Saturday, April 20, 2024

An Early Look At The 2024 Lead Actress In A Limited Or Anthology Series Or Movie Category

The 96th Academy Awards may be over, but award season continues with the 76th Primetime Emmy Awards airing in September. This year’s Emmy nominations, to be announced on July 17th, will honor television aired within the eligibility period of June 1st, 2023, to May 31st, 2024. While we still have new shows left to anticipate, many contenders have already emerged. One category, in particular, has become challenging to narrow down in recent years, and the playing field already seems crowded this year. Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series is a hot spot for Oscar-winning actresses, known primarily for their film work, who have also found complex roles in television.

Over the past 14 years, eight of the Limited/Anthology actress winners have also won Oscars: Frances McDormand (HBO’s “Olive Kitteridge”), Nicole Kidman (HBO’s “Big Little Lies”), and Jessica Lange (FX’s “American Horror Story: Coven”), to name a few. Plus, two Oscar-winning actresses won the Emmy twice: Regina King (Netflix’s “Seven Seconds” and HBO’s “Watchmen”) and Kate Winslet (HBO’s “Mildred Pierce” and HBO’s “Mare of Easttown”). From just a few examples, it’s clear that HBO often reigns supreme in this category. Dating back to the 2000s, 14 of the Limited/Anthology actress winners were from HBO shows. However, prior to King in 2020 (“Watchmen”) and Winslet in 2021 (“Mare of Easttown”), HBO hasn’t had consecutive wins in the category since the early 2010s. Other networks and streaming services have been shaking things up, as exemplified by recent winners, including Ali Wong for Netflix’s “Beef,” Amanda Seyfried for Hulu’s “The Dropout,” and Michelle Williams for FX’s “Fosse/Verdon.”

With this year’s conversation wide open, the case can be made for several actresses to gain momentum. A couple of this year’s Best Actress Oscar nominees, Lily Gladstone and Annette Bening, could share another category this year. Gladstone plays Officer Cam Bentland in Hulu’s “Under the Bridge,” a true-crime miniseries based on Rebecca Godfrey’s book of the same name. Gladstone has had a historic award season with Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” and won many awards, including the SAG Award, for their performance as Mollie Burkhart in the film. With solid support within the industry, the love for Gladstone could carry into this Emmy season. Hulu has also been doing well in the Limited/Anthology actress category, picking up four nominations and one win in the last five years.
In Peacock’s “Apples Never Fall,” based on Liane Moriarty’s novel of the same name, Bening plays Joy Delaney, a woman who goes missing. Moriarty’s involvement carries buzz, considering the multiple Emmy-winning adaptation of her novel “Big Little Lies,” executive produced by Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. While the success of “Big Little Lies” sets the bar high, “Apples Never Fall” could find its way into the race through Bening. Helping her chances, Peacock has had a breakthrough with Emmy voters. At the 75th Awards, the streaming service earned a record-setting eight nominations, the most recognition it has ever received. Plus, it received its first-ever win for Judith Light in “Poker Face.”

The 2024 Golden Globe nominees for Female Actor in a Limited/Anthology Series can also shed light on where the Emmy race is headed. Brie Larson for Apple TV+’s “Lessons in Chemistry” and Juno Temple for season five of FX’s anthology series “Fargo” are both eligible. Larson has the boost of a SAG nomination for Female Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Series. Plus, the majority of Apple TV+’s slate this year poses no overflow of direct competition in this category. Whereas FX is studded with contenders, including Anna Sawai in “Shōgun,” Naomi Watts in “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans,” and Elisabeth Moss in “The Veil.” FX overall has been scoring quite a few times in the Limited/Anthology actress category with 14 nominations and three wins in the last twelve years. This year, Juno Temple has the edge with her Golden Globe nomination, plus a track record of “Fargo” women getting nominated (Kirsten Dunst for season two and Carrie Coon for season three).The historical epic, “Shōgun,” has maintained buzz heading into this award season. Based on James Clavell’s novel of the same name, the story is set in 17th-century Japan and stars Anna Sawai as Lady Mariko, the translator of a powerful lord. “Shōgun” is among the highest-rated new limited series of the year. “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans,” the latest in six-time Emmy winner Ryan Murphy’s anthology series, follows Truman Capote and his inner circle of “swans.” The cast is stacked with big names, though Naomi Watts has received standout notices for her performance as Babe Paley. FX also has the espionage thriller “The Veil,” which premieres its first two episodes in April. Created by Steven Knight of “Peaky Blinders,” the series follows a woman harboring a secret that another woman needs to expose. “The Veil” stars and is executive produced by two-time Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss, who has 15 nominations total.

