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Best Drama Actress: Best Episode Entries for Top 8 Contenders?

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  • Tom O’Neil
    May 13th, 2011

    What episodes do you think are the best Emmy submissions for these 8 rivals for Best Drama Actress? And WHY?

    Viola Davis
    Claire Danes
    Taraji B. Henson
    Robin Wright
    Ruth Wilson
    Kerry Washington
    Taylor Schilling
    Juliana Margulies

    Based upon strongest episodes, who do you believe is ahead to WIN? 

    Jan 1st, 1970

    I don’t watch The Affair so I can’t say anything for Ruth Wilson but I think she won’t be nominated. 

    Viola Davis: I’m still torn between “Let’s Get to Scooping” and “Freakin’ Whack-a-Mole”. “Mama’s Here Now” also has a chance. 
    Claire Danes:  She has at least 6 episodes to submit but my personal favorite is still “Redux”. 
    Taraji P. Henson: Her best shot is “Our Dancing Days”.
    Robin Wright: She has 3 episodes to submit but “Chapter 32” should be the one. 
    Kerry Washington: “Run” or “No More Blood” she has a really big chance of winning with “Run” imo. 
    Taylor Schilling: “Thirsy Bird” but I don’t think she’ll be nominated. 
    Julianna Margulies: “Mind’s Eye” seems like the go to episode for Julianna, but I want to believe she can top that with the remaining episodes. 

    I think it is a threeway race between Viola Davis, Robin Wright and Claire Danes so far.

    ReplyCopy URL
    Jun 17th, 2014

    Viola Davis: “Let’s Get to Scooping”Viola has so many great moments throughout the season , but I think the final scene of this episode is the best
    Claire Danes:  “Redux”.  For me , Claire Danes had his best season so far. She deserves the Emmy !
    Taraji P. Henson:  “Our Dancing Days”.She is stunning in all season. I realy want a nomination for her.
    Robin Wright:  Definily “Chapter 32”. She really could win.
    Ruth Wilson:  1×09. She shone throughout the season , but in this episode his performace is so heartbreaking ! I remember when I finished the episode, I said to myself “Give an Emmy for Ruth Wilson NOW! “
    Taylor Schilling: “Thirsy Bird” is your best time dramatically , as I recall .
    Julianna Margulies: “Mind’s Eye” I think Julianna will have a better tape in the remaining episodes, but this is her best until now in the season.

    I don’t watch Scandal. I wish the Emmy went to Claire or Ruth (and Eva Green!), but I belive it will be between Viola and Robin.

    ReplyCopy URL
    Dec 1st, 2011

    Viola Davis: “Let’s Get to Snooping”
    Claire Danes: “Redux”
    Taraji P. Henson: “Pilot”
    Julianna Margulies: “Oppo Research”
    Taylor Schilling: “Thirsty Bird”
    Kerry Washington: “Run”
    Ruth Wilson: N/A
    Robin Wright: “Chapter 32”
    Lizzy Caplan, “Fight”
    MIchelle Dockery: N/A

    ReplyCopy URL
    May 18th, 2014

    Torn for Viola, as she has a variety of strong moments throughout almost ever episode of the first season. I have to go back and re-watch, but i’d say either ‘Freakin Whack-a-Mole’, which has the court monologue, or the season finale, ‘Let’s Get to Scooping’.

    Kerry has a great chance at re-entering the race with ‘Run’, and she could very well win with it, too. 

    ReplyCopy URL
    Jan 1st, 1970

    • Ruth Wilson: “9”
    • Lizzy Caplan: “Fight”
    • Kerry Washington: “Run”
    • Taylor Schilling: “Thirsty Bird”
    • Julianna Margulies: “Mind’s Eye”
    • Taraji P. Henson: “Unto the Breach”
    • Viola Davis: “Kill Me, Kill Me, Kill Me”
    • Robin Wright: “Chapter 32” or “Chapter 39”
    • Claire Danes: “From A to B and Back Again”


    Lizzy Caplan as Virginia E. Johnson — Masters of Sex (Showtime) ~ Episode: “Fight”

    Put up your dukes, Masters of Sex aficionados: In this week’s episode, Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen gave knockout performances.

