WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: The death of Gilmore patriarch Richard (played by late actor Edward Hermann) was the emotional engine powering much of the Netflix revival’s narrative, and, boy, did series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino have the right person driving the vehicle. Kelly Bishop’s grieving widow Emily — who always tended to wear her emotions deep inside her sleeve — marched through the four episodes like a raw nerve just waiting to burst. And when she did (most notably to daughter Lorelai and then later to her well-heeled society friends in an expletive-laced tour-de-force), Bishop made us feel all the pain and anger that had been simmering beneath the surface. Bishop also excelled in the quieter moments, as Emily slowly came to grips with her new normal. If there’s an Emmy voter out there who doesn’t deem Bishop worthy of a long overdue nomination, we’d like to point you in the direction of Emily’s new favorite word: “Bullshit.”
JUDY DAVIS, FEUD: BETTE AND JOAN
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Like Hedda Hopper, the infamous gossipmonger she played, Davis never failed to give us something (besides those amazing hats) to talk about. Whether the one-woman rumor mill was savoring a delicious dis as it crossed her lips, hatching a plot that was as vicious as it was brilliant, or convincing herself that the gutters in which she travelled were actually the high road, her portrayer delivered a performance that was as strong as one of Crawford’s martinis.
LAURA DERN, BIG LITTLE LIES
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Let’s raise a glass of (very expensive) wine and toast to Dern’s magnificently layered performance as brittle, caustic Monterey mom Renata Klein. The Enlightened alum was hysterical as Renata passive-aggressively sparred with rival mom Madeline in an endless battle for social supremacy, but she also let us sympathize with Renata when she realized how petty that battle had become. Money couldn’t make Renata happy… but we’d be happy to see Dern earn a nod along with her more celebrated BLL co-stars.
JACKIE HOFFMAN, FEUD: BETTE AND JOAN
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: In the hands of a lesser actress, Crawford’s maid/companion Mamacita, with her thick glasses and thicker German accent, could have come off a caricature. But entrusted to the Broadway scene-stealer, the character sprung to vivid life as a real — and really relatable — human being, one both softhearted enough to return to her employer after the movie star had driven away everyone else, and hardheaded enough to champion a female director at a time when Hollywood’s old boys’ club wasn’t about to admit a woman.
JENNIFER HUDSON, HAIRSPRAY LIVE!
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Jennifer Hudson didn’t just bring the house down with her performance in NBC’s Hairspray Live! — she brought down all of 1960s Baltimore. As no-nonsense record store owner Motormouth Maybelle, Hudson served up generous portions of soul and sass, effortlessly snatching the spotlight whenever a scene was fortunate enough to be blessed by her presence. Frankly, we still get chills whenever we think about that final note in “I Know Where I’ve Been.” (And we think about it often.)
MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD, FARGO
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: As bridge-playing ex-con Nikki Swango, Winstead played just about every one of her cards brilliantly this season. She was sleek and sexy, as Nikki used her feminine wiles to get what she wanted; she delivered some of Season 3’s funniest lines, as Nikki reacted to the “unfathomable pinheadery” all around her; and she showed off some serious action-movie chops, as Nikki shifted into avenging-angel mode, revealing her love for her parole officer Ray was as pure as the Minnesota snow.