My Picks For This Year’s Emmys: TV Movie/Limited Series

Part 5: Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Limited Series

HBO is most likely to dominate this category and the most likely winner may have been determined as far back as July. But there are a lot of good possibilities, and even a couple of actresses who are likely to double dip, as well as at least one who might cancel each other out for their work in two shows. So let’s go through the list.

Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects

Ever since the Golden Globes, Clarkson has been the heavy favorite in this category, and there’s a very good reason why. Not since the days of Livia Soprano and Betty Draper has there been just a dysfunctional, oppressive mother. For most of the series, she remained a quiet force, suppressing Adams’ character so well, it was easy to see why her family turned out the way it did. And when we learned the truth about her, it was quite easy to see why we thought she was the killer behind everything. Clarkson is one of the great actresses of our time, and I will be delighted if she wins.

Carmen Ejojo, True Detective

Just for playing the first purely sympathetic female character in a series that has gone out of its way to be misogynistic at times is a remarkable feat. But Ejojo’s work as Amelia, the schoolteacher whose life and future become intertwined with Wayne’s and the crime was one of the more remarkable works this year. She ultimately became the series conscience — and not just in the sense she was the voice in Wayne’s head as his memory began to collapse. I knew nothing of this actress before Season 3 began. I have a feeling regardless of the results, that’s not going to be the same.

Julia Garner, Dirty John

She had a hell of a year. Playing Connie Britton’s daughter, and the one person who suspects early on that her mother’s new husband is not what he seems, Garner managed to achieve what so many other characters don’t — being correct in her assumptions and staying unsympathetic through most of the series. The SAG awards recognized Garner for her work and on Ozark — both time as a lead with very tough competition in each category. I have a feeling the Supporting category will be friendly to her here as it for her in the Drama category.

Eliza Scanlen, Sharp Objects

The virtual unknown in a series with some of the greatest actresses working today, Scanlen’s performance as Adams’ much younger half-sister was absolutely one of the most mesmerizing works all year. As another girl who was supposedly raising hell, and who seemed to have a level of sexuality that her sister must have, Scanlen’s character seemed to another victim of her mother. This made the last second revelation just as shocking to those who knew it was coming. (She also had one of the great last lines in the history of any television show). She’s been less acknowledged then even other actresses in this series, but she more than deserves to be there.

Emily Watson, Chernobyl

Watson has always been one of the most undervalued actresses, playing characters that seem to repress everything. And as the investigative scientist in Chernobyl, the one who relentlessly pushed for the truth, even though it might cost her her freedom, was one of the most remarkable portrayals. In the final episode when she persuaded Harris — a man who had given up his life to try and save all he could — that the world needed to know what had happened at Chernobyl was just the frosting on a performance that featured so many moments of quiet dignity. She should be here.

Robin Weigert, Deadwood: The Movie

Considering that for so much of the series run, Calamity Jane basically was adjacent to the main action and rarely a part of it, it is a testament to the remarkable ability of Weigert that she made Jane the most memorable character on a series full of so many ones. (It’s also stunning, when you see Weigert in Big Little Lies, that you realize just how much work she had to do to make herself look utterly undesirable.) Seeing Jane in her utterly drunk and miserable state one last time, returning to Camp to see the woman that she loved was another joy that reminds us how grateful I am that Weigert came out of the muck and mire of this utterly brilliant series. She more than deserved an Emmy when Deadwood was on the air, and she more than deserves a nomination now. (Besides, you know her acceptance speech would be awesome.)

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

Margaret Qualley, Fosse/Verdon /Native Son

Sometimes when actresses have brilliant years, they are fortunate enough to be in two different categories. I’ve already discussed Julia Garner’s work and Patricia Arquette’s brilliance in The Act as the murderous maternal figure will likely land her a Supporting nod in this category. But sometimes, even in the Golden Age, actors compete against themselves. And Qualley is the prime case. She gave two brilliant performances this year: as Mary, the woman that the modern Bigger ends up driving around town, and eventually becomes a figure of love and violence, and she played Ann Renking in Fosse/Verdon, the Broadway ingénue who would launch to success in Chicago in Verdon’s place, and eventually become Fosse’s new lover. In both of these parts she was brilliant. If she had just been in one, she’d be likely the frontrunner for a nomination. But she was in both, and she’ll probably get recognized for neither. Like Garner and Scanlan, she’s young and will get over. I just hope the voters can remember one performance in which she shown.

See you in mid-July when the nods come out.

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