Emmys 2012: Sizing Up the Best Actresses in a Drama Race (ANALYSIS)

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Who said this is a man's world?

This year's Emmy nominees for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama represent some of the strongest female characters on TV. From a ruthless New York attorney with blood on her hands and a bipolar CIA agent on the brink of a meltdown to a head-strong career woman, paving the way for women in the '60s, and a sharp-tongued lady from the early 1900s, the competition for best actress in a drama is fierce.

But as we all know, only one leading lady can come out on top on TV's big night.

Here’s how we figure that competition will play out on Emmy night.

Claire Danes: Danes' performance as Carrie Mathison, a bipolar homeland security agent who's on the brink of a mental breakdown has Emmy written all over it. Not only was Danes hailed for her dynamic portrayal of the hard-drinking CIA officer -- dubbed "the season's strongest female character" -- she's also an Emmys favorite. Danes took home the award in 2010 for her work on the HBO movie Temple Grandin. In fact, Danes taking home the golden statue for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama is the safest bet we can make this Emmy season. Emmy chances: Excellent.

Julianna Margulies: Were Danes not nominated for her stellar work in Homeland, Margulies would probably score her second Emmy -- in a row -- for her performance as the strong-willed Alicia Florrick on CBS' The Good Wife. Even though the critically acclaimed series failed to pick up a nomination for Outstanding Drama Series, this is Margulies' third nod in three seasons, which is a huge testament to her talents as a dramatic actress. Emmy chances: Good.

Glenn Close: This is Close's fourth Emmy nomination for playing fearsome New York attorney Patty Hewes on DirectTV's Damages. Although the veteran actress has already taken home two Emmys for starring in the legal drama, Damages is wrapping up its final season -- and what better way to send off Patty Hewes than with an Emmy? However, some Emmy voters -- and viewers -- might think it's about time someone else took home the golden statue. Emmy chances: Slim.

Michelle Dockery: Although the British actress' portrayal of Lady Mary Crawley is one of the standout performances on PBS' period drama Downton Abbey, it just isn't strong enough to clinch a win against Hollywood heavyweights like Danes and Margulies. Perhaps if Dockery didn't have these leading ladies to contend with, the first-time Emmy nominee might have had a shot. Emmy chances: Weak.

Elisabeth Moss: For the stars of Mad Men, getting nominated for an Emmy isn't the problem -- it's winning one. No actor from the acclaimed AMC drama has managed to walk away with TV's top prize. However, it was a memorable season for Moss and her character Peggy Olson, who took a competing offer and left the firm on Season 5. That episode, titled “The Other Woman,” is the one the actress submitted for consideration. Unfortunately for Moss, it will take a huge upset for her to become the night's golden girl. Emmy chances: Minimal.

Kathy Bates: There's no denying that Bates is one of TV's most dynamic actresses, but her work on NBC's ill-fated Harry's Law has failed to match Bates' talents. Her portrayal of flamboyant attorney Harriet “Harry” Korn has earned her two Emmy noms, and since the network pulled the plug on the series, this is Bates' last shot in the category. In “Onward and Upward,” the episode that she submitted for consideration, Harry pulls out all of the dramatic stops -- from delivering a passionate speech to crying in a cemetery and even breaking out into song. Sometimes, less is more. Emmy chances: None.

Who do you think deserves to take home the Emmy? Check back Sunday for Celebuzz's live Emmys coverage. 

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