Emmys

Emmys 2012: Who Should Win Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series? Take Our Poll!

A mix of previous winners, repeat nominees, and Emmy neophytes comprises the 2012 race for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Reigning champ Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife
) will try to make it back-to-back wins, while Glenn Close goes for a hat trick after winning in 2008 and 2009 for Damages
. (Margulies and Close each took home statuettes in different categories back in 1995 as well — the former as Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for ER, the latter as Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special for Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story.)

Speaking of 1995, that’s the last time Claire Danes found herself in the Lead Actress in a Drama Series race — for the acclaimed but short-lived high-school drama My So-Called Life. In the interim, she’s picked up the prize as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for 2010′s Temple Grandin, and now returns to the Drama Series category as the star of Showtime’s riveting freshman drama Homeland.

Kathy Bates, meanwhile, finds herself in the race for the second straight year for her now canceled NBC drama Harry’s Law. That nomination, along with a second one as Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for Two and a Half Men, mark Bates’ tenth and eleventh chances to end her Emmy bridesmaid streak.

Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss will also seek to put to rest the phrase “it’s an honor just to be nominated,” as she’s celebrating her fourth straight nod (three in the Lead Actress race, one in the Supporting Actress category) as part of AMC’s acclaimed period drama.

Rounding out the race is Emmy newcomer Michelle Dockery of Downton Abbey, who’ll try to ride her PBS’ series wave of 16 nominations to a win over her better-known rivals.

What would you do if you had the power to send one of these fine actors to the podium when the Emmys are handed out in September? Take our poll below to vote for your favorite — TVLine voting closes Sept. 14, so act now! — then hit the comments to justify your pick!

Every day 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 are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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53 Comments
  1. My opinion is biased because I actually only watch The Good Wife out of all these shows but Julianna Margulies is pretty damn flawless!

    • ingmarhappy says:

      I second that. I love her work and she would be my winner. But I have to say Claire Danes showed some great skills aswell. Same for Michelle Dockery. If one of these 3 will win I’d be happy. If Margulies wins, I’d be more than happy. Thrilled.

    • Ethan says:

      I love Julianna but she clearly didn’t had that much to work with in Season 3 compared to Season 2. The episode she submit this season, the one where her daughter was missing, was pretty weak. The first half of the episode wasn’t even focus on her. Then when her daughter went missing, she had some nice scenes showing how scared and worried she was but then the conclusion was kind of dumb and definitely lessened the impact of the episode.

      Based on tapes alone, this is Claire Danes to lose. Moss is good in her tape but the episode is really about Christina Hendrick’s character. Believe it or not, Kathy Bates actually has a shot. The final part of the episode she submit was really good. It doesn’t really matter that her show is cancelled. Glenn Close’s tape is the worst, it’s like she doesn’t even want to win.

  2. Emily says:

    Elisabeth Moss is long overdue… but Claire Danes was phenomenal.

  3. Gerald says:

    I’m probably the minority, but I think Glenn Close should win.

    • phantom says:

      Glenn Close should be definitely a much stronger contender than she is at the moment. Having said that, it would be hard to argue that anyone from the Danes/Dockery/Margulies trio wouldn’t be just as deserving. Elizabeth Moss has the overdue-factor for sure, she should have won last year, but if we are focusing strictly on her most recent season, she simply didn’t have the kind of material that would have earned her an Emmy this year. Here is hoping Close will pull off a win next year for the final season of Damages…damn, she is BRILLIANT.

  4. Paige says:

    Katey Sagal, but that’s neither here nor there.

    • Rebecca says:

      Yes!! The fact that she wasn’t even nominated is ludicrous.

    • Shane says:

      AMEN!!!!

    • Olive says:

      Definitely! Katey Sagal should have Bates’ spot as a nominee.

    • Els says:

      This is so true…. and was exactly what I wanted to post.

