters…at least right now.
16. maggie smith (downton abbey): PRO: Let’s make this quick. With two previous wins for this role, everyone’s favorite witty grandma will be back again this year. She even had some nice (IMO, overrated) dramatic work in the episode where Sybill dies (spoiler alert!) CON: Fatigue? Outrage over her last win? Maybe?
Other strong contenders: Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), January Jones (Mad Men), Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire), Emily Mortimer (The Newsroom), Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy), Morgan Saylor (Homeland), Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men), Chandra Wilson (Grey’s Anatomy)
Long shots worth considering: Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad), Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter), Mary McDonnell (The Closer), Madeleine Stowe (Revenge)
Even longer shots I recommend checking out: Clare Bowen (Nashville), Megan Hilty and Debra Messing (Smash), Emma Kenney (Shameless), Katie Lowes and Bellamy Young (Scandal), Alison Pill (The Newsroom), Sara Ramirez (Grey’s Anatomy)