Last Year’s Winner: Laura Dern, “Big Little Lies”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: FX and HBO have both earned nominations in this category since 2012 (and HBO’s streak dates back to 2003).
Fun Fact: For the first time since “Downton Abbey” made the jump from limited series to drama series in 2013, not a single anthology series (or other franchise) that was nominated the year prior is in contention this year.
It’s the movie stars vs. the TV favorites in a surprisingly competitive Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie race. Penelope Cruz (“American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace”) and Nicole Kidman (“Top of the Lake: China Girl”) are looking to crack in for respected turns in prestige projects; Cruz as the sister of a fashion icon who became a star, Donatella Versace, and Kidman as an Australian mother, Julia, whose story dovetails with Elisabeth Moss’ detective.
Meanwhile, Angela Lansbury — a three-time Oscar nominee and 18-time Emmy nominee — aims for her first statue from the TV Academy for her role in “Little Women.” (No, Jessica Fletcher was never rewarded for “Murder She Wrote.”) Last year’s winner Laura Dern — who has a pair of Oscar nominations herself — is back in the race for “Twin Peaks: The Return.” She’ll be competing against another former Emmy winner Merritt Wever, who took home the trophy in 2013 for “Nurse Jackie” (and hasn’t been back in the race since).
But even with these big names in play, there are plenty more heavyweights vying for slots. Ellen Burstyn hit all the right notes in a tricky performance for “The Tale” (as did Elizabeth Debicki, whose haunting turn leaves a lasting mark) and Jennifer Jason Leigh played a complicated victim over decades of narrative in the Showtime drama, “Patrick Melrose.” Naomi Watts is hoping voters look fondly on David Lynch’s Dougie storyline, and Judith Light hopes members are taken with “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” enough to nominate her and Cruz.
Throw in Julia Ormond (“Howards End”), Anna Paquin (“Alias Grace”), and Sharon Stone (“Mosaic”) — who would be locks in other years — and this competition is looking mighty fierce. Much like the rest of the Emmys, the final tally could come down to which shows are seen, remembered, and beloved; two (or more) nominees from one show aren’t out of the realm of possibility.
Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie (listed in alphabetical order), which will be updated throughout the season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2018 race, and read predictions for the rest of the categories, as well.
- Ellen Burstyn, “The Tale”
- Penelope Cruz, “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace”
- Laura Dern, “Twin Peaks: The Return”
- Nicole Kidman, “Top of the Lake: China Girl”
- Jennifer Jason Leigh, “Patrick Melrose”
- Merritt Wever, “Godless”
Spoilers: Elizabeth Debicki, “The Tale”; Angela Lansbury, “Little Women”; Judith Light, “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace”; Anna Paquin, “Alias Grace”; Naomi Watts, “Twin Peaks: The Return”
In a Perfect World: Julia Ormond, “Howards End”; Julia Garner, “Waco”