Emmys 2019: Katheryn Winnick, Caitriona Balfe, Mandy Moore, Mariska Hargitay top Drama Actress dream contenders
Today, we are spotlighting an always-competitive category in Actress in a Drama Series, one that is every bit as competitive and fascinating as it’s been over the past few years. The women in this category are bringing heart, determination, ferocity, and also pain. They’re throwing everything at you and then some, and the performers we’ve chosen for our wishlist this year really run the gamut — you have a superheroine with powers, one with a batch, a time-traveling woman looking to build a new home, a character across multiple eras in her life, and so much more. These actresses are doing more with their roles than many others that we’ve seen over the years, and that makes them all worthy of commendation.
Below, you can see our choices for this category — following the description of our “nominees,” you can find the poll to vote for your favorite. (We’re also including some other popular contenders within that poll to widen the field.)
Voting Rules – Voting will remain open until Monday, July 15 at 1:00 p.m. Pacific time, which is the day before the official nominations are announced. The length of the poll coincides with both Emmy campaigns and lead-up to the official nominations being announced. You can vote however often you’d like; for more technical information if you’re having issues, check out the bottom of this article.
Caitriona Balfe, Outlander – What made season 4 of the Starz drama series so exciting is that it represented an opportunity for performers to showcase different layers and sides of themselves. For Balfe, this meant getting an opportunity to play Claire arguably as we’ve never seen her before. This was someone who could now settle in and be more of a caretaker at her own home — but that’s not to say that this season was easy. Whether it be her saving lives at both River Run and also the theater — let alone some of the emotional scenes with Sam Heughan and Sophie Skelton — Balfe accentuated Claire’s power and vulnerability perfectly. She reminded us of how deep Claire feels, but also how essential she is to everyone around her.
Melissa Benoist, Supergirl – Superhero shows are so much more of an acting challenge than anyone often gives credit. You’re basically having to play two very different sides of the same character at once — in this case, Kara Danvers and Supergirl. Both have to feel unique and have their own mannerisms and tendencies; otherwise, someone like Lena Luthor would’ve figured it out long ago. Melissa’s shown off more and more of her ability with each passing season, and that led into season 4, when she added Red Daughter to the mix and with that, showcased a new character who possessed so much potential and also sorrow. By far, this was Melissa’s best season, offering up alterations of hope in hurt in Supergirl’s most topical season yet.
Lauren German, Lucifer – Was this Lauren’s best season so far as Chloe? You can make a clear argument for it, especially when you chart so many of the little, individual moments along the way. Think in terms of where this character started off in season 4, confused and distrusting of this new paradigm placed before her. Yet, from there she was forced to confront who Lucifer really was before drawing her conclusion at the end — she loved him, and any preconceived notions of who he was beforehand were merely that. This was a fantastic emotional journey, and German made certain that we had a window into Chloe’s heart throughout, understanding ebbs, flows, and insecurities while also making the end result impactful.
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU – Every season you can make a case for Hargitay, who shockingly has been snubbed for many years now after having an impressive nomination run earlier on in SVU. What she did in season 20 that was so impressive especially was demonstrating how Benson takes on threats, challenges those around her, but also maintains her humanity and a separate part of herself from her job. Watching all of the forces in her life collide (including her relationship with Noah) in the Rob Miller story was a prime example of some of what Benson was forced to take on, but also how Hargitay delivered in every single moment of every season.
Mandy Moore, This Is Us – We knew that Mandy was fantastic as Rebecca Pearson, but think about all of the different versions of her she played in season 3 alone! You had an early, just-met-Jack iteration, a grieving widow, someone who was with Miguel in the present, and then also the older Rebecca we met for the first time in the season finale. All of these versions were perfectly played and felt different enough to feel like this is someone who has been weathered by the various phases of life. Moore has that rare ability through her performance to not just show how Rebecca feels, but also how other scene partners feel about her in turn. That’s why she makes every person around her even better.
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve – Oh remains essential to making the story of Killing Eve make sense, mostly because so much of this story is about intent, morality, and understanding the way that this broken world sometimes works. Think about Eve’s pain, and then also think about her evolution — consider who she was in the pilot, and think in some ways about how the season 2 finale represents the death of a former self. With Oh’s growth and commitment to every facet of Eve’s journey, none of this would have been worthwhile; instead, it would be a journey and a mission that otherwise felt hollow.
Katheryn Winnick, Vikings – Was the second half of season 5 the most vulnerable that we’ve seen Lagertha? We’d be willing to wager so, given that we saw the warrior and the survivor at her most broken state. Yet, we also had reminders of the person she was and the person she’s still working to be — a strategist, a thinker, and someone who can still rise to the occasion when the chips are down. Through the years, Winnick has played so many versions of Lagertha — but, along the way, she’s also found a way to maintain all of the necessary through-lines and make the evolution fluid and fantastic to behold.