2011 Dream Emmy Ballot: Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series

It’s that time again, folks. The Emmy nominations will be announced on July 14, which means I have almost an entire month to flood this space with hopes, dreams and predictions about what could happen come nomination time. To kick things off, I’ll be bringing back the Dream Emmy Ballot. It’s something I did last year and even with my much smaller readership back then, folks seemed to enjoy it. You can find the archives of previous Dream Emmy Ballot posts here.

In any event, just a qualifier or two: This is obviously my Dream Emmy Ballot. Meaning, these initial picks are going to be who I would love to see be nominated for the awards. I know that many of these people don’t actually have a chance in garnering a nomination, just as I know that I will miss some of your personal favorites because I don’t watch that series. I watched more television than ever this season, so I imagine my personal picks will more closely align with more “official” selections, but nevertheless, this is all based on my personal taste and wishes. I’ll do more concrete, objective analysis as we get closer to the actual nomination announcement. Secondly, these picks are all based on the official nomination ballot, just so you know.

On the docket today: The final guest category, Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama. Like most of the guest categories, this is both a packed category and one that I probably won’t come anywhere close to aligning with the Emmy voters. I really like the actresses I’ve chosen here and maybe a few of them have a shot, but I wouldn’t put any money on it. Nevertheless, here we go!

Carla Buono, Mad Men

Faye was interesting and complicated, both as an individual character and as this weird transitional spouse for Don Draper (of course, we didn’t know that part until the very end of the season, but still). Don’s had a handful of strong, individualistic trysts, but Carla Buono’s work went a long way in making sure Faye didn’t feel particularly stale or typical for Don’s obvious “type.” She was assertive and intelligent in those early episodes, but Buono was especially skilled at playing Faye once her wall started to crack thanks to Don’s moves. It’s a strong testament to the performance when I was generally angry with the way that Don treated her when I usually feel complete sympathy for Mr. Draper and his infidelities. Emmy voters do love their Mad Men, so there’s an obvious chance that Buono gets nominated here.

Karina Logue, Terriers

Shawn Ryan and Ted Griffin had it right when casting Karina Logue on Terriers. Who better to play the sister of Donal Logue’s Hank Dollworth than Logue’s real-life sister. The chemistry between the sibling actors was well-established and natural, so much so that even during Steph’s most difficult times the characters were making lighthearted pokes at their screwed up circumstances. I find that the more overt, histrionic portrayals of mental illnesses bother me and thankfully, Logue’s work on Terriers strays far from anything like that. Steph is sick, but not totally emotionally destroyed by her issues. Outside of the two main characters of Terriers, I think I’ll miss Logue’s Steph the most. Great character, even better performance.

Kaitlyn Dever, Justified

This is a simple way to put this, but an effective one nonetheless: If Kaitlyn Dever had entered herself into the very, very competitive Supporting Actress category, she still would have gotten a nomination vote from me. There were so many wonderful performances in Justified‘s second season, but as the newcomer, Dever’s work was obviously the most revelatory. Dever was given a lot of material to work with from the very beginning and she handled it all masterfully. She is especially adept at transitioning from attitudinal spit-fire to sad, misguided little girl, which is perfect considering her character’s arc followed that pattern and back again a few times during the season. Every time I thought she turned in her best performance, another episode would come along and she would top it with yet another heartbreaking, complex episode.

Julia Stiles, Dexter

I’ve never been a fan of Julia Stiles’ work, but she was very, very good during the problematic fifth season of Dexter. The Showtime series doesn’t often allow room for complexity in its non-Dexter, non-villain characters, but Stiles’ Lumen was a lovely exception throughout the season. As always is the case on Dexter, sometime the writing let her down, but Stiles’ ability to portray the character’s change from shocked and disturbed to cool and controlled was still really impressive. I don’t recall her being able to (or even being asked to) play a role that is so entrenched in uncomfortability and distress, so Stiles’ work outside of her typical, stoic comfort zone made for compelling television. She was arguably the best part of an admittedly disappointing season of the series. John Lithgow took home an Emmy for his guest work on the series last year, which gives Stiles a solid probability of garnering a nom.

Gretchen Mol, Boardwalk Empire

Although I ended up liking Boardwalk Empire at the end of the season than I did at the beginning, I’ll be the first to admit its parts are better than the whole. One of those parts I enjoyed was Gretchen Mol’s performance as Jimmy’s mother Gillian. It was sort of staggering to see Mol in a motherly role, but of course Gillian isn’t the traditional kind of mother. Mol brings an assertiveness and strength to the role that I enjoy and those traits are on display in the episode she submitted “Belle Femme.”

Ally Walker, Sons of Anarchy

By the end of Sons of Anarchy‘s third season, I was ready for the SAMCRO crew to kill Ally Walker’s June Stahl just as much as they were, but that’s not necessarily her fault. In fact, one could make a strong argument that the audience’s hatred for June was a testament to Walker’s intense performance. Although I preferred the more subtle, complicated version of Stahl we saw in earlier seasons of Sons of Anarchy, Ally Walker was still very good as the most broadly villainous and vicious side of the character. Sometimes it’s okay for complicated characters to embrace the extreme sections of their personality and for the most part, I think taking Stahl down that path was just fine. More than anything, this pick serves as a three-season acknowledgement of Ally Walker’s fantastic, generally multi-dimensional but always compelling, work on Sons.

Notable performers left just off the list: Jessica Paré, Mad Men; Linda Gehringer, Justified; Adrianne Palicki, Friday Night Lights

Thoughts?

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