    Yvon Durelle and Archie Moore’s late 1950s boxing match fight framed
    an episode that found Bill and Virginia — via some tryst-time
    role-playing — revealing deep, hurtful secrets about their pasts. With
    the researchers holed up in their hotel room, the boxers’ historic bout
    unspooled in the background while Masters and Johnson expressed their
    feelings between the sheets (and up against the wall… and with their
    robes pooled around their feet…).

    Sheen’s portrayal of his repressed character — a pressure-cooker of a
    man under normal circumstances — was a study in how to communicate the
    unsaid. It began at the hospital, when the birth of a child with
    ambiguous genitalia got Bill ruminating on the concept of manhood and
    his own troubled upbringing. Then, as he passionately conquered Virginia
    in the bathroom and later evaded her questions about his interest in
    boxing, Sheen showed just how much his alter ego likes (and is
    accustomed to) being in control. And when Virginia finally pried open
    Bill’s white-knuckled grip on his memories, Sheen’s account of his
    character’s childhood under an abusive father seethed with resentment.
    Bill was snide, curt, surly. Sheen was amazing.

    Caplan was equally fascinating throughout the hour, particularly when
    Virginia’s airy take on role-play turned real as she told Bill about
    her first real love — and subsequent heartbreak. But the actress also
    sparkled as she teased him about his lack of imagination, bristled as
    she questioned his motives for skipping the sexual niceties and
    entranced as she showed him exactly how she was able to make herself
    “feel good.”

    By the end of the episode, Durelle and Moore had duked it out,
    Virginia and Bill had reached new (if uncertain) ground and Caplan and
    Sheen had us basking in the afterglow.


    Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison — Homeland (Showtime) ~ Episode: “From A to B and Back Again”

    Carrie Mathison should, by all accounts, be an extremely unlikable
    character. This season alone, she considered drowning her infant
    daughter in a bathtub, seduced a relatively innocent teenager under
    false pretenses (knowing full well it would likely lead to his death),
    and continued to treat her friends, family and co-workers like crap. But
    therein lies the genius of Claire Danes. Even when Carrie is at her
    most unsympathetic, we — remarkably — sympathize with her. Heck, more
    often than not, we’re rooting for her. And that was certainly the case
    in this week’s standout episode, in which Carrie was forced to rapidly
    escalate her plan to track and kill Terrorist-at-Large Haissam Haqqani.

    The crux of her morally questionable operation — making her jihad
    pawn Aayan believe in the power of love and sex long enough to lead her
    to Haqqani — continued to irk colleagues Quinn and Fara. The former
    considers it repugnant that she’s “f—ing a child” while the latter
    thinks Carrie should be a little more concerned about the well-being of
    “the boy.” It’s hard to find fault with either argument — that is, until
    Carrie lays out her defense.

    After reminding Fara that Aayan is not a “kindergartener” but rather
    “a grown adult who’s been smuggling drugs to jihadists,” she noted
    that her controversial relationship with “the boy” would not have been
    necessary had she “done her job” in the first place. “You were supposed
    to recruit him,” she barked. “I had to go in after you f—ed that up.”

    Danes is never better than when she infuses Carrie with righteous
    indignation — except, maybe, when she infuses her with subtle
    regret immediately following a righteous indignation spell. Case in point: After Fara reminds her that she is the reason there even is an operation (“I followed Aayan. I
    found out Haqqani’s alive,”) Carrie reluctantly stepped off her high
    horse. Danes’ wordless reaction spoke volumes (namely, “Damn, you’re
    right. Oh, and my communication skills suck. Sorry ’bout that.”)

    Of course, we can’t discuss Danes’ performance in “From A to B and
    Back Again” without talking about The Scene — the one that began with
    Carrie watching Aayan get executed by his uncle and ended with her
    ordering her team to drop a warhead on Haqqani, even though it also
    meant taking out Saul. Facing opposition from her staff, most notably
    Quinn, who kept reminding her that “It’s Saul,” Carrie exploded, “Take the shot goddammit, wipe that f—er out!”

