Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series Or Movie
Perhaps the most fiercely contested acting Emmy category in a long time, no less than four Best Actress Oscar winners and a Best Actress Oscar nominee and Emmy winner go up against a relative novice in the awards game enjoying her first major nomination for anything. Who will come out on top in this tricky and almost impossible to call race?
In a key female role in the TV version of a film that won its star Frances McDormand the Best Actress Oscar 20 years ago, Carrie Coon as Gloria Burgle is the David versus a category full of Goliaths in terms of awards and fame. She is critically acclaimed for the role and has landed her first Emmy nomination in an intriguing contest where she might be the beneficiary if two pairs of Oscar winning stars manage to cancel each other out.
A former Oscar nominee for Best Actress, and Emmy winner for Desperate Housewives, Huffman has her third consecutive—and final—nomination in this category for the cancelled series American Crime. The unique angle here is she has managed to do this playing a different character each year in the anthology show and received perhaps her most acclaim yet this season. Will that help her break through against the juggernauts of Feud and Big Little Lies?
Big Little Lies
A Best Actress Oscar winner for The Hours and four-time nominee, three-time Golden Globe winner and ten-time nominee, and a past Emmy nominee in this category in 2012 for Hemingway & Gellhorn, Kidman is looking for her first Emmy win in a rare foray into television. The physical and emotional trauma she traverses in a complicated marriage is raw stuff not often seen on the small screen and makes her a real contender.
The statistics are daunting. A six-time Oscar nominee and two-time winner as both Best Actress and Supporting Actress, a 15-time Golden Globe nominee and five-time winner, and an eight-time Emmy nominee and three-time winner (twice in this category), Jessica Lange is a force to be reckoned with. And her portrayal of Joan Crawford in Feud could make her the rare recipient of an Emmy for playing an Oscar winner—that is, unless her co-star beats her to it.
A five-time Best Actress Oscar nominee and past winner, as well as a five-time Emmy nominee looking for her first win, Sarandon didn’t have the juiciest role of the two acting legends in Feud but she made her portrayal of Bette Davis remarkably human and poignant, while also getting to play the richest scenes in their recreation of the making of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Like co-star Lange she would be the rare Emmy winner for playing an Oscar winner.
Big Little Lies
Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning star Witherspoon landed her first Emmy nomination for Big Little Lies as Madeline, the suburban wife and mom who seems to be the community cheerleader on the outside, but who has her own secrets buried deep inside. As the most accessible of the quartet of female stars in the popular limited series, her portrayal is complex enough to be the sleeper in this category if she and Kidman don’t cancel each other out.
PETE’S PICK: Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies
With two stars from Feud, two from Big Little Lies, a two-time Emmy winner from American Crime, and another screen heavyweight in a rare TV role, this category is as rich as its Leading Actress counterpart. The big question is whether wonderfully comic Jackie Hoffman as Joan Crawford’s right hand and Judy Davis’s deliciously gossipy Hedda Hopper will cancel each other out for Feud.
Or does the same split occur between Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley in Big Little Lies, leaving the field open for a third consecutive win for Regina King playing yet another character in anthology American Crime? Or does Michelle Pfeiffer in an extremely rare TV turn as Ruth Madoff in The Wizard of Lies pull off an Emmy win on her first nomination ever? The winner is hard to forecast but I am going to take a shot on a force to be reckoned with.