Monday, October 3, 2022

Predicting The 2021 Emmy Award Winners: Outstanding Comedy, Drama & Limited Series/TV Movie Lead Actress

By Amanda Spears 

If you remember from last year’s Emmys and my Golden Globe, SAG Awards, and Oscars predictions, I try my best to leave emotion out of making my predictions. I’m going to take you television fans through how to make your Emmy predictions and win your pool methodically. Next up in this series of articles is Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy, Drama, and Limited Series/TV Movie.​

​Six years ago, the Emmys moved to a plurality vote replacing the more level playing field of 80-100 person panel’s ranking the nominees. Since we spend more time watching television than a film, it’s easier to let our personal preferences affect our predictions as we try to manifest a win for our favorites.

The acting categories are where stats can only take you so far – instinct and buzz also matter. Let’s take a look at how to predict the winners for Outstanding Comedy, Drama, and Limited Series/TV Movie Lead Actress. A trend in the Lead Actress races has emerged across the board—It’s hard being the frontrunner. 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominees
Aidy Bryant – “Shrill”
Kaley Cuoco – “The Flight Attendant”
Allison Janney – “Mom”
Tracee Ellis Ross – “black-ish”
Jean Smart – “Hacks”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Nominees
Uzo Aduba – “In Treatment”
Olivia Colman – “The Crown
Emma Corrin – “The Crown
Elisabeth Moss – “The Handmaid’s Tale”
MJ Rodriguez – “Pose
Jurnee Smollet – “Lovecraft Country”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series/TV Movie Nominees
Michaela Coel – “I May Destroy You”
Cynthia Erivo – “Genius: Aretha”
Elizabeth Olsen – “WandaVision
Anya Taylor-Joy – “The Queen’s Gambit
Kate Winslet – “Mare of Easttown

Since 2017 on the Drama side and 2018 on the Comedy side, we’ve seen a dominance of the performers from nominated series winning the acting Emmys except for “Saturday Night Live” on the Comedy Side and “The Handmaid’s Tale’s” hanging episodes in 2019. Then last year, on the Drama side, three of their six winners were from non-nominated series, but if you look at the 42 acting awards handed out, that gives a performer from a nominated series a 92% chance of winning. Leaving us with…

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominees
Kaley Cuoco – “The Flight Attendant”
Tracee Ellis Ross – “black-ish”
Jean Smart – “Hacks”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Nominees
Olivia Colman – “The Crown
Emma Corrin – “The Crown
Elisabeth Moss – “The Handmaid’s Tale”
MJ Rodriguez – “Pose
Jurnee Smollet – “Lovecraft Country”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series/TV Movie Nominees
Michaela Coel – “I May Destroy You”
Elizabeth Olsen – “WandaVision
Anya Taylor-Joy – “The Queen’s Gambit
Kate Winslet – “Mare of Easttown

Bryant’s was a surprise nomination for her canceled too soon series “Shrill, and maybe this will make Hulu re-think that decision. It’s hard to feel bad for Janney since “Mom” began in 2013 she’s won two Emmys for the series in supporting, another for Guest Actress in a Drama for “Masters of Sex” (2014), and a Supporting Actress Oscar for her scene-stealing work in “I, Tonya” (2017). Anyone feeling bad that she’s not going to win this? Didn’t think so. Aduba may be an Emmy favorite, but Drama Actress is too stacked for her to factor into the race. The same can be said for Erivo, who should just be happy to be nominated.

Next for me to be eliminated are those who don’t have the buzz or momentum to factor into the race…

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominees
Kaley Cuoco – “The Flight Attendant”
Jean Smart – “Hacks”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Nominees
Olivia Colman – “The Crown
Emma Corrin – “The Crown
Elisabeth Moss – “The Handmaid’s Tale”
MJ Rodriguez – “Pose

Don’t feel too bad for Ross—she’ll have one more chance next year. Also, here’s hoping Smollet’s nomination will lead to even more significant roles in the near future as “Lovecraft Country” was unceremoniously canceled after one season by HBO.

