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10 TV Stars Who Deserve Emmy Nominations (But Probably Won't Get Them)

by Oliver Lyttelton
July 5, 2012 12:02 PM
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Madeleine Stowe as Victoria Grayson as "Revenge"
For all we said above about Lena Headey as one of the best villainesses around, she's had some serious competition, in the form of an actress who we'd seen all too little of recently. ABC's "Revenge" has been the great guilty pleasure of the past season, a trashy soap -- about a woman, Emily Thorne, who returns to the Hamptons under an assumed identity to wreak vengeance on the Graysons, the family who framed her father for treason and put her into foster care -- that's written, directed and performed well enough that it never feels like it's a trashy soap. And the most towering performance on the series is Madeleine Stowe, the one-time big-screen staple of films like "The Last of the Mohicans," "12 Monkeys" and, ironically, Tony Scott's "Revenge," who's been mostly absent from screens in the last decade. Stowe plays Victoria Grayson, the ice-queen matriarch of the Grayson family who perhaps wasn't as complicit in her husband's evils as Emily suspects (indeed, she was in love with her father), but will also go to any lengths to protect her own children. It's a great villainous part, a truly memorable screen bitch, and Stowe has torn into it with absolute relish, but never making Victoria a caricature; she's a broken-hearted mother just as much as she's a scheming, Machiavellian power-player. Despite enthusiastic reviews, and a Golden Globe nomination for the role, Stowe isn't deemed to be a likely nominee this time around. If she survives the plane crash from the finale (and given she's the most entertaining thing on the show, it's unthinkable she won't), we hope she gets more traction in future years.

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in "Scandal"
"Scandal" is, by no means, a good television show. Created by "Grey's Anatomy" mastermind Shondra Rimes, and revolving around a Washington D.C. crisis management firm, it's a ludicrously plotted, soapy blend of "The West Wing" and every procedural ever, with irritatingly frantic, glossy direction, scripts written by and for dimwits, and a supporting cast who might as well just be furniture. But there is one reason to give the show a watch, and that's the superlative, star-making performance by Kerry Washington, who plays Olivia Pope, the ex-White House staff who's the head of the crisis management agency. The actress has impressed in the past with film parts like "Ray," "Lakeview Terrace," "The Last King Of Scotland" and "Mother And Child," and will soon be seen in a key role in Tarantino's "Django Unchained," but she's never had a showcase like this one; it's her show first and foremost, and it dips every time she's not on screen. It's less showy than some of the other performances on this list, but from the moment she walks on screen, there's a quiet confidence and sheer charisma that shines through even the stupider moments of writing (she's in love with the president!). It's not going to get any traction with the Emmy voters, due it being, you know, dumber than a rock, but if its second season can equal Washington's performance, she might have a chance down the line. Or if nothing else, get some more interesting movie gigs than she's had to date.

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  • John | July 9, 2012 5:29 AMReply

    "The Middle" is the best comedy on the air, yet its always ignored. Wake up people.

  • Mark | July 8, 2012 7:51 PMReply

    I agree with most of this list, namely Kerry Washington, Anna Chlumsky and definitely Jared Harris (who was superb on "Mad Men" this season), however, I would like to add the name of a spectacular actress doing stunning work on her series: Khandi Alexander in "Treme". Alexander should have been nominated for an Emmy before (for her incredible work in the HBO mini-series "The Corner" and last season's work on "Treme"), but continuing to ignore her would just be criminal.

  • Scandal is not a soap, Ollie | July 6, 2012 11:55 AMReply

    Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope is so entertaining. Hope she makes the cut.

  • beardy man child | July 5, 2012 6:09 PMReply

    Mark Margolis should get a nom for his performance in Breaking Bad, didn't speak a word but my God did he knock it out of the park

  • Derek | July 5, 2012 5:59 PMReply

    If fucking pains me that Dean Norris' name hasn't been mentioned. One of the best actors on tv. Pitch perfect on Breaking Bad.

    Good call on Anna Chlumsky. Always wanted to finger blast that.

  • RH | July 5, 2012 2:48 PMReply


  • Mitchell | July 5, 2012 2:12 PMReply

    Among the many who deserve to be mentioned, I feel the need to give shout outs to Alfie Allen in "Game of Thrones", Shea Whigham in "Boardwalk Empire" and basically the whole cast of "Happy Endings", but especially the three females (Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert and Casey Wilson). They won't be getting nominated, but they all really should be.

  • sp | July 5, 2012 2:36 PM

    Mitchell, I agree with your choices, but also the men of "Happy Endings.". I also agree with Playlist's choices : Jared Harris, Jason Isaacs( always great) , and Madeleine Stowe .

  • ryan | July 5, 2012 1:40 PMReply

    i definitely agree Rich, Anna Torv is equally worthy of a nod. I just feel Noble should have WON both the Emmy and Golden Globe by now!! makes you wonder if Torv's ties with Murdoch is keeping the liberal Hollywood (i am liberal minded btw) at bay...everything is politics. but it is a crime to not consider Noble for anything. he is proof that the talent pool is very deep with fairly unknown actors until they get a big break.

