Jessica Lange is shaping up to be a frontrunner to win an Emmy this year for her performance as Joan Crawford in FX's Feud: Bette and Joan.
The Feud: Bette and Joan finale aired Sunday night, and like many episodes of the limited series, Lange was given a significant amount of juicy material. In the final episode, Lange's Joan Crawford went through the doldrums of roles drying up for her in Hollywood, struggles with one of her daughters and a fight with cancer. Much of the dramatic arc of the Feud finale, and even the series at large, was centered on her, with Susan Sarandon's Bette Davis having strong material but not as much to work with as Lange.
Lange is now being considered a frontrunner to be nominated for an Emmy this year. She will be competing in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie category, and awards prognosticators at Gold Derby have Lange at no. 1 for a nomination as of Monday. Other contenders in this category include Sarandon, Nicole Kidman, and Reese Witherspoon for Big Little Lies, Felicity Huffman for American Crime, Carrie Coon for Fargo, Viola Davis for Custody and Oprah Winfrey for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Being the No. 1 contender doesn't guarantee a win or even a nomination, but it does bode well for Lange's Emmy success to have many awards experts predicting her as the frontrunner. Lange is beloved within the Television Academy (the organization that votes for the Emmys), having won three Emmys in her career. She won Emmys for playing "Big Edie" Beale in Grey Gardens in 2009, Constance Langdon in American Horror Story in 2012, and Fiona Goode in American Horror Story: Coven in 2014. Lange has also been nominated four other times in her career.
Lange being nominated and possibly winning for playing Joan Crawford would also be a richly ironic twist of fate. Bette Davis was famously nominated for an Oscar for their 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? while Crawford was overlooked. Not to be outdone, Crawford offered to accept the Oscar on behalf of some of Davis' Best Actress competitors who wouldn't be in attendance, should they win the award. When Anne Bancroft won for her performance in The Miracle Worker, Crawford walked onstage and accepted the Oscar on behalf of her, with Davis in attendance having to watch her longtime rival from afar.
Of course, Sarandon could still win over Lange, as could Kidman, Witherspoon, or any of the other strong Emmy contenders in the highly competitive Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie category. There was a pretty sizable campaign for Kidman to win the Emmy after Big Little Lies ended earlier in the month, so she could provide some competition for Lange and Sarandon. Oprah is also receiving very strong reviews for her performance as the titular character in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Regardless of how the category shakes out, it's sure to be a compelling race to follow.
Lange is happy with the work she's done on Feud regardless of how critics or the Emmys respond.
"I think the work speaks for itself. If they like it, they like it, if they don't, they don't," Lange told Entertainment Tonight Friday at an Emmys "For Your Consideration" event. "I think what we did was to try and portray this story and these characters very honestly and with reverence and respect, and hopefully the story comes across."
If she is recognized by the Emmys, though, Lange will be very appreciative.
"It's always great to be recognized and to have your work appreciated," Lange said, of the Emmys and other awards. "Especially something like this, that I think, in some way, to have the opportunity to play Joan Crawford was really wonderful, and to show her with all her complexity and her contradictions and her strength and her frailties and her sorrow and her drive."
The 2017 Primetime Emmy nominations will be announced Thursday, July 13, and the ceremony will be held Sunday, Sept. 17.
[Featured Image by Suzanne Tenner/FX]