Emmy episode analysis: Olivia Colman (‘The Crown’) could win 1st trophy thanks to emotional Season 3 finale

In the third season of Netflix’s acclaimed television drama series “The Crown,” Olivia Colman takes over for Claire Foy from the first two seasons as Queen Elizabeth II. For her performance, Colman has received her third Primetime Emmy nomination after having been previously recognized for her supporting roles in the limited series, “The Night Manager,” and the comedy series, “Fleabag.” She has already won a Golden Globe for Best TV Drama Actress and SAG Award (along with the rest of the cast) for Best TV Drama Ensemble earlier this year. Her Emmy episode submission for Best Drama Actress is the season three finale, “Cri de Coeur.”

SEE 2020 Emmy nominations complete list: All the nominees for the 72nd Emmy Awards

That episode is bookended by two visits Queen Elizabeth makes to the apartments of her younger sister, Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter), speaking with her both times while she’s lying in bed. The second visit in particular was in response to Margaret’s overdose sedatives in the wake of a fight with the departures of Antony Armstrong-Jones (Ben Daniels) and Roddy Llewellyn (Harry Treadaway). While Elizabeth thought it was just a cry for attention, she became much more shaken by it, wondering if Margaret was attempting suicide. This leads to a touching moment where Elizabeth tells her, “Of all the people everywhere, you are the closest and most important to me. And if by doing this, you wanted to let me imagine for one minute what life would be without you, you succeed. It would be unbearable.”

Can the third Emmy nomination be the charm for Olivia Colman? Let’s dive into the pros and cons.

For the first two seasons, “The Crown” did pretty well in the acting categories. John Lithgow won Best Drama Supporting Actor for season one in 2017 for his performance as Winston Churchill while Foy won Best Drama Actress for season two in 2018. With the third season winning the SAG Award for Best TV Drama Ensemble this past year, that’s likely a good sign of how much the actors branch still loves “The Crown.” Not to mention that season three marks the first of two seasons where Olivia Colman stars as Queen Elizabeth before Imelda Staunton takes over for the fifth and sixth seasons, so Emmy voters don’t have a lot of opportunities to award her performance on the show. While she is in third place in Gold Derby’s combined predictions for Best Drama Actress as of this writing, keep in mind that experts have underestimated Colman before.

At the 2017 Golden Globes, Thandie Newton was predicted to win Best TV Supporting Actress for the first season of “Westworld.” Yet, Colman pulled a surprise by winning for “The Night Manager.” At the 2019 Golden Globes, she was caught in a close race with Emily Blunt for “Mary Poppins Returns” in the category of Best Film Comedy/Musical Actress. In the end, Colman prevailed for “The Favourite.” One month later at the Oscars, Glenn Close was widely expected to finally win her first Oscar for “The Wife” in Best Actress. Yet, Colman very surprisingly pulled off a huge upset. At the Golden Globes earlier this year, Jennifer Aniston was predicted to win for the first season of Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show” in the category of Best TV Drama Actress. But once again, Colman beat the odds.

Despite winning a SAG Award as a member of the ensemble, Colman still lost the individual award for Best TV Drama Actress to Aniston for “The Morning Show.” Though to be fair, Carter was also nominated in that category given how the individual TV acting awards combines both lead and supporting performances. So Colman’s loss there was probably a case of vote-splitting. Then again, while she does only have two chances of winning an Emmy for her work on “The Crown,” voters may feel they’ll wait to give it to her for her final season next year (which was exactly what they did with her predecessor, Foy).

Ironically, the person who is currently predicted to win Best Drama Actress, Laura Linney, also has one more season of her show, “Ozark,” following this year’s Emmys. While production on the final season of that series doesn’t currently have a start date due to the covid-19 crisis, principal photography on the upcoming fourth season of “The Crown” had already wrapped up back in March before the pandemic began, and is set to debut on Netflix on November 15. So if voters have that in mind, they might decide to award Linney now, and Colman later given that she will be back in contention next year while the premiere date for the final season of “Ozark” hasn’t been revealed yet.

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