Siz­ing up the dra­matic ac­tors.

Los Angeles Times - - THE ENVELOPE - GLENN WHIPP

With the new sea­sons of “Game of Thrones” and “Or­phan Black” ar­riv­ing too late to be el­i­gi­ble for this year’s Em­mys, there are seven spots open­ing in the drama act­ing cat­e­gories just be­tween those two shows. Add in last year’s sup­port­ing ac­tress win­ner Mag­gie Smith from the dearly de­parted “Down­ton Abbey,” and you have a forced man­date for change this year. Who will ben­e­fit? Let’s look at the four Emmy races for drama act­ing to see.


Elis­a­beth Moss, “The Hand­maid’s Tale” Claire Foy, “The Crown” Keri Rus­sell, “The Amer­i­cans” Vi­ola Davis, “How to Get Away With Mur­der” Robin Wright, “House of Cards” Evan Rachel Wood, “West­world”

Prime con­tenders: Chris­tine Baran­ski, “The Good Fight”; Claire Danes, “Home­land”; Mandy Moore, “This Is Us”; Car­rie Coon, “The Left­overs”; Taraji P. Henson, “Em­pire”; Rutina Wes­ley, “Queen Sugar”

Anal­y­sis: Ta­tiana Maslany won’t be able to clone her lead ac­tress Emmy as “Or­phan Black’s” fi­nal sea­son doesn’t pre­miere un­til June 10. But there are two im­pos­ing con­tenders to fill that vac­uum — seven-time Emmy nom­i­nee Moss play­ing a baby-mak­ing slave in “The Hand­maid’s Tale” and Foy, who won the Golden Globe ear­lier this year for her por­trayal of Queen El­iz­a­beth in “The Crown.” Both women de­liver ex­pres­sive, tightly con­trolled per­for­mances, though, ob­vi­ously, their char­ac­ters find them­selves in rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions.

Rus­sell, Davis and Wright — all nom­i­nated last year — should re­turn, and you can’t com­pletely dis­count the chances of Danes or Henson re­peat­ing too, as both women have strong fol­low­ings. And Baran­ski has 15 Emmy nom­i­na­tions, in­clud­ing six for play­ing the Diane Lock­hart role that she’s repris­ing on “The Good Fight.” She can’t be taken lightly.

That said, Wood’s lay­ered work in “West­world” was im­pres­sive and at­ten­tion-grab­bing, the kind of per­for­mance that’s likely to linger in vot­ers’ minds well af­ter the show’s in­sane sea­son fi­nale. The brain-teas­ing HBO sci-fi se­ries had its ups and downs in its first sea­son, but should have enough sup­port to earn sev­eral nom­i­na­tions, in­clud­ing one for its pow­er­ful lead ac­tress.


Chrissy Metz, “This Is Us” Mil­lie Bobby Brown, “Stranger Things” Wi­nona Ry­der, “Stranger Things” Thandie New­ton, “West­world” Samira Wi­ley, “The Hand­maid’s Tale” Uzo Aduba, “Orange Is the New Black”

Prime con­tenders: Maura Tier­ney, “The Af­fair”; Margo Martin­dale, “The Amer­i­cans”; Rhea See­horn, “Bet­ter Call Saul”; Aisha Hinds, “Un­der­ground”; Vera Farmiga, “Bates Mo­tel”; Cloris Leach­man, “Amer­i­can Gods”; Con­stance Zim­mer, “Un Real”; Ann Dowd, “The Hand­maid’s Tale”; Yvonne Stra­hovski, “The Hand­maid’s Tale”; Vanessa Kirby, “The Crown”; Pa­tri­cia Clark­son, “House of Cards”; Aubrey Plaza, “Le­gion”

Anal­y­sis: Talk about the Up­side Down World! With Smith gone and the three “Thrones” ac­tresses — Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Maisie Wil­liams — in­el­i­gi­ble, this is the most dif­fi­cult race to call, mainly be­cause there are so many wor­thy women to choose from. Se­ri­ously, you could al­most fill the cat­e­gory with the cast of “The Hand­maid’s Tale” and be com­pletely jus­ti­fied in do­ing so.

Like cast mate Ster­ling K. Brown, Metz is a shoo-in for the mov­ing mix of self­ac­cep­tance and self-doubt she brought to her char­ac­ter in “This Is Us.”

And I think both Ry­der and Brown make it in for “Stranger Things,” an enor­mously pop­u­lar show that tapped into view­ers’ love for retro ’80s movies — and retro ’80s Wi­nona.

