Why Alfre Woodard and Joan Cusack (‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’) could ambush the Emmys [WATCH]

“I think this could be a category of name-checks in a lot of cases … You’ve got some names that Emmy voters, when they see them on the ballot they get in,” says Daniel Montgomery when discussing potential surprise nominees for Best Comedy Guest Actress. He points to two contenders in particular: Alfre Woodard and Joan Cusack in “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” “I think that show could get in a lot [of categories] below the line … so we could see Alfre Woodard get in as one of the only top nominations for ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ just because she’s the only top nominee for a lot of shows.” Watch Montgomery discuss the contenders above with his fellow editors Chris Beachum and Marcus James Dixon.

Emmy voters love both Woodard and Cusack. Both have been nominated for Oscars for their work on the big screen, and Emmy voters often gravitate towards stars with that kind of pedigree. They both have also appealed to voters even when their programs aren’t otherwise embraced by the TV academy.

Consider Woodard, who has been nominated 17 times, winning four. Woodard’s most recent win was Best Drama Guest Actress for “The Practice” in 2003, by which time the show had mostly fallen off the Emmy radar — Woodard was its only nomination that year. After that she was the only above-the-line nomination for the TV movie “The Water is Wide” (Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actress, 2006), then the only nominee for the telefilm “Pictures of Hollis Woods” (Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actress, 2008), the only acting nominee ever for “True Blood” (Best Drama Guest Actress, 2011), and the only nominations for another TV film, “Steel Magnolias” (Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actress, 2013).

So no matter the project, Woodard’s presence is enough to put her on the radar. And she has a prominent role in two episodes of “Unfortunate Events” as the timid and gullible Aunt Josephine, who cares for the Baudelaire children after they’re orphaned. Meryl Streep actually played that role in the 2004 film based on the same children’s novels.

Also, as Beachum notes, “If [voters] get a Z-to-A ballot she’ll be within the first three or four names they see.” Some academy members will get the nominating ballots in reverse alphabetical order to avoid giving an unfair advantage to actors and shows whose names put them at the top, and that could work in the favor of W-for-Woodard.

Cusack will be helped by ballots listed in straight alphabetical order, but she may not even need that much help. She previously earned five consecutive guest-acting nominations for her role on Showtime’s “Shameless.” From 2011-2013 she was nominated for Best Drama Guest Actress and was the only nominee for the show each time. Then “Shameless” switched to comedy categories, but the move worked out fine for Cusack — maybe even better. She was nominated two more times (2014-2015), winning in 2015.

So it would be wise not to underestimate her either, especially since she plays one of the most sympathetic roles in “Unfortunate Events“: Justice Strauss, a kind judge who at one point hopes to adopt the Baudelaire children.

What do you think? Are Woodard and Cusack in with a shot?

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