Welcome to Emmy Experts Typing, a weekly column in which Gold Derby editors and Experts Joyce Eng and Christopher Rosen discuss the Emmy race — via Slack, of course. This week, we hone in on some fringe — and A-list — limited actress contenders.
Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! Let’s mix up some green juices, it’s time to talk about Best Actress in a Limited Series. This is one of my favorite categories — a totally chaotic scrum loaded with some of the greatest actresses working today. You know I’m going to start this off with a relative long shot in our odds, but someone who is close to first in my heart: Anne Hathaway in “WeCrashed.” That Apple TV+ series wrapped up this week, and while it didn’t get as much ink as Hulu’s “The Dropout” or fellow Apple TV+ show “Severance,” I believe it’s one of the more entertaining limited series of the year – particularly because of Hathaway’s performance. In her hands, Rebekah Neumann is never completely a punchline – despite the fact that the show is so funny and Hathaway’s comedy skills are as sharp as ever. It’s a really wonderful showing for her, and she matches the customarily big Jared Leto step for step. I’ve had Hathaway in despite the odds, and I feel more confident now than I did even last week. That leaves me with a really intriguing list of predictions: Amanda Seyfried for “The Dropout” (my pick to win), Margaret Qualley for “Maid,” Viola Davis for “The First Lady,” Hathaway, Julia Garner for “Inventing Anna,” and Mackenzie Davis for “Station Eleven.” There is some big-time hopedicting there — especially for Mackenzie Davis, since “Station Eleven” has seemingly been lost to time, but here’s hoping the comeback starts now! — but I like my chances. But what do you think about this category, Joyce? And, most important, following the, uh, mixed reception to “The First Lady,” is Viola Davis actually vulnerable here?
joyceeng: She is, but not because of Twitter being Twitter. As I mentioned in our season premiere earlier this month, when I had seen half of “The First Lady’s” 10 episodes, I thought Michelle Pfeiffer was the MVP. She brings a vivacity and vulnerability to Betty Ford that just compels you to watch. I’ve since finished the season and my opinion has not changed. We can discuss this more next week when we tackle limited since we just did comedy this week, but Davis’ performance as Michelle Obama is not all-time horrible like the reaction to her — yes, very distracting — lips would have you believe. But I think she, Pfeiffer and Gillian Anderson are all hurt by the show’s triptych structure. I’m not the first to say that they should’ve just focused on one FLOTUS per season. The other sticking point for all three of them is that Showtime is not exactly an Emmy magnet. #neverforget “The Good Lord Bird” getting one measly nomination last year (that it won) despite critical acclaim. “The First Lady,” uh, does not have critical support, but these are super baity roles played by big stars, so I wouldn’t rule them out completely (I’d obviously nominate Pfeiffer first), but they’re several rungs below the top two of Seyfried and Qualley for me. Speaking of Famous Actresses on Networks with Little Emmy Love, Julia Roberts has brought her talents to Starz for “Gaslit,” which premieres Sunday. She, too, plays a real-life figure — the flamboyant and larger-than-life Martha Mitchell, Watergate whistleblower and wife of Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell — and has gotten some of the best reviews of her career. Can she light this race on fire?
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Christopher Rosen: Here’s what I’ll say about Julia Roberts: Starz is lit up about this show. (See what I did there?) “Gaslit” had a splashy New York premiere this week, members of the press received a giant mailer to promote the show (it’s a cocktail set, Joyce, if you haven’t opened that giant box yet), and Roberts herself has been all over the place promoting the series. I don’t have her in yet but that’s mostly because I haven’t done a full update since “Gaslit” went boom. But I think she’s a serious threat, and not just because she’s the biggest name in competition at the moment. (If nothing else, the buzz around “Gaslit” will help Roberts in her film awards campaign for this year’s “Ticket to Paradise” with George Clooney, which I know you’re hyped up about.) With all those flashy names mentioned, let’s circle back to a couple of other top draws: Owing to the Netflix of it all, I think Garner could get in for “Inventing Anna,” a show that doesn’t totally work but that she absolutely owns. It’s a delightful performance and she’s giving what we might call “Full Leto” with an accent that belongs in “House of Gucci” deleted scenes. And then there’s a roster of other former Emmy winners, including Claire Foy, Gillian Anderson and Claire Danes – not to mention Lily James, or Oscar winners like Renee Zellweger and Jessica Chastain. Do you think any of them can break through?
joyceeng: You know, we really should’ve slotted in “Ticket to Paradise” somewhere in our stupidly early Oscar predictions. Egg on our faces. Roberts did get snubbed for “Homecoming,” which I enjoyed (more 30-minute dramas, plz!), and she’s 0-2 at the Emmys (Kathy Bates has beaten her at the Oscars and the Emmys, full EGOT when?), so maybe the acting branch is cool on her in general. The other Julia is a two-time winner, and while, yes, “Inventing Anna” is a hot mess with two episodes that are feature-length films, it’s been widely seen and Garner is really doing the most. With contenders flatlining, she can benefit from visibility alone (and there’s the “Ozark” of it all). Similarly, Chastain, fresh off an Oscar win, is also lucky that a lot of potential rivals haven’t fully taken flight since “Scenes from a Marriage” is both old and under-seen. I haven’t had Anderson, Zellweger or James in, but they’re your go-to picks if you’re into ~ transformations ~. As for the Claires, I’ve seen two episodes of “The Essex Serpent,” but we cannot talk about it yet. I have Foy in because I do love a three-episode show and she is very good in “A Very British Scandal.” Her guest win last year for reciting a speech in, like, two minutes was probably more due to everyone lazily checking “The Crown” down the ballot than the acting branch being hardcore Claire Foy stans (we all should be though), but if they liked her as a queen, maybe they’ll also like her as a duchess. Do you want to make one final plea for everyone to vote Hathaway? #WeNominate?
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Christopher Rosen: I thought you’d never ask. “WeCrashed” is kind of a funny show. Apple sent screeners very early and when it finally premiered, it felt like everyone was too busy talking about “The Dropout” to focus on what was happening at WeWork. But with “The Dropout” long finished, these last few weeks have belonged to “WeCrashed” — at least in the Silicon Valley unicorn scammer space. That daylight has just so happened to coincide with some of Hathaway’s best moments, including last week when Rebekah focused on her passion: the WeGrow school. Here’s a real line as Hathaway’s Rebekah is confronted with the idea her goal of creating WeWork education centers might not work: “I’m not just going to abandon kids to normative education.” We stan an LOL of that caliber uttered with such deep sincerity. I admit to being a huge Hathaway fan — even back when the internet wasn’t super digging her enthusiasm. But my bias aside, I do think this is one of her very best performances — mixing elements from “Ocean’s 8” (somehow under-seen and culturally forgotten) and “The Intern” with a voice as notable as what Amanda Seyfried does in “The Dropout” to play Elizabeth Holmes. I don’t know if Hathaway can win, but if there’s anyone who can be a disrupter here, it’s her. But I’ll leave you with the last word, Joyce. How do you want to go out?
joyceeng: “The Intern” is the best film of 2015. Change my mind. (Also, Anders Holm in “Inventing Anna” is basically his character in “The Intern” without the cheating.) Hilariously, I somehow started “WeCrashed” way after you, its No. 1 stan, did but finished it way before you did as well, but I immediately got the hype about Hathaway and I would absolutely co-sign a nom. It was a continuously surprising performance in a show that turned out to be more about Rebekah than Adam. I am still thinking about her delicately placing a Kleenex underneath her teary eyes to protect her makeup. Iconic. If our dear Annie makes it in, I trust that you will immediately tweet this:
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