Saturday, August 20, 2011

Best Actress: Special Emmy Edition – Episode 1: Comedy

It’s the 2nd year I’m watching the episodes and putting up my ranking and my predictions. It’s fun, and not difficult to do. I’m posting again the rules from last year, as it’s important to know that the voters see just one episode, and not the series:

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.

Here are the nominees:

Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie (“Rat Falls”)
Tina Fey – 30 Rock (“Double-Edged Sword”)
Laura Linney – The Big C (“Pilot”)
Melissa McCarthy – Mike & Molly (“First Date”)
Martha Plimpton – Raising Hope (“Say Cheese”)
Amy Poehler – Parks & Recreation (“Flu Season”)

The only show I follow regularly is 30 Rock.
This line-up is called Laura Linney & the rest of the girls.

MY ranking, based on the episodes:

1. Laura Linney – The Big C (“Pilot”)

The episode: It was one good piece of dramedy: very good character introduction, even though the subject is a bit depressing for me to wanna follow the series. Laura plays a woman diagnosed with untreatable cancer, who decides to have a less tragic perspective on the disease.

The performance: Laura Linney is FANTASTIC. She’s in every scene of the episode and it’s a great showcase of what the amazing actress can do. She creates a very likeable character, she knows how to do sarcasm, gives a reassuring feeling of intelligence and is often funny. Her breakdown in the final scene with the dog is pure talent. 5/5.

2. Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie (“Rat Falls”)

The episode: I guess the episode was ok, nothing groundbreaking, and just as in the case of The Big C, it’s dramedy done well. Edie plays Nurse Jackie, the drug-addicted nurse with a good heart. In this episode, she’s dealing with a very depressed patient and a rat that’s eating her hidden pills.

The performance: I knew she’d probably never match last year’s episode (the pilot) that won her the Emmy. She was incredible in that… now, the writing is not that good and she doesn’t get one big emotional scene to fully win my heart. But she gives a solid performance, and you know how fabulous Edie is with those quiet scenes. She also does sarcasm very well, really knows the character and it’s a subtle, yet solid performance. 4/5.

3. Tina Fey – 30 Rock (“Double-Edged Sword”)

The episode: It so happens it’s one of the two best episodes of the past season of 30 Rock. It’s funny as hell, but only half of that because of Tina. Most of my love went for the scenes with Alec Baldwin & Elizabeth Banks, but Tina & Matt Damon do a great job on their side. Tina, of course, plays Liz Lemon, headwriter for a weekly variety show. In this episode she has a conflict on the plane with her boyfriend, who’s the actual pilot. It’s hilarious.

The performance: The fact that it’s so well-written helps a lot. Tina IS Liz Lemon and her performance here is showier that usual, which is good for an Emmy submission. She goes from trying to play the nice girlfriend, to her usual stubborn-self; the exaggerated situations she deals with on the plane are the perfect platform for Tina to play a very overwhelmed Liz. It’s the best performance coming from the submitted sitcoms. 3.5/5.

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

The episode: I actually saw it twice to make sure I got everything in. The parts with Amy Poehler and the scenes with Rob Lowe and the nurse-chick are fine, but the rest seemed boring. I’m also not sure it’s a great submission for Amy. She plays Leslie Knope, the small town public official; in this episode, she gets the flu, right before she’s suppose to give an important speech.

The performance: It’s subtle, that’s why I liked it more the 2nd time around, when I noticed elements of the performance that I ignored at first. It’s not my type of performance, I like them flashier, but you can tell she’s trying her best, and she IS believable, likeable and even funny at times. She has a fast way of delivering the lines, and she definitely elevates the episode – even though I still believe they don’t explore her full potential. 3/5.

5. Melissa McCarthy – Mike & Molly (“First Date”)

The episode: It’s the 2nd episode from a first season sitcom; which usually means it’s gonna be bad. But surprisingly, I didn’t find it awful – sure, it hasn’t gained much courage yet, the screenplay is shaky, but it could’ve gone much worse. Melissa plays Molly, a young woman falling in love with a police officer; in this episode, they have their first date, which goes wrong when Molly takes some crazy-inducing pills.

The performance: It’s meant to be flashy, and it is. I didn’t dislike the overacting, because Melissa is very charismatic and sweet, and there’s some emotional stuff behind the wackiness. I like it how she brings emotion to the character; sure, the writing doesn’t help as much, and the show still needs wings to fly, but it’s a sweet, touching, sometimes funny performance. 2.5/5.

6. Martha Plimpton – Raising Hope (“Say Cheese”)

The episode: I can’t believe I sat through this. I thought it was poorly written, with plenty dislikeable characters, lots of predictability and overused sentiments. Seriously, if this were a film, I’d rate it a 2 out of 10… Martha plays Virginia, a very young grandmother with an attitude problem; in this episode, she remembers the history of their family photos, taken every year.

The performance: Martha is an ok actress, but this role seemed very dislikeable to me. I hated this woman, thought she was a crazy bitch, and not in a good way. Partly, it’s the screenplay’s fault, but come on… Martha could’ve tried to make her not so ridiculously stubborn. Didn’t find it funny, nor emotionally endearing. 1.5/5.

