Breaking Down the Emmy Awards Nominees: Best Actress

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Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath on Girls

LK: In a manner similar to Adam Driver, Girls played a pivotal role in Lena Dunham’s career. It propelled her from an unknown actress to a massive star. That has translated to now three acting nominations for Emmys and an acting win at the Golden Globes. Can this finally be a victory for her? It won’t be easy but she can pull it off. Chance of winning:  High.

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MP: Personally, I’m not a fan of Lena Dunham, as a writer or an actress. I believe she has gotten a lot of attention for being brave enough to show off her unconventional body. And don’t get me wrong, it’s totally awesome that she is proud of her body and not afraid to get naked on camera. We need more of that in our society! But it doesn’t make her talented. I also wouldn’t call much of what she does on Girls acting. That all being said, the critics do seem to like her. Chance of winning:  High.

Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton on Nurse Jackie

LK: Out of five consecutive nominations, Edie Falco has only won once. The likes of Melissa McCarthy and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have stopped her from rising to the top again. I highly doubt that 2014 will be any different with those ladies back. Chance of winning:  Low.

MP: Listen, Edie Falco is a masterpiece on this show. Nurse Jackie is one of the very few female anti-heroes currently on television, and Falco has always done a magnificent job of displaying her complexity. By now, fans of the show are all used to Falco’s performance, and I don’t necessarily believe the same thing over and over deserves recognition. But this is the Emmy’s and they seem to be fans of repetition – And let’s not forget Merritt Wever’s amazing win last year. So, who knows? Chance of winning:Average.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer on Veep

LK: Speaking of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, holy shit. Since Veep premiered in 2012, Louis-Dreyfus has won this award two times in a row. This woman is unstoppable. Chance of winning:  Very high.

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MP: I can’t quite explain my aversion to Veep – it is very funny, it just never compelled me to come back for more. But I have loved Julie Louis-Dreyfus in anything I’ve ever seen her in, and Veep is no exception. But I really don’t want her to win. Not because she doesn’t deserve it – she totally deserves it. There is just no way she can top her speech from last year! Chance of winning:  Very high.

Melissa McCarthy as Molly Flynn on Mike & Molly

LK: Melissa McCarthy is hard to peg. She won in 2011, was nominated in 2012, got jack shit in 2013, and is now back in 2014. She was clearly the big hit three years ago but is now practically an after thought for the Academy. The only reason she isn’t entirely out of contention is because of that lone win. Can lightning strike twice? Stranger things have happened, but I doubt it. Chance of winning:Average.

MP: Melissa McCarthy is awesome, but Mike and Molly is an awful, typical CBS sitcom that has never deserved to win any awards. Chance of Winning: Low

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation

LK: Amy Poehler will always be a comedic genius. People have wanted her to win this award for so many years but it just hasn’t happened. That’s tough too because few shows out there have as big of a following as Parks and Recreation. It’s a truly incredible show but it always misses the mark for Academy voters. I desperately want this year to be different but I don’t exact any big change. Chance of winning:Average.

MP: I’m happy that Amy (yes, we’re on a first name basis) is nominated year after year, but I’m also frustrated. She is hands down the best comedic actress on this list. Maybe next year the will finally recognize her genius on her last season of Parks and Rec. Chance of winning:This may be wishful thinking, but I’m gonna say High.

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Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman on Orange is the New Black

LK: Exactly like Kate Mulgrew, Taylor Schilling has been on a wave of excessive popularity since Orange is the New Black premiered. She’s an unbelievably talented actress who rightfully deserves to be here. Could she have passed in the Drama category too? Absolutely. It’s almost criminal that she’s not there. Yet here she is running for the Comedy award. Can she win it? It wouldn’t surprise me. Chance of winning:High.

MP: If you can actually consider any one character on OitNB a “main character” it is definitely Piper. But let’s not forget that she’s a terrible, whiny, selfish character, who was particularly annoying and virtually substanceless in season one. Taylor Schilling is barely tolerable in the role, and having seen her talk on several occasions I can say with confidence that what she does on this show can hardly be considered acting. That being said, the Emmy voters already nominated her and it wouldn’t surprise me if she took home the award. Chance of winning: Very High.

Luke’s Pick: You can’t stop Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I totally expect her to take this home for the third time in a row. But if Amy Poehler won instead, I’d be happier.

Marla’s Pick: If it were up to me, it would be Amy Poehler 100%. But I think this might go to Taylor Schilling.

