Sandra Oh is on the verge of killing it. As expected, the “Killing Eve” star was included Tuesday among the Emmy nominees for outstanding actress in a dramatic series, setting the stage for a historic moment.
Only one actor of Asian descent, “The Good Wife’s” Archie Panjabi, has ever won an Emmy, but that was for a supporting role. Only one person of color, “How to Get Away With Murder” star Viola Davis, has ever triumphed in Oh’s category.
Oh earned five nominations for her work on “Grey’s Anatomy” and got a nod last year for the BBC America series, but she lost to Claire Foy for her role on “The Crown.” That can’t happen this year.
Foy along with last year’s other main contenders — Keri Russell (“The Americans”), Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”) — were not eligible because their shows have either ended or did not air new episodes last season.
That leaves the door wide open for Oh, who was also nominated for hosting an episode of “Saturday Night Live.” Her stiffest competition may be “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke, whose embrace of the dark side as Daenerys Targaryen was such an integral part of the drama’s final season, she graduated from the supporting category.
Kit Harington, who played Jon Snow on “GOT,” also moved up to lead actor and will compete against 2017 champ Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”) as well as surprise nominee Billy Porter (“Pose”).
Other categories don’t have obvious front-runners.
“GOT” has already collected more awards than any other dramatic series and voters may continue to shower it with love despite some backlash for its final season. The drama earned 32 nominations, the most for a series in a single season — a record previously held by “NYPD Blue.” Four of the six women nominated for best supporting actress and half of the contenders for best supporting actor are from the HBO series.
But the obsession with “Killing Eve” may extend beyond a win for Oh. The category of best drama is so rich that the television academy made room for eight contenders, including first-timers FX’s “Pose,” HBO’s “Succession” and Netflix’s “Bodyguard.”
“Veep,” which also aired its final season, could be named best comedy for the fourth time, but don’t count out “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which won last year while Julia Louis-Dreyfus and company were on hiatus. “Russian Doll” would have been the unexpected party crasher in this category, if it wasn’t for “Schitt’s Creek.”
Series that have been on the air for five seasons without any Emmy love rarely get recognition this late in the game. But the Pop TV sitcom made the cut for outstanding comedy series with nominations also going to leads Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara.
Still, don’t expect either “SCTV” veteran to go home with the hardware. The front-runners for comedic actor are last year’s winner, Bill Hader (“Barry”), Golden Globe champ Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”) and three-time nominee Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”). Louis-Dreyfus is nearly a lock to take home her ninth Emmy.
The most hotly contested race during the Sept. 22 ceremony may be for limited series, which has an impressive slate: “Chernobyl,” “Sharp Objects,” “Escape From Dannemora,” “Fosse/Verdon” and “When They See Us.” It’s a toss up — although “Chernobyl” and “When They See Us” both have momentum, in large part because they had later premiere dates.
“Baskets” did not air new episodes during the qualifying period, so Louie Anderson was not able to vie for another Emmy. But Minnesotans did make their presence known in other ways. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres veteran Amy Adams (“Sharp Objects”) is competing for her first Emmy while Cloquet native Jessica Lange (“American Horror Story”) will attempt to take home her fourth.
Mankato’s Jimmy Chin, who already took home an Oscar for directing “Free Solo,” has a chance to win an Emmy for the same film. Patrick McManus was recognized for his work directing the Minneapolis episode of “American Ninja Warrior.”
The 71st Emmy Awards will air Sept. 22 on KSMP, Ch. 9. No host has been named, which could mean the Academy may follow the lead of this year’s Oscar ceremony and go without one.
612-673-7431 • @nealjustin