Emmy Experts Typing: Amanda Seyfried and Lily James are locked in a battle of biopics

Welcome to Emmy Experts Typing, a weekly column in which Gold Derby editors and Experts Joyce Eng and Christopher Rosen discuss the Emmy race — via Slack, of course. This week, we look at what appears to be a two-woman battle for Best Limited Series/TV Movie Actress.

Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! It’s the last Friday in July, meaning we’re getting ever closer to Emmy voting and then the Emmys itself. That is to say, we’re in pre-crunch time crunch time, where Phase 2 campaigning is going full steam ahead. This week, we’ve talked about drama, but now we’re typing about the limited series categories, and while “The White Lotus” seems all but assured of winning in the supporting categories (after all, the show has eight nominations for its actors), I wanted to look at the Best Actress race. Our odds have Amanda Seyfried comfortably ahead for “The Dropout” and she’s been the expected pick for months. But I can’t help but feel she’s been overtaken by Lily James. The “Pam & Tommy” star — who just did an interview with us as she pushes for the upset win — didn’t just pull off one of the year’s biggest transformations to play Pamela Anderson, but her show also overperformed with 10 nominations, including one for Best Limited Series. “The Dropout” has one of those too, but with only six nominations to its name and two in the directing category. All of which has me wondering, why isn’t this race closer? What is it going to take for people to push James to the top of their predictions?

joyceeng: Hilarious you say that because this is ostensibly the closest of the four limited acting races. Their respective shows’ nomination totals are not really relevant here since only actors are voting for acting categories (plus, “The Dropout” got into writing and directing while “Pam & Tommy,” which was always going to have more crafts support, did not hit either). But what is relevant is that the acting branch is here for “Pam & Tommy” since it scored three noms and Seyfried is “The Dropout’s” sole acting contender. The thesps probably carried “Pam & Tommy” to a series nomination. That’s a solid argument for a James victory on top of her actual performance and the transformation angle. I still have Seyfried slightly ahead for now because “The Dropout” and its campaign have always centered on her and her performance, and I think she can eke it out. Maybe you can even say that the hyper-focused campaign is why Naveen Andrews didn’t make it even though he’s nearly a co-lead and has numerous major scenes opposite Seyfried. Contrast that to James and Sebastian Stan, who were constantly on the trail in Phase 1. My top three are the ladies who are in limited series nominees, which means Julia Garner, she who invented Anna herself, is in third. I am not predicting it, but I can see a scenario in which no one is truly passionate about any of these performances or Seyfried and James split the vote, and Garner takes it. She’s a two-time winner and a double nominee this year, “Inventing Anna” is for sure the most watched show of this group, and while her performance is divisive, I can picture her supporters and enough casuals checking her off because they remembered watching it. Can you see her being the Emmys’ VIP?

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Christopher Rosen: A quick “I disagree dot gif” here for the idea that nominations totals are not relevant: I think the perception of a show’s strength absolutely matters regardless of who is voting where. “The Dropout” did underwhelm and no one wants to pick a show that is viewed as losing steam (this is why neither of us have even mentioned Margaret Qualley for “Maid,” even though she was an early favorite here before the nominations even came out). As for Garner — let me say: I can see it! You could argue none of these nominees is even as strong as the fifth contender in last year’s race (presumably Cynthia Erivo for “Genius: Aretha” or Elizabeth Olsen for “WandaVision,” both of whom could probably win if they were up against this group). So with that kind of parity among the nominees, I think the watchability factor is high. Everyone watched “Inventing Anna” and most people really love Julia Garner. I won’t pick her to win here — I still have her winning in Best Drama Supporting Actress for “Ozark” — but why not? We haven’t talked much about the Best Limited Series Actor race thus far and that’s probably because we have Michael Keaton winning in a landslide. It feels like he’s one of the few locks of the season. But can you make the case for another nominee — or is the Best Batman unbeatable?

joyceeng: I know you cannot math, but the difference between 10 and six is not that much! It’s closer than the difference between 20 (“The White Lotus’” haul) and 14 (“Dopesick’s”). You say no one wants to pick a show that’s losing steam, but this rationale might apply more to a series race. If the ostensibly strongest show or the show with the most noms or most sustained buzz matters so much, we’d have a lot of different acting winners. The actors have shown that they, for the most part, pick what they like the most, otherwise Kathryn Hahn, who never lost steam for nine months, would’ve won. Don’t get me wrong — “The Dropout” is in a weird spot, but it still got the all-important series nom, which, might I remind you, we, ourselves, were not entirely confident it would pull off, so I would say it whelmed. The lack of a series nom is why I have Qualley in fourth because the only person who has won this category without a series nom since limited series and TV movie were split up again in 2014 is Regina King, the Emmys’ Sally Field, for “Seven Seconds.” As for Keaton, he should just make sure he’s not in the bathroom again when his category’s announced. It also feels like people want this for him (as they should — he’s grossly under-rewarded) and it’s a great turn. But I have Stan in second because he’s the only other person here in a series nominee. Remember the days when everyone (including us!) thought Andrew Garfield and Colin Firth would be Keaton’s biggest rivals? Good times.

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Christopher Rosen: I admit my math skills are like Tim Curry in “Clue,” but I’ll die on this hill, even after Seyfried wins on Emmy night. As for the other guys besides Keaton, were we ever so young? Stan would be a worthy choice here, but I’ll remain a little sad Miles Teller didn’t get in for “The Offer” (never forget, no #sponcon), because if he was there I’d probably have him in second.

joyceeng: I am absolutely shocked you did not take this opportunity to bemoan your boy Matthew Goode‘s snub as well. Who are you and what have you done to Chris? James definitely feels like the most likely of the “Pam & Tommy” trio to triumph, given the state of their respective races, but as I’ve said before, I am glad Stan finally received the nomination he should’ve gotten for “Kings” and “Political Animals” (no, not “Gossip Girl,” xoxo).

Emmy odds for Best Limited Series/TV Movie Actress
Who will win?

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