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Emmy Predictions 2017: Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series

Final Predictions: Can fresh faces fend off the overseeing eye of returning nominees? This category shows a 50/50 split and should be one heckuva battle.

The Handmaid's Tale  -- "Night" -- Episode 110 -- Serena Joy confronts Offred and the Commander. Offred struggles with a complicated, life-changing revelation. The Handmaids face a brutal decision. Offred (Elisabeth Moss), shown. (Photo by: George Kraychyk/Hulu)

The Handmaid’s Tale

George Kraychyk/Hulu

Last Year’s Winner: Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: Claire Danes has been nominated for every season of “Homeland” — five years running — and she’s the last actress to win twice in a row (for Seasons 1 and 2).
Fun Fact: Seventeen actresses have won this category two or more times. Only 12 men have done the same.

Three newcomers and three returning faces make up the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama category. Let’s start with the newbies: Claire Foy is the only true first-timer of the lot, as “The Crown” star had never been nominated before (for any other series). She’s coming in hot, though, with a Golden Globe win under her belt and a beloved Netflix drama behind her. Foy is a foy-midable opponent (forgive me), especially for Evan Rachel Wood, the “Westworld” star who earned her second overall nomination in 2017. (She was nominated for “Mildred Pierce” in 2011.)

Wood represents HBO. Foy is for Netflix. That right there makes them rivals for the top spot, but they’ve got to worry about the final representative of freshman series, Elisabeth Moss. The star of “The Handmaid’s Tale” secured her eighth nomination overall for the Hulu drama, and she’s never won. That’s an injustice Peggy Olsen wouldn’t stand for, and you better believe Offred won’t care for it either. But in all seriousness, Olsen is an Academy favorite, overdue for a trophy, and her turn in “The Handmaid’s Tale” has everyone talking.

First, though, she’ll have to get by another repeat runner-up in Robin Wright. The “House of Cards” star has gone zero for four so far, and Wright’s performance hasn’t lost an ounce of luster. The same could be said for Viola Davis, except she’s already won for “How to Get Away With Murder.” Whether that makes her a more formidable opponent or not will be up to voters.

And last but certainly not least is Keri Russell. “The Americans” saw a slight dip after a gangbusters year in 2016, but Russell held her own in the acting race. She provided one of the most nuanced performances on television in Season 5, and the duality of her persona — a warm family woman and a ruthless Russian spy — gave ample challenges for her incredible talent. She’s got a shot, for sure.

Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series, which will be updated throughout the awards season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2017 race, and read the rest of the predictions in all categories, as well.

The Nominees:

  1. Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder”
  2. Claire Foy, “The Crown”
  3. Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
  4. Keri Russell, “The Americans”
  5. Evan Rachel Wood, “Westworld”
  6. Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

Will Win: Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Could Win: Claire Foy, “The Crown”
Should Win: Elisabeth Moss, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale”

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