Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Best Actress Analysis: Special Emmy Edition – Episode 1: Comedy

I’ve been following the Emmys for a couple of years now and they are quite interesting because of their strange choices, because they are considered THE television awards and because of their voting system.

And, after seeing the pilot of Nurse Jackie, I’ve said to myself: why not rank the nominees from Lead Actress in a Comedy Series / Drama series, respectively.

To vote the winner of the category, you don’t have to see all the episodes from the season. Just one episode that the nominee submits. (that’s why it’s such an important decision). So, just like any other voter :P I’ve watched the tapes of the nominees and I am ready to judge.

Other info: Goldderby is the place for Emmy info, the ceremony is on 29th August and I am gonna post the Drama category in the next weeks.

Here are the nominees:

Toni Collette – United States of Tara (“Torando!”)
Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie (“Pilot”)
Tina Fey – 30 Rock (“Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – The New Adventures of Old Christine (“I Love What You Do for Me”)
Lea Michelle – Glee (“Sectionals”)
Amy Poehler – Parks & Recreation (“Telethon”)

This is how I would rank the performances based on the episodes, my vote quality-wise:

1. Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie (“Pilot”)

The episode: It’s the only episode I’ve seen from Nurse Jackie, but I found it to be both fun (on the smiley side, this is not a sitcom) and dramatic. In a strange way, it reminded me of the Mad Men pilot, especially the ending.

The performance: Edie Falco should have no competition, based on the episode submission. Her performance is just as good as in The Sopranos and I’ve just realized (and I bet many voters feel the same) how much I’ve missed her. She nails every scene in this rich episode, she gets all the screentime and breaks my heart at least once (in the scene towards the end where she almost kills the patient; that look on her face…). I never laughed outloud, but it was a touching witty performance. Loved it: 4.5/5.

2. Tina Fey – 30 Rock (“Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001)

The episode: 30 Rock is the only show out of the nominees that I watch regularly, so I’ve seen every episode. I think Tina Fey submitted her best tape of the season. The episode by itself is very funny, definitely one of the best.

The performance: It’s the usual Liz Lemmon (which is good enough for me) with a spin. The episode is mostly focused on Liz, who is on her (disastrous) way of getting her own talk-show. Tina gets to joke a lot about her character, as Liz goes through many humiliating transformations. It’s taken too far at times (of course: it’s 30 Rock!), but it worked for me, as I found everything charming. It IS the performance that brings most laughs. 3.5/10

(It’s all downhill from now on)

3. Julia Louis-Dreyfus – The New Adventures of Old Christine (“I Love What You Do for Me”)

The episode: 1990’s style sitcom nonsense. :) I’ve seen 2-3 episodes of the series, I’m not a fan, but strangely enough this episode wasn’t all that bad. Not good , but definitely a sit-through (unlike others I’ll mention).

The performance: Julia is doing the same Seinfeld thing she’s been doing forever, but believe it or not: she does get some funny scenes. I don’t know if her character is usually this bitchy, but she totally was in this episode when she decides to change her life, but then refuses her lover’s marriage proposal. There are also some effective scenes with a car dealer. All is ok, nothing great. 2.5/10

4. Amy Poehler – Parks & Recreation (“Telethon”)

The episode: It’s the only episode I’ve seen from this series, and definitely the last one. The writing is so bad, with just a couple of good one-liners and funny final credits, but it was painful at times. Amy is obviously above material, but the supporting cast really takes it down. The voters will find it painful to follow.

The performance: The writing kills Amy’s performance, because we all know she has the talent. She’s good as an ambitious woman trying to stay awake through a night telethon and dealing with all kinds of crisis situations. But she doesn’t have the dialogue or material in general to work with. Because I disliked the episode so much, it did affect my take on the performance. And also, I’m more into expressive acting and this role is more… abstract, her face almost never moves. Too bad. 2/5.

5. Lea Michelle – Glee (“Sectionals”)

The episode: Except for this, I’ve seen the first 2 episodes of Glee and I’m not jumping onboard with the phenomenon. I might be mature for this, even though I wouldn’t really use mature to describe myself. :) It’s just too cheesy. And the episode is the cheesiest possible; talk about bad episode submission.

The performance: As I said, Lea made a big mistake. She should have submitted the Pilot episode, where she got enough screentime and appeared in all important moments of the episode. She’s hardly in this one: a bit of dialogue at the beginning (nothing special) and then her big (all the singing is so out of place because it doesn’t seem believable) singing moment, Don’t Rain on My Parade. She sings GREAT, but the Emmy race is not a singing competition, and you hardly notice her on screen in the last 10 minutes or so of the episode. With the pilot she would’ve had a shot. 2/10

6. Toni Collette – United States of Tara (“Torando!”)

The episode: Except for this episode, I’ve seen just a couple of scenes from another one. The subject didn’t sound attractive to me. It’s a short, boring episode. That’s all I’m saying.

The performance: Toni is last year’s winner, but, despite what some think/predict, I really don’t see her winning again this year. There is nothing funny in this tape, not even a bit, a scene, anything. Her multiple personality character gets a new persona, of a psychiatrist and most of her scenes are bla-bla-bla talking. Mostly dramatic, nothing funny. She does get tearful eyes at one point, but with the lack of comedy or witt, I’m not seeing anything likeable in the episode. Where’s the buzz coming from?!

Objectively judging by their chances of winning:

1. Edie Falco (because she’s great and Emmy voters love her)
2. Tina Fey (the one with the laughs)
3. Lea Michelle (3rd based on general popularity for the show)
4. Toni Collette (just because she is past winner)
5. Amy Poehler (doesn’t have the good material; no scene stealer)
6. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (nothing new to the table; dying show)


joe burns said...

I've only seen Lea and I guess she was fine, but you're right, bad episode choice.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Ha. I love seeing this ranking because it's so different from mine. Having not seen any episodes from Collette or Dreyfuss I'd probably turn your ranking ipside down, though Poehler would probably win. It's her second best outing, but still hilarious for me and I love that show. Though I'll admit Lea isn't "lead actress-ish" in Sectionals I actually think it may be one of her stronger moments - it's more of a rounded character than earlier when she was just supposed to be all psycho. Tina's episode choice is kind of obvious and I've never been fond of her "acting". I find it fair but unexciting, and I still don't really find the appeal of Nurse Jackie, though I just saw the pilot episode.

Alex in Movieland said...

I've paid a lot of attention to Edie's acting in that episode and I thought she was great and VERY likeable. I don't see how she could not win. (maybe the fact that she already had 3 Emmys, but that's not a problem as it is with other awards)