    • bhm1304 says:

      Her show and her performance as “Gemma Teller Morrow” is a little too good for this garbage awards show with its by the book and well paid for nominations. NBC must be happy they put a lot of money in that pot this year.. Alec Baldwin and Kathy Bates! Lucy Lawless put in a performance that Elisabeth Moss and Juliana “Queen of the Procedural” have never and will never be capable of producing this season on “Spartacus: Vengeance”. (Her final scene was as good as it gets; going off the side of a cliff with a baby in her arms) Neither of them will ever be as good as Emmy Rossum’s “Fiona Gallagher” either. Fiona Gallagher may not be as dreadfully boring and really thinly layered as Don Draper’s former secretary (who is not a lead character) who we’ve seen 1000x before on television but I think these voters are scared of the Lucretias, Gemmas and Fiona Gallaghers because they like their female roles to just echo the past. The academy likes procedurals – story telling is frowned upon unless its dressed up in pretty period costumes! I digress, this category without Segal, Lawless, and Rossum but including Kathy Bates phoned in performance on her legal procedural makes it just not worthy of caring about who wins this category.

      Close for the win if only because “Damages” has always said F.U. to the formulaic legal procedural model the networks continue to spit out, and Juliana Margulies continues to get nominated for, and “Patty Hewes” is just better than we are;)

  5. Miri says:

    Claire Danes or Julianna Margulies

  6. CatLyons says:

    Claire Danes plays such a complex character in Homeland. She really captivates me when I watch. I think it was the episode before the finale where they take down her wall off clues. Her breakdown was incredible, I had to watch it again because it was so good. That said, I also love Elizabeth Moss.

  7. Sam says:

    Claire Danes is the closest thing there is to a lock this Emmy season. As for the nominees, I would replace Kathy Bates with either Katey Sagal (obviously) or Lauren Graham.

  8. Che says:

    Easy pick. Claire all the way. But if Juliana wins again I will be very happy as well.

  9. mmm1234 says:

    Can you give us some Bones spoilers on what Brennan and Booth will be like after being back together for a while?? -Michelle

  10. Superhero says:

    No contest here. Claire Danes is a lock, as she should be.

  11. Soso says:

    Claire Danes first, then Elizabeth Moss !
    Bates has no place here and Katey Sagal and Mireille Enos are the big snub.

  12. Rich says:

    I wanted to put Elisabeth Moss or Michelle Dockery, but with Claire Danes up there, there was just no way.

  13. Monica says:

    The Good Wife is one of my favorite shows and Julianna is perfect in it. Michelle Dockery was excellent in Downton Abbey and she is their MVP right after the Dowager Countess but Claire Danes this year is unbeatable. What a role and how perfectly she played it!

  14. Talia says:

    It’s a crime that Katey Segal and Lena Heady aren’t nominated this year. They could have easily replaced any of the women who were nominated.

  15. Just Me says:

    Is this even a serious competition? Claire Danes is going to win.

  16. KHM says:

    Connie Britton for FNL… Oh, wait…

    Elisabeth Moss, all the way.

  17. Cathy says:

    Here is a category in which I feel pretty comfortable casting a vote. I watch all of these shows except Harry’s Law. I voted for Margulies and based on that last episode of Homeland, I would give Danes a close second. Margulies always does an excellent job, and she does it for 22-23 episodes a season. That is significant.

  18. Liz says:

    Anna Paquin, great actress.
    Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh, for Grey’s.

    • julientk says:

      Big fat eye roll at Ellen Pompeo. Seriously? Whining and acting are not the same thing.

      • Liz says:

        You are confusing the part with the actress. Sometimes, the character Meredith does bitch about her life to Cristina etc… and Cristina does the same. All the characters do in that show. But Ellen Pompeo does do many other things, crying, laughing, making us care. She’s amazing. Watch the “bomb in her hand” episode again.

  19. Pixley says:

    My heart is with Michelle Dockery, but she submitted a poor episode (Episode “7″/Christmas Special). If she’d submitted 2×05, she could’ve been a dark horse. Oh well…Claire Danes is very talented.

  20. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Elisabeth Moss, I love ya, and it’s a crime you didn’t win last year for The Suitcase, but this year the race is all about Claire Danes’ emotionally naked Carrie Mathison. Claire will win, and should win.

  21. Alan says:

    im perfectly happy with anyone not connected to downton winning this. that horrible waste of time and money doesnt deserve any awards for being yet another bland period drama

  22. cjeffery7 says:

    julianna marguiles?! glenn close?! kathy bates?! i felt bad voting for julia louis dreyfuss because she was such a seasoned vet – why not give a “newbie” my props? i feel the opposite way about this category. i feel bad i’m not voting for those seasoned vets… claire danes just took it to another level on homeland.

