Saturday, May 30, 2009

DanielleTBD's Perfect Emmy Ballot: Drama...

The Emmy nomination season is just about upon us once again, so please allow me to make my recommendations to the Academy...this time in the genre of drama.

Best Supporting Actress:

Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet Burke, Lost)-- Ignore her act of attempted martyrdom in the show's season finale, but her greatest moments were much earlier on, when the Oceanic Six returned to the island, and she was faced with the fact that the man with whom she spent the last three years building a brand new life was still in love with someone else-- someone who she had to help join their new "home." She never ranted or burst into tears, but she suffered still; she is proof that sometimes it is the quieter performances that can be the biggest.

Poppy Montgomery (Samantha Spade, Without A Trace)-- Writing her real-life pregnancy into the show was a risk, but having the young, attractive FBI agent become a new mom definitely was the pay off the actress needed. It added an extra layer to her performance to have that little face waiting for her at home (in real life and on the show); so much more was riding on everything now. Besides, times of quality scripted programs are few and far between, so something should be said for the woman who never once slips into her native accent!

Allison Pill (April, In Treatment)-- The young actress was both gutwrenching and inspiring at when spilling her soul to her doctor, even though as someone stricken with cancer, she is unsure of how much time she really has left. Her eyes were both deep and guilt-stricken when it almost seemed like she was questioning even being there, spending what could be some of her last moments rehashing instead of going out and living to the very last minute.

Chloe Sevigny (Nicolette Grant, Big Love)-- She has big, somewhat crazy eyes and even bigger, somewhat crazy (and frizzy!) hair. But it is her snippy voice that really gets under one's skin when she sneaks and connives. She may be the housewife you love to hate, but in a less capable actress' hand, you'd just simply hate her.

Dianne Wiest (Gina, In Treatment)-- As a professional who has to get into everyone else's head-- even those with whom she has a complicated personal history, Wiest is understated and quiet, choosing to emote rather than speak. She is somewhat of a mystery, making her patients and her at-home audience wondering just what it is that she's really thinking, and she draws you in so easily. She is warm and inviting and always awesome, even in this somewhat small role.

Best Supporting Actor:

Robert David Hall (Dr. Albert Robbins, C.S.I.)-- Let's face it, after years of increasingly ridiculous storylines, personal trauma getting in the way of cases, and a somewhat revolving-door of characters, the one rock at the center has been the trusty coroner. Hall's gentle, calming demeanor during the worst moments of people's lives has been over-looked for far too long!

Ryan Kwanten
(Jason Stackhouse, True Blood)-- He's so much more than a pretty face, but he never got to prove it before. As a hillbilly who is sometimes suspected of murder and other times tripping out on vampire blood, he challenges himself and his fans, though.

Terry O'Quinn (John Locke, Lost)-- While so many around him easily allow the greater mythology to overwhelm them and therefore swallow them up, O'Quinn uses it to his advantage to build on the mysteriousness of his own performance. He has evolved from a somewhat helpless older man to a strong, defiant leader, and he never relies on gimmicks like staring off in the distance or letting the tail end of his sentences trail off and drop down in order to capture interest or intrigue.

Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman, Breaking Bad)-- I admit I don't actually watch Breaking Bad, though everyone I know who does raves and rants to no end about how I watch so much crappy reality TV and not this fine piece of fiction. And that is not an unfair critique, but I cannot watch anything about hard drugs. Call it a testament to the actors' performances that the seedy world of crystal meth just seems so real here, if it helps you. Everyone I know who watches, though, says that Paul is slowly stealing the spotlight in this show, transforming his boy-next-door good looks into a slang-speaking rock...well, slanger. And if he's not going to get anything for his time on Big Love, he should get something for this!

Jimmy Smits (Miguel Prado, Dexter)-- Though he was only around for one short season, his impact was felt like a ripple effect through the rest of the cast and the diehard (no pun intended) fans. For once, someone not only challenged but also threatened our unlikely hero, and Smits played sinister, secretive, and dangerous with the best of them. It was truly a far cry from the good guy officer he once played on a network cop drama, but that's what made his performance so much more nuanced; he played completely against type.

Best Actress:

Glenn Close (Patty Hewes, Damages)-- She hasn't been this ruthless since she scared puppies and kiddies alike in 101 Dalmatians, but in her second season she had to throw a little vulnerability into the mix, and she did so effortlessly-- even if it was still somewhat undercover. There is no one quite like her on television; she is incomparable in a lot of ways.

