Emmys 2011: Who Deserves the Award for Best Actress in a Drama?

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The 2010 Emmy winner for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series — The Closer‘s Kyra Sedgwick — didn’t even crack the list of nominees for 2011, which will add a dose of unpredictability to the category when the winners are announced at the Sept. 18 kudo-fest. But which woman is most worthy of taking home the statuette?

Julianna Margulies and Connie Britton are both nominated for the second consecutive year for The Good Wife and Friday Night Lights, respectively, but with the latter show having reached its conclusion, it’s last call for the woman who brought Tami Taylor to life. Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss is on the ballot (and seeking her first win) for the third straight year, though it’s worth noting her 2010 nod was in the Best Supporting Actress race. Meanwhile, Kathy Bates and Mireille Enos have a chance to take home Emmy gold for the freshman seasons of their shows, Harry’s Law and The Killing. And then there’s Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order: SVU, nominated for the eighth consecutive year (though she’s won only once, back in 2006).

Take our poll below to vote for your favorite — polls close Sept. 13, so act now! — then hit the comments to justify your pick!

Every afternoon for the next month, we’ll launch another “Who Should Win” Emmy poll, so come back to TVLine.com every day to weigh in on who’s most worthy of TV’s biggest honor, and to stay up to speed on all our races, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments (170)

  • The Emmys will obviously screw this up and give the award to Kathy Bates.

    Julianna or Connie should get it. Elisabeth Moss is a far 3rd.

    Comment by Jon – August 11, 2011 08:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Love Connie Britton and Elisabeth Moss, but those women are not lead actresses. That said, they deserve it more than anyone on that list. Katey Segal and Anna Torv should be nominated. Kathy Bates, Mirelle and Mariska don’t belong there.

    Comment by Justin – August 11, 2011 08:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • What??? as you say it, that doesn’t deserve to be there Mariska?? She has won all the nominations that had until this day, that you think does not take??? She will win Mariska♥

      Comment by Ivy Castro – August 11, 2011 09:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • She is the best canidate and so is Kathy Bates. But definately Mariska should be # 1. It’s about time the board recognizes her as an excellent actress . Each year she’s nominated. lets give to her the award, she well earned it through the years. She’s a bvetter actress now than she’s ever been . Hello is any one there. Lets do the right thing this year, and vote for the best Mariska.

        Comment by Elaine Brown – September 4, 2011 11:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Connie Britton was DEFINITELY a lead actress in FNL. And while Elisabeth Moss wasn’t featured in every episode, she does play a major role on the show. And if they submitted the episode I assume they submitted (The Suitcase)…she DEFINITELY would be considered a LEAD actress.

      Comment by Mike – August 12, 2011 09:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The only show out of all these that I watch is L&O. I truly love Mariska Hargitay, but I believe they need to quit nominating her if she isn’t going to win. I mean 8 times and only won once…sheesh!

    My vote goes to Julianna.

    Comment by shay – August 11, 2011 10:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Stana Katic.

    Comment by Sharp – August 11, 2011 10:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

    Comment by Liz – August 12, 2011 02:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I really am tired of hearing people bemoan the fact that Anna Torv wasn’t nominated. The truth is that she didn’t ‘deserve’ to be nominated. This is not to say that she is a bad actress or that Fringe is a bad show but when you compare the depth and weight of not just her performance but the material she was given to work with to others in this field there really is no comparison. To look at what Elisabeth Moss for example has done in Mad Men this year and suggest that Anna Torv (and the writers of Fringe) created a more detailed, interesting and engaging character and performance is simply wrong. Her performance and character lacks any true emotional depth or dimension and that is why she has been ignored and equally part of why Fringe continues to be ignored in general (and rightfully so).

    Although having said that I remain unconvinced the performance of Kathy Bates warranted an Emmy nomination as well. But if you want to have a conversation about actresses who should have been nominated for an Emmmy but weren’t then the most clear cut contender is Katey Sagal.

