Due to the quirks of the Emmy race, this category’s line-up is almost entirely different from last year’s. In what may be a first for a major acting category like this, only one 2018 nominee is back for the 2019 go-round. Some of this year’s crop have, however, been nominees in this category before; they simply skipped 2018. On that list we have a previous five-time nominee whose show was ineligible last year, now returning for its final season; a previous winner in her first season, who’s now looking to get back to victory with three more seasons under her belt, and a past three-time supporting category nominee enjoying her first lead nod for the same role this year.
Game of Thrones
Can Daenerys finally rise to the Emmys throne? After three supporting nominations earlier in the iconic series’ run, Emilia Clarke has graduated to the lead actress category for the show’s final flourish. It’s a role in which she has excelled and transformed over the course of GoT’s eight seasons and there is no reason to believe she won’t be recognized now for getting through it despite personal and professional turmoil along the way.
As Villanelle on Killing Eve there’s no question Comer’s a scene stealer, and in fact she already beat her co-star Sandra Oh to the BAFTA TV award. Comer gained buzz slowly as the series hit Season 2, and now has her first Emmy nomination. Unfortunately, she’s competing opposite Oh who made history last year as the first Asian nominee in the category. So can Comer upset, or will they split?
How to Get Away with Murder
In the first season of the ABC mystery series in 2015, Davis took the Emmy—the first African American ever to win in this category. She was nominated again in 2016 and 2017, but oddly, Davis was AWOL here last year, although she was nominated in the Guest Actress Drama Series category for her crossover role on Scandal. This year, she’s the only nominee to boast a previous win in this category. However, the competition is stiff, and a second win four years later might be an uphill climb.
When it comes to Emmys, don’t ever bet against Laura Linney. A past four-time winner, Linney has in fact won for every single role for which she has been nominated, including three wins in the Limited Series/Movie category. This is her first nod for Netflix’s Ozark after having been passed over for a nomination for the show’s first season. In Season 2 however, her role became increasingly complex and interesting. Don’t count her out.
This Is Us
If ever there was an episode that you thought would guarantee Moore an Emmy nomination, it was the Season 2 Jack Pearson death scenario. But when Emmy time came around, Moore was not on the list, just as she wasn’t for the first season. She has finally got what she deserves this year, earning her first ever Emmy nod. Perhaps she was helped by the fact there were so many open slots this time around, but nevertheless, she has earned her place.
Sandra Oh is on a roll here. Already the winner of a Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Award, and SAG trophy for this series, she now has her second consecutive Emmy nod for Killing Eve. Oh was previously a five-time supporting nominee for Grey’s Anatomy, so you might say she’s overdue a win. Plus, her SNL hosting gig earned her a guest star nomination this season. Can she overcome the presence of her Eve co-star Jodie Comer though, especially since Comer beat her at BAFTA?
House of Cards
Having been out of the game last year due to the series’ absence, Robin Wright now runs six for six, earning an Emmy nomination for every season of House of Cards in the juicy role of Claire Underwood. Considering the fact that she and the show had to survive and then thrive after the scandal-laden exit of co-star Kevin Spacey, a win for her here would be well-deserved. She also directed several episodes, including the finale, so that also ought to be worth some admiration from her peers.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
This one ought to be easy to predict. With four nominees from the same show—Game of Thrones—the law of averages says they will all cancel each other out, and that is a very possible scenario. However, with her fifth consecutive nomination in the supporting category for the role of Cersei Lannister, isn’t it just about time they give Lena Headey this thing already? I’m sure her nominated co-stars Sophie Turner, Gwendoline Christie and Maisie Williams would understand. Of those three, only Williams has even had more than one nomination, and that was three years ago. Should there be a clean split here, the beneficiary will be one of the two other nominees: Fiona Shaw in Killing Eve, who also has a Guest Actress Comedy nod for Fleabag, and the deliciously talented Julia Garner in Ozark. Toss a coin.
WINNER: Julia Garner, Ozark