With the Emmys just around the corner, Jane Lynch is finally able to sleep, and we've made up our minds on who deserves the highest honors in television. Over the next few days, we'll be bringing you our picks and predictions for the actresses and actors up for Emmys, as well as the Big Ones for drama and comedy. We begin with the main 24 actresses nominated, the full list of which you can find here.
Emmy judging works this way: The actors submit one episode from the entire season that they think best represents their work, and Emmy judges use it to determine how they vote. Though surely other factors -- like their performances all season long, whether it's "their turn" -- come into play. As for the judges here at HuffPost Culture, we've viewed all the sample episodes, and based off those, have come to some conclusions. Read on, and let us know in the comments if you agree.
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy
Should Win: Julie Bowen, "Modern Family"
Will Win: Jane Lynch,"Glee"
Jane Lynch won last year, and creature of habit the Emmy beast is, we're guessing she'll take it again. Even as "Glee" became the headquarters for Public Service Announcements, Lynch managed to keep Sue Sylvester more or less in biting form. The episode she's nominated for, "Funeral," is the murkiest example of this. (Sue's sister dies, Sue gives a speech, Sue is kinder, gentler, etc. etc.) But there's enough patina to the Sylvester brand at this point to guarantee everyone Emmy-related has seen all sides of what Lynch can do...after all, she's hosting the damn thing. That said, I like Julie Bowen as The One Who Should Win. "Modern Family"s sophomore season upped the ante on Bowen's physical comedy chops, and she proved herself more adept than any of her competitors. The potential upsets to this delicate equation are also the crowd-pleasers: Sophia Vergara and Betty White, who've put in strong, consistently goofy turns as the foreigner we love to giggle at and the granny we love to giggle at, in MF and the surprisingly-funny "Hot In Cleveland."
- Mallika Rao
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama
Should Win: Christina Hendricks, "Mad Men"
Will Win: Christina Hendricks, "Mad Men"
Last year's winner, Archie Panjabi, is still reason enough to watch "The Good Wife," but this time around we're calling it for "Mad Men"s Christina Hendricks. The submitted episode, "The Summer Men," pits Hendrick's Joan against a new male temp who undermines her looks and any corresponding power. "She's like my mother," he says, and indeed the skill of Hendricks' performance is how she seems to age in counterpoint to his contempt, until she's practically petrified rock. "I'm a meaningless secretary and you're just another humorless bitch," she tells Peggy, after Peggy fires the temp in a flush of hopefulness. (Hope: dashed). There may be contenders --- Panjabi or "Justified"s Margo Martindale to name two -- but as we know, Hollywood loves a transformation.
- Mallika Rao
Outstanding Actress, Comedy
Should Win: Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation"
Will Win: Laura Linney, "The Big C"
Poehler has taken a character that in anyone else's hands could be quite the turn off to modern audiences (I mean: a straight edge, domineering woman in power in a small town parks department?) and made her not only absurdly likable, but one of the funniest leading ladies on television. She's leading a strong ensemble, no doubt, but Poehler has anchored a show that seems to get better with every episode. The only reason for The Big C's continued existence seems to be Laura Linney, who could probably make a show about two people in an empty room drinking water entertaining (note to studios: that's my trademarked idea, so back off.) Nobody's the biggest fan of the series itself, but nobody can deny Linney's star power and obvious chops. She's an awards season favorite in movieland, too, so that will undoubtedly help her odds.
- Lucas Kavner
Outstanding Actress, Drama
Should Win: Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men"
Will Win: Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men"
This should be Elisabeth Moss's year. Though she was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category last year, the move to Best Actress in 2011 seems natural given her considerable presence on this season of "Mad Men." Voters love the moody, aesthetically stunning, classed-up melodrama, but no actor on the show has won an Emmy yet (Jon Hamm's been nominated every year). This year, both he and Moss submitted episode "The Suitcase" to the awards. That's no surprise -- "The Suitcase," aside from being one of the highlights of "Mad Men"'s fourth season, is made up almost completely of scenes between the two actors. Trapped together in the office together, over the course of the evening Peggy and Don journey through emotional highs and lows that end up feeling more like watching a particularly intense play than just another episode on a TV show. And Moss's Peggy has had one of the most tumultuous character arcs of any character on the show, transforming from timid secretary to self-assured ad exec. Despite challengers including Julianna Marguiles for Emmy favorite "The Good Wife," and Mariska Hargitay, a winner five years ago for "Law and Order: SVU," my pick to win is still Moss.
- Amy Lee