    In terms of the winner this is very much a three horse race between Julianna Margulies, Connie Britton and Elisabeth Moss. My money would probably be on Margulies unless Emmy voters are feeling very sentimental about FNL coming to an end.

    Comment by Alex – August 12, 2011 04:34 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You sound like a huge snob against Fringe just because it’s science fiction. Torv did an amazing job bringing depth to multiple roles. It was an epic performance IMO. How many actresses pulled that off last season? Not Elisabeth Moss. And I don’t know why she is even in this category since she is not the lead of Mad Men.

      Comment by annie – August 12, 2011 08:09 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Umm. . . the award is called “Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series.” There is a difference between “a lead” performer and “the lead” performer of the show. There is no “the lead” requirement for placement in the category. Also, Elisabeth Moss didn’t need to perform multiple roles to turn in outstanding performances in Season 4 of Mad Men. Just sayin.
        Maybe next year, Torv fans.

        Comment by Yo Mama – August 12, 2011 09:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Ummm… the category is called Outstanding LEAD Actress in a Drama Series, Elisabeth.

          Comment by LOL – August 12, 2011 11:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Be honest here, have you even watched Fringe? Season 3 was incredible, and a large part of that was down to the acting of Anna Torv and John Noble. The fact that neither of them were nominated for such an outstanding and critically acclaimed season of work makes absolutely no sense.

      Comment by Emily – August 12, 2011 09:47 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The problem with getting Torv and Noble nominated, besides it being Sci-Fi, is that their amazing acting skills were featured over many episodes and not just in one. To see the things that we all admired about the actors this season you would have had to watch a lot of the season. Unfortunately, for the Emmys, you can only submit ONE episode for consideration. And out of context, it probably makes no sense to the voters who don’t watch the show. It’s a shame that this is how the Emmys work, but that’s how it has worked for years. Elisabeth Moss had a perfect episode to showcase her skills this season, and since the episode is so highly acclaimed by many, I just can’t see her not winning unless somehow Friday Night Lights pulls off a miracle and lands some victories. That would be my favorite thing to happen this year. (with Fringe out of the running obviously)

      Comment by Mike – August 12, 2011 10:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • The problem with getting them nominated is that they aren’t good enough nor is the show they’re on.

        For those that asked yes I watch Fringe but I don’t kid myself into thinking the show is more than it is. It’s entertaining schlock and doesn’t have the weight or depth to compete with the likes of Mad Men, The Good Wife or Friday Night Lights. Torv can play 12 roles next season and that won’t change the very simple fact that not one of those roles has anywhere near the emotional depth of Elisabeth Moss’ one role in Mad Men or Connie Britton’s one role in Friday Night Lights and because the roles don’t have the depth Torv can’t show off the same range as Moss or Britton (assuming she has that range which I’ve seen very little evidence of).

        And this has nothing to do with no liking sci-fi, when it’s done well sci-fi can more than match a straight drama for its breadth and depth but the problem is that Fringe isn’t done well. It has aspirations of being on the same platform as The X-Files without the creativity and talent to back it up. It isn’t as smart as it thinks it is (or its hardcore fanbase thinks it is), it isn’t as creative as it thinks it is (or its hardcore fanbase thinks it is) and it isn’t as good as it thinks it is (or its hardcore fanbase thinks it is). The fact that a show can be entertaining does not an award winner make.

        Comment by Alex – August 12, 2011 01:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I watch all these shows. I was never a fan of Fringe, but this third season was great and Torv was great in it. It has nothing to do with liking Sci-fi. Great storytelling is great storytelling.

          And while Britton and Moss are amazing actors who would be equally deserving of winning the Emmy their work this past season doesn’t amount to how amazing Torv was in the third season of Fringe. Yes, she played multiple characters, and that obvious gimmick helped her show versatility, but the depth and power she brought to each role is what was truly impressive. Her stellar individual performances in “Olivia”, “Entrada” and ” Bloodline” are what the Emmys are supposed to be about.

