Another crop of Emmy winners are about to be crowned this Sunday night at the Microsoft Theater.
But before the Television Academy makes its collective voice heard in choosing the best TV of the year, the Tracking Board staff has compiled a list of our favorite Emmy-nominated moments.
See below for the full list, from From Reese Witherspoon’s Big Little Lies speech to Kate McKinnon’s Saturday Night Live song to heartbreaking This Is Us moments from Sterling K. Brown and Ron Cephas Jones.
In a season full of emotional moments on THIS IS US, “Memphis” was by far the biggest tearjerker. The two-hander featured top-notch performances from Emmy nominees Sterling K. Brown and Ron Cephas Jones and while basically any scene in this episode that explored William’s backstory is awards-worthy, it’s hard to top the final hospital scene between the newly reunited father and son. Randall worries about telling William that he’s dying, only to be the one surprised when he realized William knew all along he would not survive their roadtrip and make it back home. Randall holding onto William’s face as the dying man confesses to some trepidation tenderly recalls the way Randall’s adopted father Jack (Milo Ventigmilia) used to calm him down, bringing this chapter of the father-son story to a fitting and heartbreaking close. — Linda Ge
THE HANDMAIDS TALE is a cautionary horror story disguised as a dystopian future, where women are nothing more than their bodies. Never is this point more prominent than in the eighth episode of the season, “Jezebels,” where bodies dangle from the city walls as a testament to how far the social hierarchy will go to maintain order. When Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) commander (Joseph Fiennes) suggests they go to a brothel, the tension is palpable, knowing that Offred could be killed just for going across the city limits. Audiences also learn the sad truth about women who have become barren, that they are now forced to work as call girls for the wealthy, with men saying that they can at least get a few years of steady work from these women. This is when Offred is reunited with her friend from before the take-over, and you come to the crippling realization of what can happen to your once preserved way of life. — April Dawn
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE routinely receives flack for being a “boys club,” but the fact of the matter is the show is at its best win the female performers are on equal footing, or even bigger stars than their male counterparts. Never is this more apparent than SNL’s return to weekly water cooler discussions this past year, in large part thanks to the performances of this year’s Emmy nominees Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Vanessa Bayer. McKinnon is a strong choice for the win, having won last year and for her Emmy-submitted episode in which she sang “Hallelujah” in character as Hillary Clinton following the 2016 election. McKinnon worked hard every week last season, but it would be great to see Jones win after using the hacking scandal and online backlash against her to win laughs in the late night program. It would also be amazing if Bayer took home the trophy. Bayer submitted her final episode as she said goodbye to the regular role. Unlike Jones and McKinnon who have already found leading roles on the big screen, Bayer has appeared primarily as sidekicks. This final episode showed what a great utility player Bayer was, playing the joke of a Hollywood starlet with a gas problem, a nervous wreck weather woman in a perpetual tongue twister, and then flipping to the straight-man role on a theme park ride. With so many great performances coming from one show, this will definitely be a great category to watch. — Emily J
BIG LITTLE LIES’ Madeline Mackenzie, played by Reese Witherspoon is a nosy, high strung, control freak of a woman and there’s a lot about her that could read as unlikable. Yet, despite those unlikeable qualities Madeline is a character the audience roots for, she’s a loyal and fierce friend and mother and a woman that’s not afraid to stand up and speak her mind. There are plenty of times throughout the seven episode run that I found myself cheering for Madeline, but hands down my favorite moments takes place in episode six. Madeline confronts her daughter, Abigail, about her decision to sell her virginity for a “good cause”. The thing that’s so powerful about this confrontation is Madeline shouting out her admission that she’s not “right”, she’s not “perfect”, and that she “fucks up too”- she cheated on her husband. It’s a powerful moment for a character that’s spent the series acting like all those aforementioned things are true. — Molly Gobeski
The first eight episodes of THE CROWN gave us a glimpse into the world of the venerable Prime Minister Winston Churchill (John Lithgow) as he attempts to guide the newly crowned sovereign, stave off mutiny, battle poor health, and overcome a temporary state of emergency brought on by inclement weather, but it all comes to a head in episode nine. Churchill viciously confronts the artist commissioned to paint his portrait, accusing him of betrayal, insult, of “wielding a murderous brush.” Churchill is horrified by the painting, claiming in a gut wrenching tone that it is a cruel depiction. The artists bites back that “age is cruel! If you see decay, it’s because there’s decay. If you see frailty, it’s because there’s frailty.” This is moment where Churchill is at last forced to confront his deepest fears and the truth about himself- he’s not the young man he once was, no matter how much he’d like to be. — MG
Julia Louis-Dreyfus looks set to leave the Microsoft Theater with her sixth Emmy for VEEP come Sunday night and she would totally deserve it, as the sixth season finale is a seminal episode of the political comedy. The cast is spectacular. The jokes hilarious. But Louis-Dreyfus stands at the center of it all, the conductor of the mayhem as Selina Meyer. The key to Selina’s comedic capabilities is the combination of deep insecurity and raging narcissism, and both qualities are front and center in “Groundbreaking.” Flashbacks of Selina’s failed political campaigns and her time in an Arizona “spa” afford Louis-Dreyfus the chance to show that for all her bluster, Selina is crippled by a deep sense of insecurity. The rest of the episode, however, gives Louis-Dreyfus time and space to deliver a knockout comedic performance. The most powerful – and funniest – scenes feature Selina and her daughter Catherine. A flashback shows Selina’s utter disgust with her infant daughter while in the present, Selina’s relentless mocking of Catherine and Marjorie’s decor choices for the nursery is classic Selina. The highlight of the episode comes as the Meyer family leave the hospital after Catherine has given birth. Met by a throng of reporters, Selina rips the baby out of Catherine’s arms, names him Little Richard on the spot and uses the baby, who is half-black, to smooth over the controversy surrounding the proposed site of her library. It’s a beautiful display of Selina’s political opportunism mixed with her narcissistic ruthlessness and Louis-Dreyfus pulls it off to devastating effect. — John Drain