Emmy nominations will be announced tomorrow (Thursday, July 14) and that means it is time to offer up some quick thoughts regarding who I would like to see on the shortlist. I’ve split my list into drama, mini-series and comedy with some shows getting multiple nomination hopes. These are all actors who have submitted their work for Emmy consideration and some of these are repeats from last year’s wish list.
A mix of certain locks, potential first timers and complete outsiders make up these choices and while I am sure there are some amazing performances that are not included below this is the list of actors I have gone for.
DramaMatthew Rhys and Keri Russell
Every year The Americans tops its previous season with Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell taking levels of soul crushing heartache to new heights. It was hard not to spend half of any review I wrote praising the leads for how much they manage to convey with just a look and the number of ways they manage to devastate, but I get to repeat myself here for those that missed that.
They’re not the only Americans actors who deserve a nod this year with Alison Wright turning Poor Martha into something so much more than a tragic lovelorn figure. I would like to this show reap all the awards this year and have my usual gif lined up for when this doesn’t happen. Again. Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, Regina King
The Leftovers hit new highs in season 2 and relocating to Texas was a huge part of this. Three scenes really stand out; the first is when Nora wonders if there’s been a second departure when she wakes up to find Kevin is gone. A desperate phone call to emergency service is followed by a desperate hug when Kevin walks in through the door which quickly shifts to anger that he put her through this. The second comes when Nora gets Erika to take the questionnaire she has given to countless others and as the camera pushes in on both actresses we get to see the best of both Carrie Coon and Regina King. The third and final scene I want to highlight comes from the season finale and when I heard this clip on a recent Vulture podcast it made me cry; when Justin Theroux sings “Homeward Bound” the tears and snot flows freely and it tops off an incredible season.Tatiana Maslany
Even in this fourth season of Orphan Black I still manage to forget that Tatiana Maslany tends to be a least 50% of the characters in any one scene and that she can break my heart in an instant. Caitriona Balfe
While I’m on the subject of heartbreak which is a common theme among all my picks; Caitriona Balfe delivered a raw and emotionally devastating performance when Claire experienced a huge loss midway through season 2. “Faith” is the ideal Emmy showcase episode, but Balfe has delivered on a number of levels this year showcasing Claire’s strengths and vulnerability in equal measure.Shiri Appleby
On UnREAL Shiri Appleby as Rachel teeters on the edge of falling apart at every turn; she is fantastic at her job but that means a whole lot of questionable actions and Appleby conveys both the conflict and excitement in the manipulation of the Everlasting contestants that she gets off on.
The mini-series category is stacked this year and I’m hoping that both Sarah Paulson and Sterling K. Brown will have their names called out on tomorrow. Paulson is pretty much a lock for her incredible portrayal of Marcia Clark and while Brown is more of an outside chance I will be disappointed if someone like John Travolta (because he is a movie star) gets nominated ahead of him. For the chemistry between Brown and Paulson alone they deserve an Emmy nod with late night office intimate dancing and a look in the hotel corridor that had me screaming KISS HIM; I did not expect American Crime Story to result in shipping of any kind. Kirsten Dunst
On Fargo this season Peggy Blumquist became a new TV style icon and Kirsten Dunst took a character who could have felt incredibly cartoony and delivered something a lot more nuanced. Wanting something better than the life she has and ending up in a murdery cat and mouse game, Dunst makes Peggy a tragic figure we root for and shake our head at while also giving me a good reason why I have kept so many magazines.
I’m not just picking Oscar Isaac because I want to see him in a tux come September, but because Show Me a Hero is still something that almost a year later feels like a gut punch when I think about it. Isaac also manages to work that mustache and is delightful in the moments where he fixes up the house in dad jeans while listening to Bruce Springsteen.
A lot of the performances I have chosen have involved some element of crushing heartbreak and this isn’t just relegated to drama; Aya Cash and You’re the Worst took the comedies that make me cry to new levels this year and this exploration of depression was an unexpected and welcome turn from one of my favorite shows on TV.
I am late to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend party having only started (and finished) the show last week and Rachel Bloom is doing such a wide range of things both in front and behind the camera. There are the song performances (and I have a number of these swirling through my head) coupled with the range of emotions from the funny to the agonizing and I think we have found a common theme among my nomination choices.
Another creator/star that stands out this year is Aziz Ansari with his Netflix series Master of None and for things that get stuck in my head I have been saying “The Sickening… It’s happening!” a lot this year. Also for getting in my favorite passage from The Bell Jar into the season finale in such an interesting way and gifting us with amazing weekend date ideas, showing the difference between experiences walking home if your are a dude or a woman and highlighting diversity on TV/film issues. I hope to see multiple nominations for Ansari.
Another case of a comedy that makes me cry just as much as it makes me laugh and Gina Rodriguez delivers in both arenas. Season 2 saw Jane juggling motherhood, grad school and so many romantic triangle situations; it is the relationships between the women on Jane the Virgin that really hits my sweet spot and the chemistry Rodriguez has with her co-stars is a huge part of this charm.