Emmys

Emmys 2011: A Look at the Lead Drama Actress Race — Including Our 6 Dream Nominees

In 2010, the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series seemed destined to go to Julianna Margulies for The Good Wife. Everybody said so. Apparently everybody but the Emmy voters, that is. They decided instead, that after her fifth nomination, it was The Closer’s Kyra Sedgwick who finally deserved to win. This year the big buzz surrounds Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss. Come award night, will she or some other fresh face have the statuette in their hand? Or will Margulies, again a seeming frontrunner, claim it this time? Or someone else patiently waiting their turn? Here’s our analysis of the standouts competing to get a nod.

More Emmy Races In Review: Outstanding Drama Series | Supporting Comedy Actor | Supporting Comedy Actress | Lead Comedy Actor | Lead Comedy Actress | Outstanding Comedy Series | Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

Review this slideshow of the major contenders — including TVLine’s Dream Nominees — then vote below for who you think are the six best. And check back Friday for our preview of the Outstanding Lead Drama Actor race!




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Comments (620)

  • if i could just vote for Connie Britton 6 times, i would. she is a revelation.

    Comment by flutiefan – June 9, 2011 11:19 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Went with Connie Britton, Anna Paquin, Piper Perabo and Katey Segal.

    Comment by Captain – June 9, 2011 11:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m Pro Julianna, but if Emmy at least gets a nod I will be very happy!

    Comment by Ashton – June 9, 2011 11:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Julianna Margulies all the awards!

    Comment by sietsx – June 9, 2011 11:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • As much as i think Mad Men is one of the best TV shows ever, and as much as season 4 was my single favorite season of TV ever, and AS MUCH as I love Elizabeth Moss and January Jones in their roles. They just aren’t lead actresses and don’t belong here. The only lead on that show is Jon Hamm, and it’s just silly to think otherwise. Standing out as the lead in one or two episodes certainly isn’t lead. I’d give my vote to Juliana Marguiles, Anna Torv, Connie Britton, Katey Sagal, and the massively under-rated Maggie Q from Nikita. Who should at least be a contender.

    Comment by Justin – June 9, 2011 11:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Lisa Edelstein

    Comment by Pedro – June 9, 2011 11:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • No, really, how is Stana Katic not on this list? She’s AMAZING!

    Comment by Elle – June 9, 2011 11:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Stana Katic from Castle!

    Comment by Natalie – June 9, 2011 11:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Anna Torv, ALL THE AWARDS!

    Comment by Jessica – June 9, 2011 11:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Emily Deschanel!

    Comment by Gora – June 9, 2011 11:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • My bet this year goes 2 Mirelle Enos in the Killing, this show is so well written and she plays Sarah Linden perfectly!

    Comment by S Mabe – June 9, 2011 11:43 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Jeanne Tripplehorn was heartbreaking as Barb on Big Love. The entire cast on that show was extremely talented and although the quality of the writing declined, the same cannot be said of the acting.

    Comment by Sarah – June 9, 2011 11:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I went with Elisabeth Moss, Anna Paquin, Emmy Rossum and Anna Torv. But it’d be great if they would consider CW shows for these awards, Maggie Q and Nina Dobrev have been doing such amazing work and really deserve recognition.

    Comment by Emily – June 9, 2011 11:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • i don’t get this Emily Deschanel obsession for “Bones”. i’m sure she’s a lovely person in real life, but her character is so boring, *incredibly* monotonous, and decidedly UN-romantic, i don’t see how she is appealing at all.

    now Anna Torv, she can do the straight-man scientist role, the sexy love interest, the conniving seducer, the hardened detective and the Leonard Nimoy role all at once. it would be great to see her nominated.

    and of course, Julianna Margulies is nuanced in every thing she does, even when her delivery is a little flat.

    but as much as i have loved her and the show over the years, Mariska Hargitay hasn’t been given the material needed for a nomination.

    Connie Britton FTW!

    Comment by flutiefan – June 9, 2011 11:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • What you said about Emily Deschanel is because of what you’ve heard about the show and her character by some people who most likely don’t watch or only occasionnally because Emily Deschanel can do what you said about Anna Torv (I don’t watch the show so I won’t agree or disagree). Have a deeper look at the show and you will see that the cahracter is not boring at all, and absolutely not “unromantic”.

      Comment by claude – June 10, 2011 02:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Have you watched the whole 6 seasons of Bones yet? If not, dont judge Emily’s acting ability so fast like that!!!

      Comment by AP – June 21, 2011 01:07 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Do not know why Stana Katic is not on the list but she should be! Her work on Castle this year was fantastic!

    Comment by Emma – June 9, 2011 11:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • STANA KATIC?!!!!!!!!! WHERE IS SHE???

    Comment by Cammy – June 9, 2011 11:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think, Leighton Meester should at least be rewarded a nomination for being Blair Waldorf… She is the heart and soul of the show with Ed Westwick… Though I think his role is not yet at par with Leighton… At least a nomination for Meester and a show of spreading the love to other worthy actress…

    January Jones, I think should be in Supporting for the 4th season of Mad Men, and Elizabeth Moss has been very consistent each and every episode, and she just took the driver’s seat this season for the lead actress (the same way Jon Hamm is the lead) so I’m really hoping she gets not just a nod but an Emmy as well…..

    Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
    Anna Torv, Fringe
    Anna Paquin
    Jeanne Tripplehorn

    Comment by Dave R – June 9, 2011 11:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • C’mon Team TVLine – why the CW Freeze out? Are trying to earn your Emmy cred by pretending the CW does not exist?!

    NINA DOBREV – Vampire Diaries!!!! (either Elena or Katherine she is great as both characters)

    Blake Lively, Leighton Meester – Gossip Girl

    Britt Robertson – Life Unexpected

    Maggie Q – Nikita

    Comment by Where is the CW – June 9, 2011 11:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • 100% agree with Leighton Meester for GG (although she’s not really lead actress) but Blake Lively? NO WAY. She’s one of the worst actresses out there. She practically ruins the show.

      Comment by GinaBallerina – June 9, 2011 01:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Emily Deschanel. That is all, she at the very least deserves a nomination. Her acting’s always been great on Bones, but she took it up a nodge this year with episodes as “The Doctor in the Photo” she was in every, absolutely every single scene and she knocked ‘em all out of the park.
    Other than that I voted for Julianna Margulies and Mariska Hargitay.

    Comment by Jenny – June 9, 2011 11:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Voted For Emily Deschanel for two hours straight… I hope it helps! :)

    Comment by Temperance – June 9, 2011 11:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Stana Katic from Castle for all the awards!!!

    Comment by Jane – June 9, 2011 11:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Stana Katic from “Castle” definitely deserves an Emmy this year. She had such a fantastic season acting-wise, including “Setup”, “Countdown”, “Knockdown”, and “Knockout”. Those episodes alone should earn her a nod.

    Comment by Mags – June 9, 2011 12:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree with everything you said. Stana was ridiculously good this season!

      Comment by Leigh – June 9, 2011 12:03 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I have been a fan of Lauren Grahams for a long time, even before Gilmore Girls. She is an amazing actress and I love her in Parenthood.

    Comment by cheri – June 9, 2011 12:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • EMILY DESCHANEL!! I love her, she deserves an Emmy so much! <33

    Comment by Hanna – June 9, 2011 12:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I AGREE!!!!!!! I’ve voted for her at least fifty times… SHE NEEDS TO WIN!! :)<3

      Comment by Temperance – June 9, 2011 12:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Can I just vote for Connie Britton six times?

    Comment by Rachel – June 9, 2011 12:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think Ausiello made a mistake there… He forgot to list Stana Katic for her OUTSTANDING work on Castle. =/

    Comment by Lauren – June 9, 2011 12:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Mad Men was just great on season 4 and I’ve never seen a performance that is so pitch-perfect every episode last season like Elizabeth Moss… She just managed to showcase acting at its finest especially in “The Suitcase” episode… Though Julianna Margulies also delivered a solid performance in The Good Wife but I prefer Moss over her…

    Anna Torv on the other hand just pushed herself to the limit… It was the show’s best season yet and I hope a nomination for her and John Noble and for Outstanding Drama series is possible to reward this great season of Fringe…

    Mireille Enos provided the emotional impact for The Killing which was also a break out Drama series….

    A proper farewell to Big Love by nominating Jeanne Triplehorn would also be nice and I think Kyra Sedgwick will come back for a nod in The Closer…

    MOSS
    MARGULIES
    TORV
    ENOS
    TRIPLEHORN
    SEDGWICK

    And I agree Leighton Meester was the driving force in Gossip Girl… It was an performance that evolves every season… But Emmy will just have to snub it just like the other THE WB/CW shows before…

    Comment by Triple M – June 9, 2011 12:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I really really like most of the actresses on the list,they are all great.. And unique to their characters. BUT, I cannot think of anyone who deserves it more than Emily Deschanel. She has been just.. OUSTANDING this last season of Bones. And it hurts that she’s so underated. Hope she gets it!

    Comment by Julie – June 9, 2011 12:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Ugh… I meant OUTSTANDING. *shakes head*

    Comment by Julie – June 9, 2011 12:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • lol the stana katic fans are p*ssed.

    To be fair, Castle has it’s serious moments but the majority of it is frothy sugar coated slap stick. Not exactly, emmy nominee potential. I vote for Anna Torv and the lead actress off ‘The killing.’

    Comment by candy coated – June 9, 2011 12:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Ssij pento gównojadzie!!

      Comment by Franek – June 9, 2011 01:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • your message only proves that Stana Katic deserve even more a nod. She is great in serious moments, she’s great with action and she has a great timing for comedy.
      Why, seriously, WHY, nobody seems to see that it’s as much hard to play comedy than drama ? And with the exact same characters !

      Comment by MCO – June 9, 2011 02:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • How is Stana Katic not on this list? She was amazing!

      Comment by Jay – June 10, 2011 10:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if Piper Perabo got nominated over Anna Torv. Because that’s how dumb the Emmys are.

