Hurray for Emmy nominees Sandra Oh, who kills it on Killing Eve, and Rachel Brosnahan, a marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Probably the most welcome development at this year’s nominations, the usual rodeo roundup dominated by warhorses like Game of Thrones and The Handmaid’s Tale, is one comeback and one breakthrough.
The comeback: Oh for best actress (drama) in BBC America’s Killing Eve. The show, an over-the-top espionage thriller, has been a great comeback vehicle for Oh, giving her a chance to show off the humor, intelligence and fast emotional shifts that earned her five supporting nominations (and no win) back in the days of Grey’s Anatomy. She has a strong chance of winning.
The show itself, though, was snubbed for best series — a cult hit out of the U.K. is easily elbowed aside by a Westworld, HBO’s big-budget showcase for androids. Less understandable is the failure to give a supporting nomination to Oh’s costar, Jodie Comer, who’s sexy, funny and terrifying as a psychokiller.
The breakthrough: Brosnahan (best actress, comedy) for Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (with further deserving nominations for Tony Shalhoub, a prior three-time winner for Monk; Jane Lynch, who has four previous wins; Alex Borstein and the show itself). Most viewers will have known Brosnahan only as House of Cards‘ Rachel Posner, sex worker and eternally unlucky political pawn. Her performance as a Manhattan woman blazing her own path as a standup comedian is a major surprise, and a delight.
She, too, has a strong chance of winning. No joke!
In general, the nominations do a good job cherry-picking performances across a wide, occasionally baffling range:
Laura Dern, a winner last year for Big Little Lies, as a woman remembering childhood abuse on the HBO movie The Tale.
Yvonne Strahovski, a consistently underrated actress, as cruel but quietly disgusted Serena Joy — that name, you would guess, is ironic—on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
Justin Bateman, learning all the horrible sink-or-swim, eat-or-be-eaten lessons life can offer in Netflix’s Ozarks.
Benedict Cumberbatch, suffering, sweating, joking and then suffering some more on Showtime’s Patrick Melrose. He’ll likely win, too, but he’s in a bizarre contest — best actor, limited series or movie — that pits him against John Legend in NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert and Jesse Plemons in a great episode of Netflix’s dystoparama Black Mirror.
Penelope Cruz, as Donatella Versace on FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
Cameron Britton, uncompromisingly revolting as serial killer Edmund Kemper on Netflix’s Mindhunters.
The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Michael Che and Colin Jost, will air live on NBC from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sept. 17.