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Emmy Predictions 2019: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Four "Game of Thrones" stars square off — and who has the edge might surprise you. [Updated September 16]

Maisie Williams and Kit Harington, "Game of Thrones"

“Game of Thrones”


Last Year’s Winner: Thandie Newton, “Westworld”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: In the last 20 years, there have only been three repeat winners in this category: Anna Gunn for “Breaking Bad” (2013 – 2014), Blythe Danner for “Huff” (2005 – 2006), and Allison Janney for “The West Wing” (2000 – 2001). Nancy Marchand is the only actress to win Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in three consecutive years: between 1980 and 1982 for playing Margaret Pynchon in  “Lou Grant.” She also won in 1978 for the same role, which is the most of any actor ever.
Fun Fact: 2018 wasn’t the only year the Emmys nominated seven actresses in the supporting actress category. In 1992, Valerie Mahaffey (“Northern Exposure”), Mary Alice (“I’ll Fly Away”), Barbara Barrie (“Law & Order”), Conchata Ferrell (“L.A. Law”), Cynthia Geary (“Northern Exposure”), Marg Helgenberger (“China Beach”), and Kay Lenz (“Reasonable Doubts”) were all up for the Emmy, and each performer represented a broadcast network. In 2018, none were.
Notable Ineligible Series: Thandie Newton, “Westworld”; Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd, and Yvonne Strahovski, “The Handmaid’s Tale”; Vanessa Kirby, “The Crown”; Millie Bobby Brown, “Stranger Things”

At the bottom of this page are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. This article will be updated throughout the season, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz from the 2019 race, and read predictions in the rest of the categories, as well. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out Saturday, Sept. 14 and Sunday, Sept. 15. The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 22. Fox is broadcasting the ceremony.

The State of the Race

Of all the categories to be affected by the “Game of Thrones” 2019 takeover, this one is a doozy. Stars of HBO’s megahit makeup more than 66 percent of the category, as four “GoT” contenders will duke it out in a game all their own. Still, only one of last year’s record-tying seven nominees remains eligible, and Lena Headey is looking to win. The fan favorite has four nominations under her belt already, but zero wins. This could be her year… unless all this fresh blood comes for the would-be queen.

One knock against her is screen time: Season 8 saw a decrease in Cersei activity, so bigger arcs for Maisie Williams and Gwendoline Christie could boost their chances in the category. Williams got to play out a few iconic moments as Arya, while Christie may have made the most people cry with Brienne’s knighting ceremony. Considering how many people watched “Game of Thrones,” these kind of moments are just as important as the narratives surrounding each actor’s campaign (unlike some other races, where Academy members may vote for the individual more than the work).

Meanwhile, some thought Sophie Turner would get a boost from her prominent role in the latest “X-Men” film, “Dark Phoenix,” but the movie’s lackluster reviews and box office are now something that needs to be pushed out of the way if Turner wants to make a charge. Odds favor her competitors, including the few non-“Game of Thrones” contenders.

Julia Garner might be “Ozark’s” best chance for a trophy. While Jason Bateman and Laura Linney face stiff competition in the lead categories — and the technical categories are sure to be dominated by “Game of Thrones” — Garner has been a breakout since Season 1, snagging a passionate fandom that’s only grown with her increased presence on TV. Roles in prestige originals like “Maniac” and “Waco” certainly don’t hurt her odds here, but Fiona Shaw can say the same thing for her push, too. The “Killing Eve” star left her mark on “Fleabag” as the eponymous hero’s therapist, and she stole just about every scene she was in during Season 2 of the BBC America series. If enough people watched — and can look past “Game of Thrones” — she’s got a shot.

Power Ranking the Nominees:

  1. Maisie Williams, “Game of Thrones”
  2. Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones”
  3. Julia Garner, “Ozark”
  4. Gwendoline Christie, “Game of Thrones”
  5. Fiona Shaw, “Killing Eve”
  6. Sophie Turner, “Game of Thrones’

Will Win: Maisie Williams, “Game of Thrones”
Could Win: Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones”
Should Win: Fiona Shaw, “Killing Eve”

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