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Emmy Breakdown: Lead Actress in a Drama Series

In the weeks leading up to the 2007 Primetime Emmy Awards, I'll be looking at the nominees in some major categories and trying to predict who's most likely to win in these Emmy Breakdowns. Up today: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Patricia Arquette ("Medium") — "Medium" isn't a show I regularly watch (er, I even suggested it should be stopped), but I do know that Arquette is a strong actress who really carries her show. She won in 2005 against a tough crowd that included Glenn Close, and she's certainly a threat in this strong category. But I think she'll be overshadowed by others this time around. Chance of winning: Moderate

Minnie Driver ("The Riches") — I'm thrilled to see this show get some recognition, and I thought Driver really grew into her character over the course of the first season. But the episode she submitted for Emmy consideration was the show's premiere — which I thought was some of her weaker work — and I think that will hurt her against such a tough field. She deserves to be here, but I doubt it's her time to win.Chance of winning: Low

For my thoughts on the other four actresses,

Edie Falco ("The Sopranos") — Falco is the most decorated actress in this category (unless you count Sally Field's Oscars), and she's coming off the final season of a show that won her three Emmys and boatloads of acclaim. I don't think she's a slam dunk, necessarily, but if the voters are in the mood to reward "The Sopranos" one last time, this Emmy could be hers. Chance of winning: High

Sally Field ("Brothers & Sisters") — As I said while breaking down the supporting actress category, "Brothers & Sisters" is such a strong ensemble that it's hard to break out a single performance and reward it as outstanding. But if there's one exception to that, it's Field. As the Walker matriarch, she's at the heart of everything that happens on the show, and while Field occasionally veers too far into campiness and melodrama for my tastes, her performance is almost always moving. Chance of winning: Moderate to high

Mariska Hargitay ("Law & Order: SVU") — Those of you who watch "SVU" regularly assure me that Hargitay really is good enough to deserve her annual nomination, and I believe you. She's the defending champion in this category, and she beat out a tough field that included Allison Janney and Frances Conroy. But I still don't think last year's group of nominees was as strong as this year's, and it's going to be tough for her to repeat — though I fully expect she'll be back among the contenders next year. Chance of winning: Moderate.

Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer") — Sedgwick has some momentum here, having won the Golden Globe earlier this year. I know her performance is divisive; some see her as too shrieky and affected, while others think her work is brilliant (most of the time, I fall into the latter camp). But she's truly at the center of her show (much like Arquette on "Medium"), and she's carried it for several strong seasons now. It's just a gut feeling, but I think this could be her breakthrough year. Chance of winning: High

Sedgwick, Arquette and Hargitay photos Source
Falco photo Source
Field photo copyright 2007 ABC, Inc.
Driver photo courtesy of FX

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