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Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series — Zendaya Excels, but Melanie Lynskey Impresses

The Best Actress in a Drama Series Emmy race seems to be firmly between the "Euphoria," "Yellowjackets," and "Ozark" leads.

Melanie Lynskey in "Yellowjackets"

Melanie Lynskey in “Yellowjackets”

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME


Last Year’s Winner: Olivia Colman, “The Crown”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: Much like the Best Actor in a Drama Series category, it has been a long time since there has been an actress to win two back-to-back years, and this year will be no different. However, Showtime and BBC America are currently tied for most wins in this category over the last 10 years, and a “Yellowjackets” or “Killing Eve” win could be the tiebreaker.
Notable Ineligible Series: Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Season 6 is not eligible); Evan Rachel Wood, “Westworld” (Season 4 is not eligible)

This article will be updated throughout the season, along with all our predictions, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2022 Emmys race. The nomination round of voting took place from June 16 to June 27, with the official Emmy nominations announced on Tuesday, July 12. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out over two consecutive nights on Saturday, September 3 and Sunday, September 4, with an edited presentation on the ceremonies to be broadcast on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 8:00 p.m. ET on FXX. Finally, the 74rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place on Monday, September 12, and air live on NBC at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

The State of the Race

Allow us to momentarily be as brutal as the shows we’re talking about, and say right off that bat that there probably is no chance Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, or Reese Witherspoon will win this year. Comer did win before, and Oh has long been due for an award herself, but that series finale did not go over well with the viewers that stuck with “Killing Eve.” Plus, if Jennifer Aniston couldn’t beat Zendaya and 2020, and is not even nominated this year even though she had the showier season of “The Morning Show,” there is little chance Witherspoon will finally get her Emmy come September. She was probably the biggest surprise nominee here.

That brings us to the more positive side of the race, evaluating the three frontrunners. The “Euphoria” Season 2 episode “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird” is as big of an Emmy showcase as one can get, and is objectively impressive even if one thinks the rest of the hit HBO series’s sophomore effort did not work, so 2020 winner Zendaya still stands tall as the woman to beat.

Melanie Lynskey is no slouch though. The veteran actress remains endlessly charming, giving the best acceptance speech of the night at this year’s Critic’s Choice Awards, and provides such dynamism and depth as Shauna, the most arresting member of the “Yellowjackets.” If there is one person who could win over Zendaya in an upset, it is her.

The dark horse scenario, as surprising as it may sound, is four-time Emmy winner Laura Linney finally getting an award for her work on “Ozark.” With the show having ended this spring, now is her last chance to be recognized for her portrayal of money laundering maven Wendy Byrde, but her character is famously polarizing, so viewers within the TV Academy who are still bitter about not seeing her demise in the series finale may not want to give Linney their vote.

Power Rankings:

  1. Zendaya, “Euphoria” (HBO)
  2. Melanie Lynskey, “Yellowjackets” (Showtime)
  3. Laura Linney, “Ozark” (Netflix)
  4. Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve” (AMC)
  5. Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve” (AMC)
  6. Reese Witherspoon, “The Morning Show” (Apple TV+)

Will Win: Zendaya
Could Win: Melanie Lynskey
Should Win: Zendaya

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