SARA BAREILLES, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR LIVE IN CONCERT
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: We knew Bareilles, a gifted songwriter, could sing. But we had no idea she would turn in such a moving performance as Jesus’ ride-or-die in the classic rock opera. Amid the frenetic choreography and power chords, Bareilles’ Mary was a sweet, calm and centered presence whose ease on stage made every moment feel incredibly natural. And when she nailed “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” the ballad felt fresh and free — no small feat for a song that’s nearly 50 years old.
ANA GASTEYER, A CHRISTMAS STORY LIVE!
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: If Emmy voters are in the market for a miracle, they might want to consider revisiting Gasteyer’s work in A Christmas Story Live! Irrefutably the greatest gift bestowed upon viewers of Fox’s holiday musical, Gasteyer brought big laughs as Schwartz’s overbearing mother, stealing the show with a hysterical Jewish anthem written specifically for this production. Thanks to Gasteyer’s jaw-dropping vocals and boundless energy, the best musical number in a show about Christmas… was the one about Hanukkah.
LESLIE GROSSMAN, AMERICAN HORROR STORY: CULT
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Grossman wasn’t just clowning around in Season 7 of FX’s creepshow. The actress formerly known as Mary Cherry made something sublime of the ridiculous Meadow Wilton, contorting the character into a frightfully funny caricature of modern-day vapidity. So she more than deserves to make the Dream Emmy cut — and, for that matter, the actual Emmy cut — along with Meadow’s favorite performer, Nicole Kidman.
NICOLE KIDMAN, TOP OF THE LAKE: CHINA GIRL
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Kidman followed up her Emmy-winning work in Big Little Lies with another stunning turn, this time as jittery adoptive mom Julia, who watched in horror as her rebellious teen daughter reconnected with her birth mother and fell under the spell of a creepy older man. Sporting a shock of long white hair, Kidman skillfully painted a portrait of a frazzled mother doing absolutely everything in her power to keep her child from slipping through her fingers.
JUDITH LIGHT, THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE: AMERICAN CRIME STORY
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: A welcome addition to any project, Light delivered yet another stellar performance as perfume tycoon Marilyn Miglin, whose husband was among those seduced and murdered by serial killer Andrew Cunanan. Light brought a tremendous depth to an already complicated character, a grieving widow who was forced to accept that not even her most potent fragrance could mask the stench of her husband’s betrayal. Frankly, this season’s biggest crime was that we only got to spend two episodes with Light’s fascinating creation.
KRYSTEN RITTER, MARVEL’S THE DEFENDERS
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Amid what could have been an oh-so-serious first-time team-up against a surprisingly ancient evil, Ritter was largely responsible for delivering the Marvel-ous touches of humor, as Jessica Jones let fly with quips (“Let’s go, Iron Clad”), snark (“The scarf was better”) and super-powerful eye rolls.