          Comment by John – August 12, 2011 03:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Glen Close

    Comment by Midori – August 12, 2011 06:07 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Julianna should win.

    Comment by annie – August 12, 2011 07:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • MARISKA ♥ I love Mariska Hargitay and Anna Torv ♥

    Comment by Puupi – August 12, 2011 09:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Kathy Bates for she is an ACTRIS in her venes and blood!

    Comment by Katrine – August 12, 2011 09:21 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Elizabeth Moss-Great Job
    Mariska Harigtay-One of my favorites on TV
    Julianna Margulies-So overrated

    Connie Britton-So far an away the best actress on this list for FNL, they shouldn’t even insult her by having a vote. By my estimation, she should have won at least 3 already for this show.

    Comment by IPF – August 12, 2011 09:38 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • None of them. Too many superlative actresses are missing from this, mostly, garbage list. Elizabeth Moss isn’t a lead, period. Mariska Hargitay has been phoning it in for about 5 years. Mireille Enos didn’t have enough good material, that show died after about week 3. Kathy Bates has more voter sway than any of the actresses on the list because of her Oscar credentials but it is complete hors*it that she is on this list. Julianna Margulies, please, you can put a good actress in a procedural, but it is still just a legal procedural that doesn’t require much range. Connie Britton is awesome and she deserves it because she isn’t in a by the numbers procedural.

    This missing are Anna Torv, Katey Sagal, Lucy Lawless, Mary McCormack who just found out her great show was canceled, Anna Paquin, and on and on and on …..the list of better-thans far exceeds the names on this lame list.

    Comment by BHM1304 – August 12, 2011 11:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The only person on your list that arguably should have been nominated is Katey Segal. Lucy Lawless probably shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as Connie Britton, let alone the same award category.

      Comment by Yo Mama – August 12, 2011 03:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Thank you! Someone finally sees what a great actress Anna Paquin is and honestly one of the reasons she doesn’t get nominated is because she’s on a supernatural show. But Anna is really a phenomenal actress. I also agree that the nominees is this category are not very impressive. I think Paquin, Sagal, and Torv should be on that list. But they got it right with Moss and Britton they deserve their nomination.

      Comment by kierahillmin – August 26, 2011 09:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Choosing between Connie and Julianna is like freaking Sophie’s Choice! I’ll go for Connie because it was the last season of FNL…wow that hurt.

    Comment by Karen – August 12, 2011 11:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Elisabeth Moss was AMAZING in The Suitcase. Her performance (and Jon Hamm’s in that ep) will be forever ingrained in my consciousness. I love love love Julianna and Connie but gotta go with Peggie Olson here.

    Comment by Cynthia – August 12, 2011 12:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Connie! Mrs. Coach will always be the best <3

    Comment by Mayra – August 12, 2011 01:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Wow, Fringe fans are scaring me a little. I’ve never seen the show, but geez…they need to tone down the intensity a little and realize there are lots of great actresses on television who deserve kudos.

    But anyhoo…I voted for Elisbeth Moss and I feel kind of guilty for voting for her over Connie Britton. With FNL ending, I really want to see her win an emmy for the body of her work on the show. But Elisabeth Moss…she’s always so great on Mad Men and last season she was exceptional. I don’t think Kathy Bates has a shot, and I don’t think enough people watch The Killing for Mireille Enos to have a chance either. Plus a few critics out there really don’t like that show, and I think it is polarizing to people. I can’t see it being Mariska Hargitay that wins. As for Julianna Margulies, I know she has a shot because she won the golden globe, but…ugh. I like the The Good Wife well enough to watch it regularly, but I don’t see what the big deal is about it. I know TVLine fans would spit on me to hear me say that. I’m just not going to run out and buy it on DVD or anything, because I only find the show to be okay. Mad Men on the other hand…I watch every season multiple times and I even go through and watch every single commentary and I watch every single DVD extra. And I do think Elisabeth Moss is probably going to win this year, though I won’t be hurt one bit if it’s Connie Britton.

