In a pair of odd turns, the lead actress in a miniseries or movie race includes a couple of competitors not inherently fit for the category.
Most notably, Ashley Judd’s series “Missing” reps a rather unprecedented move for the kudos. Originally conceived as a midseason replacement for ABC, “Missing” was canceled after 10 episodes and submitted for contention in the miniseries or movie category over the drama category.
And the move paid off, earning Judd a nod for her performance as Becca Winstone, one of only two noms for the short-lived series — the other for music composition.
The acknowledgement of Connie Britton for her turn as Vivien Harmon in “American Horror Story” marks the second surprise for the category. Though the series is continuing, it qualifies as a miniseries because each season tells a completely new story, looping Britton into a race that certainly more eclectic than that for lead actress in a drama.
These ladies join Emma Thompson, who won in 1998 for a guest stint on “Ellen” and was subsequently nominated for HBO’s “Wit” and “Angels in America,” and predominantly film thesps Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore, both of whom are receiving Emmy nods for the first time.
“American Horror Story”
Haunted figuratively by her husband’s recent infidelity and literally by the restless spirits of her new home, Vivien’s smoldering woman scorned turns doe-eyed and feeble with the slow realization that her husband isn’t the problem, it’s her house.
• Left home alone at the end of episode two, Vivien’s maternal instinct kicks in as she subdues a home invader and escapes with her daughter, fleeing frenzied into the street.
• In a moment of confusion prompted by meddling ghosts, Vivien fires a gunshot that only narrowly misses her husband — the point at which her emotions boil over and she concedes she might be insane.
After the abduction of her son, ex-CIA operative Becca Winstone becomes more rattled and more familiar with the lengths she is willing to go in order to reclaim her son and inch forward to the truth about her husband.
• A near-miss encounter with her son on a plane tarmac in the second segment leaves Winstone physically and emotionally deflated on the asphalt of the runway.
• A catalog of emotions — from infatuated to baffled to pained — cross Winstone’s face as she encounters her suspected traitor husband for the first time in nearly a decade.
“Hemingway & Gellhorn”
Both ascent and decline of Gellhorn’s affections for Hemingway are steep as the passionate Collier’s Weekly war correspondent finds equal passion in the overtly masculine novelist and their flame burns too bright to last.
• The first time Gellhorn gets blood on her hands, the war seems suddenly less whimsical and she admits to Hemingway, in a rare show of weakness, that she is ill fit for battle-ready reporting.
•In a move of perfect betrayal, Hemingway usurps Gellhorn’s position as war correspondent for Collier’s and she finally sees him for the dark, temperamental man he is.
Sarah Palin’s idealism at the start of John McCain’s presidential campaign is stripped away by every attack from the “Gotcha!” liberal media until she is left listless and all too mortal. But even this gives way to the maverick gone rogue once some well-timed delusions of grandeur set in.
• There is a palpable concern in Palin’s eyes as she wilts under prepared questions from campaign strategist Steve Schmidt regarding the Fed and the difference between America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
• The Katie Couric interview, which was teeth-grittingly painful in reality, is almost unwatchable in Moore’s hands. From the strained pre-interview preparation to the intemperate post-interview accusations, the whole sequence is painful and impeccable.
“The Song of Lunch”
A reunion lunch between a pair of lovers who are 15 years estranged turns sour as Thompson’s “she” realizes Alan Rickman’s “he” remains woefully in love with her and she must sternly quell his feelings.
• Early on, her curt and dismissive responses complement his neurotic, overwrought voice-over thoughts and dialogue in ways that are immediately paint her as different from him.
• Eventually, she reaches the meat of their meeting, her issue with his poems that are clearly and unflatteringly inspired by her, and she digs in attacking the merits of his writing in a way that is direct and difficult to stomach.
Passion and power perfs pop
Drama | Comedy | Miniseries/Movie