Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife") dodged a bullet when Emmy nominations came out and the star who beat her last year for Best Drama Actress – Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer") – wasn't nominated. Margulies had been heavily favored by pundits to prevail in 2010 so she's now eager to claim the overdue gold, but beware: she faces serious new challenges from "Mad Men's" Elisabeth Moss and others.
Margulies has a sizeable edge over Moss according to the majority of predictions made by Gold Derby's site users: 58% predict she'll win, compared to 33% for Moss, 4% for Kathy Bates ("Harry's Law"), 3% for Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights"), 1% for Mireille Enos ("The Killing") and 1% for Mariska Hargitay ("Law & Order: SVU"). See chart breakdowns here and here.
However, Moss leads among the forecasts made by Gold Derby's editors. As of July 24, six pick Moss compared to five for Margulies. The reason: the dramatic oomph of "The Suitcase" episode of "Mad Men" in which Moss gets drunk and crazy with her boss (Jon Hamm). It's the kind of fireworks performance that often pays off with Emmys, but Margulies made a wise episode submission to judges this year after bungling last year's entry. She has several knockout scenes in "In Sickness" while struggling to cope with the revelation that her philandering husband (Chris Noth) bedded her colleague and close friend Kalinda (Archie Panjabi). Read the episode analysis by our senior editor Rob Licuria.
Gold Derby editors and site users have not yet viewed all episodes submitted to the Emmy jurors so their predictions are preliminary. Our editors may be underestimating the other four nominees.
Watch out for Kathy Bates, who gives a fiery turn in the episode of "Harry's Law" she submitted to Emmy judges in which she struggles to spring an innocent man from a murder rap. "Harry's Law" is created, produced and written by David E. Kelly, who holds the Emmy records for penning scripts that resulted in the most nominations (108) and wins (34) for actors.
And never underestimate Mariska Hargitay ("Law & Order: SVU"), who pulled off an upset in this contest in 2006 and has been nominated seven other times. This year she entered an episode titled "Rescue" in which she tugs at voters' heart strings as she bonds with a terrified boy while they search for his drug-addict mom.
Family roles are reversed in the episode of "The Killing" submitted by Mireille Enos as a detective who frantically searches for her missing son. The episode is noteworthy because of the enormous screen time she gets expressing growing fear and panic as the search expands over an hour of TV time.
Connie Britton gets lots of screen time in the final episode ("Always") of "Friday Night Lights," giving a deeply felt performance full of angst, apprehension and sadness as she and her husband not only must bid goodbye to their home in Texas, but to their teenage daughter who's getting married and moving to Chicago. Britton gets lots more screen time than she had on her Emmy episode entry last year and it has another advantage too. Since this is the farewell episode of a critically praised, much-beloved TV series, it has a sense of history to it. Let's not forget that Sarah Jessica Parker finally won her overdue Emmy for the final episode of "Sex and the City" in 2004.
Gold Derby's racetrack odds in this category as of July 24: Margulies (10/11), Moss (5/4), Britton (50/1), Bates (50/1), Enos (100/1), Hargitay (100/1). Check for the latest update here. (In the top right corner of all Gold Derby chart boxes, click on the sideways arrows to switch back and forth between seeing racetrack odds and percentages.)