Toni Collette
(Tara, United States of Tara)-- In a show about a woman with split personalities, Collette's performance is equally manic. She flits in and out of the "alters" effortlessly, sometimes smiling and flirting and going for easy laughs, and other times digging deeper and darker. Throughout them all, though, you can't take your eyes off of her, and though the show moves at a snail's pace when divulging new information about her, you are emotionally invested when the "shocks" are finally revealed (and are no longer surprisingly since your imagination has already taken you there), all only thanks to Collette.

Mariska Hargitay (Olivia Benson, Law & Order: SVU)-- Though she has won before, NBC and Dick Wolf's endless campaign to give her another statue can't be ignored. She pulls from the gut, no matter what case she is working, and this time around, she did it at half-mast (she suffered through a collapsed lung while filming some episodes).

Kathryn Morris
(Lily Rush, Cold Case)-- Normally, I call a procedural out for jumping the shark the minute they start to introduce personal drama for the characters (especially when that drama includes the characters intermingling). However, the re-emergence of Rush's dad actually managed to stir up some cool character moments that gave Morris something to emote about other than a hazy ghost image she may or may not really see. Faced with the eternal threat of cancellation, she really pulled everything she had out for this character and deserves to be richly rewarded for it.

Elisabeth Moss (Patty Olson, Mad Men)-- The buttoned-up persona Moss gives to Olson is not just due to the times or region of the show's setting but also to her own self-inflicted repression after letting herself love a bit loosely and reap the consequences of it. Keeping her secrets and her sins to herself, even when being prompted by co-workers and a priest allow her to feature great moments of restraint, through which anyone looking into her eyes can see there is a much deeper story. However, it is not until she is with the one person who she let herself go with before that she is able to be so free again and finally spills everything in a cathartic rush of emotion. That scene alone is worthy of a statue!

Best Actor:

Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester, Supernatural)-- Okay, the Academy has never really been one to give kudos to The CW (even in the rare instance that it would actually be deserved), but if they decide to do so this year, the honor should go to Ackles, who took his demon-hunting past just snarky one-liners this season. Returning from hell may sound a bit campy, but it set his character-- and therefore the actor's range-- on a journey of deep emotion as he struggled to understand his greater purpose and come to grips with what his only trusted confidante became in his absence.

Michael C. Hall (Dexter Morgan, Dexter)-- Faced with his own impending fatherhood this year, his character was forced to develop layers that one would assume would be maturity but ended up just being nuanced ways of lying to the ones he loves-- and for once, he finally seemed to acknowledge that he actually is capable of love. He opened up; he tensed up when he realized he could be exposed; he was on a roller coaster of emotions, and he wore them all on his face as he still tried to keep them inside.

Hugh Laurie (Dr. House, House)-- Okay, this is an obvious choice, due to the quirky nature of his character, but just when you thought he couldn't get and weirder, he started seeing dead people and had to go for psychiatric help of his own (me senses a cross-over on Mental, if that show makes it to the fall), giving the actor something new to do at a time when such a character usually hits a rut.

Denis Leary (Tommy Gavin, Rescue Me)-- This is an obvious choice, too, but it is one that should be made because there is something to be said for this hybrid (writer/actor/producer) who used his influence in a positive way to take the show down a unique and creative path. Somehow he manages to not let anything get lost in translation as he wears multiple hats, and he only uses it toward his weary and worn-down character. He is at his best when he has just gone through something serious and emotional but then turns on his heel, and the lightness on his feet is still there, offering the hope that was set up in the pilot: things will be tough, but through them come anything worth having. Including an Emmy.

Christopher Meloni (Elliot Stabler, Law & Order: SVU)-- There has been a heavy-handed campaign for him ever since Mariska won her own statue. However, this season the actor has really gone above and beyond to prove he is worthy. The scenes in which he comes to terms with the fact that his own daughter is suffering from psychological issues (ones that the hardened cop would normally write off as "just excuses") that caused her to act out criminally was growth for him not only as an officer but also as a man.

Best Dramatic Series:

Cold Case, Dexter (though based on its last airing, I'm not entirely sure it's eligible), United States of Tara, Big Love, and okay, Lost.

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