Emmy Predictions 2019: Best Actress in a Drama Series

Sandra Oh looks to make history with an Emmy win, while Emilia Clarke hopes "Game of Thrones" momentum will carry her through. [Updated September 16]
Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri - Killing Eve _ Season 2, Episode 8 - Photo Credit: Gareth Gatrell/BBCAmerica
Sandra Oh, "Killing Eve"
Gareth Gatrell/BBCAmerica

Last Year’s Winner: Claire Foy, “The Crown”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: There has not been a back-to-back winner in the Best Actress in a Drama Series category since Claire Danes won for “Homeland” in 2012 and 2013. Other successful defending champions include Glenn Close (in 2008 and 2009 for “Damages”), Kathy Baker (in 1995 and 1996 for “Picket Fences”), Patricia Wettig (in 1990 and 1991 for “thirtysomething”), and Sharon Gless (in 1986 and 1987 for “Cagney & Lacey”). Tyne Daly, who’s tied with Michael Learned for the most awards by a single actress in this category ever (at four), is the only performer to win three in a row (from 1983-1985 for “Cagney & Lacey).
Fun Fact: Broadcast TV’s Emmy struggles continue in the Best Drama Actress category. Two or more of the big four networks were nominated in the category between 2000 and 2016, including nine wins between them. In 2017, only one network actress was nominated (Viola Davis for ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder”), and in 2018, the broadcast networks were completely shut-out.
Notable Ineligible Series: Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (premieres June 5); Anyone, “Big Little Lies” (premieres in June); Olivia Colman, “The Crown” (expected in mid-to-late 2019); Claire Danes, “Homeland” (fall 2019); and Keri Russell, “The Americans” (ended)

At the bottom of this page are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Lead 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, September 14 and Sunday, September 15. The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, September 22. Fox is broadcasting the ceremony.

The State of the Race

Well, lookee here — a drama race not dominated by “Game of Thrones” stars. In fact, the tables have turned: Instead of a bunch of ex-Westeros residents vying for the crown, two “Killing Eve” stars are going for the gold, and Emilia Clarke is the one looking for an upset. Can she do it? Sure! “Game of Thrones” may not be the favorite here, but it’s never out of the running.

After snagging her second Golden Globe and another Screen Actors Guild trophy for “Killing Eve,” Oh is the one to beat here. She’s got a lot of heat behind her, and knowing she’ll be the first Asian-American actress to win an Emmy in the category will only heighten the support she’s already earned onscreen. Still, Jodie Comer had a better year. After being snubbed in Season 1, she got more screen time, meatier scenes, and more praise from critics. If people vote based on the season instead of the series, she could be the winner.

Or they could split votes, opening the door to a slew of other possibilities, including Emilia Clarke’s first Emmy. The actress has been nominated four times now, so the TV Academy could want to reward her after all this time, at the end of a long, respected run. If Netflix has its way, Laura Linney will sneak away with this one, though, as the “Ozark” star seems to be well-liked even from critics of the series, making her a threat if the “Killing Eve” duo proves less formidable than expected.

Voters could go for Mandy Moore, but after two years of being left out of the race, it doesn’t seem like there’s a rush this year to get her a trophy. Her time might come later on, while Viola Davis (“How to Get Away With Murder”) and Robin Wright (“House of Cards”) have already had their time in the sun. Even without a win for Wright after six years of nominations, it seems impossible the TV Academy would honor “House of Cards” again… right?

Power Ranking the Nominees:

  1. Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”
  2. Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones”
  3. Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”
  4. Laura Linney, “Ozark”
  5. Mandy Moore, “This Is Us”
  6. Robin Wright, “House of Cards”
  7. Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder”

Will Win: Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”
Could Win: Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones”
Should Win: Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”

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