  • Sigh | July 5, 2012 11:21 PM

    (Please ignore "Torvwatch," she's a nutjob who posts this crap everywhere.)

  • TorvWatch | July 5, 2012 9:33 PM

    so you are saying that Anna Torv is the reason your Noble did not get an Emmy?????
    how pathetic , sad and insulting.

    1. Anna Torv is NOT related to M, other than being estranged from her father and his side of the famile (including M's exwife) since she was a child.
    She grew up with her mother and brother, payed her own way through NIDA, did her stage and tv in Australia.
    BTW. Anna Torv must be the most humble, modest person in the business, and the returning description of fans meeting her is Shy, Sweet en so greatful to fans.

    2. Noble is so overrated, all the credit he gets for the writing and material he gets is shocking.
    he is so much a Look at me actor.

    3. Anna Torv is just as much Underrated , since the pilot. What she has done with a character as Olivia Dunham, with the little material she gets, is beyond amazing.
    Anna is a brilliant actress, and if she would have gotten a decent story arc about her past from the beginning (what Noble has gotten in Overkill),
    Anna Torv would have been on the Emmy and Golden Globes lists from season 1.

    Big mistake of the showrunners to underuse Anna Torv, but the way she has handled all the crap in S1 she got in the USA, and how she has dealt with remarks like Ryan above, shows what a class-act Anna Torv is.

  • holly | July 5, 2012 1:08 PMReply

    Idris Elba overacts like mad in Luther, A very over rated actor. He chews the scenery in most things and cant do an american accent to save his life.

  • Zack | July 5, 2012 1:22 PM

    Seriously? Because I know lots of people who knew him as Stringer Bell first and they're always shocked to find out he's English.

  • Kim | July 5, 2012 12:43 PMReply

    Lena Headey should get a nod. Cersei was written to be hated! That's all. A flat one dimensional cartoon character. But in her hands, Cersei is anything but. I love her Cersei.

  • Nolan | July 5, 2012 12:39 PMReply

    I would think that a show as popular as Game of Thrones would get some recognition, although they may just nominate Dinklage every year and call it a day. That said, Headey especially deserves it when you compare her work in season 2 to her work in season 1. She was actually fairly weak the first time around, but really stunned a lot of people this time. Her scene with Tyrion where she discusses her children was fantastic, as was the drunken siege scene.

  • Zack | July 5, 2012 12:44 PM

    That one, wordless moment where Tyrion clearly wants to put a hand on her shoulder, but they both understand that that's not their relationship? Best acting in the series, thus far, I think.

  • ry | July 5, 2012 12:35 PMReply

    what about JOHN NOBLE!!! his character of walter on Fringe is he plays three people!!

  • Sigh | July 5, 2012 11:24 PM

    "Torvwatch," please stop tearing down other actors just to build up your favorite. It's really tiresome and weird.

    (Anna Torv is just fine as an actress, but I find the obsessive girl-cult worship surrounding her to be rather inexplicable...)

  • TorvWatch | July 5, 2012 9:38 PM

    Anna Torv is awesome, and hs been from the start. She finally got the material she should have gotten from the start, in season 3.
    Anna Torv should have been on the Emmy lists since season 1, playing a character like Olivia Dunham, with so littke material, is so much more difficult than the Overwritten and Overacted Walter by Overrated Noble.

  • jonathan | July 5, 2012 3:58 PM

    Yup, scrolled down to type exactly that. John Noble has been the greatest thing on tv for years, but doesn't get the credit. Also Jason Isaacs was awesome on Awake. And I wish that Isaacs's character from Awake could join the Fringe Division, because that would be amazing.

  • Rich | July 5, 2012 1:25 PM

    The same goes for Anna Torv, the lead on FRINGE. She has showed incredible range, including playing Leonard Nimoy's character William Bell, with all of his vocal intonations. the show has been completely ignored by the Emmys in the past.

  • MissJinx | July 5, 2012 12:30 PMReply

    I agree with a lot of these... but I would like to add Nelsen Ellis as Lafayette Reynolds on True Blood. He has some great lines and portrays such power and loss all at the same time. He is a wonderful actor and I want to see him in many more seasons of the show and to see him in many other roles in tv and film.

  • Someome | July 5, 2012 12:24 PMReply

    Hello Jason Isaacs.

  • Zack | July 5, 2012 12:16 PMReply

    Some that I'd like to see but probably won't:
    -Jack Huston and Gretchen Mol in "Boardwalk Empire"
    -Andrew Scott in "Sherlock"
    -Raymond J. Barry in "Justified" (he's done a similar thing to Headey in terms of abruptly, subtly stealing several scenes)
    -Pretty much everyone in "Game of Thrones" who's not Peter Dinklage

  • E | July 5, 2012 12:09 PMReply

    Anna Chancellor? Ew, it's Romola Garai who should get recognition for The Hour!

  • Zack | July 5, 2012 12:11 PM

    I imagine they left her out because she was nominated for a Golden Globe, and therefore is less of a long shot.

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