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Emmy battle over best drama actress: Julianna Margulies vs. Kyra Sedgwick

August 23, 2010 |  9:02 am

Chris "Boomer" Beachum, Rob Licuria (AwardsHeaven) and I agree that Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife") will win the Emmy for best drama actress, but we're not confident. Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer") submitted the best sample episode to judges. Usually, that decides who wins. Sedgwick has something else going for her. After four defeats so far, she's long overdue to triumph. So this contest is a squeaker — really too close to call. But since we're pundits we have to call it anyway. Watch how we squirm with nervousness in our webcam smackdown.

DRAMA LEAD ACTRESS: ROB'S PREDIX
1. Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife" ("Threesome")
2. Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer" ("Maternal Instincts")
3. Glenn Close, "Damages" ("Your Secrets Are Safe")
4. Connie Britton, "Friday Night Lights" ("After the Fall")
5. Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" ("Perverted")
6. January Jones, "Mad Men" ("The Gypsy and the Hobo")

ROB'S COMMENTARY: January Jones has never been better than in Season 3 of "Mad Men" and is a deserving nominee, but I couldn't help but feel that she was a little out of her league here. Opposite Jon Hamm in this pivotal episode, I think she came across a little wooden and more reactionary rather than being the highlight/standout of the episode (aka Jon Hamm himself). Against the caliber of some of these other actresses, I think Jones brings up the rear in this category.

Mariska Hargitay also does not do anything that I would call particularly Emmy-worthy in her episode. She is good. In fact, she is always good, but I can't see "winner" in this one. Sorry. I think her nomination is the reward.

Julianna margulies Kyra Sedgwick Emmys news

Connie Britton has some excellent material in her episode, but she suffers from not having as much impact as is often necessary. Her acting style is natural, almost underplayed in most respects, and while she has some brilliant writing to showcase her charm and wit (even defiance), the lack of "fireworks" disadvantages her. But I really like her alot, and think she is one of the best actresses on TV right now, and definitely deserving of an Emmy sometime soon.

Glenn Close is Glenn Close. Enough said. That she has a mediocre episode without anything remotely Emmy-worthy harms her chances at a three-peat. But I've learned over the years to never count out Glenn Close. She is all-powerful. And she has two scenes in particular -- one in the flash-forward car accident, and one opposite Lily Tomlin, that are really impressive.

Kyra Sedgwick officially has the best episode of the bunch. Range, impact, screen time. All winners. Some of her scenes with the dying teenage boy are absolutely perfect. Plus, she is likeable, popular in the industry, and well overdue.

But I have Julianna Margulies in the top spot because I think that her episode is enough for her to scrape across the line. She has been criticized for being too subtle, but I think she does enough to evoke the pain, humiliation and confusion of the jilted wife of the philandering politician husband. The subtlety isn't a bad thing. It's just that Emmy voters love their fireworks. It doesn't hurt that she is the star of the biggest new network show of the season and a nominee for best drama series.

DRAMA LEAD ACTRESS: BOOMER'S PREDIX
1. Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife" ("Threesome")
2. Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer" ("Maternal Instincts")
3. Glenn Close, "Damages" ("Your Secrets Are Safe")
4. January Jones, "Mad Men" ("The Gypsy and the Hobo")
5. Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" ("Perverted")
6. Connie Britton, "Friday Night Lights" ("After the Fall")

BOOMER'S COMMENTARY: First of all, I want to thank the voters for getting rid of some major stars (Sally Field and Holly Hunter) who could no longer be justified with nominations based on their most recent seasons. I wish they had done the same with Mariska Hargitay, who continues to essentially receive one showcase episode each year, but whose show has had a major downfall in quality in the last few years. I don't think she really has a shot this time to win.

Connie Britton is a welcome addition to the lineup this year, but she did not have one amazing episode to choose for the judges. It is a shame she did not have the opportunity to compete for one of the earlier seasons when she did have standout material. Unfortunately, I believe she is the least likely to win the Emmy.

The other four ladies all have outstanding episodes, and a case can be made for each to possibly win. January Jones is amazing in her showdown with soon-to-be ex-husband Don Draper over the secrets he has hidden from her. From a show perspective, it is perfectly played as quiet and intense. Voters generally like more explosive performances in these situations (crying, shouting, throwing objects), so I wonder if they will be a little underwhelmed by her.

Glenn Close cannot be discounted for another possible win after prevailing the last two years for her show. I think it is her worst submission yet, though, and there is nothing memorable about her performance in the first episode of the third season. It has way too much setup for what the producers have planned for the storyline for the remainder of the season.

Kyra Sedgwick delivers her absolutely finest Emmy episode submission ever, one that gives her the opportunity for great detective work, emotional outbursts at her niece and the suspects, and just wonderful and compelling work throughout. It truly is her best chance to finally win her first Emmy Award. A win by her would not be a surprise at all and would be well-deserved.

Unfortunately for Sedgwick, there is one more person in the race, and she has the full support of the industry (Golden Globe, SAG Award, TCA Award) and everything else going for her comeback to television this season. Julianna Margulies headlines the best new broadcast drama of the year and almost single-handedly pulled the show into a nomination for best drama series along with a bunch of other nods. Even though she had better episodes to submit, I don't think she stumbled at all. Her performance has lots of screentime and is strong, well-acted and memorable as she defends the eccentric founder of her law firm. Voters will be thrilled to reward her with the Emmy for the season as well as this episode.

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Photo: Julianna Margulies in "The Good Wife" (CBS); Kyra Sedgwick in "The Closer" (TNT)

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