We asked you who gave the best performance last week in the grand finale of HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” titled “You Get What You Need” (you can still vote in the poll here). For the first and only time this season Alexander Skarsgard took the top spot with 50% of the vote (see the complete results at the bottom of this post). It was a narrow victory over his on-screen wife Nicole Kidman who received 41% of the vote. Rounding out the top three was a tie between Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley with 3% each. Zoe Kravitz was able to eke out 2%. And Adam Scott sang his way to 1% of the vote. Since this was our last poll of the season let’s break down each of the main cast members’ best performances from the series.
Nicole Kidman: No one won more of our polls than Kidman. She won in week two, week four, and week five and never finished below second, so she clearly seems to be the MVP of the entire series. But Kidman was arguably at her career best in episode five, “Once Bitten.” It was a showcase that operated as a two-woman play as her character, Celeste, was confronted by her psychologist (Robin Weigert) about her abusive marriage. Celeste struggled with the love she felt for her violent husband Perry (Skarsgard), while her fear of his abuse was intercut with some intense flashbacks. Kidman is a past Emmy nominee for “Hemingway & Gellhorn” (Best Movie/Mini Actress, 2012) and could be in a great position to finally win the prize that eluded her the first time.
Shailene Woodley: As Jane, Woodley won our polls in both week three and week six, and of those two Woodley was at her very best in episode three, “Living the Dream.” Woodley showed new depth as she skillfully delivered a quiet and heartbreaking monologue detailing how her son was conceived when she was raped. Woodley did not overplay the scene where she confessed or the accompanying flashback scene that showed the assault.
Alexander Skarsgard: Skarsgard’s Perry learned hell hath no fury like five women scorned: the female characters fought him off and ultimately killed him as he assaulted Celeste right before their eyes. But he was stellar as a desperate, despicable villain trying to hold onto his ideal wife and ideal life. The HBO veteran previously starred in both “Generation Kill” (2008) and “True Blood” (2008-2014). He only won once in our polling, but it was because of his skill as an actor that the audience despised his character so much. That will hopefully help him avoid the “slap the stud” curse at the Emmys. If nominated for Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor the season finale will be a great submission. As he is a clear standout among the male cast, Skarsgard could be the cast’s best chance of scoring Emmy hardware.
Reese Witherspoon: Witherspoon surprisingly wasn’t able to pull out a victory in our polling, but her highest second place finish came in episode two, “Serious Mothering.” Witherspoon was refreshing as she shed her “girl next door” persona, proving that she’s willing to play a sometimes unlikable character: Madeline, competitive and sometimes petty mother of two daughters. But if Witherspoon competes in Best Movie/Mini Actress as expected she will face off against her co-star Kidman in what is set to be one of the most competitive Emmy races in decades. While she may not have as showy a role as Kidman she showed new depths as the housewife with complicated relationships with her current husband, her ex-husband, and an extramarital lover. And she also showed claws she happily used to defend her friends.
Laura Dern: If Madeline was sometimes unlikable, Dern’s character Renata was right up there with her. As her best showcase, Dern should submit episode six, “Burning Love,” as she showed a more compassionate side of her often fragile and prickly character as Renata made amends with Jane, whose son she had accused of bullying. Dern is already a past five-time Emmy nominee, so she could very well find herself as a Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actress contender.
Adam Scott: Scott’s best performance as Madeline’s husband Ed came in episode two, “Serious Mothering.” This would be a great Emmy episode submission for Scott as he more than holds his own opposite his Oscar winning co-star, Witherspoon, as Ed demands to know if he is her one true love. But his true standout scene is opposite James Tupper as Witherspoon’s ex-husband as Scott reminisces about being bullied and we see that he’s not threatened by his wife’s past. Here’s hoping that the “Parks and Recreation” alum who showed new depths in the series will finally be recognized at Emmy time.
Zoe Kravitz: It may have been surprising to those who hadn’t read the book that the granola-hippie, peace-loving Bonnie was the one who killed Perry in the finale episode. While Kravitz was at her best in the finale, it could be hard for her to crack the top six for Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actress in the crowded Emmy race. But if there is ever a second season the audience might learn her backstory and what led to that fateful push.
But arguably the two in the best position to win Emmys for “Big Little Lies” are writer David E. Kelley and director Jean-Marc Vallee, since they were the men behind all seven episodes. With the Emmys changing from a ranked preferential ballot to a plurality vote it could be hard for a program with multiple writing or directing nominations to overcome vote splitting. That’s probably how Susanne Bier (“The Night Manager”) was able to win Best Movie/Mini Directing last year against three episodes of “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” Also, the appeal of honoring individuals who wrote and directed a complete seven-episode story arc instead of just one hour of a miniseries or one two-hour TV movie will make them formidable competition.
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on July 13. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums.