Last Year’s Winner: Dame Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: After nabbing one nomination in 2013 (Emilia Clarke) and 2014 (Lena Headey), “Game of Thrones” expanded in subsequent years to two nominations in 2015 and three in 2016 (when Maisie Williams snagged her first nod).
Fun Fact: Only two actresses have won this category more than twice: Ellen Corby for “The Waltons” (three times) and Nancy Marchand for “Lou Grant” (four times).
With “Game of Thrones” out of contention and the great Dame Maggie Smith’s “Downton Abbey” over, only two of last year’s nominees are eligible again in 2017: Maura Tierney in “The Affair” and Constance Zimmer in “UnREAL.” Both are coming off their first Emmy nominations, but both of their TV shows lost a bit of buzz in their follow-up seasons. Neither are guarantees (though certainly deserving).
So, who’s going to fill all these slots? There’s no shortage of options. In terms of new series, “Stranger Things” offers two top contenders in Winona Ryder and Millie Bobbie Brown. (Both earned nominations at the SAG Awards, so the two may not even have to worry about splitting votes.) Chrissy Metz is looking strong for “This Is Us,” and Thandie Newton would be a near-guaranteed nod for “Westworld,” if she runs in this category and not Lead Actress. “The Handmaid’s Tale” offers a slew of options, headlined by Samira Wiley and Alexis Bledel, and if we had our druthers, Aubrey Plaza would be a lock for her demented turn on “Legion.” Finally, Vanessa Kirby has yet to land any major awards nomination for “The Crown,” but that could change if the TV Academy falls even harder for the well-liked period drama than the Globes and SAG Awards already did.
Lest we forget a few returning favorites, “The Leftovers” has a number of excellent women in supporting roles, including Emmy winner Regina King, five-time nominee Amy Brenneman, 2017 Sundance breakout Margaret Qualley, and the unforgettable Ann Dowd. We’ll have to see who steals the spotlight once the mysterious series premieres, but given the show’s tendency for spotlighting actors in standalone episodes, any one of these supporting actresses could see their odds improve come April. The same could be said for Patricia Clarkson, a new addition to “House of Cards,” and Uzo Aduba, who won twice for “Orange is the New Black” before getting shut out of the race last year. We know Holly Taylor is bringing the goods in “The Americans,” and, not for nothing, but we’d give up the world to see Abigail Spencer land a nomination for “Rectify.”
Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (in alphabetical order), 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.
- Uzo Aduba, “Orange is the New Black”
- Chrissy Metz, “This Is Us”
- Thandie Newton, “Westworld”
- Winona Ryder, “Stranger Things”
- Maura Tierney, “The Affair”
- Constance Zimmer, “UnREAL”
Spoilers: Millie Bobby Brown, “Stranger Things”; Patricia Clarkson, “House of Cards”; Regina King, “The Leftovers”; Samira Wiley, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
In a Perfect World: Aubrey Plaza, “Legion”; Abigail Spencer, “Rectify”; Holly Taylor, “The Americans”