It doesn’t happen often, but Viola Davis has the potential to win an Academy Award and an Emmy Award in the same calendar year. In February Davis won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as a 1950s housewife in “Fences,” and now she’s contending at the Emmys for Best Drama Actress as savvy lawyer Annalise Keating on ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder.” Davis already has one Emmy for the show, winning two years ago for the breakout first season, but earning the Oscar-Emmy combo in a single year would put her in elite company indeed.
The most recent performer to accomplish this feat was Helen Mirren. She won an Oscar for “The Queen” at the 2007 ceremony and then an Emmy a few months later for the telefilm “Prime Suspect: The Final Act.” Before that, it was another Helen — Helen Hunt in 1998 — with an Oscar victory for “As Good As It Gets,” followed by her third of four Emmy wins for the NBC sitcom “Mad About You.”
Matthew McConaughey tried, but failed to join the club a few years ago. After prevailing at the Oscars for Best Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club” in the spring of 2014, he lost his Emmy for HBO’s mystery drama “True Detective” in the fall thanks to Bryan Cranston, who had increased buzz due to the juggernaut that was the final season of “Breaking Bad.”
For the recently concluded third season, Davis has many stand-out moments including dealing with the murder of one of her favorite students and then later being sent to jail. But, hey, doesn’t the fact that Davis lost the Emmy last year to Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”) now hurt her chances of winning a bookend trophy for “HTGAWM”? Not necessarily — just ask Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”). The popular actress won in 2011, got nominated in 2012, was snubbed in 2013, and then came back to win again in 2014. Talk about a bumpy Emmy ride!
Before Margulies, Edie Falco (“The Sopranos”) and Allison Janney (“The West Wing”) flip-flopped in the Best Drama Actress over the span of four years, with Falco prevailing in 2001 and 2003 and Janney taking home lead prizes in 2002 and 2004. Since Maslany’s show is not eligible this year, might that mean the Emmys will just go back to re-anoint the person who won previously — Viola Davis?
Her shiny new Oscar should help Davis be remembered when voters begin marking their ballots this summer. After all, there is much cache to having an Oscar winner on the Emmy stage, especially one as graceful and dignified as Davis.
Other strong contenders in the Best Drama Actress race include Claire Foy (“The Crown”), Keri Russell (“The Americans”), Robin Wright (“House of Cards”), Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”), Christine Baranski (“The Good Fight”), Claire Danes (“Homeland”) and Mandy Moore (“This Is Us”).
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.