Maggie Gyllenhaal is an Emmy underdog with 25/1 odds to win Best Movie/Limited Actress for her role as businesswoman Nessa Stein in the political thriller “The Honorable Woman,” but are we underestimating her? We made that mistake at the Golden Globes, where she defied the odds and defeated two of her current Emmy rivals, Frances McDormand (“Olive Kitteridge“) and Jessica Lange (“American Horror Story: Freak Show“). Can she do it again?
The Emmys love Oscar-nominated movie stars. That would normally be an advantage for Gyllenhaal, who was recognized by the motion-picture academy with a Supporting Actress nod for “Crazy Heart” in 2009, but she happens to be in an Emmy contest where everyone is a past Oscar contender. In addition to past champs McDormand and Lange, Queen Latifah (“Bessie“) and Felicity Huffman (“American Crime“) have also competed for Oscars and Emma Thompson (“Sweeney Todd“) has won twice.
So the Oscar effect is a wash. However, Gyllenhaal’s hopes may be boosted by broad Emmy support for “The Honorable Woman,” which is also up for writing, directing and Best Limited Series.
Those four nominations may not seem like a lot, but, remember, just two years ago, “The Big C: Hereafter” came into the Emmys with only two bids and star Laura Linney nevertheless won Best Movie/Mini Actress in a major upset against Jessica Lange (“American Horror Story: Asylum”), Elisabeth Moss (“Top of the Lake“), Helen Mirren (“Phil Spector“) and Sigourney Weaver (“Political Animals“).
There’s also the British factor. The TV academy loves British productions and may be doubly impressed by American Gyllenhaal’s spot-on English accent. One particularly analogous project from recent years comes to mind: “Prime Suspect: The Final Act.” The concluding installment of the long-running U.K. detective series also had four Emmy nominations back in 2007 – the exact four that “Honorable Woman” has now – and it won three of them: writing, directing, and Movie/Mini Actress for star Helen Mirren.
Granted, Mirren’s competition was quite different. Her only rival with wide support for her project was Debra Messing in the romantic comedy “The Starter Wife,” which might have been considered too slight to win. But Mirren’s situation shows that a modest total of nominations isn’t always a disadvantage.
Additionally, “The Honorable Woman” deals with real-life geopolitics that may give the program a greater sense of urgency and importance. Exploring the bitter conflict between Israel and Palestine may be divisive depending on which side of the political spectrum voters are on, but as Gyllenhaal told us in our exclusive video chat before nominations were announced, “I was shocked by how much people on both sides of the conflict [responded positively to the story] … They could hear the show even though they were very far over on both sides.” The outlook in the Middle East is often bleak, but the miniseries “never takes the possibility of reconciliation off the table.” (Watch our complete video below.)
What do you think? Could “The Honorable Woman” be a sleeping giant at the Emmys? Currently, McDormand leads our Best Movie/Limited Actress predictions with 2/7 odds, followed by Latifah with 8/1 odds and Gyllenhaal at 25/1.
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