    Comment by Amber – August 12, 2011 08:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • If I hadn’t just caught up with the show I would be scared with you, but it really is ridiculous that the got no nominations. It’s the best drama series on broadcast television.

      Comment by John – August 13, 2011 05:44 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • MARISKA HARGITA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by vita magaña – August 12, 2011 10:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think Mariska Hargitay should win because for one she’s awesome and no one can put up with the things she hears and have to think about playing detective Benson

    Comment by Keiley – August 13, 2011 01:15 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Julianna Marguilles. She submitted “In Sickness”, which was the episode after she found about Peter and Kalinda. She rocked the hell out of the episode, especially that scene with her children.

    Comment by Ethan – August 13, 2011 05:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Connie Britton deserves to win the Emmy.

    Comment by Anthony – August 13, 2011 01:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

    Comment by flutiefan – August 13, 2011 06:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Julianna! Please let her win this year!!

    Comment by rebecca – August 13, 2011 06:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

    Comment by Carla P. Benson – August 13, 2011 08:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • i vote for mariska hargitay

    Comment by andrea – August 15, 2011 08:07 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Stana Katic (Castle) deserves it.
    Too bad she’s not nominated! She totally should have been!

    Comment by Monique – August 15, 2011 08:16 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Are you kidding? Stana Katic is a terrible actress!

      Comment by Anthony – August 15, 2011 09:23 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Have you even seen Castle? Ofcourse you’re entitled to your opinion, but there’s no actress who puts that much effort and emotion in a character like she does. We’re lucky to have her on our show. She gives it an extra dimension that only she can do.

        Comment by Diane – August 15, 2011 11:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • When talking about TV ladies that deserve an Emmy…DO NOT forget CAT DEELEY as reality tv host!!! She’s live, she cares & she’s her own stylist!!

    Get Sister! Cat for the WIN!

    Comment by Colette – August 15, 2011 09:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I say mariska is going to win she is clearly the best go mariska

    Comment by Amber – August 15, 2011 10:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

    Comment by Danii – August 15, 2011 12:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • @Mariska es la mejor actriz del mundo !!!LA AMO!!! #svu

    Comment by adriana – August 15, 2011 03:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • @Mariska @Mariska @Mariska @Mariska ella definitivamente se merece mas que nadie el EMMY la mejor acriz del mundo entero.

    Comment by adriana – August 15, 2011 03:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • If julianna Margulies doesn’t win, I’m going to cry! If anyone has seen the episode she sbmitted to the judges, you would want her to win!! her acting in The Good Wife is A MA ZING!!! Love the show, Julianna Margules, and Josh Charles! Willica <3

    Comment by Meriah Shyanne – August 16, 2011 04:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

    Comment by Katie Alotta – August 16, 2011 05:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • MARISKA ♥ I love Mariska Hargitay!!! she deserves win!

    Comment by Ivy Castro – August 16, 2011 05:43 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Give it to Connie Britton! Moss and Margulies are both so overrated.

    Comment by zoe – August 16, 2011 09:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Mariska Hargitay<3 She deserve's it. She is just amazing, when i try to describe her my eye just get so bright bout just thnking about what a wonderfull person she is.

    Comment by PerlaLizeth – August 18, 2011 12:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Katey Sagal

    Comment by SOA – August 19, 2011 01:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • MARISKA HARGITAY totally deserves it!she is so captivating in svu and is basically flawless!but i think the episode she is nominated for isnt one of her best (rescue) but think JM is a shoe in

    Comment by sarah – August 20, 2011 10:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The best episode is 911. But there are so many great ones, its too hard to name them all. P.S I loved undercover. I got so scared near the end, I almost shut my t.v off.

