Saturday, August 14, 2010

Best Actress Analysis: Special Emmy Edition – Episode 2/2: Drama

In case you’ve missed episode 1 (the comedy performances), click HERE.

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.

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 that the nominee has to make). So, just like any other voter :P I’ve watched the tapes of the nominees and I am ready to judge.

And now getting to the Drama nominees, here they are:

Connie Britton – Friday Night Lights (“After the Fall”)
Glenn Close – Damages (“Your Secrets Are Safe”)
Mariska Hargitay – Law & Order: SVU (“Perverted”)
January Jones – Mad Men (“The Gypsy & the Hobo”)
Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife (“Threesome”)
Kyra Sedgwick – The Closer (“Maternal Instincts”)

Their performances in these episodes made me divide them into 3 sets: the fabulous (1&2), the very good (3&4) and the wtf (5&6).

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

1. Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife (“Threesome”)

The episode: It’s the first episode I’ve seen from The Good Wife and it was an interesting sit-through, considering I was familiar with the subject. Time flew by and in the end it proved quite enjoyable. I’m sure Julianna submitted well.

The performance: She is winning the Emmy because the episode has lots of Emmy-friendly elements. She gets to cry a bit, she portrayals the strong career woman but yet fragile in her personal life. She has a lot of screentime and a lot of likeability. I thought both she and Kyra Sedwick had great episodes, but Julianna is so pretty I just couldn’t get my eyes off her. Her sweetness combined with serious acting WILL bring her the Emmy. 4/5.

2. Kyra Sedgwick – The Closer (“Maternal Instincts”)

The episode: It was an ok episode as far as procedurals can go. It was not as boring as SVU and, although forced a bit towards the end, it had a decent story. I’ve only seen other 2 episodes from the whole series and I know Kyra usually rocks. I think she submitted a terrific tape…

The performance: … and the tape is so terrific because she does get a personal storyline, mostly not connected to the case. She has to take care of her niece and also solve a murder case. Her maternal instinct comes from her attachment to a teenager victim and she gets a wonderful, touching crying scene which would justify my idea. If there is a dark horse in this race, I think it’s Kyra! A very solid performance: 4/5.

3. January Jones – Mad Men (“The Gypsy & the Hobo”)

The episode: Mad Men is the only series out of these nominees that I watch constantly (actually, I LOVE IT!), so it was nice to watch the episode again. The episode is almost all about John Hamm’s character, but January does get a couple of really good scenes. And it WAS time for her to get nominated.

The performance: As I said, the episode is not about Betty, her character. But she gets a couple of very intense scenes, in which she confronts her husband with the truth: she had found out about his past! That scene where she goes with him to the desk is dynamite. It’s that look on her face, of anger, frustration, nervousness, anxiousness, shame (!) that just makes me rank her 3rd. She is terrific with the scenes she has. 3/5.

4. Glenn Close – Damages (“Your Secrets Are Safe”)

The episode: I’m sure Glenn submitted far better tapes in the past. I’ve only seen the pilot of Damages and another episode (I think) and lost my interest. This one is ok to watch and she appears in most of the episode (I admit I fast-forwarded a bit in the Rose Byrne boring scenes :P). The episode is quite tangled, but not hard to follow.

The performance: Glenn is always a thrill to watch, and she would’ve been 3rd in my ranking, had I not had a soft spot for Mad Men. She gets to express a lot of emotions with her eyes (she IS a fabulous actress, who could argue that?!), but doesn’t have that big Emmy winning scene, that I imagine one should have! Her character is quite emotional and nostalgic in this episode and her usual Patty in an interrogation scene, but no wow factor – just a solid performance: 3/5.

5. Connie Britton – Friday Night Lights (“After the Fall”)

The episode: Now here’s a tv series I’ll NEVER watch. The episode was boring and I know the show has lots of fans; I’ll never be one of them. It looked smart and ok made, but the camera work was distracting to me and Connie doesn’t get much to do either. Kyle Chandler seemed great, though.

The performance: I’ve heard a lot of people complaining over the past years that Connie Britton didn’t get a nomination and I’m sure they were delighted this year. I don’t know if she submitted badly, but boy was I not impressed. She gets 2 or 3 scenes in this: one is an argument with her husband but it’s very underplayed, one is a bigger setting the things right scene meant to be smart but it lacks the spark and then there’s a booing. Some are predicting her as a runner-up: zero chances. 1.5/5.

6. Mariska Hargitay – Law & Order: SVU (“Perverted”)

The episode: If the Friday Night Lights episode was boring, this one was interestingly ridiculous (!) Olivia, the big detective, is a suspect for murder, but the episode is soooo streched and outrageously convenient at one point that I can’t believe this is still on the air and successful. Waste of time.

