Sorry Sarah Paulson, you’re last year’s news. This year’s Limited Series Actress race is jam-packed with serious contenders.
By Joey Moser
Remember last year when we commented on the stuffed category known as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie? It turned out a moot point since Sarah Paulson spent most of her time these last few months snatching trophies, but it was refreshing to see a lot of strong work from many fine actresses. It’s only February and it appears that 2017 might have 2016 beat in terms of the number contenders (to be fair, anything beating 2016 in any form is a welcome thought) competing for this year’s prize in the Limited Series Actress race.
The Women Of Big Little Lies
We aren’t going to stop talking about the juicy HBO series any time soon, so just take a seat and let me gush over the cast of this remarkably addictive show. Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern are the holy trinity for me right now. I expect Dern to receive a hardcore Supporting Actress campaign, and Shailene Woodley might receive the same even though she’s one of the main characters. She might get pushed to the supporting race since both Witherspoon and Kidman are much bigger names (helloooo category fraud), but the entire cast is top-notch. Witherspoon is better here than she has been in some of her big screen projects (she’s loose, charming, and looks like she’s having a ball) while Kidman really grounds her scenes when her arc could have been a total cliche. Both women rightfully earn their buzz.
The Gaggle Of Feuding Starlets
You can’t talk about the Limited Series actress category without mentioning Jessica Lange. Thanks to Ryan Murphy (and, you know, her legendary acting chops), she’s received two Emmy Awards for her performances in American Horror Story. She has a slot pretty much saved for her for Feud: Bette and Joan where she plays Hollywood royalty Joan Crawford. The highly anticipated show is wall-to-wall actresses playing actresses, so this one is going to be a doozy (early word is that it’s an accomplishment). It’s not that Lange will go unchallenged, however. Susan Sarandon plays Bette Davis, and we don’t need to remind readers that Davis was the one nominated for an Oscar for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Sarandon hasn’t really had a significant role on a television series before, so her involvement is pretty big. A word to the Television Academy: have the balls to put both women up for lead Limited Series Actress. Don’t pull some bullshit and try to put one in Lead and one in Supporting. That would be a disservice to the story. Also, the cast features Sarah Paulson, Judy Davis, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, so don’t be surprised if Feud leads the limited series nominations (being a period piece with gorgeous costumes and sets can’t hurt either).
Third Time’s A Crime
ABC’s American Crime is the only limited series from a major network that can hold its own against its cable counterparts. After the critically lauded second season, John Ridley’s American Crime returns in early March with a cast of respectable performers. Felicity Huffman has been nominated the last two years, so she’s a threat to be honored again while we don’t know the size of of the other actresses’ roles (Huffman has been given top billing in the first main trailer). Lili Taylor, a deserving nominee from last season, will return as will Emmy winner Regina King. Sandra Oh and Cherry Jones also join this year. The trailer shows us that the third season will focus on labor issues in North Carolina, and it feels like it will land a definite punch.
Shots Fired Across The Bow
While ABC has cornered the limited series market for network television, FOX is throwing itself into the ring with the 10-part miniseries Shots Fired from Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood. When an African-American officer shoots a white college student, things start to fall apart in a small North Carolina town (sheesh, what’s going on in North Carolina). Sanaa Lathan plays a special investigator who tries to piece together the entire story, and Helen Hunt appears as a governor who is trying win a re-election campaign. Hunt is given top billing but listed on FOX’s site as a guest star, and that Southern twang is mighty inviting. Is Lathan going to get a push? FOX isn’t known for getting into the Limited Series categories at the Emmys (no performer for the network has ever been nominated in this category), so is it time for them to step up? Or is Shots Fired a more commercial play?
Give Her A Hand… And An Emmy!
Fact: Elisabeth Moss has never won an Emmy Award. We all should be ashamed of ourselves! Ms. Peggy Olson may have strutted down the hallways at the end of Mad Men, but she never managed to take home any gold for her role on the respected AMC drama. She returns to television for Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, and audiences are dying to see this one. Set in a dystopian future where men stripped women of most of their rights, and they use handmaids strictly for fertilization. Could these troubling times make Handmaid’s a huge hit and usher Moss (finally) to the Emmy stage?
The Big O To Land The Big E? (Ok, I’m done…)
Oprah Winfrey doesn’t need another Emmy (she’s won 10 for work on her daytime talk show and one Primetime Emmy for producing), but she’s never won for acting . With The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Winfrey stands a chance to get nominated for playing the daughter of the medical pioneer. It was adapted and directed by George C. Wolfe, and it stands a chance to be a front-runner in the TV Movie category (get out of here Sherlock). The cast is rounded out by Hamilton star and Tony Award winner Renee Elise Goldsberry as the title character, Courtney B. Vance, and Rose Byrne.
Surprise! More Moss! More Kidman!
The second season of Top of the Lake (titled China Girl) hasn’t been given an official release date for a US release on Sundance, but I just wanted an excuse to look at Nicole Kidman in that wig again. I can’t imagine that Elisabeth Moss would land more than one nomination, and it’s probably not within the window of eligibility. But, seriously, that wig. Yes.
I don’t think Lauren Graham will get nominated for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, but never say never right? Are Emmy voters missing Stars Hollow that much? They never seemed to care before…
Viola Davis For Every Category, Please
Davis made history two years ago for winning Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, but can she take another one home for Lifetime’s Custody? I’m sorry, I said Lifetime and threw up in my mouth a little bit. Excuse me. The plot of Custody is textbook Lifetime (Davis plays a judge who presides over, you guessed it, a custody hearing), but the film played at the Tribeca Film Festival to lukewarm reviews. Davis received most of the praise, natch, so maybe she can be the shining star from this drama? Or maybe she wanted a change from playing a devious, slick lawyer and wanted to sit on the other side of the courtroom for a change. Hey, if I can sit through Suicide Squad for Davis (here comes that vomit again…), I can check out Custody.
Awards Return For The Pfeiffer?
Sweet merciful crap let this happen. Michelle Pfeiffer, one of the most beautiful and underawarded actresses EVER, will play Ruth Madoff alongside Robert De Niro in The Wizard of Lies. Last year, we had the great Madoff starring Richard Dreyfus and Blythe Danner, but that didn’t go anywhere near the Emmys. Will she campaigned in Supporting? Is she only a supportive wife? All I know is that I need to see her at some awards shows pronto.