Editors debate Drama Actress Emmy: How Elisabeth Moss or Carrie Coon could upset frontrunner Claire Foy

The reigning champion for Best Drama Actress at the Emmys, Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”) is out this year since her show didn’t air any new episodes during the 2016-2017 eligibility period, so who will win instead? There could be a revolution of new contenders in this race, but Gold Derby editors Tom O’Neil, Paul Sheehan, Daniel Montgomery and Marcus James Dixon disagree on who among them might take the prize. Watch our editors’ slugfest above or listen to the podcast version below.

Claire Foy (“The Crown”) is the frontrunner according to our official predictions as of this writing, but she gives a subtle performance and the Emmys typically prefer showy turns with explosive emotions like Maslany last year, or like Claire Danes (“Homeland,” 2012-2013) and Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder,” 2015) before her. But Sheehan points out that “there’s a humanity” to Foy’s performance. Also, “Helen Mirren gave a similar performance” playing the same character, Queen Elizabeth II, on the stage and the screen, and she won both an Oscar (“The Queen,” Best Actress, 2006) and a Tony (“The Audience,” Best Actress in a Play, 2015) for her efforts.

But if not Claire Foy, then who? “Claire Foy won the Golden Globe, and she won SAG, but she didn’t have to compete against Elisabeth Moss because her show has just come out,” Dixon reminds us about Moss, who stars in the new Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which premiered just this spring. “She’s essentially playing two characters: the flashback version of herself which is fun and energetic, and then the subdued version where she’s basically a slave. The voters will see that just like Tatiana Maslany last year. They love when people play different performances in the same show.”

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And there’s also the overdue factor. Moss has been nominated seven times without winning — six times for “Mad Men” and once for “Top of the Lake.” The TV academy finally made it up to Jon Hamm in the last season of that show with a Best Drama Actor victory, but they never awarded Moss, so she’s got a big IOU to cash in. “And I think it’s out there,” says O’Neil. “The idea of Elisabeth Moss being overdue at the Emmys is out there.”

Another major contender to win isn’t even a sure thing to be nominated: Carrie Coon (“The Leftovers”). The show has never been nominated for an Emmy, but it just ended its run after three acclaimed seasons, and it aired its final episodes in the advantageous late-spring time slot that “Game of Thrones” vacated since its seventh season was delayed until summer. And she too is a little like Maslany last year, who also had to wait until her third season to be nominated. “The hard part is going to be getting the nomination,” says Montgomery about Coon’s prospects. “If she gets the nomination then she might have that cult core of support that pushes her past … some other more consensus choices.”

O’Neil brings up several other major contenders in the race, including Keri Russell (“The Americans”), Robin Wright (“House of Cards”), newly minted Oscar winner Davis (“HTGAWM”), Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”) and Danes (“Homeland”). Who will win? See O’Neil’s Emmy picks here. See Sheehan’s here. See Montgomery’s here. See Dixon’s here. See the racetrack odds of all of Gold Derby’s website editors.

Video produced by David Janove and Andrew Merrill

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