Inside Emmy: Handicapping Best Actress, Dramatic Series

by | August 17, 2009 at 2:58 PM | Emmy 2009

“There’s a lot of movie-star envy going on with the Emmys right now,” notes Alan Sepinwall, TV critic for the Newark Star-Ledger, noting a category that this year contains feature film veterans Glenn Close (last year’s winner in the category), Kyra Sedgwick, Holly Hunter and Sally Field. “Whenever a movie star descends into their medium, Emmy voters are into that.”

So who’s going to win? We’ll examine each of the six contenders.

Best Actress, Dramatic Series

GLENN CLOSE: DAMAGES (FX)

While She’ll Win: “Glenn is going to win again,” Sepinwall predicts. “‘Damages’ is a very old-fashioned kind of show, and it’s very appealing to Emmy voters.

Why She Won’t: Close’s win last year was somewhat of a fluke. Emmy voters tend to shy away from FX, which targets an audience that is younger and more testosterone-fueled than the TV Academy median. For his part, Michael Chiklis also won for the first year of FX’s “The Shield,” and that show was never heard from Emmy-wise again.

MARISKA HARGITAY: “LAW & ORDER: SVU (NBC)

Why She’ll Win: Hargitay won this category in 2006 and has been tapped six times all told for the role Olivia Benson. She’s clearly a TV Academy favorite and is a threat to win the trophy every year.

Why She Won’t: Procedural dramas just don’t win that many Emmys, especially going against the dense, layered characters found on cable.

ELISABETH MOSS: MAD MEN (AMC)

Why She’ll Win: Basic principles of natural selection: if Moss was good enough to beat out castmates January Jones and Christina Hendricks for the nom, then she’s definitely good enough to win this trophy.

Why She Won’t: This show has caught so much buzz in Hollywood, there might be a little “Mad Men” fatigue going on among some Emmy voters. And Moss is great on the show, but calling her a “lead actress” seems specious. Her screen time compared to leading-lady competitors like Holly Hunter or Kyra Sedgwick is minimal.

HOLLY HUNTER: SAVING GRACE (TNT)

Why She’ll Win: She doesn’t have much buzz, but she’s a big star and she was nominated already last year. Who knows.

Why She Won’t: Lots of reasons, starting with the fact that if Emmy voters are going to award a TNT show, it’s going to be “The Closer,” which is more popular… and just better.

KYRA SEDGWICK: THE CLOSER (TNT)

Why She’ll Win: It’s her fourth nomination in a row for the role of Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, the show and her performance were as good as they’re ever going to get last season, and it’s just time.

Why She Won’t: “The Closer” is a fun procedural drama with a lot more character development than most. But still, we’re talking formula here – Chief Johnson tries to crack the case, gets frustrated, frustrates husband Fritz, has an epiphany, forcefully convinces the “perp” not to lawyer up and to confess, then hits the sweets. Compare that to the complicated, almost cinematic acting tasks faced by Elisabeth Moss or Glenn Close every week. It’s apples and oranges.

SALLY FIELD: BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC)

Why She’ll Win: Fields, who won this category for the same role in 2007, is a proven trophy winner who’s a serious contender every time she’s nominated (hello, two Oscars).

Why She Won’t: Her show just might not have enough buzz to help her overcome cable competition including Elisabeth Moss or Glenn Close.