This year’s Emmy category for Best Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie boasts a star-studded lineup of contenders: Laura Dern (The Tale), Jessica Biel (The Sinner), Michelle Dockery (Godless), Edie Falco (Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders), Regina King (Seven Seconds), and Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story: Cult).
Several actresses in this category have years and years of Emmy nominations under their belt — though Biel isn’t one of them. This year marks the first Emmy nomination ever for the actress, who has primarily worked on the big screen. Her lead role on USA’s The Sinner as Cora Tannetti, a woman who stabs a man to death on a beach without realizing why, represented a new range for her, but she’s got her work cut out for her going up against these fellow nominees.
Dockery is no stranger to the Emmys, having been nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series three years in a row for Downton Abbey. Now that she’s exchanged stately old Britain for the the Wild West of Netflix’s Godless, she’s also changed Emmy categories, though she still has yet to win one. Maybe this year will change that.
This year represents King’s graduation to Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, coming off three straight years of nominations in the related Supporting Actress category for her work on American Crime. She won that award in both 2015 and 2016, playing two different characters on subsequent iterations of the anthology show. Her new nomination is for Seven Seconds, another show about the intersection of crime, race, and class in American life. It was enough to boost her into the Lead Actress category, but whether it was enough to actually secure her a win remains to be seen.
This category loves Dern and Paulson. Dern’s first nomination came in 1992, for HBO’s Afterburn, back when this category was called Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Special. Her second nomination in this category came in 2008, for her performance as Katherine Harris on HBO’s Recount. After winning this award last year for her role on Big Little Lies, Dern is now on her fourth nomination, for HBO’s The Tale, in which she starred as the onscreen avatar of director Jennifer Fox, coming to grips with the sexual abuse she suffered as a child in the ’70s.
Paulson, meanwhile, has spent the last few Emmy Awards shuttling back and forth between this category and the related Supporting Actress category for her work on Ryan Murphy’s anthology shows. This year marks her fifth nomination for the American Horror Story franchise, though her only win in this category was for her work on Murphy’s other FX anthology, American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson.
In general, though, it’s a bad idea to bet against Falco at the Emmys. After winning Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series three times on six nominations for her starring role on The Sopranos, she went on to earn Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series nominations for every single season of Nurse Jackie, winning on the first. She’s switched categories once again thanks to The Menendez Murders, but It’s hard to imagine a Falco TV role that the Emmys wouldn’t nominate her for. Winning is another matter, of course.
So, which of these accomplished actresses do you think should win the category this year? Vote in our poll below!
The winners will be announced live on the 70th annual Emmy Awards — hosted by Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost and Michael Che — on Sept. 17 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.