Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series:
Patricia Arquette, Medium "Be Kind, Rewind"
Pro: Arquette is coming in with an Emmy for this role and lots of support (back-to-back Globe and SAG nods). She's the dominate lead in her submission and is essentially playing the same scenes four different times, which allows her to show off some range.
Con: Arquette failed to get nominated last year, so one has to wonder if the support for the show is still there (and NBC benched it again for mid-season). Despite a terrific season, I think another win for Arquette is probably not going to happen.
Minnie Driver, The Riches "Pilot"
Pro: A wonderful performance from Oscar nominee Driver, that allows voters to see a new side to an actress many don't care for. Very showy, very dramatic, plus she's fighting her drug additions (Emmy bait!). Emmy voters have recently taken a shine towards past their prime movie stars doing television shows (see recent wins by Patricia Arquette and James Spader).
Con: Driver has to share her screentime with Eddie Izzard. The role might be too out of the comfort zone of Academy members (a grifter can't compare to cops, mafia wives, doctors or politicans). Driver was the show's only nod.
Edie Falco, The Sopranos "The Second Coming"
Pro: Falco already has three Emmys for this role and this will be voters last time to reward her for it. It's a very good performance where we get to see two different sides of Carmela (remorseful over A.J.'s suicide attempt and pissed at Tony for everything). In a race of two new nominees, two former winners and one past nominee, Falco is the veteran of the category.
Con: It's a very supporting performance and some voters might know that Falco wasn't a big player this season. She also failed to get a nod last year, when she was left devasted on Tony's presumed deathbed. Maybe they're over her?
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters "Mistakes Were Made Part Two"
Pro: A two-time Oscar winner slumming it on a weepy ABC soap. Field began her career on television and now has returned and having a grand time as the matriarch of the Los Angeles family. It's a winning submission (much better than I remembered) and Field already has two Emmys for her previous work on tv-film Sybil and guest work on ER.
Con: A two-time Oscar winner slumming it on a weepy ABC soap. Calista Flockhart is slightly better in the same episode, so voters might not care for Field's performance.
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit "Florida"
Pro: Hargitay has the entire episode to herself and gives a solid performance. As the defending champion in this category, Hargitay could see herself repeat her win if voters are lazy (which they tend to be). Fans of the show will finally get some closure to Det. Benson's search for her family.
Con: It's not as overtly baity as last year's, or the one before. And even though she beat her last year, having a similar character to Kyra Sedgwick can't help. Those who have never seen the show before might be confused over her search for her family.
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer "Slippin'"
Pro: A recent Globe winner, Sedgwick benefits from being the clear lead of her show and submission. She has a very commanding presence on screen. It helps to work opposite Emmy-nominee Frances Sternhagen, which brings a bit of lightness to her submission.
Con: Sedgwick's submission last year was better and voters seem to like Hargitay's cop over hers. Despite the Globe win, it seems like Sedgwick is destined to be always a nominee, never a winner at the Emmys.
This is a difficult category to nail down. Okay, so I don't think Patricia Arquette will ever win again and she had much better tapes. If Kyra Sedgwick doesn't win this year, I think that voters simply don't care for that performance. Mariska Hargitay could spoil, although I think she, like Arquette, are done collecting trophies here. Minnie Driver would have had a stronger shot if her show was more widely recognized. That leaves Sally Field and Edie Falco. I think this category is not going to come down to tapes, but more of who voters like and respect more. Falco's show is over and it's really one of Emmy's favorites. But something is telling me that Sally Field's name recognition is going to stick out with many voters and despite the lack of huge support from the industry, I think the Academy will see it more as honoring Sally Field than honoring Brothers & Sisters.
1. Sally Field
2. Edie Falco
3. Minnie Driver
4. Mariska Hargitay
5. Kyra Sedgwick
6. Patricia Arquette