    Comment by ela – June 9, 2011 12:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Ahhhhh…….. Stana Katic!! =( She should be on there!

    Comment by Selah – June 9, 2011 12:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Connie Britton for Friday Night Lights! Hands down, she totally deserves to win! No questions asked.

    Comment by Jared – June 9, 2011 12:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Anyone who didn’t put Stana Katic on this list definitely didn’t see the Castle season finale.

    Comment by Hammy – June 9, 2011 01:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Seconded!!

      Comment by Laura – June 9, 2011 07:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I third that! Stabs deserves the nod more than anyone on the show, and they were all outstanding! Bedides that, how Knockout didn’t get on the emmy ep list I have no idea! It was the best ep by far, kicked butt in it’s time slot, & got raving reviews by everyone that watched it! The fact that this show not only got picked up for a 4th season early in Jan, but it already got picked up for syndication on TNT for 2012, & that its only in it’s 3rd season, says it all! Emmys are all about the politics, and they never give the deserving shows their due. Same old shows get the awards over & over again.

        Comment by Kim – June 10, 2011 06:49 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Stupid phone autocorrect, that was supposed to be Stana not Stabs…

          Comment by Kim – June 10, 2011 06:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • lmao, I was wondering if Stabs was some insider nickname for her…..

            Comment by Elle – June 10, 2011 07:29 AM PDT  
  • Anna Torv so deserves an Emmy.

    Comment by lee – June 9, 2011 01:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The six women I voted for were:
    1. Anna Torv
    2. Emily Deschanel
    3. Anna Paquin
    4. Kyra Sedgwick
    5. Jennifer Beals
    6. Katey Sagal

    It’s gotta be Anna Torv for the win. Fringe was hands down the best show on tv this year, and she’s a big reason why. Her interpretation of two different Olivias and William Bell were fantastic, let alone the conflict her and the other characters deal with everyday with two universes. Basically, Fringe for the win (as in, the entire cast).

    Comment by Justin – June 9, 2011 01:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • MAGGIE Q!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by asdfadf – June 9, 2011 01:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • No Ellen Pompeo? :(

    Comment by Haley – June 9, 2011 01:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • How is Toni Collete not on that list?? I know United States of Tara got canceled, but not because of her acting. She is absolutely amazing this season. Especially when playing Bryce!

    Comment by E – June 9, 2011 01:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • She is submitted for lead actress in a comedy. Tvline already profiled her when they did the leading actress in a comedy list. I agree, it is a good show, it’s a shame it got canceled, and she should get nominated. It would be nice to see her win too.

      Comment by Amber – June 9, 2011 03:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Emily Deschanel, what an amazing actress! She has to have an emmy! Where is Stana Katic, and Ellen Pompeo, both great.

    Comment by Tasha – June 9, 2011 01:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Anna Torv, the outstanding lead actress.

    No other actress has done this year what Anna Torv has done: multiple versions of Olivia and channelling an 80-year old man.
    Added to that an emotional rollercoaster journey from one extreme to the other. Amazing, wonderful actress.

    Comment by Passing – June 9, 2011 01:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Connie Britton deserves a WIN! She is unbelievable as Tami Taylor. Though I would also be more than happy to see Julianna Margulies win as she is brilliant on The Good Wife. However, I would love to see some procedural love either Emily Deschenel or Stana Katic. People, you really need to vote Other for Stana Katic!

    Comment by Amy – June 9, 2011 01:47 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • JULIANNA MARGULIES!her talent in The Good Wife is incredible,she deserves this Emmy

    Comment by Steph – June 9, 2011 01:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Where is STANA KATIC? Seriously??? She so deserves an Emmy for her perfect portray of Kate Beckett on Castle!

    Love Emily Deschanel, Julianna Margulies and Jennifer Beals too!

    Comment by mac – June 9, 2011 01:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Helloooo….KaDee Strickland was incredible on Private Practice.

    Comment by A – June 9, 2011 02:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Anna Torv!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Fringie6989 – June 9, 2011 02:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I can’t believe Stana Katic is not on this list!?!? She so deserves an Emmy for her work this year on Castle. An amazing, beautiful and talented actress!

    Comment by Sarah – June 9, 2011 02:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I am pleased the Emily Deschanel is on this list but I think that the ladys from Shows like NCIS have been overlooked. Cote de Pablo for example does an amazing job, yet has never received a nomination

    Comment by Sarah silverstein – June 9, 2011 02:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • They women from NCIS are supporting actresses.

      Comment by CM – June 9, 2011 04:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • January Jones was disappeared in Season 4, how is that she goes as “lead female character”? O_O

    Comment by Teresa – June 9, 2011 02:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • That is an excellent question indeed. I believe she made the decision to submit herself as lead actress, and it was a bad one. I think it’s going to backfire against her, especially with all the Elisabeth Moss love out there.

      Comment by Amber – June 9, 2011 03:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • LAUREN GRAHAM FTW!!! :D

    Comment by Victoria – June 9, 2011 02:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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