Af­ter that, who knows? I think New­ton, like Wood, ben­e­fits from her ex­cel­lent work on a high-pro­file HBO se­ries. And in such a splin­tered field, you can’t min­i­mize the name recog­ni­tion that past nom­i­nees like Tier­ney, Martin­dale and Aduba bring to the ta­ble. At least one of that trio will be nom­i­nated, though hope­fully not at the ex­pense of Wi­ley, in­spir­ing in her work on the charged “Hand­maid’s Tale.” (And she gave us a heart­break­ing farewell on “Orange Is the New Black” too.)


Bob Odenkirk, “Bet­ter Call Saul” Ster­ling K. Brown, “This Is Us” Matthew Rhys, “The Amer­i­cans” Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards” Rami Malek, “Mr. Ro­bot” Billy Bob Thorn­ton, “Go­liath”

Prime con­tenders: Liev Schreiber, “Ray Dono­van”; An­thony Hop­kins, “West­world”; Ian McShane, “Amer­i­can Gods”; Milo Ven­timiglia, “This Is Us”; Kyle Chan­dler, “Blood­line”; Paul Gia­matti, “Bil­lions”; Dan Stevens, “Le­gion”

Anal­y­sis: All seven of last year’s nom­i­nees are el­i­gi­ble, and it’s pos­si­ble six of them could re­turn.

There’s no way that Brown, the shin­ing star who won an Emmy last year for play­ing Christo­pher Dar­den in “The Peo­ple v. O.J. Simp­son,” won’t be nom­i­nated — un­less vot­ers are still grumpy about all the times he made them cry. (I lost count.)

Brown’s as­sured in­clu­sion means that ei­ther Schreiber or Chan­dler will be cast aside. Schreiber has earned nods for all three sea­sons of “Ray Dono­van,” but the show these days is only in­ter­mit­tently sat­is­fy­ing. And the can­cel­la­tion of Chan­dler’s slow-burn “Blood­line” prob­a­bly dings the ac­tor’s chances.

That leaves an open­ing for Thorn­ton, who de­liv­ered a deeply felt and very en­ter­tain­ing turn as the dis­graced at­tor­ney in Ama­zon’s “Go­liath,” or per­haps McShane, a droll de­light play­ing a de­ity in “Amer­i­can Gods.”


Ron Cephas Jones, “This Is Us” John Lith­gow, “The Crown” Jonathan Banks, “Bet­ter Call Saul” Jef­frey Wright, “West­world” Jared Har­ris, “The Crown” Michael Kelly, “House of Cards”

Prime con­tenders: Ed Har­ris, “West­world”; Jon Voight, “Ray Dono­van”; David Har­bour, “Stranger Things”; Ben Men­del­sohn, “Blood­line”; Michael McKean, “Bet­ter Call Saul”; Frank Lan­gella, “The Amer­i­cans”

Anal­y­sis: Are you notic­ing a pat­tern? The en­sem­bles from “This Is Us” and “West­world” should en­joy early wake-up calls on Emmy nom­i­na­tions morn­ing. Ac­tors play­ing char­ac­ters who made us cry a river or two — count Jones, Lith­gow and Har­ris, poignantly bat­tling mor­tal­ity — are likely to find fa­vor as well.

And what does McKean have to do to join Banks among the ranks of nom­i­nees? “Saul’s” third sea­son has con­tin­ued to hone in on the poi­soned re­la­tion­ship be­tween broth­ers Chuck and Jimmy, played, re­spec­tively, by McKean and Odenkirk, giv­ing McKean am­ple room to ex­pose his char­ac­ter’s cracks and com­plex­i­ties. The episode (“Chi­canery”) in which Jimmy un­masks Chuck on the wit­ness stand should be all Emmy vot­ers need. Snarling, sneer­ing, ar­ro­gant, ex­posed — McKean con­veys all of it in an act­ing tour de force.

Ge­orge Kray­chyk Hulu

ELIS­A­BETH MOSS’ ex­pres­sive turn in “The Hand­maid’s Tale” draws praise.

Ron Batz­dorff NBC

CHRISSY METZ’S con­trary emo­tions in “This Is Us” make a pow­er­ful mix.

Michele K. Short AMC / Sony Pic­tures Tele­vi­sion

MICHAEL McKEAN dives into Chuck’s com­plex­i­ties in “Bet­ter Call Saul.”

Ron Batz­dorff NBC

STER­LING K. BROWN keeps mov­ing many view­ers to tears in “This Is Us.”

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