    The anger/regret/sadness/guilt/heartbreak Danes packed into those
    eight words was nothing short of astonishing. Carrie didn’t end up
    taking the shot, but, man, Danes sure hit the bullseye.


    Viola Davis as Annalise Keating — How to Get Away with Murder (ABC) ~ Episode: “Kill Me, Kill Me, Kill Me

    [ http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi2826809113 ] | [
    http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi2657333017 ]
    [ http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi2556669721 ] | [
    http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi2640555801 ]


    Taraji P.
    Henson as Cookie Lyon — Empire (FOX)
    ~ Episode: “Unto the Breach”

    In a lesser actress’ hands, Empire’s Cookie Lyon would be
    nothing more than a sound-bite machine. However, the amazing Taraji P.
    Henson gives life to all of the bon mots that flow from Cookie’s lips.
    Whether it’s a flippant “Bye, Felicia” or a drunken “That’s my name;
    take a bite,” Taraji sells every line with sass, character, and, most
    important, believability. When Taraji, as Cookie, is throwing back
    purple drank or throwing Boo Boo Kitty (Anika) out of Lucius home, she
    manages to steal every scene she’s in … and make you wish she was in
    every scene. Although Taraji has been a television and film staple for
    years, Empire is finally making her the household name she deserves to be.


    Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope — Scandal (ABC) ~ Episode: “Run”

    Even when grabbed from her home and (seemingly) whisked off to a
    dingy destination unknown, Olivia Pope has it handled. On-screen for
    nearly the entirety of the mid-season premiere’s 43 minutes, Kerry Washington
    walked the fine line between fierce fixer and Marvel-caliber hero, as
    Liv slowly took stock of her environs and abductors, never acting too
    hastily and, for better or worse, never superhumanly seeing too many steps ahead.

    Even when Olivia taunted Otto about his obvious No. 2 status,
    Washington showed us a woman strong in observation yet not foolhardy
    enough to fancy herself a one-person TAC Team. Similarly, she conveyed
    Olivia’s prioritization of prudence and patience over impetuous pluck,
    as bathroom break after bathroom break she processed information about
    the world around her. Even when Liv attempted that first great
    escape-via-underwire, Washington made clear this was not some superspy
    seizing on a surefire plan, but a well-tailored D.C. power player who
    perhaps Netflix’d Alias on a recent night.

    Did the unusual, break-from-format episode at times come off as “Emmy
    ”? Perhaps. Still, Washington is POTW-worthy for maintaining the
    Olivia of it all, for never letting us forget that as far (or not!)
    removed as she may be from home, this is the Gladiator we have spent
    three-and-a-half seasons with, only this time under extreme, different
    circumstances. Now if only Liv hadn’t dropped that gun….


    Ruth Wilson as Alison Lockhart — The Affair (Showtime) ~ Episode: “9”

    For most of The Affair’s freshman season, viewers have been kept in the dark about what really happened to Alison’s son, Gabriel, on the day he died. We knew he was very young. We knew he drowned. And we certainly knew the toll — physical, mental and emotional — that it had taken on Alison in the years since she lost her boy. But in Sunday’s episode, Ruth Wilson gave us a heartbreaking glimpse into her memory of that day. As Alison recounted the events leading to Gabriel’s death, she unraveled slowly, and then all at once, as she realized she may have been partially responsible for the loss. “Oh, God. Why did I put him to sleep?” she sobbed to her doctor, barely able to catch her breath. In the end, it was Wilson’s portrayal of a still-grieving mother that left us breathless.


    Overall, I believe that, if she is nominated again and submits the right episode choice, Caplan has this in the bag, while Davis, Washington, Wilson, and Wright are right behind her, with the right episode submission, of course.


    A Must-Read

    [ http://thefilmexperience.net/blog/2015/3/18/emmy-history-empire-heat-and-the-super-competitive-best-dram.html ]

    ReplyCopy URL
    Ryan Showers
    Jun 1st, 2014

    Ruth Wilson: “Episode 9” – She has the biggest and most emotionally draining scene of the entire season, which is going to be hard to top if she makes it into the line-up.