      Comment by Kat – August 27, 2011 08:35 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

    Comment by karleigh – August 22, 2011 03:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m going to be honest, I can’t take the fans word for Anna Torv. I’m not saying she is a bad actress because I’ve never watched the show Fringe. But, I’m weary of CW shows. They’re nice and the acting is pretty good, but it isn’t blow them out of the water type acting. CW fans have a strong presence online and in polls, they win most of the time because they spend time on sites like these to prove their show is better. Not to knock the network, fans, or actress, but I doubt she is as great as some of these fans are portraying her to be

    Personally, I’m going with Julianna because I watch the show and her portrayal of the character Alicia is top notch. This is not Hollywood politics going on with why she got nominated, but actual talent. People comment on how stiff Alicia comes off, but this is because of the ordeal she has gone through and her strict moral code, which makes even more sense as to why she was nominated. Her emotions are continually being picked at professionally and personally and she is rising from the ashes to become a person she wants to be rather than who she has to be.

    I like a lot of shows, but that doesn’t mean I believe an actor should be nominated, which goes for the case of these actress who people claim that should. Stop your bias from seeing the bigger picture. Just because you like a show and the actress is great, don’t forget that she has competition out there and her competition could be better.

    At the same time, Anna Torv could be as great as raved about, but people get robbed of nominations and wins all of the time.

    Comment by Toni Robinson – August 22, 2011 05:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Fringe isn’t on CW. Fringe is on FOX. But that said, I agree that the CW has a lot of crap shows but it has 2 awesome shows: Supernatural and Nikita. And I think Jensen Ackles is really awesome on Supernatural and is always deserving of being nominated but alas, is not. Also, Misha Colins also deserved to be nominated for his terrific work last season as Castiel, one of my favorite characters on television.

      Comment by Stephen S. – September 8, 2011 03:19 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I LOVE YOU MARISKA.. ella debee ganar..
    es la mejor.. siii!! y no ahoritaa
    desde siempree con todo lo ke ace..

    Comment by karlaa – August 23, 2011 11:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I actually think that Connie Britton has a chance of winning unlike Kyle Chandler (though I do love him), because there is just too much strong competition in the lead actor category. I think that Moss had an absolutely incredible performance this season on Mad Men, so, my vote goes to either of them.

    Comment by kierahillmin – August 26, 2011 09:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • We all know that Mariska deserves it. She is an exceptional actress and I am now glued to SVU. She has been a role model to girls and all victims worldwide.

    Comment by Kat – August 27, 2011 08:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Mariska Hargitay should def win . She has so much to offer and she is and amazing actress .

    Comment by Cecily – August 31, 2011 06:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • please vote for Mariska Hargitay!!!!!!!!!!! she is the best :D
    i vote for Mariska !!!

    Comment by Alejandra Guzman Diaz – September 1, 2011 02:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Agreed that Ana Torv SHOULD win. It’s utter BS that she was snubbed. :( Since she wasn’t nominated, I’ll have to go with Margulies who is nearly as amazing.

    Comment by Stephen S. – September 8, 2011 03:17 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Why is there even a running. Mariska Hargitay deserves to win, she is the best actress up here. Her only competition, Kyra Sedgwick, isn’t even in the running this year. My vote goes completely and eternally to Mariska Hargitay!!!!!

    Comment by Laura Gordon – September 9, 2011 01:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Mariska Hargitay all the way!! She is an amazing actress. She is my idol. I absolutely love her!! She deserves to win! :D

    Comment by Brittany Ann – September 9, 2011 07:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • salut jae vote pour toi parce que je trouve mariska ki joue bien le role de olivi

    Comment by alisone – September 10, 2011 10:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Mariska hargitay! <3

    Comment by Shelby – September 10, 2011 03:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • well sence this is like her year i want MARISKA TO WIN GO MARISKA

    Comment by breanna – September 11, 2011 07:47 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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