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2016 Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Can Viola Davis win back-to-back Emmys or will one of last year's nominees top her?

THE AMERICANS -- "The Magic of David Copperfield V. The Statue of Liberty Disappears" Episode 408 (Airs, Wednesday, May 4, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: (l-r) Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, Ruthie Ann Miles as Young-Hee. CR: Patrick Harbron/FX

Patrick Harbron/FX

Quick Hits

  • Last Year’s Winner: Viola Davis, “How To Get Away With Murder”
  • Was It an Upset? No.
  • Still Eligible? Yes.
  • Hot Streak: In this ever-changing and ultra-competitive category, the longest active streak belongs to Claire Danes. Despite “Homeland” missing out on a Drama Series nod in Season 3, its star has been nominated five years running (after winning for her first two).
  • Fun Fact: Angela Lansbury has the most nominations in this category with 12, but she never won an Emmy.

READ MORE: After Years of Small Roles, Viola Davis Believes She’s Finally Getting Her Due

And the streak continues! Claire Danes continues to captivate the TV Academy, landing her fifth nomination in five seasons of “Homeland.” Considering she’s already won twice, odds may not be in her favorite for another trophy in 2016, but her most nuanced performance to date certainly merits the opportunity.

So who could actually walk away with Emmy? Last year’s champ, Viola Davis, is back in the running and should still see strong support for her dominant turn on “How To Get Away With Murder.” Many thought Taraji P. Henson was going to take home the gold last year, and the bold thespian is back for another shot. Can Cookie succeed despite “Empire’s” perceived weakness at the Emmys?

Not if Tatiana Maslany has anything to say about it. Perhaps the hardest working actress on the list, Maslany overcame two years of snubs to land two nominations in a row. You better believe fans will be fervent, and voters should be even more familiar with her work in 2016. Hopefully the Academy is already familiar with Keri Russell, considering her astounding work in “The Americans” has been looked over for three years. But no longer. Russell could ride a wave of newfound admiration for the FX drama all the way to the podium.

READ MORE: ‘Homeland’ Season 6: Claire Danes & Alex Gansa Take You Inside Their Annual CIA Meeting

Yet it’s the four-time loser Robin Wright who may have the advantage. Clearly, the Academy loves “House of Cards” and its stars, but neither Wright nor co-star Kevin Spacey has won — yet. Netflix will be looking to change that in 2016, and, in a tight race, voters may be prone to reward an actress who’s been shut out thus far.

Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, which will be updated throughout the season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2016 race, and read the rest of the predictions in all the categories, as well.

The Nominees:

  1. Claire Danes, “Homeland”
  2. Viola Davis, “How To Get Away With Murder”
  3. Taraji P. Henson, “Empire”
  4. Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black”
  5. Keri Russell, “The Americans”
  6. Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

Will Win: Robin Wright, “House of Cards”
Could Win: Keri Russell, “The Americans”
Should Win: Keri Russell, “The Americans”

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