While “Stranger Things” received an impressive 18 Emmy nominations for its first season, one name that was surprisingly absent from the list was that of Winona Ryder. This bad luck is all too common for Ryder, who has often had surprising and disappointing outcomes when it comes to major Hollywood acting honors such as the Oscars and Emmys.
Ryder received generally strong reviews for her role as Joyce Byers, the mother of a missing boy, on Netflix’s popular thriller “Stranger Things.” The high-profile role is something of a comeback for the actress who had early success in her teens and 20s and then seemed to struggle to return to prominence after a bizarre incident where she was arrested for shoplifting. Ryder seemed like a lock for a Best Drama Supporting Actress nomination (the entire cast decided to submit themselves in the supporting categories due to the ensemble nature of the show). While her co-stars David Harbour and the young Millie Bobby Brown where both recognized, Ryder was left out.
Her omission was particularly odd since the category wasn’t one of this year’s more competitive ones. In fact, none of last year’s nominees returned to the race, with this year’s honorees being Brown, Ann Dowd (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Chrissy Metz (“This is Us”), Thandie Newton (“Westworld”), Samira Wiley (“The Handmaid’s Tale) and two-time champ Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black”). It is a bit surprising that Aduba made it back into the nominations after having been left out of last year’s Drama Supporting Actress lineup. Usually when the Emmys are done with you, they are done with you.
Ryder also had disappointing Oscar experiences 20 years ago when her film career was flourishing. In 1990, she was an early Oscar favorite for her work in the film “Mermaids” playing the rebellious daughter of Cher. Ryder won the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress which back then was the first critics group out of the gate, but when Oscar nominations rolled around she was conspicuously left off the list. At the time some speculated that she was being punished for dropping out of “The Godfather Part Three” days before shooting. (That film was also a 1990 release.)
Three years later Ryder again won the National Board of Review Best Supporting Actress Award as well as the Golden Globe in the same category for her work in Martin Scorsese’s “The Age of Innocence.” She was a heavy favorite going into the Oscar ceremony but in perhaps one of the greatest upsets in Oscar history she lost the award to 11-year-old Anna Paquin for “The Piano.” Ryder was nominated again the following year for Best Actress for her role in “Little Women,” but five years later she was left off the list again for her passion project “Girl, Interrupted” while her co-star Angelina Jolie actually won the supporting award.
Regardless of her bad Emmy luck, “Stranger Things” has been a nice return to visibility for the talented actress. Perhaps she’ll receive an Emmy nomination next year for “Stranger Things” Season 2?
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