Daily Arts Dream Emmy Ballots: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Thursday, July 14, 2016 - 12:23am

NOSELL

FX

 

Today Daily Arts Writers and Editors wrap up our series on who we think should have been among the Emmy nominees announced earlier. Here’s our look at Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series:

Alex Intner, Summer Managing Arts Editor:

Shiri Appleby — “UnREAL”

Viola Davis — “How to Get Away with Murder”

Julianna Margulies — “The Good Wife”

Tatiana Maslany — “Orphan Black”

Krysten Ritter — “Marvel’s Jessica Jones”

Keri Russell — “The Americans”

Narrowing down this category was difficult, but each of these six women brought something exciting to their series and made the shows around them better. Appleby had a very difficult character to play in “UnREAL.” Rachel was not only the emotional center of the show, but she was also just as awful and cynical as everyone around her. Appleby did an excellent job with how she brought these layers to her character. Davis is stuck on a mediocre show, but she owns every moment she has. With “Murder,” there’s a lot of boring material, and then there’s Annalise Keating crying at the feet of her mother. She brings gravitas and power to a show that doesn’t otherwise have it. “The Good Wife” struggled in its final season, but Margulies’ performance remained constant throughout. She did everything from cry to show seething anger this season, and she did it all with grace and poise. Maslany’s performance on “Orphan Black” is one of my favorites on all of TV because of the pure degree of difficulty. She has to make several characters feel distinct from one another, and she does so with her massive talent. Each of her clones has layers all their own, which is something few others could pull off. Ritter makes this list because of how she brought Jessica Jones to life. Jessica is a very complex character and necessitated an actress with great range. Ritter provided this in every episode of the show. Lastly, Russell has been fantastic on every season of “The Americans” so far, and she took it to a new level this year. Every moment of Elizabeth’s struggle with parenting, her marriage and her work as a spy felt so real because of her work.

Anay Katyal, Summer Senior Arts Editor:

Claire Danes — “Homeland”

Alexa Davalos — “The Man in the High Castle”

Robin Wright — “House of Cards”

Taylor Schilling — “Orange is the New Black”

Priyanka Chopra — “Quantico”

Keri Russell — “The Americans”

Though “Homeland” has been met with its fair share of criticism and controversy, Claire Dane’s performance has remained a positive (and integral) constant for the show. Someone comparatively under-the-radar relative to the rest of the pack is Alexa Davalos. Her role as the (unhealthily) ever-so-curious Juliana Crain brings to light a fascinating perspective on Japanese culture and rule within the greater story of the show. Robin Wright’s captivating performance as political steward-turned-matriarchal leader was among some of the strong highlights in an otherwise muted season of “House of Cards.” In its latest season, “Orange is the New Black” took a more pointed and thoughtful approach relative to past seasons, and no actress has been more integral in that transition than lead actress Taylor Schilling. In one of television’s bigger surprises, “Quantico” (and Priyanka Chopra’s American television debut) has provided network television a captivating narrative on the back of a (surprisingly) welcome and skilled performance from Priyanka Chopra. In its latest season, Keri Russell’s time on “The Americans” showcased the actress’s versatility as she experienced a variety of emotionally trying moments onscreen.

Megan Mitchell, Daily Arts Writer:

Taraji P. Henson — “Empire”

Viola Davis — “How to Get Away With Murder”

Krysten Ritter — “Marvel’s Jessica Jones”

Caitriona Balfe — “Outlander

Eva Green — “Penny Dreadful”

Melissa Benoist — “Supergirl”

Lead actresses are the queen bees of network television. Specifically, Taraji P. Henson of the series “Empire” is the queen of all bees. Sprouting quirky attitude and memorably fierce one-liners, Henson is a sure-thing in the long list of Emmy contenders, deserving recognition for Cookie’s outrageous character, whose humor has never once faltered over two seasons. Opposite of humor, Viola Davis returns to defend her Emmy win from last year’s award ceremony. Her charisma has kept the series running, despite all the craziness of the previous season. Meanwhile, Krysten Ritter fell right into her comfort zone with “Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” which dabbled in the dark and sexy throughout their hit first season, which rivaled that of “Marvel’s Daredevil.” Ritter fell right into character, creating a role through her passionate performances during the season. On Starz’s “Outlander,” Caitriona Balfe transitioned through the many, and few between, roles that her part demanded out of this adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s classic series. Falling easily into a role brings heart into a series, a feat which Balfe remarkably accomplished in an almost effortless fashion. Speaking of classics, Eva Green shines in gothic “Penny Dreadful,” an adaptation of classic horror novels that meshes almost perfectly in a mix of eroticism and dramatic storytelling. Also, Melissa Benoist should come to the Emmy Awards for her role in the then CBS, now CW series “Supergirl.” This is more of a personal pick, as Benoist was able to pull off the cutesy role of clumsy intern and the strength and sheer determination of Supergirl herself in all but a few seconds. Changing roles is hard, but changing identities? You go, (super) girl.

Sam Rosenberg, Daily Arts Writer:

Taylor Schilling, “Orange is the New Black”

Krysten Ritter, “Jessica Jones”

Shiri Appleby, “UnREAL”

Since I don’t watch “Game of Thrones,” “How to Get Away with Murder” and other popular TV dramas, it would be unfair for me to nominate actresses like Viola Davis and Lena Headey for their roles without having seen them perform. Which is why I have only chosen three actresses (whose shows I have watched) that I believe should be nominated. Piper Chapman may be the most unlikable character on “Orange is the New Black,” but Taylor Schilling’s portrayal of Piper is outstanding regardless. Even when there are moments that make Piper’s character so excruciating to watch, Schilling manages to unravel Piper’s deep-seated flaws for satirical effect and seems to do it almost effortlessly. Another strong female lead is Krysten Ritter, whose snarky quips from previous acting roles come in handy as the eponymous protagonist in “Jessica Jones.” Evoking both strong emotional (and physical) strength, Ritter seems perfectly fit for the role of Jessica, who battles inner demons of PTSD and trauma while crimefighting her abusive, mind-controlling ex-boyfriend. Shiri Appleby is fully invested in bringing her antihero character, Rachel Goldberg, to life on “UnREAL.” While having great chemistry with her castmates, Appleby gives an incredible performed filled with such emotional intensity and moral ambiguity that its merit can even parallel to Aaron Paul’s performance in “Breaking Bad.”