  23. Eliza says:

    Claire Danes, no doubt.

  24. Sally says:

    Anyone of them except Kathy Bates. But I am biased for Julianna Margulies.

  25. sandy holl says:

    the best drama actress is EMILY DESCHANEL!!!!!why does she always get ignored? she laughs cries gets mad and then happy again all in a short time!!! not many actresses can do that and none in my opinion as good as she!!!!!!!!!!!

    • suzi says:

      Deschanel is absolutely wonderful, as is Katey Sagal. How these two amazing performances can be repeatedly ignored is beyond me.

  26. Katie says:

    I think all of these women are very deserving (and I can think of a few who weren’t nominated that are more than worthy of the honor as well) – if I were actually voting, it would definitely have to come down to whatever episode they submitted. Too difficult! :)

    …I must add though, the small teenager inside me is rooting for Claire Danes to make up for the sudden death of “My So-Called Life”, haha.

  27. Karen says:

    I really, really hope Elisabeth Moss gets this one, even though this seems like a close race. Along with Max Greenfield, she is the one I’ll be rooting for most on Emmy night

  28. Callie Newberg says:

    Cote de Pablo.

  29. anna says:

    Claire Danes all the way. Elisabeth Moss should have submitted herself in the supporting catergory where she had a good shot a winning.

  30. lana says:

    I love Elizabeth Moss and her portrayal of Peggy.

  31. Ruby says:

    I never understand why Juliana Marguiles is nominated over and over again…I LOVE The Good Wife, but she’s hardly the best thing in it. The supporting people are where it’s at. Marguiles is very monotone.

  32. YowzaPowza says:

    Elisabeth Moss isn’t a lead, so she should really stop throwing herself into this race. Kathy Bates is a joke, especially considering Katey Sagal was robbed. Glenn Close is great. But Claire Danes for the win, hands down.

  33. Alexis says:

    I know I’m supposed to vote for Claire Danes because she clearly gives the most powerful, ‘Emmy bait’ performance but I just adore Michelle Dockery on Downton Abbey so so much I’d LOVE to see her upset the race!

  34. nick1372 says:

    I’ll be happy if either Kathy Bates or Claire Danes wins. Both very talented.

    The biggest snub here is Body of Proof’s Dana Delany. She juggles hilarity with complicated eight-syllable words without batting an eye. And anyone who can walk in those six-inch heels deserves an Emmy and an Oscar and a Grammy! ;-)

  35. llws88 says:

    As much as I LOVE the Good Wife and I LOVE Julianna….TGW wasn’t firing on all cylinders last season. I know that will change for season 4. I however LOVED Elisabeth Moss in Mad Men this past season, her growth as Peggy on the show has been my fav. storyline of Mad Men, I think shes long overdue. I also just watched the first season of Homeland…I get the hype! I loved it! I think its between Claire Danes and Elisabeth Moss…as a seasoned character and the big storyline this past season….my vote is for Elisabeth Moss :)

  36. Lily says:

    Claire Danes will win this year, that’s for sure

  37. Claire Danes portrayal of Carrie Mathison is exquisite, she’s a great actress and she totally deserves the award. She has been always good but this role is particulary extrentric, a CIA agent who has a bipolar disorder, she has really though scenes and she did it perfectly! not overreacting, she really got this character from the begining. I love most of the nominees but seriously she’s winning.
    Julianna Margulies is fantastic but I don’t think she’s winning two years in a row, I’m not a big fan of Kathy Bates work on Harry’s Law, Glenn Close rocks but she deserves an Oscar and not more Emmys! so if Claire doesn’t win (that I hope isn’t happening) I think that Michelle Dockery or Elisabeth Moss deserve the award, they’re pretty amazing.

  38. lucaltair815 says:

    Claire is rightfully the front-runner and the probable winner for this award.

  39. louis says:

    It’s going to be Claire Danes for sure! Sad that Michelle Dockery won’t get the award this time around but I hope she gets one soon because she deserves it. :)