They say the second time around is the sweetest. Or third or fourth or fifth.
All five supporting actresses here have either won or been nominated before. If this year’s race indicates anything, it’s the fiery tenacity of these femmes.
Classy vet Candice Bergen (“Boston Legal”) leads this year’s pack in accumulating Emmy hardware. She won five times for her turn as acerbic “Murphy Brown” and now has been nominated for “Boston Legal” for the second time.
Sandra Oh is knocking again on Emmy’s door, having been nommed four years in a row for her work on “Grey’s Anatomy.” At some point, all these noms should turn into a win.
Her “Grey’s” co-star, Chandra Wilson, is right on her tail, now earning her third nomination.
Aussie import Rachel Griffiths (“Brothers & Sisters”) has been nominated four times over the past six seasons (twice for “Six Feet Under”), while “In Treatment’s” Dianne Wiest, now vying for her second Emmy, has been through the kudo contests for many years.
What makes this year’s supporting actress field an even feistier competition is that each of the noms is not only riding a crest of her real-life career but playing a scripted high-powered professional who has conquered an erstwhile male-dominated field: There’s a semiretired psychotherapist (Wiest), two surgeons (Wilson and Oh), a chief partner in a law firm (Bergen) and the president of a major produce growth and distribution company (Griffiths).
Show: “Boston Legal”
Emmy pedigree: Five wins plus three additional noms
Best scene: In “The Mighty Rogues,” Bergin’s emotionally driven lawyer Shirley Schmidt tirelessly pursues a court order to euthanize her ailing father, who is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Why she might win: She’s a Hollywood icon, and the actress retains a punchy yet thinking person’s sex appeal that goes over well with older TV Acad members who might be inclined to lean toward women who have earned their way through the TV wars.
Maybe not: She’s already won fives times, and some might say enough is enough.
Show: “Brothers & Sisters”
Emmy pedigree: Three noms
Best scene: A major global investment venture for Ojai Foods goes south, and Griffiths’ Sarah is forced to take responsibility for the financial fallout.
Why she might win: Griffiths has garnered tons of respect across both film and TV formats as a veritable chameleon; among the Aussie native’s talents is an uncanny ability to mimic an American accent spot-on. If voters wish to honor an actress who, perhaps, shows the most versatility and breadth in her work, then Griffiths is a prime choice.
Maybe not: With her work and nominations for “Six Feet Under,” one might make the case she’s been overexposed.
Show: “Grey’s Anatomy”
Emmy pedigree: Three noms
Best scene: When Oh’s Dr. Cristina Yang experiences a rare emotional slump in which her normally unflagging thirst for surgery wanes in season finale “Freedom,” best buddy Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) hands over to her a special “sparkly pager” through which Yang will get first dibs on assisting with all major surgeries, reigniting her medicinal mojo.
Why she might win: Oh keeps her young doctor character fresh; her near-brutal persistence in career and emotional paralysis when it comes to men are facets of Yang’s personality that many women can relate to.
Maybe not: In light of the recent Heigl scandal, voters might experience “Grey’s” fatigue and go with an actress from a show that hasn’t played host to such distracting controversy.
Show: “In Treatment”
Emmy pedigree: One win plus one nom
Best scene: Wiest’s Dr. Gina Toll confronts former colleague Paul (Gabriel Byrne) on his erotic longing for a patient, a heated session that gives way to Gina’s personal disclosure that she never returned the unrequited love of one of her own patients, who later died.
Why she might win: “In Treatment” was one of this season’s most critically acclaimed series, achieving near-cult-following status. Wiest has won two Oscars and is considered one of Hollywood’s most pre-eminent actresses of our time, playing a plethora of gutsy, complicated and often neurotically screwed-up women.
Maybe not: In the show’s format, Wiest is only on one of the five nights, and she certainly doesn’t get as much exposure — or as wide an audience — as her competition here.
Show: “Grey’s Anatomy”
Emmy pedigree: Two noms
Best scene: Wilson’s dynamic Dr. Miranda Bailey shows her sensitive, maternal side, bonding with a teenager whose life hangs in the balance after he gets stuck in cement — his organs in danger of collapsing — while trying to impress a girl.
Why she might win: Many consider that her role as a doctor who cares about her patients almost above anything (save for her toddler son) is the glue that not only holds together the staff at Seattle Grace Hospital but the fluidity and sincerity of the show.
Maybe not: Wilson’s character wasn’t as much in the forefront as in season’s past, and it felt like she had fewer memorable scenes.