Sunday, August 21, 2011

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

If you’ve missed my ranking of the Best Actress in a Comedy Series, just go to the previous post. As always, these are the Emmy rules:

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:

Kathy Bates – Harry’s Law (“Innocent Man”)
Connie Britton – Friday Night Lights (“Always”)
Mireille Enos – The Killing (“Missing”)
Mariska Hargitay – Law & Order: SVU (“Rescue”)
Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife (“In Sickness”)
Elisabeth Moss – Mad Men (“The Suitcase”)

The only show I follow regularly is Mad Men.

This line-up is called Every vote counts.
To me, the first 3 performances are equally good and ranking them was very difficult.

MY ranking, based on the episodes:

1. Elisabeth Moss – Mad Men (“The Suitcase”)

The episode: I’ve seen every episode of Mad Men and I really like it. Elisabeth submitted perfectly, as The Suitcase is one of the best drama episodes of the past years. Sure, Jon Hamm is fantastic in it, but Moss is also very good and gets her own moments. I doubt she’ll ever get such a good chance to win.

The performance: I will have the same 4/5 rating for the first 3 performances here, so I need to justify why this is a bit above Margulies & Enos. What I liked most is the versatility that she shows, and which is completely favored by the writing. She gets to cry, she gets to be angry, she confronts Don in a scene we’ve waited for a long time (those who watch it regularly), she’s quite funny, she’s very empathetic, brings new stuff to the character and shows subtle emotion when remembering the child she gave up for adoption. It’s a fine piece of acting. And she always remains likeable. 4/5

2. Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife (“In Sickness”)

The episode: I don’t watch this, but this episode reminded me why I should. I can tell it’s a damn good courtroom procedural, with very well constructed characters. It was very pleasant to watch and it kept my interest all the way to the end. I hear she submitted the best possible episode, which has plenty of drama, tears & meaning.

The performance: As I said, it’s all here: terrifying news, betrayal, emotion, life-changing decisions, tears, scenes with kids… what it lacks (and Moss has) is a versatility in the character’s emotions. It’s not Julianna’s fault, she does convincing drama, but she’s so damn sad and depressed and depressing all episode – I liked what she does acting-wise, but I don’t love it, because in the end I thought maybe her character was exaggerating, I didn’t completely agree with the actions. 4/5

3. Mireille Enos – The Killing (“Missing”)

The episode: I don’t watch The Killing, and this episode wasn’t even about the victim so much. It was focused on Mireille’s character, the police detective investigating the crime who, in this episode, tries to find her own missing son. It was well-written and quite interesting. We see a lot of her character.

The performance: It’s a damn subtle performance; had she had one flashier scene, with the camera completely on her, then she might’ve been a bigger threat. I liked it, I really did, I think she carried the story nicely and beautifully showed the character going from bitchy to honesty, humility and a mother’s despair. However the screenplay wasn’t as demanding at all times. 4/5

4. Kathy Bates – Harry’s Law (“Innocent Man”)

The episode: Well, I can tell the show sucks. It’s pretty bad procedural, and it’s unusually kitschy. Kathy plays Harriet Korn, the tough lawyer, and in this episode she tries to get an innocent man out of prison. She doesn’t appear in the whole episode, and you can tell she’s above the material. Don’t know if this was the best submission, but she does get one or two key moments.

The performance: Unlike the show, the performance is subtle, intelligent and surprisingly quiet even in big scenes. Kathy is a great actress, and when the camera’s on her she takes control of every piece of dialogue; that being said, the screenplay could’ve helped more. Good effort, anyway. 3/5

5. Mariska Hargitay – Law & Order: SVU (“Rescue”)

The episode: Many are outraged by this nomination, that seems to happen every year. But guess what: this time she doesn’t have a bad episode. A Law & Order franchise episode rarely gets fantastic writing, this one doesn’t have it either, but it shows Detective Olivia in a nice, almost-maternal situation. Definitely better than last year’s submission.

The performance: She is not bad, and the episode starts with lots of potential for her character. Sure, it loses a lot of focus by the end of it, but Mariska gets a couple of good scenes, as she gets attached to the kid of a junkie, a boy that now lives with her. Maria Bello is a scene-stealer here, but Mariska can hold her own. Maybe not as worthy of a nomination, but she’s shown us worse. 2/5

6. Connie Britton – Friday Night Lights (“Always”)

The episode: It was the season finale of FNL, a show I’d never wanna see. The episode itself is a great one for Kyle Chandler, and just an ok one for Connie. As the wife of the coach, she gets to almost cry in a restaurant scene and raise her voice once or twice. As the ranking might show, I wasn’t that impressed.

The performance: What I remember the most is her Babe!, Realllly, Babe?, Babe? – and other variations of such, delivered in an annoying voice. I dislike the character, and Connie isn’t helping me much. She gets one or two ok scenes, but I completely forgot them by the end of a veeeeery long series finale. Must be some kind of a sentimental nomination. 2/5

Objectively judging their chances of winning:

1. Julianna Margulies – I actually had her as my favorite last year, and I predicted her, but she lost to Kyra Sedgwick (which had a great episode, and I called her the dark horse of the race). This time, I feel again like it’s happening, because she has a very flashy submission, she is popular, the show is popular and there’s lots of good energy around her. And she hasn’t won since 1995. But it’s a tight race.

2. Elisabeth Moss – Because she’s so damn good in her episode, and the episode itself is a classic. She has a fantastic scene partner and lots of screentime. And Mad Men will probably win Drama Series. It could all happen.

3. Mireille Enos – Because it’s a shinny new show, even though it didn’t score that well nomination-wise. She has a good episode, and she might actually be the dark horse of the race.

4. Kathy Bates – Not because of the show or the episode, but because she’s Kathy Bates, she has like 9 nominations or so, and has never won an Emmy.

5. Connie Britton – She seems to have her fans, but I really really doubt a win here. She should be happy she got nominated.

6. Mariska Hargitay – Not happening because most people really are over her show, and the tape needed to be fantastic to get noticed.

I think it will be a very tight race; I predict Julianna, but of course wouldn’t be upset if my Moss wins.

Last year I predicted a win for Julianna and didn’t happen – click HERE to see my ranking back then.

It’s a difficult one to predict, right?


Derek Bowman said...

I am embarassed to say that Harry's Law is the only one of these shows that I watch, and it is indeed terrible. It's really only worth watching see Kathy Bates be Kathy Bates.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...


Love this write-up even if it's Mireille, Elizabeth/Julianne. But those top 3 are fantastic, each submits well and I'm so with you on Julianne because I'm always second guessing my appreciation for her work because her character always seems a bit calculatedly overwrought. But they're all great. I'd prefer her to win to Liz because I prefer The Good Wife, I'd die of happiness if Mireille steals it - which won't happen but whatever.

And it SUCKS that Kyra wasn't even nominated. I know you don't The Closer but was even better than usual in the last season. Ah well.

dinasztie said...

I think Julianna is much better than Elisabeth but to each his own. :)

Alex in Movieland said...


yeah, I don't watch The Closer, but I sure take your word for it. it would've made more sense in context of nominations to have Keira and not Mariska.