Emmys ’11 Predictions: Comedy & Drama Lead Actress

The 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards are on September 18th, and it’s time once again for Fienberg and I to discuss whom we think should and will win(*) some of the major categories. We’re continuing to double up categories in order to finish in time, this time with the two Outstanding Lead Actress categories, for both comedy and drama.

(*) As always, we remind you we do not have impressive track records at prognostication. Place your wagers (or, preferably not) accordingly.

Your comedy nominees:

Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
Tina Fey, “30 Rock”
Laura Linney, “The Big C”
Melissa McCarthy, “Mike & Molly”
Martha Plimpton, “Raising Hope”
Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”

Should win

Alan’s pick: Poehler. Easy. She’s the star of TV’s best, funniest comedy, and one that’s largely held together by her force of personality and her ability to be whatever the show needs her in any given episode and moment, whether it’s a flu-addled lunatic or Ron Effing Swanson’s straight woman. She obviously doesn’t have to handle moments as dramatic as what the Showtime actresses get, but part of why “Parks” is so great is because of the warmth and humanity that she gives to Leslie Knope. I like every other actress in this category (even if I don’t like all of their shows), but Poehler.

Dan’s pick: Oh, “Flu Season.” The year’s best comedic half-hour is also an absolutely tremendous showcase for Poehler, who would be my pick to win this category, especially with the peculiar shunning of former winner Toni Collette for the dark and disturbing third season of “United States of Tara.” But it’s a pretty good category across-the-board, including Linney’s tragic-comic work in the “Big C” pilot and Fey’s great turn in “Double-Edged Sword.”

Will win

Alan’s pick: The consensus seems to be that Linney will be the third straight Showtime winner, and certainly “The Big C” pilot gives her a lot to do and a large range of emotions to play, and play well. On the other hand, there seems to be some pushback against all these Showtime series that aren’t especially funny being eligible in the comedy categories (none were nominated for best comedy, and only Falco and Linney were nominated for their acting), and I wouldn’t be shocked to see voters go for a more purely comic performance, whether it’s Poehler in “Flu Season” or Fey’s epic break-up with Matt Damon’s character. Since I’m not sure, and since my own prognostication skills are weak in general, I’ll swim with the tide and go Linney.

Dan’s pick: I’ll let Sepinwall rationalize and eventually circle back to the inevitable: Linney is going to win. And you know what? That’s just fine by me, even if I’d prefer to see Poehler get the recognition.

And your drama nominees:

Kathy Bates, “Harry’s Law”
Connie Britton, “Friday Night Lights”
Mireille Enos, “The Killing”
Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: SVU”
Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”
Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men”

Should win

Alan’s pick: Moss. Go watch her duet for the ages with Jon Hamm in “The Suitcase.” Then watch her versatility and power and growth in “The Beautiful Girls,” “Waldorf Stories” and “Tomorrowland.” Then good luck convincing me anybody else – yes, including Mrs. Coach and Alicia Florrick – deserve this one.

Dan’s pick: This category contains a lot of very good work. It also contains Kathy Bates in “Harry’s Law.” But even the sometimes maligned Mireille Enos ended up with a spectacular submission episode in the two-hander “Missing,” the only bright spot (for me) in the second half of the “Killing” season. Normally I would go with Connie Britton, who should have several Emmys on her shelf already for “Friday Night Lights” and could just as easily get another for the “FNL” finale. But that would ignore the power of “The Suitcase.”

Will win

Alan’s pick: I’m having a hard time believing that anyone will see “The Suitcase” and vote for anybody else. On the other hand, Margulies (who has a very good, if sub-“Suitcase,” submission episode in the one where Alicia finds out about Peter and Kalinda) seemed the overwhelming favorite last year and didn’t win, and sometimes the Emmys are a year late on things.

Dan’s pick: Wait. So which is your prediction, Alan? Be decisive! I think Margulies wins after last year’s weird Kyra Sedgwick triumph, which was then followed by this year’s weird Kyra Sedgwick snubbing.

Alan’s pick, take two: Moss. Sorry if I wasn’t clear enough earlier. I just don’t think the “will” is as much of a rout as the “should.”

What do you think?