Objectively judging by their chances of winning:

1. Laura Linney – because she’s so DAMN good, and the judges won’t ignore that. They like her, they like dramedy, and it’s the pilot episode with a very good character introduction.

2. Amy Poehler – because it’s Amy Poehler and she’s very popular in the industry. The show gained a lot of buzz lately, she’s never won an Emmy and many feel it’s her time to shine.

3. Tina Fey – because this is a very funny episode of 30 Rock and Tina gets to act next to Matt Damon, which helps (because she’s just as good as he is). It’s the best writing of the episodes submitted and Tina does it justice.

4. Edie Falco – because she’s last year’s winner, however she doesn’t have an episode as fabulous as that one. She also owns something like 4 Emmys, which is a lot.

5. Melissa McCarthy – I’m sure her role in Bridesmaids helped to gain the nomination, and she seems to be popular (really hard to dislike her). But I doubt they care too much about the show and the performance doesn’t feel like a winner.

6. Martha Plimpton – no chance in hell, because she’s so damn dislikeable in her episode. She tries to bring dramedy emotion, but can’t match Linney or Falco, not even close.

I think it will be an easy win for Laura Linney, if they actually watch the episode.
Last year I correctly predicted a win for Edie Falco – click HERE to see my ranking back then.

What do you guys think? Did you also watch the episodes?

Andrew, I know you like Poehler a lot, sorry I don’t feel exactly the same. :)


dinasztie said...

For me, it's Edie by a hair. But if it's between Laura and Amy then it's EASILY Laura. :)

Alex in Movieland said...

I blame that on you being under Sopranos influence. :) I've went thru that years ago. she's just not as good as she was last year in the Pilot.

Alex in Movieland said...

but I can definitely understand those complaining there is too much dramedy in this category.

if we'd be talking about pure comedy, then Tina Fey would win almost every year.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

It's Amy easily. I think her submission is brilliant (it's actual the submission I hoped she'd make). It is between her and Laura, and Laura will probably win but ah well.

dinasztie said...

That might be right but I loved Edie so much. :D "You f-ing rat!" I was totally taken by her subtlety. But as I said, Laura is amazing, too. :)

Alex in Movieland said...


well, as you've noticed, even if I have Amy on 4th of my list, I did admit she's the runner-up and dark horse for the win. It could happen, especially considering the Comedy Series nom for Parks, which clearly has lots of support.

Alex in Movieland said...


also, you say it's the right submission for Amy, and u've seen all the episodes... But to me, as someone who doesn't follow, it still feels like they don't explore full potential. I'm sure an episode almost all for herself and with a bit of emotion would help... help win the Emmy.

Anonymous said...

You have to remember how Emmy reacted to each nominee's show. The Big C and Parks and Recreation received 3 nominations. 30 Rock got 13. Mike and Molly got 1. Raising Hope got 2. Of these, only Parks and 30 Rock got nominated for Best Comedy. Emmy clearly favors those shows. And since 30 Rock had a dry year, I see this race weighed more towards Amy Poehler.

If you watch the remainder of The Big C's first season, you will see that the show plummets in quality and most of it is due to Laura. She's just not right for a weekly-installment type show. I think it's safe to not put all your money on her immediately.

Don't discount Plimpton. This woman is a veteran actress on a show that doesn't deserve her. She is LITERALLY the only watchable thing about that show. She's in nearly every scene of her episode, which is something that is important. She also has a devious, never-before-been-played role: a grandmother at 39. This new kind of role is something that voters may respond to, since they don't want to reward the stereotypical TV nurse (Falco) or TV girlfriend (McCarthy) anymore. Even the cancer patient character is starting to get old. These are things that you forgot to take into account, which is bad because they really affect the race.

The last thing I want to bring up is the overdue factor. Amy Poehler is a comedic icon who has never, yes never, won an Emmy. Martha Plimpton s a veteran actress with years of Broadway and film work under her belt. She too has never won an Emmy. With the exception of McCarthy, every other woman in this category is a decorated Emmy winner. This immediately puts Poehler and Plimpton out in front. They are simply overdue for wins. In reality, the rankings look more like this:

1. Poehler
2. Plimpton
3. Linney
4. Fey
5. McCarthy
6. Falco

I like your analysis of each category and I can't wait to see the rest. Just remember to take into account the history of each category as well as the people nominated for them.

Alex in Movieland said...

This is as far as I go on Emmy analysis :)

Plimpton a veteran? Plimpton second? never :) It's gonna be an easy win for Laura, with Amy as dark horse.

Anonymous said...

Plimpton is quite the veteran, actually. Prepare to be shocked:

She was in The Goonies.

She has been nominated for Emmy's, Tony's, and Drama Desk Awards. She has a career spanning many, many decades. When she's actually given good material, she blows the other nominees (yes, Linney included) out of the water. Name recognition is a big factor, and since many Emmy voters are retired actors, they probably know who Plimpton is.

If you'd like to discuss this with me further in private, just tell me and I'll shoot you an email.