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Can Elisabeth Moss return the favor to ‘The Crown’ and take home another Emmy for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’?

Gold Derby logo Gold Derby 7/20/2021 Joyce Eng
a man posing for the camera © Sophie Giraud/Hulu

During Emmy nominations phase, Elisabeth Moss was no higher than third place in the Best Drama Actress odds and not one pundit was predicting her to win. What a difference 21 nominations makes. Moss is now in second place for the win for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” behind frontrunner Emma Corrin for “The Crown,” and has multiple No. 1 picks to prevail.

As of this writing, one Expert, two editors and two of our top 24 users are predicting a second drama actress victory for Moss, who previously won for the first season of “Handmaid’s” in 2017. She was nominated for the second season but was surprisingly snubbed for the third installment last year.

Also surprising was her loss for the second season. She was widely expected to defend her crown, but “Handmaid’s,” the then-reigning drama series champ, had a disappointing night overall as it lost all five of its categories at the main ceremony. Moss was dethroned by “The Crown’s” Claire Foy, but now she can exact revenge and pull off her own upset on the Netflix royal drama.

It’s safe to say few were expecting “Handmaid’s” to re-explode with 21 nominations this year, especially since it “only” got 10 last year, its lowest total ever — even Season 2’s three orphaned episodes snagged 11 bids in 2019. Season 4 is considered the Hulu dystopian drama’s best since its zeitgeist-capturing maiden season, and Moss, who directed three episodes, earned raves all season long for her performance, but the question remained if Emmy voters were still paying attention, seeing as last year’s nomination haul — and Moss’ snub — suggested they might be moving on from the aging series. But they were paying attention — sure, COVID-19 sidelining a number of series probably had something to do with it — and rewarded it with 21 bids, 10 of which are for acting. Again, “Handmaid’s” got 10 nominations total last year.

SEE Watch our ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ interviews with the cast and crew

Like Moss, who beat Foy for the Emmy in 2017, Foy received some of the best reviews of her career for “The Crown” and she had defeated Moss at the Screen Actors Guild Awards earlier in 2018 for her second-straight trophy. It was also the last chance for Emmy voters to award her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in that category for “The Crown” as she passed the baton to Olivia Colman for the third and fourth seasons. The “last chance” narrative belongs not to Moss this year but Corrin since this is the first and only time she will contend in drama actress for playing Princess Diana on “The Crown.”

Corrin has bagged the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award already, only losing SAG to her co-star Gillian Anderson, who’s in supporting at the Emmys. Unlike Foy vs. Moss, Corrin and Moss have never faced off before, so there’s no evidence that either can beat the other. Corrin also has internal competition with Colman, who’s in fourth place (“Pose’s” Mj Rodriguez is third, “In Treatment’s” Uzo Aduba is fifth, and “Lovecraft Country’s” Jurnee Smollett is sixth), though she probably won’t siphon away too many Corrin votes. Plus, “Handmaid’s” 21 bids are just three fewer than the 24 earned by “The Crown” and “The Mandalorian,” so you can argue that “Handmaid’s” is right there with “The Crown,” which has been the drama series favorite since its fourth outing dropped in November.

If Moss somehow pulls this off, she’ll be the first drama actress champ to win a second statuette since Julianna Margulies scored her second Emmy in 2014, three years after her first. That was also the last time a drama actress champ triumphed again after being snubbed the previous year. It was a different voting system, but still something to keep in mind. And incidentally, both Moss and Foy can win their second acting Emmys for the same characters and shows for which they won their first this year: Foy is nominated in drama guest actress for reprising young Elizabeth on “The Crown.”

PREDICT the 2021 Emmy winners through Sept. 19

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