Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Best Actress – Emmys edition

I am following the now yearly tradition of watching the episodes that the ladies nominated for Actress in a Comedy Series and Actress in a Drama Series have submitted – and judging (more or less objectively) their episodes, just like the regular Emmy voter does.

The first part of the judging is just my ranking based on MY preference (not who I think will win). Here we go:


1. Claire Danes, for Homeland (episode “The Star”)
My connection to the show: I don’t follow the show, but I was familiar with the characters, from previous Emmy submissions. This episode was the Season 3 finale and a surprisingly good episode.
The performance: It took me by surprise, because we all know Claire loves A-C-T-I-N-G, especially with this particular role, but the performance here was pleasantly underacted most of the times. She stayed true to the character, but without overdoing it, like she tends to do. Her performance was very effective, with the help of some damn good writing; expressing her insecurities about the baby was the highlight scene.

2. Julianna Margulies, for The Good Wife (episode “The Last Call”)
My connection to the show: I have seen every episode. It’s not my favourite show on TV, but I still enjoy watching it.
The performance: It was probably the best tape she could’ve submitted and Julianna does a fine, if not great, job, as usual. My problem here – and why I didn’t choose it as my vote – is that the performance in this particular episode is quite one-note. There is little range, just a lot of grieving – which is done effectively, but I couldn’t help wanting some more. Too much of the same thing (writing’s fault).

3. Michelle Dockery, for Downton Abbey (episode 4.1, which in fact is 4.1 + 4.2)
My connection to the show: I have seen every episode and I generally love it. I find it relaxingly snobbish.
The performance: I must be one of the very few people who get Michelle’s acting and see the talent and the work put into making it seem effortless. Let’s face it: the dialogue is tough and she gets some impossible lines (in this episode including), but she manages to deliver them so gracefully that I must give extra points for it. She gets 2 hours, but the 2nd hour is rather useless; the good stuff is in the first half and she gets right a series of tricky scenes that lead towards a nicely done crying scene. I approve.

4. Robin Wright, for House of Cards (episode Chapter 26)
My connection to the show: I don’t watch it. The only other episode I’ve seen was Robin’s submission tape from last year.
The performance: Last year she was my choice for the winner, but Claire won (as I predicted). Her tape this year, however, is underwhelming to say the least – she’s barely in it and her scenes make little sense for those who don’t follow the show. She gets almost nothing to do – I have her in 4th and not lower just because she’s stylish, sexy, tough and super-fierce, all which make me subjective. But really, there isn’t much to this submission.

5. Lizzy Caplan, for Masters of Sex (the pilot episode)
My connection to the show: I have discovered the show now, by watching the pilot. I have no desire to continue with the series.
The performance: Here is where I get even more subjective – this is a fine submission and she gets plenty of screentime. She’s talented, she acts well with what she gets, but there’s something (missing?) that makes me care too little about her performance and presence in this episode. It’s all nicely delivered, I just wasn’t too impressed.

6. Kerry Washington, for Scandal (episode “The Fluffer”)
My connection to the show: Another terrible episode from a really terrible show. Who watches this?! Awful.
The performance: Not much to say expect it was bad. Not only is the writing terribly weak, and she is surrounded by actors giving their worst, Kerry herself does a poor job this time. She delivers those pathetic lines by mostly overdoing it – too grandiose or giving them too much meaning. There’s no subtlety, just the same facial tricks and big words that fall flat.

Who do I think WILL win: It’s a tough-tough call between Claire and Julianna Margulies. I think Julianna might win, because everybody seems to dislike Homeland lately and The Good Wife is quite hot right now. If she doesn’t win, than Claire is definitely a close 2nd. I’m going to say Robin is 3rd, not based on the episode, but on her recent increase in popularity – I suspect people from show business like her. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lizzy wins, because her show has the novelty factor. Kerry is probably 5th and Michelle last (just because people underestimate her effort).


1. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for Veep (episode “Crate”)
My connection to the show: I’ve seen every episode and I do enjoy it.
The performance: This is a good submission for her, maybe even better than last year’s. She’s funny and, more importantly, she shows a lot of range, going from bitchy to sad, from reacting to disastrous situations to enjoying her victory moment. It’s all in here and she does an excellent job. That bathroom scene is now a classic.

