Since we were largely housebound with our televisions this year, the Emmy race feels especially thrilling leading up to the Sept. 19 awards – particularly since the women are outshining the men. Ahead of the July 13 nominations, Kate Winslet was leading the charge for Best Actress as a Philly-accented, smalltown detective in HBO’s Mare of Easttown, a twisty whodunit about the maybe-murders of three teenage girls. Dark and bleak, perhaps, but Jean Smart’s turn as Mare’s wisecracking, opinionated – but ultimately loving and supportive – mother, warms the crime drama into unforeseen dramatic territory and shouldn’t be overlooked as a serious candidate for Best Supporting Actress.
After three decades perfecting supporting roles on everything from Designing Women to Frasier, Smart moves into the leadinglady limelight in HBO’s Hacks. She shines as Deborah Vance, a 70-something, old-school stand-up comedian in Vegas (“Eat your heart out, Celine!” she jokes), mentoring Ava, an entitled millennial comedy writer who was cancelled by Hollywood for an off-colour joke. On Rotten Tomatoes, critics love Hacks 100 per cent. Hacks and Easttown aside, speculation was running high that the Best Actress category would include Anya Taylor-Joy as an orphaned chess prodigy in The Queen’s Gambit; Nicole Kidman, who perfected her suspicious-wife face alongside eversuspicious Hugh Grant in The Undoing; and Kaley Cuoco, rebounding from The Big Bang Theory as an alcoholic stewardess who wakes up next to a dead one-night stand in The Flight Attendant.
Meanwhile, insiders were surmising that Netflix’s critically acclaimed sensation, The Crown, could easily take both top actress awards, thanks to Olivia Colman’s stoic Queen and Emma Corrin as the monarch’s emotional foil, Princess Diana, a notoriously difficult role to play. Corrin’s portrayal of the princess is close to uncanny, thanks, no doubt, to the script from acclaimed playwright Peter Morgan. Looking for something a little less literary? Revisit Bridgerton, Shonda Rhimes’ smutty historical romance that smashed records to become the surprise hit of the year. It may not bank any Emmys, but as far as binge-watching goes, you really can’t do much better. —