Emmy Talk with JWalk: Lead Actress in a Drama Series Emmy Predictions


The Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series race at the Emmys is always one of the most thrilling to predict, and this year is no different. There are dozens of deserving actresses that deserve recognition here, but we have to narrow the field down to six women.

First I want to start off by talking about Killing Eve, a show I once adored, but seems to have lost its way in its last 2 seasons. Is it because the constant changing of showrunners season-to-season, interrupting the would-be and necessary constancy a show like this needs to sustain its precise storytelling that made Killing Eve so popular and special its first season? Quite possibly. But I have to say I wasn’t a fan of its third season, and I’m wondering if it’ll affect its Emmy chances — or do the voters not care? Jodie Comer edged a shocking, but deserved win, over her co-star Sandra Oh last year. Now, I’m having trouble even predicting Oh in this category based on the fact it didn’t seem like the writers knew what to do with Eve this season as the main focus seemed to be on Comer’s Villanelle. Will this effect Oh’s chances at a nomination?

I’m cautious about Oh’s chances because there’s an onslaught of competition in this category this year that wasn’t here last year. Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) and Robin Wright (House of Cards) wont be returning, but 2017’s winner Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) is back and will for sure grab a nomination. The Crown is also back in contention this year and I fully expect Olivia Colman to be nominated for her role as Queen Elizabeth II, a role Claire Foy earned Emmy gold for in 2018. Viola Davis, 2015’s winner for How to Get Away with Murder should undoubtedly earn her final nomination as Annalise Keating as Davis delivered one of the most impactful and dramatic performances of the year. Another sure-fire lock is Laura Linney for Ozark.

I’m not quite sure what to make of Westworld this year — will it return by overperforming with nominations as it did in 2018, earning a whopping 21 nominations, including one for Evan Rachel Wood? Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon are both contending in lead for The Morning Show, and Witherspoon’s is also contending in lead for her role on Big Little Lies along with co-star Nicole Kidman. Kidman delivers a stellar performance in the final episodes of BLL. Even though the show aired a year ago, it’s still memorable and at the forefront of many people’s minds, but what’s going to happen with Witherspoon between her roles on The Morning Show, Big Little Lies, and Little Fires Everywhere — in which she’s competing against another co-star, Kerry Washington. Will Witherspoon go 0-3 in acting nominations this year?

Mandy Moore continues to deliver amazing work on This Is Us — as a matter of fact — Moore’s work during season four has been her best to date. Being the lone broadcast Emmy powerhouse left (earning 9 nominations last year), every year I wonder if it’ll still get the full support and recognition it deserves. I’d also love for the Emmys to recognize the stellar work MJ Rodriguez for her season two work on Pose, which above and being excelled her great work during its first season. Another actress to be on the lookout for is Zendaya for her out-of-the-park performance on Euphoria. While she deserves a nomination here, I’ve said before I don’t think it’ll happen. In addition to the immense amount of competition here, I just can’t see her squeezing out a nomination for Euphoria, especially not knowing how The Academy is going to gravitate toward it. It was extremely alarming when she didn’t earn a Golden Globe nomination for a role and show that just screams Golden Globes. However, Euphoria did surprisingly earn a BAFTA nomination for Best International Program of 2019. Zendaya herself didn’t earn a BAFTA nomination, but international awards committed are taking notice of Euphoria, so should we?

A big spoiler in this race could be Homeland star Claire Danes. Even though she hasn’t snagged a nomination since 2016, she won in 2012 and 2013 and should show up again for the final season of Homeland.

With all that being said, who do I have as frontrunners? I’m breaking the rules a bit and predicting 7 nominees instead of the 6 that should be nominated due to submission amounts – that’s how competitive this category is this year. 

  • Laura Linney – Ozark
  • Elisabeth Moss – The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Viola Davis – How to Get Away with Murder
  • Olivia Colman – The Crown
  • Nicole Kidman – Big Little Lies
  • Jennifer Aniston – The Morning Show
  • Jodie Comer – Killing Eve

Serious threats

  • Reese Witherspoon – Big Little Lies
  • Reese Witherspoon – The Morning Show
  • Sandra Oh – Killing Eve
  • Evan Rachel Wood – Westworld
  • Mandy Moore – This Is Us 
  • Claire Danes – Homeland
  • Zendaya – Euphoria
  • MJ Rodriguez – Pose

Follow me on Twitter @TVTalkWithJWalk






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