    Lizzy Caplan: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” – The latter part of the episode is dedicated to Caplan’s character, and it’s a baity styoryline (involving the possibility of her children being taken away). 

    Kerry Washington: “Run” – Though my personal favorite of the year for Washington is Baby Made a Mess, Run is undoubtably Washington’s most memorable achievement. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen from Olivia Pope before. She’s basically tortured for the entire 42 minutes, so the viewer is bound to have sympathy for her, and will be rooting for her in the climax.

    Robin Wright: “Chapter 39” – She may have more screentime in Chapter 32, but every time Wright is on screen in Chapter 39, she attacks the viewer. I was genuinely terrified and heartbroken by Claire’s character development, and Wright makes each character move extremely effective.

    Taylor Schilling: “Thirsty Bird” – She owns this episode exclusively. Schilling doesn’t have to share a single minute of Thirsty Bird with any of the other ensemble cast members. And she’s quite good– Piper is in a moral quandry, which leads to scenes where she gets to cry and yell.

    Julianna Margulies: “Sticky Content” – I love Mind’s Eye, but Sticky Content is more up the Emmy’s alley. She gets scene after scene to smash us with her acting in various ways. There are at least four-five big scenes that I sat back and thought, “Damn, Margulies is on fire.” 

    Viola Davis: “Kill Me, Kill Me, Kill Me” – Davis has powerhouse moments in every episode, but she doesn’t have a single, unstoppable tape. Kill Me, Kill Me, Kill Me is the closest thing to being a front-to-back, showstopping episode for her. Let’s Get Scooping has the most talked about moment of the TV season, but everything leading up to that scene is rather generic.

    Claire Danes: “Redux” – If Danes doesn’t submit this episode, she’s an idiot. It’s almost as if the writers asked themselves, “How can we get Danes another Emmy?” It’s intense, emotional and vulnerable show for Carrie. 

    I don’t watch Downton Abbey and Empire. 

    ReplyCopy URL
    Oct 14th, 2011

    Definetely “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” for Caplan.  Wilson has a winning tape with episode 9. 

    Claire Danes won’t make the lineup in my opinion. 

    ReplyCopy URL
    David Buchanan
    Nov 5th, 2010

    I think Margulies should submit “Oppo Research” instead of “Mind’s Eye,” which I think will be considered more of a conceptual and executional achievement than a showcase for Margulies. “Oppo Research,” on the other hand, has less experimentation of form, but a much stronger and more memorable performance!

    Speaking of CBS leading women, Téa Leoni really deserves to be in this conversation, though with such a crowded field this year there’s really no chance she gets nominated. Her performance on last week’s episode “Face the Nation” would have given any woman in this category a run for her money, though!

    Formerly known in the forums as PianoMann.

    ReplyCopy URL
    Jan 22nd, 2015

    I think Margulies should submit “Oppo Research” instead of “Mind’s Eye,” which I think will be considered more of a conceptual and executional achievement than a showcase for Margulies. “Oppo Research,” on the other hand, has less experimentation of form, but a much stronger and more memorable performance!

    I second this. As frustrating as the writing has been in season 6, Margulies has given her best performance in “Oppo Research.” I feel like “Mind’s Eye” is waaaay too experimental and would be extremely confusing and off-putting to a voter who’s a non-viewer. As already said, however, there is probably something better for Margulies waiting in the wings.

    As for Robin Wright, it’s no-contest (in the biggest contest of the night): If she submits “Chapter 32,” I’m predicting her for the win. This episode has everything that voters go for: Sympathy, crying, a big speech, a ton of screentime, and accessible for the non-regular viewer. The third time will be the charm for Ms. Wright if she gets it right, but anything else (even her alternate, “Chapter 39”) won’t push her beyond a nomination. 

    More than ever in Lead Actress, the competition is too fierce to have any screw-ups with episode submissions.

