The Oscars have come and gone for another year, which means it’s time to transition into Emmy season. Every year after the Oscars, television awards pundits come out of their slumber to start getting ready for that year’s Emmys.
The Emmys are a little different than the Oscars, aside from the most obvious difference that the Emmys celebrate television shows and movies from June 1 – May 31 of a given year, while the Oscars specifically celebrate theatrically released films. Another key difference is that there is no “precursor season” as it is with the Oscars; the Oscars have the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, BAFTA, all kinds of guilds, and the SAG Awards leading up to them. This means that the Emmys can be a bit more difficult to predict as the ceremony doesn’t have an entire season leading up to it. The ceremony occurs every September with little lead-up to the ceremony. This slaps Emmy pundits with a demanding task: predicting the television awards with little help other than using previous years as guiding forces.
A category that has become much discussed and highly competitive over the past few years is Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie, and this year is no different. The actresses vying for this award are turning in some of the most solid performances of the past few years, so it will be a category to watch, as previous Emmy and Oscar winners are in the mix this year. There are six spots to fill in the category, so let’s dive into who could receive a nomination.
First up is Showtime’s The First Lady, which could supply up to three of this category’s nomination if the series plays wells enough to Television Academy voters. Oscar and Emmy winner Viola Davis is playing Michelle Obama, a role that could bring awards attention to Davis yet again, whose last Emmy win came in Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She’s joined in the series by recent Emmy winner Gillian Anderson, who’s playing Eleanor Roosevelt, and Oscar and Emmy nominee Michelle Pfeiffer, who’s playing Betty Ford. It’s not unheard of for two actresses for the same series to be nominated in this category, the last time it happened being in 2017 when Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon were both nominated for Feud: Bette and Joan – that said, three actresses from the same series in this category has never happened. It would be quite the feat, so the series would really have to astound and showcase all three actresses.
Jessica Chastain just won an Oscar, but could she add an Emmy to her trophy case as well? Chastain gives a strong performance in HBO’s five part Scenes from a Marriage and her recent Oscar could add a little more heat to her name. It wouldn’t be a first: Emerald Fennell nabbed a nomination in the Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category last year for her work in The Crown mere months after winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Renée Zellweger just won her second Oscar two years ago and now is the lead role as Pam Hupp in NBC’s The Thing About Pam; could she join the conversation? An NBC series hasn’t been nominated in this category since 2018 saw Edie Falco nominated for Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders.
Two-time Emmy winner Claire Foy (The Crown) could enter the race for her role in Prime Video’s A Very British Scandal. A previous Emmy winner should always be considered a possible contender based on name recognition within the Television Academy. Another member of the two-timers club, Julia Garner, will be in contention again for her supporting role in Ozark but could also be considered for her lead performance in Netflix’s limited series Inventing Anna where she plays real-life scammer Anna Delvey. Her performance in the limited series isn’t as universally loved as her Ozark performance, some finding issue with her accent work in the series, but she still has a chance at being nominated in more than one category this year.
Margaret Qualley recently received her first individual SAG nomination for her work in Netflix’s Maid, and she seems poised to receive her second Emmy nomination for the role. She was previously nominated for her supporting work in FX’s Fosse/Verdon, but Maid would mark her first nomination in the leading category. Looking to join her is Lily James who just delivered a striking performance in Hulu’s Pam & Tommy as Pamela Anderson. James is a previous SAG winner for her work in the ensemble of Downton Abbey but has yet to receive her first individual nod. Oscar winner Olivia Colman was in HBO’s Landscapers, a four-episode series documenting a British couple’s life after the discovery of two dead bodies in their back garden. While the series came and went with less discussion than most Emmy contenders would want, Olivia Colman is a name that resonates with voters of any awards body.
It seems the only sure-lock of the year is Amanda Seyfried for her performance as Elizabeth Holmes in Hulu’s The Dropout. Seyfried has garnered critical acclaim, particularly for her voice work, and it would be a huge shock if she wasn’t nominated in this category. Other actresses that will be in the conversation include Anne Hathaway of Apple’s WeCrashed, Julia Roberts of Starz’s Gaslit, Sarah Paulson and Beanie Feldstein for Impeachment: American Crime Story, and Elle Fanning from The Girl from Plainville.
Here are my predictions for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie:
- Amanda Seyfried, The Dropout
- Viola Davis, The First Lady
- Margaret Qualley, Maid
- Jessica Chastain, Scenes from a Marriage
- Gillian Anderson, The First Lady
- Lily James, Pam & Tommy
Photo: Beth Dubber/Hulu