The Emmys can sometimes be a funny thing. An actor or actress, or even a show, can sometimes do so well and attract the attention of so many yet still fail to secure an Emmy nomination. Sometimes it’s because of genre bias, and sometimes there are no fathomable reasons (Sons of Anarchy). And on top of this, a lot of the attention on particular heavyweight nominees can take away from those who deserve it more, of which there are always many.
In this small series that I will be running over the course of the weeks separating now and the Emmys ceremony in September, I will be highlighting some of those nominees (whether a show itself or someone from it) that I consider to be highly deserving of winning their respective categories. I’ll be talking about why I think they deserve to win, and what, in my opinion, makes them stand out above their fellow nominees.
So to begin with, I’ll start with somebody from a show I just recently watched that, despite being in a category populated with extremely deserving nominees, absolutely deserves all the recognition she may get…
THE NOMINEE: Elisabeth Moss
THE SHOW: Top of the Lake
THE CATEGORY: ‘Actress in a Miniseries or Movie’
It should be no secret that AMC’s Mad Men has not been as fortunate at the Emmys as you may think. Yes, it’s won countless consecutive gongs for the big ‘Outstanding Drama Series’ category, but its actors have never fared so well. In fact, NONE of the show’s stars has ever won in any of the occasions they’ve been nominated. Jon Hamm has never won. Christina Hendricks has never won. And neither has Elisabeth Moss. It’s an injustice of cyclopean proportions, but this year we could finally see Moss receive the Emmy she deserves, even if it is for a completely different show.
Elisabeth Moss is nominated in two categories in this year’s Emmy awards: in the ‘Outstanding Lead Actress’ category, as Peggy Olson in Mad Men (which she won’t win for reasons I won’t go into for fear of extending this post beyond a natural length), and in the ‘Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries’ category, as Robin Griffin in Sundance’s miniseries Top of the Lake. Having just recently watched the seven episodes of this series, it is with no hesitation that I can say she is the one I want to see win her category the most, this year.
I’m not going to lie to you: Top of the Lake is not a show that everybody would enjoy. It’s slow-moving and, quite frankly, is so bizarre at frequent intervals that you need to watch it multiple times to understand what it’s trying to say. Basically, it’s very much an acquired taste. But at the same time, it is just so wonderfully compelling, the central story is intriguing and unravelled at a pace that’s not too difficult to keep up with, and the cinematography is simply astounding. And then we come to lead star Elisabeth Moss who, over the course of seven episodes, gives one of my favourite performances from the entire year so far.
Moss is more than a capable actress who seems to have the enviable ability to move from emotion to emotion with effortless transition in her characters. In Top of the Lake, which is every bit about Robin exploring her own life as it is the child she is investigating, she gets ample opportunity to demonstrate just how good at this she is. Robin goes from being relatively happy to completely destroyed in a matter of episodes, and it would be an understatement to declare Moss’ performance anything less than incredible–and certainly award-winning.
One of my favourite scenes from Top of the Lake, and the entire year so far, is the rather lengthy scene where Robin reveals all about the horrific rape she endured as a teenager. Moss portrays such raw emotion in the scene (which is also the first true instance that we see Robin so broken) that I would hand the award over to her for that one sequence alone. She is with strong company in her category, but no other performance even scratches the surfaces she reaches in that scene.
Top of the Lake seems to be a show all about exploring the horrific, macabre depths of this remote community to uncover why a 12-year-old girl is pregnant and in hiding, but it’s really all about how Robin’s personal journey intersects with this. She is the beating heart at the show’s centre, and rarely does she flutter. But she’s assisted by the fact that Top of the Lake is a show so far apart from Mad Men, and Robin Griffin so different to Peggy Olson, that it gives Moss the chance to explore territory she hasn’t really had the chance to in the show she’s most recognised for. And it is an opportunity that pays off handsomely.
I don’t expect Elisabeth Moss to win the miniseries category this year. The victory will most likely go to American Horror Story‘s Jessica Lange once again, who also completely deserves to win. I doubt either of them will see much competition elsewhere in the category, either, including Sigourney Weaver, whose performance in Political Animals is great but not enough to usurp Lange. But even with that, Moss put in a performance that supersedes them all, and she deserves all the recognition she can get for that.