In the Movie/Miniseries categories, the only thing more sure than a victory for Julianne Moore in the lead category is a win for Jessica Lange ("American Horror Story") in the Supporting Actress category.
A Lange victory is being predicted by all of our Experts and Editors and a whopping 92% of Users. The percentage of users backing Sarah Paulson ("Game Change"), Mare Winningham ("Hatfields and McCoys"), Judy Davis ("Page Eight") and Frances Conroy ("AHS") are three, two, one and one respectively.
In the past quarter century, actresses portraying real people, like Paulson and Winningham, have claimed this prize 11 times. Oscar winners, such as two-time champ Lange, have won four times over that period.
Here’s a closer look at the performances in contention.
Frances Conroy, “American Horror Story”
After being nominated four times for “Six Feet Under”, Conroy scores her fifth bid for playing the maid of the haunted mansion at the centerpiece of the story.
Pro: She gives her character an air of mysteriousness about but always a wonderful level of warmth. If the right people are voting, the fact that she was never rewarded for “Six Feet Under” could play in here as well.
Con: The horror genre is not one that usually attracts the attention of Emmy voters and it often feels like she plays second fiddle to Lange.
Judy Davis, “Page Eight”
Davis earns her eleventh Emmy nomination for playing a British intelligence officer who is working with the Prime Minister on several matters.
Pro: She’s an Emmy favorite having already won three trophies over her career. Her most recent one -- for “The Starter Wife” in 2007 -- came as an upset over Samantha Morton in “Longford”.
Con: She has hardly any screen time in the movie and her one lengthy scene, while well acted, is unlikely to leave any mark on a voter’s mind.
Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story”
Lange receives her fourth nomination after winning the lead actress award three years ago for the telefilm “Grey Gardens”. She plays Constance Langdon, who knows the troubled history of the Harmon house.
Pro: Lange has been on an awards streak for her performance, winning both the Golden Globe and the SAG Award. She makes her character delightfully creepy and really draws you into the story.
Con: Again, the subject matter might prove to be an obstacle for Emmy voters.
Sarah Paulson, “Game Change”
Paulson receives her first Emmy nomination for playing GOP operative Nicole Wallace, who becomes a person handler of Sarah Palin.
Pro: Paulson wonderfully brings to life a conservative who feels painfully tested by Palin’s attitude and behavior. Her scene at the end of the movie where she tearfully tells Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson) that she was not able to bring herself to vote for President is a showstopper.
Con: Most of her performance is passive and subtle and it isn’t until the scene where she quits and the final one mentioned above that she really shines through with her performance.
Mare Winningham, “Hatfields & McCoys”
Winningham earns her seventh nomination for playing Sally, the matriarch of the McCoy family of Kentucky.
Pro: Winningham, a two-time winner in this category, channels her character perfectly, showing that the rivalry between the two families eventually drives her off an emotional cliff.
Con: Her screen time is limited and it feels as if more attention could and should have been paid to her character.