Final Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Predictions
1. Jean Smart – “Hacks”
2. Kaley Cuoco – “The Flight Attendant”
3. Tracee Ellis Ross – “black-ish”
4. Allison Janney – “Mom”
5. Aidy Bryant – “Shrill”

Poor Cuoco, everything seemed to be lining up for her to win this Emmy—that was until Smart entered the race and usurped her instantly as the frontrunner. Smart is at a career-best as Deborah Vance, a Vegas Headliner Comedienne trying to hold on to her long-time residency that is forced to hire a young writer that has recently been canceled after sending out an ill-advised tweet. Smart has had quite the evolution from her work on “Designing Women” to finally winning two Emmys for Guest Actress on “Frasier” (2000-2001) to winning Supporting Actress for “Samantha Who?” (2008) fast-forward to her resurgence in Limited Series for which she received Supporting Emmy nominations “Fargo,” (2016) “Watchmen” (2020). To now being double nominated for her supporting work in “Mare of Easttown” and for her first significant leading role in “Hacks.” Should Smart win, she would join legend Betty White as only the second actress to win all three Comedy Acting Races. That’s some excellent company to be with. 

Final Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Predictions
1. Emma Corrin – “The Crown
2. MJ Rodriguez – “Pose
3. Olivia Colman – “The Crown
4. Elisabeth Moss – “The Handmaid’s Tale”
5. Jurnee Smollet – “Lovecraft Country”
6. Uzo Aduba – “In Treatment”

Corrin is tentatively out front for her work as Princess Diana in “The Crown” after winning the Golden Globe, Critics Choice Award, and receiving a SAG Award nomination. Corrin was plucked from obscurity and rose to the occasion in the most highly anticipated role since season one of “The Crown,” and she nailed it. But, this is far from over. Moss, a past winner (2017), hasn’t been this good since season one. This is the television academy’s last opportunity to award Colman, and Claire Foy did win on her second nomination—she was, however, a two-time SAG Award winner. However, this is Colman’s fifth nomination, and it could be her turn like it was Kyra Sedgwicks (“The Closer,” 2010) on her fifth nomination. This category’s future depends on whether the academy feels like making history—enter Rodriguez, the first transgender woman to receive a nomination here. It is, however, extremely difficult to win an Emmy on your first/last nomination. Ultimately Corrin should be assisted by being in the Drama Series winner and eke out a win in one of the most competitive categories of the evening.

Final Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series/TV Movie Predictions
1. Anya Taylor-Joy – “The Queen’s Gambit
2. Kate Winslet – “Mare of Easttown
3. Michaela Coel – “I May Destroy You”
4. Elizabeth Olsen – “WandaVision
5. Cynthia Erivo – “Genius: Aretha”

After the Creative Arts Emmys, this category became far less competitive as “The Queen’s Gambit” won nine Emmys with relative ease. It’s hard to imagine “The Queen’s Gambit” winning series and its star Taylor-Joy not being crowned. Taylor-Joy was the breakout star of the 2021 television season, and she’s already picked up a Golden Globe, Critics Choice, and SAG Award. Television made her a star, and they’ll want to award her before she goes off to have what is expected to be a massive career in film and television. This category should’ve been one of the most competitive of the evening. Winslet gives one of her best performances, but she’ll likely get another opportunity with rumors of a season two possibly coming. Coel and Olsen both give strong performances in their respective series, but with the adoration for Taylor-Joy, there just isn’t much of a chance of an upset. Sometimes being the frontrunner is a good thing.

Do you agree or disagree with my logic? What are you predicting to win the Emmys for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy, Drama, and Limited Series/TV Movie categories? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Twitter account. Stay tuned for more articles on the Emmys as I finalize my predictions for the 2021 Emmy Awards taking place on September 19th.

You can follow Amanda and hear more of her thoughts on the Emmys and TV on Twitter at @msamandaspears

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