Disclaimer: I didn’t spellcheck and posted in a hurry. Sorry about that. :)
In a way, I am picking up where I left off last year, ranking the Emmy nominated performances for Actress in a Drama Series and Actress in a Comedy Series. As I do every year, I watch the submission tapes like any other voter does / should do. And I rank in order of preference, and after that: how I think the race will go down!My ranking:
1. Taraji P. Henson, for Empire - 4 stars
The episode & the show: I don’t watch the show, but I didn’t dislike what I saw in the pilot (Taraji’s submission). I hear it’s the best episode she could have chosen. Presenting the pilot to the voters tends to help.
The performance: It has the right amount of loud diva, strong female and also that touch of vulnerability, some tears and plenty of scenes where you empathize / feel sorry for the character / cheer her on. Although she doesn’t dominate through screentime, she’s the one to remember from the episode. The show loses strength when she’s not on screen. Feels like a winner.
Honestly, I am confused by the ranking from here on:
2. Robin Wright, for House of Cards – 3 stars
The episode & the show: The writing was too much on the nose. I am not a regular viewer of House of Cards, but it has a style that I like, visually that is. The secondary storyline in the episode was weak and confusing.
The performance: I feel like I need to explain this; she’s so up the rankings because I like Robin, I like the character, I still think she should’ve won for season 1... OK, that has nothing to do with it. Based on the episode: she gets enough screentime, she hits a couple of high notes in the last scene with Spacey, but only 3 stars because it needed just a touch more drama, a bit more emotion on her face. Everything is very (effectively) discreet.
3. Viola Davis, for How to Get Away with Murder – 3 stars
The episode & the show: My first time watching the show. It’s not as bad as Scandal, but definitely not something I’d care to watch in the future.
The performance: Here I feel the need to justify AGAIN – she is good, but I could see right through the performance, if that made sense. In a way, it’s the opposite of Robin’s performance – there’s little subtlety, it’s all either in the lines or on Viola’s face, who often overplays the emotions (and she gets an entire spectrum of them this episode). I preferred her last scene with her husband to all the courtroom / investigation noise.
4. Elisabeth Moss, for Mad Men – 3 stars
The episode & the show: I love Mad Men. I’ve seen every episode. I liked the finale A LOT and Peggy is one of my favourite characters from the show, if not from my entire TV watching life.
The performance: ... therefor anyone who knows me would be shocked she’s only 4th, in a gigantic 4-way tie. But truth is she had more impactful episodes this season. While she is good in the few scenes she gets in this episode, they feel somewhat unusual for her character, I was one who didn’t want the love story play out, because it didn’t feel believable. Elisabeth is good, but not impactful enough, it’s Jon’s episode.
5. Claire Danes, for Homeland – 3 stars
The episode & the show: I don’t watch the show. I hear she had better episodes this season.
The performance: Honestly, this could’ve been my #2 for all I know. Decided on the ranking on the spot. She gives her usual manic, yet solid performance, like she does every year, but it’s not as impactful as it was last year, and it feels a bit one-note: always in a rush. I think she should’ve won last year based on episode, this is more of a happy to be nominated tape.
6. Tatiana Maslany, for Orphan Black – 2 stars
The episode & the show: What the fuck was that? (aka: I never seen this before)
The performance: Because the episode was so damn confusing, the performance(s) got a bit muddy in my brain. I stopped caring, and then we got a really fine scene where a dead “clone” character (Beth?) comes back in a hallucination, and that was a scene of good, solid, dramatic work. But the material overall stopped me from enjoying whatever was happening.
That is my ranking.
Who will win? I see two front-runners: Taraji and Robin. Taraji has the submission and the buzz over Empire and the whole let’s make Emmys history buzz. Robin has the screentime and also the important episode, with social issues and big scenes for her character. Of course, Viola is 3rd, and she could very well win, but some won’t like the show. Elisabeth is 4th, Tatiana 5th, let’s say, because she might her some high rankings from die-hard fans, and Claire 6th, because by now I think they’re over rewarding her.
Reminder: the voters rank the performances, it’s not a pick a winner system.
And on the Comedy side...
1. Lisa Kudrow, for The Comeback – 4 ½ stars
The episode & the show: I am not a fan of the show, but I admire it. It’s uncomfortable for me to sit through something this emotionally painful. J I also hear she didn’t submit her best (the finale), which is always sad to hear. It’s a juicy episode nonetheless.
The performance: Lisa’s face is a national treasure: she is so expressive and needs no dialogue line to express exactly what we’re imagining her character feels (most of the times embarrassment, that is). The episode (and the series) is such a one-woman show and she delivers in every scene. I like her triumphant moment at the end, to show a bit of range and some optimism. It’s a performance that needs to be seen to be understood, and I sure hope the voters are paying attention.
2. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for Veep – 4 stars
The episode & the show: Veep is a show I watch and really like. She definitely submitted the right tape, the season finale.
The performance: In a weird way, I wanted to like it less, because I want Lisa to win (I guess most of us do), but I was charmed by all the funny scenes she gets to play in this episode. It’s the kind of comedy that brings almost sitcom-ish reactions and she’s funny and on point throughout the episode. The sharp screenplay helps a lot, and she delivers excellent lines with that great JLD timing.
3. Amy Schumer, for Inside Amy Schumer – 3 stars
The episode & the show: I have only seen clips on Youtube (but plenty of them). I was very surprised by how weak her episode submission was, to be honest.
The performance: As I said, I expected much more. There was not one particular skit (is that what they’re called?) that knocked it out of the park, but the one where she plays the invisible police detective justified the 3 stars I am awarding her. Other than that, it’s all only partly funny, and it feels almost partly-acted. Too much real life Amy in the episode, I guess.
4. Edie Falco, for Nurse Jackie – 2 ½ stars
The episode & the show: I don’t watch the show. She submitted the series finale.
The performance: Usually, when an actor/actress submits the series finale, they’re considered a threat. But this episode was SO dramatic, it has nothing to do with this category. Those who have seen the final scene will understand what I mean. Seriously: how do you judge it when you know it’s Drama?! For a dramatic performance, Edie gives her usual strong performance; other than a couple of tears, there isn’t a whole lot of range though. Category fraud.
5. Lily Tomlin, for Grace & Frankie – 1 ½ stars
The episode & the show: My first experience with the show. She submitted the season finale. It wasn’t good.
The performance: Maybe I don’t get Lily Tomlin, even though I loved her performance in Nashville back in the day. Her performance here felt forced, fake, that talk on the phone at the start of the episode was so clumsily acted/directed, you could tell it was faked, she didn’t even try to make it real. Her big scenes are the emotional ones towards the end, but even then it’s either Waterston or Jane Fonda who does the heavy lifting. I don’t get the show, nor the nomination.
6. Amy Poehler, for Parks and Recreation – 1 ½ stars
The episode & the show: I don’t watch it. Just like Edie (and Elisabeth in Drama), Amy too submitted the series finale. Not good.
The performance: I’m gonna get a lot of hate for ranking this so low. To me, the episode was bad and the performance just a series of reactions from Amy, in various, absurd situations that the screenplay places her in. None of the humour from throughout the series. It was just unintentionally sad. No need to get into it.
Who will win? Probably Julia. From then on, it’s almost anyone’s guess. I think Amy Schumer 2nd, based on the incredible year she’s had. Lisa is 3rd, if they watch the episode. Some say Amy P might win, based on a sentimental vote, but I have her in 4th because her tape is so bad. Lily T is 5th, but I wouldn’t be shocked if she wins. And Edie officially has zero chances of winning.
And that’s it. Let’s see how it goes.