Emmys 2011: The Supporting Drama Actress Race in Review, Including Our Dream Nominees
Khandi Alexander, Treme
HBO’s post-Katrina drama remains overshadowed by the cabler’s more high-profile offerings like Boardwalk Empire, True Blood and now Game of Thrones, so a nod for Alexander ¬— who ascended to new heights of brilliance in the aftermath of her character’s rape ¬— is looking like a long-shot.
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Though she was beaten out for the Supporting Emmy last year by costar Archie Panjabi, she¬'s certain to get another chance this time around. Not only is she an Emmy perennial (previously nominated for Frasier and The Big Bang Theory, and a winner for Cybill back in 1995), but as she¬'s gotten to flesh out lawyer Diane Lockhart, her performances have only gotten richer.
Jennifer Carpenter, Dexter
She has shown us Dexter¬'s sister as tough-as-nails, driven-as-hell and vulnerable-as-can-be ¬— sometimes all in the same scene. Yet Emmy has shown her zero love for her efforts. We wish it were otherwise, but it doesn¬'t seem as if that¬'s going to change after a relatively low-key season in which her cop character played surrogate mom to her sibling¬'s kids.
Lisa Edelstein, House
As the Fox hit rolled the dice on a polarizing Huddy romance, she proved her mettle, again and again and again. And if that isn¬'t enough to convince Emmy voters that they should (finally!) give her her first-ever nomination? Consider this, Academy: Edelstein has announced that she isn¬'t returning to the Fox hit, so this is their last chance.
Michelle Forbes, The Killing
Hard to believe that, after wowing on Homicide: Life on the Street, 24, True Blood, In Treatment and Battlestar Galactica, among others (whew!), this seemingly ubiquitous actress has only received a single Emmy nomination (and that was for a Daytime Emmy, for Guiding Light). Deservedly, the melting pot of rage and sorrow that she cooked up as The Killing¬'s grieving mother seems destined to right that wrong.
Sharon Gless, Burn Notice
Everyone was surprised last year when this venerable veteran was given a nod for the USA smash, but really, they shouldn¬'t have been. All told, the erstwhile Christine Cagney/Colleen Rose/Rosie O¬'Neill has been nominated 10 times (winning twice in the 1980s for Cagney & Lacey). If she can get in the running this year, she could be tough to beat.
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
A tumultuous year for Mad Men¬'s Joan made for a banner one for her portrayer: She got to navigate the choppy waters of her on-screen counterpart¬'s extramarital affair, and a possible abortion. Coming off a 2010 nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress, she looks good for a repeat nod.
Regina King, Southland
The TNT drama’s seen-it-all yet still caring Det. Lydia Adams can usually be counted on to be calm, collected, confident and solid as a rock. But a new partner, a betrayal, a shootout and a younger lover tested that steely resolve this year. As a result, King got a chance to showcase some additional nuance for her character. She even cracked a smile!
Kelly MacDonald, Boardwalk Empire
As Boardwalk¬'s abused wife-turned-Mob moll, she gave shadowy complexity to what could have been a cookie-cutter ¬"brave victim¬" role. Along with leading man Buscemi, she is the freshman HBO drama’s likeliest acting nominee.
Margo Martindale, Justified
You may not know her name, but look at her picture ¬— you do know her. And if this superb veteran character actress doesn¬'t get nominated for an Emmy this season for her work as the pot-peddling Bennett clan¬'s gloriously unhinged matriarch ¬— a career-best performance that has won her universal praise ¬— well, it¬'d be damned unjustified.
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
She redefined the modern-day femme fatale last year as Good Wife¬'s enigmatic Kalinda Sharma, and walked away with an Emmy for her troubles. But while she seems a shoo-in for another nod, this season the competition from cast mate Baranski (and others) feels stiffer than ever.
Sara Ramirez, Grey’s Anatomy
If you didn¬'t know better, you¬'d think that the past season of Grey¬'s had been written as one long Emmy reel for the actress: Not only did her Dr. Callie Torres have, and almost lose, her baby, she married her girlfriend and sang her you-know-what off in the medical soap¬'s musical episode. If all that doesn¬'t get her a nomination, we hate to think what they¬'ll have her do next season.
Chloe Sevigny, Big Love
As appealing ¬— and, often simultaneously, appalling (no easy trick, that) ¬— as she has always been as Nicki Grant, the prickliest of the sister wives, she hasn¬'t received a single Emmy nomination. If there¬'s any justice, that oversight will be rectified this year, for not only is it the last time she can be nominated for the now-departed series, but her character¬'s reaction to her daughter¬'s May/December affair was shockingly visceral.
Kiernan Shipka, Mad Men
In the 12-year-old¬'s first season as a series regular, she was given a lot of performing challenges, from rebelling, to masturbating, to crushing on the boy next door (and not necessarily in that order). So, while her age and newcomer status may make her an underdog for an Emmy nod, the aplomb with which she executed such difficult material makes her a precocious contender.
KaDee Strickland, Private Practice
The actress has never been nominated before, and in another season might have been overlooked among the show¬'s expansive cast. But not this year. In the aftermath of Dr. Charlotte King¬'s brutal rape, all that changed, as Strickland gave a tour de force performance that hopefully won’t be forgotten come nomination time.
Mae Whitman, Parenthood
Next to leading man Peter Krause, Whitman is probably the NBC drama’s best shot at an acting nod. But given Emmy’s history of snubbing younger performers ¬— combined with the overall competitiveness of the Supporting Actress field ¬— she will probably have to accept being part of the discussion as its own award.
Debra Winger, In Treatment
Though her performance as a troubled, narcissistic actress on HBO’s shrink drama polarized critics, she could sneak into the race on the strength of her name alone. And Emmy has shown that it likes her: She was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie in 2005, for Dawn Anna.