    Two-time champs:
    – Claire Danes, Homeland
    – Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
    Perennial noms:
    – Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
    – Kerry Washington, Scandal
    – Robin Wright, House of Cards

    – Patricia Arquette, CSI: Cyber
    – Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
    – Taraji P. Henson, Empire
    – Tea Leoni, Madame Secretary
    – Taylor Schilling, Orange is the New Black 
    – Ruth Wilson, The Affair

    Could go Lead/Could go Supporting:
    – Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men 

    One-time nominees:
    – Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex
    – Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel
    – Connie Britton, Nashville

    TCA win/2 Critics Choice wins/Globe nom/SAG nom:
    – Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black 

    Wishful thinking/hoping:
    – Keri Russell, The Americans 

    – Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy  

    ReplyCopy URL
    Jun 28th, 2012

    Might as well throw in outside chancers like Moss (if she goes lead), Caplan, Maslany and Russell.

    Margulies shouldn’t be thinking of anything else but “Oppo Research”. It’s the best episode of the season. She shows plenty of range. And she’s in every scene.  

    Danes, if nominated, will at most only have an outside chance no matter what. “From A to B and Back Again” is probably her best option. “Redux” is another Crazy Carrie episode. That won’t get it done.

    “Thirsty Bird” is Schilling’s only choice.

    I know everyone is saying “Episode 9” for Wilson. But I’d go with “Episode 4”, which has almost as much bait but isn’t as overheated and potentially confusing to non viewers. 

    ReplyCopy URL
    Jul 16th, 2014

    Great idea for the topic, Tom, but why only 8 contenders? It’s by far the strongest acting category this year, at least on the drama side.

    Viola Davis – probably Let’s Go Scooping (great scene at the end, but her show was pretty bad)
    Claire Danes – I don’t remember one particularly great showcase for her last season, but she’s always competitive
    Taraji P. Henson – Pilot (it established her character so well and pilots often do well as submissions)
    Robin Wright – Chapter 32 (she can win with it, but I’m pretty sure she’ll fuck up her submission)
    Kerry Washington – The Lawn Chair (she was great and it was actually very good episode and I HATED Run – classic example of jumping the shark)
    Taylor Schilling – season premiere
    Juliana Margulies – Oppo Research (didn’t like Mind’s Eye and it was probably too experimental)
    Lizzy Caplan – either Fight (best ep of the season) or The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (most baity)
    Ruth Wilson – haven’t seen yet
    Michelle Dockery – haven’t seen yet
    Elisabeth Moss – fingers crossed she’ll have another The Strategy this year and will be nominated (last year’s snub was unforgivable)

    And there are Russell, Farmiga, Maslany and few others.

    ReplyCopy URL
    Oct 11th, 2010

    Off topic, but I wish the nominees could submit TWO episodes.

    ReplyCopy URL
    Jun 28th, 2012

    I as well would like every non guest acting nominee to submit two episodes. Unfortunately, the academy seems to be moving towards voters having to do less work not more. 

    ReplyCopy URL
    Jan 22nd, 2015

    Robin Wright – Chapter 32 (she can win with it, but I’m pretty sure she’ll fuck up her submission)

    Keep in mind, producers of “House of Cards” are the ones that submitted the episodes. I don’t know how this was confirmed, but it was mentioned last year at Gold Derby. I believe Wright said she had no knowledge of how the system worked. This is what I respect so much about Julianna Margulies. She understands exactly how the process works, how submissions work, etc. She’s even said, “Someone steered me wrong the first season; they said ‘Don’t submit the pilot, because everyone will have already seen the pilot.’ I screwed up.”  And I LOVED when she mentioned “the director of [her] Emmy submission” in her speech this past year. It made me hope that people like Wright were really listening and said to themselves, “Submission? What is she talking about?”

    With no Vera Farmiga or Tatiana Maslany in the race last year, it should have been a cake-walk for Robin Wright. Instead, whoever chose her episode, singlehandedly gave it to Margulies (with Danes a strong second). I really hope these actors and actresses will pull a Julianna Margulies and make a conscious effort to know how all of this works. If you’re going to be blase or indifferent about it (looking at you, Edie Falco), why even submit at all?  

    Thankfully, Wright has a second chance at taking it this year (she had nothing from season 1, and is lucky to have even garnered that nomination). Fingers crossed for no screw-ups. Nothing should beat her performance in “Chapter 32” of season 3.  

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