Who Marla Thinks Should Have Been Nominated: I know it was cancelled (don’t remind me, I’ll start crying), but I really think Jane Levy deserves some recognition for her role as Tessa on Suburgatory.  Also if we’re calling Shameless a comedy, Emmy Rossum has most certainly been overlooked.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson on Masters of Sex

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LK: This was easily one of the big surprise nominations. Masters of Sex has received critical acclaim and many people expected it to make a ton of rounds on the awards circuit. Yet Lizzy Caplan of all people is the only one who made the cut. It’s a shock in a lot of ways, but entirely justifiable. Can she actually win this though? Not likely. Chance of winning:Low.

MP: Well, she’s not Tatiana Maslany, but I have followed Lizzy Caplan for the entirely of her career. She is the reason I started watching Masters of Sex in the first place, and though it’s actually one of my least favorite roles of hers, I’m happy to see her up for the award. Don’t get me wrong, I love her on Masters of Sex – I’ve just seen her do so much better. Chance of winning:Average.

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison on Homeland

LK: Outside of Mandy Patinkin, Claire Danes is the only other nomination for Homeland. Even when the show is getting worse, Danes is surprisingly buoyant. She was the only acting winner for last year’s Emmys. She’s actually won this award two times in a row. For that reason alone a third win is very likely. Chance of winning:Very high.

MP: Well, she’s not Tatiana Maslany, but I am not surprised by Claire Danes’ nomination. Personally I’ve gotten progressively more and more annoyed with Homeland and decided to stop watching it before the end of last season. I’m sure it’s clear by now, but I do not generally agree with the Academy on Dramas. So I’m sure she’ll win because well, why not.  Chance of winning:High.

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley on Downton Abbey

Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black. Photo: Jan Thijs/BBC America
Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black. Photo: Jan Thijs/BBC America

LK: I honestly have nothing new to say regarding Downton Abbey nominees. Michelle Dockery is just like Jim Carter and Joanne Froggatt. A regular nominee, but never a winner. This year won’t be any different. Chance of winning:Low.

MP: Well, she’s not Tatiana Maslany, but… Why do people watch Downton Abbey? It’s boring as all hell. I couldn’t even tell you who Michelle Dockery is, which says a lot coming from me. I know all the actors. Chance of winning:Low.

Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife

LK: Julianna Margulies was easily one of the biggest snubs last year. Despite being nominated three times before that and actually winning in 2011, she was knocked out by the likes of Connie Britton from Nashville. How did that even happen? Who knows, but at least she’s back! Margulies will always be a tour de force and you’d be foolish to count her out of any awards running. Chance of winning:High.

MP: Well, she’s not Tatiana Maslany, but Julianna Margulies is a force to be reckoned with. While I don’t watch The Good Wife, I know many people who are completely obsessed with it. And from what I’ve heard, this most recent season was somewhat of a masterpiece. Since this show was snuffed in the Series race, it would be nice to see her take home the Emmy. Chance of winning:High.

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope on Scandal

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LK: Kerry Washington is an unbelievably talented actress. People are obsessed with her and for all the right reasons. However, it honestly looked like 2013 was her year. That was when people couldn’t stop talking about how amazing she was and how she deserved to take the Emmy home. It reached such a fever pitch, people honestly expected her to win. She didn’t though and now the buzz has admittedly died down. Her acting qualities clearly haven’t dropped but I’d say her chances did. Chance of winning:Average.

MP: Well, she’s not Tatiana Maslany, but last year Kerry Washington very clearly deserved to win. Season two of Scandal saw the woman exhibit every emotion imaginable, with intense believability. Olivia Pope was my idol and I was completely mad for her. This season the character has simply been utilized less. They took a strong woman and turned her into a broken woman who cannot make a decision. It was weird. That being said, last year the Emmy had quite a few upsets, and if they decide to continue with that tradition, Washington would be the perfect choice. Chance of winning:High.

Robin Wright as Claire Underwood on House of Cards

LK:House of Cards is one unbelievably absurd show. The entire premise is absolutely bonkers and yet the acting is so damn good you can’t help but watch. Robin Wright is easily one of the show’s biggest strengths. Though she was amazing in the first season, the second season is really where Claire Underwood came into her own. I’d say she has a much better chance of winning this year than last. Chance of winning:High.

MP: Well, she’s not Tatiana Maslany, but… I just have 0 interest in House of Cards to be honest. But the one thing I do hear about it constantly is that Robin Wright is amazing. Chance of winning:Very High.

Luke’s Pick: Talented actresses all around, for sure, but I bet the Academy will play it safe and choose Claire Danes again.

Marla’s Pick: TATIANA MASLANY. (Oh, you got that already? How did you know???)

Who Marla Thinks Should Have Been Nominated: … … …………….. Tatiana Maslany. The woman plays more than 5 different, completely unique characters, sometimes all in a room together at a time. And you forget they’re played by the same person. I am just going to say it, she is the best actress of our time. It is a travesty that she has been yet again snuffed for a nomination. She should be winning the damn thing, let alone being nominated.

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