The results were as follows. Tied for fifth place with no votes were last year's winner Glenn Close from Damages and Holly Hunter from Saving Grace. In a tie for third place are the 2007 winner Sally Field from Brothers and Sisters and
Mariska Hargitay from Law & Order SVU who won in 2006. They each had one vote (11.11%). In second place was Kyra Sedgwick from The Closer, with three votes (33.33%). But the surprise winner was Elizabeth Moss from Mad Men with four votes (44.44%). It's interesting to note that Sedgwick and Moss led from the beginning, with Sedgwick edging ahead on the fifth day of polling but with Moss taking the lead the next day.
I have to say that I'm not at all convinced that the voters are right in this one. First of all I think that Glenn Close will win this battle of the Oscar nominees (Hunter has four nominations and one win, Field has two nomination and won both times, and Glenn Close has been nominated five times – and never won which I constantly amazed at). I'm not entirely convinced that she's the best actress of the group, but she has the name and the reputation and it's a showy role. Since I don't watch Brothers And Sisters on a regular basis I can't be sure if Field has brought anything new to role of Nora Walker. Certainly Mariska Hargitay hasn't changed things up too much in Law & Order: SVU. She's an excellent actress but I'm not sure why she keeps getting nominated.
Turning to the actresses who I consider to have turned in the best performances, my personal favourite is probably Holly Hunter. Grace Hanadarko is a deeply scarred and twisted character who has been given a second chance to try to be a good person even though the temptations that she faces and the life she is living aren't always conducive to her reform. As for Kyra Sedgwick's Brenda Leigh Johnson, she faces none of the metaphorical demons (and one very real angel) that Grace does but she is very hard when she is in her element – interrogating suspects – and confused and vulnerable when she is out of it. As a character Brenda is a great deal of fun to watch.
Which leads us to Elizabeth Moss and the character of Peggy Olson on Mad Men. There is a part of me that feels that Moss is nominated in the wrong category; that the only lead character in Mad Men is John Hamm's Don Draper, and that the other characters are there to support him. And yet I don't think you can ignore the emergence of Peggy Olson as a character on this show. She has gone from being the largely innocent secretary turned junior copywriter with a secret in the first season to become one of the powers in the office of Sterling Cooper, eclipsing both the women that she worked with in the secretarial pool, including the chief secretary Joan Hollaway, and many of the male characters, some of who are senior to her. Time and again we see glimpses of Peggy that give her greater depth and reveal more about her. Meeting the women of her family, who basically resent her for rising above her station (this is particularly true of her sister) give us a sense of why she frequently acts in such a repressed manner. And yet Peggy is coming into her own. There's a scene in the next to last episode that illustrates this quite well I think. Alone in the empty office before a huge presentation, without her mentor and safety net Don Draper to take charge, Peggy takes a cigarette and starts smoking. It's clear from the way that she does it that this is the first time she's smoked, and perhaps the last. In a way it signifies the moment that she becomes an adult at the office because after a few puffs she puts the cigarette out and has apparently gained the confidence that she needs because she wins the contract for the company. Throughout the season Elizabeth Moss has turned in little moments like that that add up to a strong performance. But I'm still not sure if it is a role that deserves to be considered a lead, and I'm definitely not convinced that it is on a level with Holly Hunter's Grace.
New poll up shortly.