Jalal Haddad takes a look at the Supporting Actress in a Limited Series/TV Movie Emmy race in a series of posts leading up to the Emmy nomination announcement on July 14th. Over the next month, Jalal will be providing his own expert analysis in individual races and covering the top ten contenders in each category.
1. Jean Smart (Floyd Gerhart), Fargo
The buzz around Jean Smart as the crime-mob matriarch in Fargo last fall almost made it look like she might be one of the biggest locks of the 2016-17 Emmy season. Six months later, she is still a frontrunner for a nomination, but the buzz around her winning has disappeared. A combination of Smart not having a flashy scene or climactic ending with the indifference a lot of fans felt towards the finale pushed her into the background of the category. Smart does have an interesting history at the Emmys, winning when she shouldn’t have (Samantha Who?) and being shut out of a win when she deserved it (24). With no real frontrunner she can still easily win off of old buzz for the show and goodwill for her in general.
2. Melissa Leo (Lady Bird Johnson), All The Way
I was utterly bored with HBO’s All The Way, and I found just about every performance to be one-noted especially Melissa Leo’s portrayal of Lady Bird Johnson. The screenplay never gave her an opportunity to give audiences a fresh perspective on the former first lady and for the first time I found Lady Bird frustrating. With that being said, I would be shocked if she wasn’t nominated next month. HBO has successfully campaigned all of their recent prestige spring films and some of those nominees had a lot less material than Leo. If voters actually paid attention, they would ignore Leo and nominate Aisha Hinds for her small role as activist Fanie Lou Hamer. She gives the only honest performance in the entire film in a single scene, fighting to give her testimony.
3. Kathy Bates (Iris), American Horror Story: Hotel
Emmy voters will nominate Kathy Bates for just about anything. Over the past twenty years she has been nominated for her roles on Harry’s Law, Alice, Annie, Six Feet Under, Third Rock From the Sun, and Ambulance Girl while having won two Emmys for her work on Two and a Half Men and American Horror Story: Coven. It doesn’t matter to voters what the role is – they just love her (and who doesn’t?). Her storyline as a mother trying to save her drug addicted son with a supernatural twist is a lot more interesting than last year’s role as the bearded lady with a dreadful accent. Even though she will continue being nominated the show probably doesn’t have enough support to push her to a third win.
4. Regina King (Terri Lacroix), American Crime
Regina King’s supporting win was the most welcome surprise of last year’s Emmys. King has been working in television for decades on everything from comedies to dramas and even lending her voice to The Boondocks. Last year’s win has put her into the conversation this year for two different performances on American Crime and The Leftovers. Even though American Crime’s second season was even stronger the writing team struggled to keep King’s character connected to the main plot. Even without a standout moment I think the actors branch is going to fully embrace the second season and King will continue being nominated.
5. Connie Britton (Faye Resnick), The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
There is nothing I love more than an actor taking a small role, chewing the hell out of the scenery, and disappearing. It is no surprise that I obsessed over Connie Britton’s performance as the infamous Faye Resnick. She deserves a nomination alone for her delivery of “There’s no good time to find out your best friend has been murdered, but particularly not three days into cocaine treatment” while chomping down on a carrot. A lot of people have doubts that she will be recognized for such a small role, but Connie Britton is beloved amongst Emmy voters and The People v. O.J. Simpson is the television event of the season which makes another nomination for Britton very likely, especially since she is the only real supporting actress contender from ACS.
6. Sarah Paulson (Hypodermic Sally), American Horror Story: Hotel
Sarah Paulson is going to receive her fifth nomination in a row this year (and most likely her first win) for her leading performance as Marcia Clark, but she also might earn her sixth nomination in five years for her supporting turn on American Horror Story as the drug addicted ghost, Sally. She was one of the only universally liked elements of the underwhelming fifth season, and Emmy voters haven’t given any sign of moving on from the horror anthology. Sarah Paulson has become incredibly admired (at least in the blogosphere). Now that Lange is gone, she is probably the real face of the AHS franchise, so Emmy voters will most likely continue embracing her.
7. Angela Bassett (Ramona Royale), American Horror Story: Hotel
Ramona Royale, the former Blaxploitation actress and former lesbian lover of a vampire out for revenge, was probably the character with the most potential in the fifth installment of American Horror Story and she was everything I wanted in a campy television franchise. Unfortunately she wasn’t given that much screen-time throughout the season. That hasn’t stopped voters in the past. She has been nominated for the past two years in a row, and there is a good chance voters will make it three in a row. Part of me is hoping voters will nominate her so that she and her husband Courtney B. Vance can walk the red carpet as double nominees.
8. Anika Noni Rose (Kizzy), Roots
As well received as the Roots remake has been I have a lot of doubts in A&E’s ability to campaign individual performances from any of their heavily marketed miniseries (with the exception of Hatfields & McCoys). The remake probably came out to late in the TV season for voters to take the time to watch it and many older voters will probably dismiss it as just a remake. Rose plays Kizzy, the daughter of Kunta Kinte, a role that earned Leslie Uggams a nomination for the 1977 original. If voters put their bias towards certain networks and remakes aside, Anika Noni Rose has the best chance of breaking into the supporting actress race. She has earned rave reviews and has been campaigning all around town, even landing on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter with other members of the Roots cast.
9. Catherine Keener (Mary Dorman), Show Me a Hero
Keener’s performance in last fall’s Show Me a Hero was arguably the most interesting storyline in the saga of a public housing unit in suburban New York. To put it bluntly she was basically one of the only white suburban characters to learn not to be an asshole. Her performance is stronger and more prominent than the other performances listed above but most people have long forgotten the miniseries for some of HBO’s more straightforward and less thought provoking biopics. If Keener ends up getting the nomination she deserves it will be because of HBO’s ability to campaign just about anything to Emmy voters.
10. Queen Latifah (The Wiz), The Wiz Live!
With so many heavy topics being celebrated in the limited series/TV movie races some voters might find themselves wanting to nominate something more fun. The acting branch could easily surprise everyone with a nomination for someone from NBC’s televised production of The Wiz, especially since it is their most well-received of their recent productions. Out of all of their supporting actress submissions Queen Latifah probably has the best shot at a surprise nomination. She arguably the most respected performers in the group and her headshot stands out browsing through the Emmy ballot and some Emmy voters might feel they owe her another nomination after denying her a win last year for her performance as Bessie Smith.
Honorable Mentions: Olivia Colman, Uzo Aduba, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Cristin Milioti, Emily Watson, Mary J. Blige.
Readers, which six actresses do you think will be nominated come announcement morning? Are we completely overestimating or underestimating someone on this list? Sound off below in the comments!