Road to the Emmys 2012: The Supporting Actor & Actress Nominees

Christine Baranski
“The Good Wife”
Highlight: Stood up by the bail bondsman she’d flirted with, Baranski’s Diane Lockhart makes a surprise appearance at the home of former flame and ballistics expert Kurt (Gary Cole). Baranski’s intelligent, sexy way with the risks of adult impulsiveness showcases a strong woman who reads situations well, and when she leans in for a kiss, takes what she wants when she wants it.

Joanne Froggatt
“Downton Abbey”
Highlight: Though the prospect of Mr. Bates’ troubles with his wife prove ominous, Anna’s devotion to him is constant, and in Froggatt’s performance speaks volumes to the strength Anna takes from their love. When Anna demands they get married, so she won’t be sidelined in his hour of need, it’s a moment of touching resolve. “I will be your next of kin, and you cannot deny me that,” she quietly, powerfully insists.

Anna Gunn
“Breaking Bad”
Highlight: As Skyler becomes more involved in her husband’s nefarious business, she has to problem solve, too, and Gunn proved especially adept at revealing the inner strength in Skyler. When it becomes clear that her former boss’s IRS woes threaten Walter, she goes to his house to convince him to write a check to the government to prevent an audit, and the depth of the problem becomes gradually reflected in Gunn’s eyes, which get bigger and bigger throughout the scene.

Christina Hendricks
“Mad Men”
Highlight: Where Joan was once prized as a facilitator of efficiency in the office, when she shows up for a contracted tryst to secure a Jaguar account for the firm, the look in Hendricks’s eyes is one shorn of her usual easygoing eroticism, and more like that of a patient pretending to be tough in the face of life-altering surgery. Hendricks never asks for pity in the scene, which makes this harrowing moment all the more so.

Archie Panjabi
“The Good Wife”
Highlight: It’s rare that we see Panjabi’s Kalinda operating out of fear, but when shady Lockhart Gardner client Lemond Bishop threatens Kalinda, she heads over to attorney Lana’s place to play a skilled game of desperation seduction. But in Panjabi’s wonderfully nuanced turn, we also see genuine caring for someone who recklessly endangered Kalinda, and it added a great complicated dimension to this defining Kalinda moment.

Maggie Smith
“Downton Abbey”
Highlight: Smith’s way with a withering turn of phrase or expression of horror at nontraditional ways are legendary. But it may be her moments of unyielding compassion that best describe her appeal, as when she politely but firmly insists that skeptical vicar Mr. Travis oversee the wedding of dying William to maid Daisy, telling him to “overcome his scruples.”

Road to the Emmys 2012: The Supporting Actor & Actress Nominees

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And the nominees are:
Supporting Actress in a Drama | Supporting Actor in a Drama | Supporting Actress in a Comedy | Supporting Actor in a Comedy
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