2. Lena Dunham, for Girls (episode “Beach House”)
My connection to the show: You know how much I hated her submission last year. Needless to say, I don’t follow. Not a fan of hers.
The performance: No, hell hasn’t frozen yet. The fact that I am ranking her 2nd is proof of how weak this category is, at least judging from the submissions. But I can look objectively enough to say she’s good in it: not particularly funny, but less annoying that usual. She gets two big confrontation scenes and she does a great job delivering the character’s intentions and feelings. It was good.

3. Melissa McCarthy, for Mike & Molly (episode “Mind over Molly”)
My connection to the show: I don’t watch it, it seems a bit light on the writing front.
The performance: One of those cases where it really is hard to judge, since the highlights of the performance come from more dramatic scenes rather than funny. She opens with something of an SNL kind of moment that I didn’t particularly enjoy, but the 2 scenes about her father really ARE touching and well-acted. I still can’t buy the two leading characters as a couple, nor do I understand Molly’s breakdown, but that’s less relevant here.

4. Taylor Schilling, for Orange Is the New Black (episode “The Chickening”)
My connection to the show: I have seen this first season and I liked it.
The performance: I initially thought she might be a threat to win my vote, but then she submitted this. I think the pilot would’ve been a wiser choice, at least screentime-wise. Because it feels like Taylor is barely in this episode, with the other characters doing their own thing, often more interesting. She is eclipsed by Red every time they share a scene and overall she ends up looking just a bit whinny. Taylor does comedy well and I still like her, but this tape is not a winner.

5. Amy Poehler, for Parks and Recreation (episode “Recall Vote”)
My connection to the show: I don’t follow it. I’ve seen an episode here and there.
The performance: Maybe her worst tape for this role. The other storyline that doesn’t involve her (with the chair) is way funnier and more interesting; Amy gets some boring writing that’s never truly funny. She gets to play drunk, but it doesn’t really succeed and overall I felt like she didn’t put too much effort into it. Was there no better episode?!

6. Edie Falco, for Nurse Jackie (episode “Super Greens”)
My connection to the show: I don’t watch it. An episode here and there.
The performance: Talk about not funny. Edie is a great actress, but there’s no comedy in here and the dramatic scenes feel a bit like been-there-done-that. It ends up feeling boring and lacking any special element.

Who do I think WILL win: The only way Julia is losing this race is if they are really really really tired of giving her yet another Emmy (which I doubt). Her tape is the funniest, and also the overall best of the group. If they’re tired of Julia, I think they’ll go with Melissa, based on her popularity and the emotional factor of her episode. But this means they’ll have to actually watch the tapes. I would say Taylor is 3rd, based on the popularity of the show. Amy is probably 4th just because she’s Amy Poehler. Lena is 5th, since her show is not that hot anymore and Edie doesn’t stand a chance of winning.


Allen said...


I only ever watch comedies when it comes to television...but for the first time in years I haven't seen most of the nominees in the Actress Comedy category.

I love love Veep and JLD and she deserves all the Emmys. She always makes me laugh!

And I'm glad you warmed up to Lena Dunham a little bit. Her submission was alright though not really funny...there was this one other episode later in the season where she had me laughing my ass off, too bad she didn't submit it. And too bad you'll never want to watch it :P

Haven't been fully caught up on Parks yet as I've found this last season to be a lot less funnier than previous seasons....

And I don't watch OITNB, M&M, or NJ. Nor do I really want to. Gah

Alex in Movieland said...

Last year Lena had the episode where she's in the club with the gay guy and they're high and she finds out he slept with the beautiful girl. (Marnie?) It was a terrible terrible episode. Ugh. So I knew the show's not for me.

I'll say that because Lena has a less than perfect body, it affects the credibility of the show. How would that snobbish athletic gay guy (the one from Beach House) end up with that short, older, not-good-looking dude? :-/ [is Danny Strong the actor?]. That's absurd. AND the short guy is the top? Get out of here... :)
Had she not been frustrated deep inside she would've hooked herself up with a less hotter guy than Adam D.

anyway, back to the Emmys. :)

JLD should win. And OITNB really is as good as the buzz, so you could try it out.

Allen said...

I loved that episode!! But then again I love Girls and I'm not ashamed. The writing is definitely inconsistent in quality (and Beach House is one of the best of the season) but I find it to be a lot of fun and I just think it's funny and silly.

I gave OITNB a crack last summer and watched the pilot...it was too dramatic (I tend to not care for dramatic television) for me to carry on, and it's not like lesbians in prison is a subject near and dear to my heart so I've just put it on hold. Maybe if it dominates at the Emmy's I'll try it again :P

lralbright said...

Robin Wright submitted the wrong episode, she was phenomenal this season.