The 2016 Emmy race is upon us, and as a result of that, today we’re continuing our own article series with what has to be one of our personal favorite races for the year in Drama Actress. What happens when you look across the board at streaming, network programming, and cable is that your head starts spins with all of the worthy contenders! Much like with the Drama Actor category, there were many names we want to put on this list, but because there are only 6 spots we have to leave worthy names off the list.
Below, you can see the top six nominees hand-chosen by the CarterMatt team to represent this category, to go along with explanations as to why we think they’re worthy! As per usual, we’re also offering this up to you as a voter in the poll below! Pick who you feel is the most worthy candidate, and we’ll announce the winners on July 13, one day before the actual nominees are announced.
Before we begin, a quick reminder that you can see the rest of our nominee picks over at this link now!
Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
Shiri Appleby, “UnREAL” (Lifetime) – In a show about reality TV, she brought so much power and intrigue to it from start to finish. It’s hard to imagine “UnREAL” being a show that really worked last season without Rachel, since she is the anchor, the viewpoint, and the person observing the insanity around her. Shiri works overtime to have you rooting for her, feeling for her, and also giving you one of the most complicated figures to front a show all year. This show as a whole was one of the most pleasant surprises of last year, and the acting top-to-bottom is one of the biggest reasons why.
Caitriona Balfe, “Outlander“ (Starz) – We’re not sure anyone has been in an acting zone more than Balfe this season. You could certainly say that her performance on “Outlander” season 1 was fantastic, but even still, her performance in “Faith” in particular blew us away. Getting to know the layers of Claire has only helped to add further depth to the role, and in turn, to make her all the more gripping to watch. She is one of the most capable heroines of our time, and following a Golden Globe nomination earlier this year, we are feeling rather confident that she will have a shot at earning gold later this year with the TV Academy’s support.
Eva Green, “Penny Dreadful“ (Showtime) – What happens when an underdog becomes a contender? This is something that we have started to see over the past year in particular with Green, who we thought of previously as a stellar performer on a show that few are watching (but really should be). She has shown fearlessness as Vanessa, but in other moments great vulnerability, mystery, and pain. She grounds a show that loves to delve within the supernatural, and through her storytelling and her performance makes us feel as though we are right there with her.
Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: SVU“ (NBC) – Seventeen seasons into a show’s run, it is so easy to sit here and proclaim that something is stale and without a new take to offer to the world. “SVU” is an exception to this rule, and one of the primary reasons why the exemplary work being offered up by Hargitay on a weekly basis needs to be noticed. While we would say that her sense of power and humanity is tremendous on an episodic basis, “Townhouse Incident” and “Heartfelt Passages” are two installments in particular that show off how she is making Olivia Benson an even stronger, more nuanced character as time goes by.
Taraji P. Henson, “Empire“ (Fox) – Henson easily is playing the biggest character of the group, meaning that Cookie Lyon is the most-quoted, the most commercially-popular, and the one that has shown to encapsulate the true spirit of “Empire.” Yet, even in midst of the strong writing and the crazy twists that this show provides, nothing would be possible without the performance of Taraji, who consistently delivers the perfect combination of humor and heart. If you tipped the scales too much in one way, it would upset the entire balance of the show; thankfully, Henson is not allowing that to happen.
Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife“ (CBS) – From slap to slap Julianna was fantastic, and we cannot think of a more perfect way to commemorate her time as Alicia Florrick with one last run at the Emmys. Like with Mariska, she is proof of the powerful stories that can be told on network television, and the value that can come with being on TV for such a lengthy period of time. Margulies never made Alicia into a character you wanted to root against, even if she did develop more of those victimizer traits that led to the slap in the closing minutes. She was a fighter, a diplomat, and at times someone facing impossible odds. Her odyssey was one that never felt boring.
Now, we’re turning the power over to you! Vote for your favorite, and head over here to get some other TV news on all we cover, sent right over to you via our official CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: Emmys.)