The performance: I don’t know, Mariska is doing her regular thing (I’ve seen scenes from other episodes in the past), giving the same one-note investigative performance. The exception here is a final scene where she gets a confrontation with a killer from the past (who was framing her) and she gets to shout once or twice and that’s about it. Don’t get me wrong: she is never bad, but I’m sure there were many other actresses outthere worthy of a nomination. 1.5/5.

Objectively judging by their chances of winning: the following #1 is a lock, numbers 2 & 3 might get some votes, the other 3: no chance really.

1. Julianna Margulies (NO doubt about it: because she is popular, submitted a great episode and is on a wave of wins)
very difficult from here on:
2. Kyra Sedgwick (she’s the dark horse with a very good tape, it’s her 5th consecutive nom)
3. Glenn Close (initially #2, but she has already won 2 years in a row)
4. January Jones (good performance, but not enough screentime)
5. Connie Britton (I don’t care how many fans FNL has, the submission is not good enough)
6. Mariska Hargitay (she already has an Emmy and her tape is just boring)


joe burns said...

Very interesting post! Do you like the show The Closer in general?

Anonymous said...

"I admit I fast-forwarded a bit in the Rose Byrne boring scenes"

Of course her scenes were boring to you -- you didn't even get past the pilot in season three. Why would you care about the characters and the subtle way they interact with one another in season three? The fact that Ellen is trying (ultimately, in vain) to distance herself from Patty is very interesting to those of us who are familiar with their tumultuous past.

The fact that you state (as though it's a fact) that the Rose Byrne scenes are boring is ridiculous. It's okay if the show is not your cup of tea, but to criticize things you simply don't understand is just stupid.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say that you didn't watch past the pilot in season ONE.

Alex in Movieland said...

I think it's ok, but I'm not a big fan of procedurals. (I think Grey's Anatomy is the only one I watch due to its great first seasons, but Grey is hardly a procedural)

@angry anonymous,
you are missing the point of this post: I am experimenting what an Emmy voter does!!! I am watching the individual episodes focusing on the performance of the nominee! I don't give a ... what Rose Byrne does in this episode in her scenes without Glenn, because I am supposed to focus JUST on Glenn!
This is how Emmy voters do it.

had I analyzed the Supporting Actress Drama category (which Christina Hendricks will hopefully win), things would've been the other way around.

Anonymous said...

Friday Night Lights is a fantastic show. If you thought that episode (which is not one of the show's best but is still a solid installment) then I have to question your taste. Or perhaps you just need to become familiar with the series. It's one of the most acclaimed dramas of all-time and it's about so much more than football.

Britton didn't submit well. Ironically, the one season where she decided to go lead was the season where she didn't have a leading tape.

I'd be fine with Britton, Close, Sedgwick or Jones winning. Unfortunately, Margulies is the frontrunner. Nothing agianst the lady, but The Good Wife is an insipid procedural and her performance is dull and one-dimensional.

Flick said...

I think Sedgwick has the best tape, followed closely by Close (heh!). Margulies will likely end up winning, but if she doesn't she can blame it on herself for not going with the pilot. Connie Britton is a question mark. She's good (but quite sublte) in her limited screentime, but voters were sent the entire fourth season of FNL two months ago (which got her the nomination), so they may be familiar with her work regardless of the tape. Jones is solid, but that episode belonged to Hamm. And god forbid Hargitay ends up winning.

Based on their work for the entire season:
1. Connie Britton
2. Glenn Close
3. January Jones
4. Julianna Margulies
5. Kyra Sedwick
6. Mariska Hargitay

Based on the tapes:
1. Kyra Sedgwick
2. Glenn Close
3. Julianna Margulies
4. Connie Britton
5. January Jones
6. Mariska Hargitay (not that usually watch that crap)

Alex in Movieland said...


I guess you are the same angry anonymous from before :) you are free to question anything you want, but please do it in a less frustrated manner. This blog is all about chill/happy thoughts (even when criticizing), it's where I get to relax. I get my share of negativity and swearing somewhere else.

I don't know if we are talking about the same group of voters and I don't know if they were "forced" to watch those episodes back then. if those existed, they were FYC. In this case, they are signing (I think) and taking responsibility for watching the submissions. So I think in predicting a winner we can count on: - the tape + - the general buzz of the show (a thing that Lea Michelle will take advantage of, for example)

Flick said...

The only reason I think Britton is a darkhorse is because of the actual nomination. After three straight years of being entirely ignored, suddenly FNL gets three major nominations. Sending out the entire fourth season to voters was probably the main reason for that. Of course, the tapes submitted matters. But if that many voters watched the FYC DVDs and liked it enough to give a series with little buzz, a show they previusly ignored for three years major nominations then her work during the must have made an impression.

I know I'm reaching (I adore Britton and Jones for that matter). Margulies appears to be the shoo-in will likely take this no matter what.

dinasztie said...

I'm a huge fan of both Julianna and great Glenn, but right now I'm picking Julianna, because her work throughout the season was unforgettable and could be rarely seen on TV. It was so complex and the chracter development was excellent.