Emmy voters have also shown a recent trend of recognizing young breakthrough performances in television, from Shira Haas in Netflix’s “Unorthodox” to Joey King in Hulu’s “The Act.” This year, King stars in another potential Emmy contender, Hulu’s “We Were the Lucky Ones,” inspired by the true story of a Jewish family after being separated in World War II. The eight-part series is created by Erica Lipez, a producer on the Emmy-winning “The Morning Show” and the Emmy-nominated “Bates Motel.” “We Were the Lucky Ones,” based on Georgia Hunter’s novel of the same name, is one of the year’s highest-rated new shows and follows resonant subject matter. If King receives her second Emmy nomination this year, she will be among the youngest two-time Emmy nominees in the Limited/Anthology actress category.

Netflix has averaged at least two nominations a year (with the exceptions of 2021 and 2023) since its development of original programming. The streaming service has a few key contenders this year, among them “Griselda,” starring four-time Emmy nominee Sofía Vergara as Columbian drug lord Griselda Blanco. The series premiered to critical acclaim for showcasing new layers to Vergara’s talent in a transformative powerhouse role. Another talked-about Netflix series is the British romantic drama, “One Day,” an adaptation of David Nicholls’s novel of the same name. The story follows two university graduates (Emma and Dexter) and the evolution of their relationship over two decades. Ambika Mod is in contention for her performance as Emma. Could Mod become a passion pick from the Television Academy? The category has stiff competition within Netflix’s slate alone. Three-time Emmy winner Uzo Aduba stars as investigator Edie Flowers in “Painkiller,” a six-part series about the aftermath of America’s opioid crisis. Earlier this year, Aduba also received a SAG nomination for Best Female Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Series for her performance.
HBO will have some heavy hitters with Oscar winners Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet. In “The Regime,” Winslet plays a delusional dictator of a fictitious European country and flexes her muscles in physical comedy. While “The Regime” has not been catching on with audiences to nearly the same level as the phenomenon “Mare of Easttown,” the magic pairing of Winslet and HBO has a tempting track record on the awards front. “The Regime” creator Will Tracy is a six-time Emmy winner; three of his wins are for writing the wildly successful “Succession.” Winslet is two for two in the Limited/Anthology actress category; she wins an Emmy each time she stars in an HBO series. Could this be the year she hands the reigns to another? The critically acclaimed “True Detective: Night Country,” helmed by showrunner Issa López, marks season four of the multiple Emmy-winning series, “True Detective.” Jodie Foster and Kali Reis star as detectives who are investigating the eerie disappearance of eight men in Ennis, Alaska. Reis being predicted in the Limited/Anthology supporting actress category leaves Foster a chance to gain momentum as lead actress. “True Detective: Night Country” would mark Foster’s first-ever acting nomination at the Emmys.

The conversation is overflowing with contenders at this early stage of Emmy season. In addition to those mentioned above, the star power of Oscar winners Nicole Kidman (Prime Video’s “Expats”) and Julianne Moore (Starz’s “Mary & George”) also cannot be counted out. The abundance of possibilities gives more weight to awards bodies such as SAG and the Golden Globes to provide a starting point. Considering the eligible precursor nominees, the history of HBO at the Emmys, and how well alternative competitors Netflix and FX, in particular, have been doing, here are my early predicted nominees for Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series:

Uzo Aduba — “Painkiller” (Netflix)
Jodie Foster — “True Detective: Night Country” (HBO)
Brie Larson — “Lessons in Chemistry” (Apple TV+)
Juno Temple — “Fargo” (FX)
Sofía Vergara — “Griselda” (Netflix)
Kate Winslet — “The Regime” (HBO)

Who do you think are the big Emmy contenders this year for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie? What are some of your favorite lead actress performances you’ve watched so far this season? Please let us know in the comments section below or over on our Twitter account, and be sure to check out our latest Emmy predictions which will be arriving later this week. We have also brought back the Next Best Series Podcast and will be conducting a number of interviews with Emmy contenders throughout the awards season.

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Nadia Dalimonte
Nadia Dalimonte
Editor In Chief for Earth to Films. Film Independent, IFS Critics, NA Film Critic & Cherry Pick member.

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