In forty-eight hours or so, twelve months of programming and several more of campaigning come to a head, as Mindy Kaling and Carson Daly (for some reason) will announce the 2014 Emmy nominees from the Leonard H. Goldstone Theater at about 8:40 AM EST. The biggest back-slapping event in the TV calendar hasn’t quite inspired the same kind of cottage industry as the Academy Awards, but at a point where television shows dominate the pop culture almost as much as movies (if not more so), the Emmys certainly become more and more important.
Which is not to say that they’re necessarily a glorious occasion. The Television Academy can be surprisingly bold (they were giving awards to "Breaking Bad" from its first season, long before most of you got on board with the show), but they’re also prone to giving awards to movie stars for turning up, partial to stodgy costume drama (*cough* "Downton Abbey"), and set in their ways. Quite often, voters seem to simply replicate their ballot from the year before, except where a show has come off the air or an actor has left a series.
Still, it’s undoubtedly a huge and prestigious event, and ahead of the nominations on Thursday, and having already named a dozen performers we want nominated, we’ve put on our prognostication hats in an attempt to discover who’ll be nominees, and who’ll be out in the cold. Check back on Thursday morning to discover how we did, let us know your own predictions below, and you can watch the winners when the ceremony takes place on Monday, August 25th.
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or Movie
Matt Bomer – "The Normal Heart"
Martin Freeman – "Sherlock: His Last Vow"
John Goodman – "Dancing On The Edge"
Jim Parsons – "The Normal Heart"
Blair Underwood – The Trip To Bountiful
"Magic Mike" star Matt Bomer‘s drastic weight loss in "The Normal Heart" makes him the obvious frontrunner to win here, and if any of his co-stars join him (and Alfred Molina, Taylor Kitsch and Joe Mantello are both strong possibilities, with Molina also viable for "Return To Zero"), it’ll be Emmy darling Jim Parsons: despite the brevity of his role, he got to show a dramatic side to his persona, and that’s always worth something. Beyond that, Martin Freeman could be a nominee in both Lead and Supporting in Movie/Miniseries, but he’s safest here with "Sherlock," having picked one up last time he was eligible too. Denis O’Hare got a nod the same year for "American Horror Story," but doesn’t seem like to repeat for this year’s "Coven," but John Goodman is a good bet for "Dancing On The Edge," which didn’t make a huge impact, but voters like him, and in this Emmy division, it’s the kind of import that always does well. For the fifth slot, some are tipping Frank Langella for Stephen Frears‘ "Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight," but given that most of the world has either forgotten or were never aware it existed, we’re plumping for Blair Underwood in "The Trip To Bountiful," just because it feels like a more Emmy-ish pick.
If We Had A Vote: I’m in the minority by never quite falling for Bob Odenkirk‘s Saul on "Breaking Bad," but I thought he was really strong in "Fargo," as a baffled, slightly chauvinistic, but good-natured man totally unequipped for his job. The scene where he introduced his Sudanese foster child was one of the loveliest bits of acting I saw all year.
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or Movie
Angela Bassett – "American Horror Story: Coven"
Kathy Bates – "American Horror Story: Coven"
Ellen Burstyn – "Flowers In The Attic"
Julia Roberts – "The Normal Heart"
Allison Tolman – "Fargo"
As with the male equivalent, this is pretty much wrapped in a bow and given to the star of "The Normal Heart"—Julia Roberts is the biggest name in the category, and voters are surely champing at the bit to award her, not least for something as high-profile and issues-driven as that film. Beyond that, "American Horror Story" picked up three nominations in the last two years in this category, and we’d wager they’ll add two more, with big names Kathy Bates (nominated four times in this category previously) and Angela Bassett likely to be honored for their scenery-chewing (Bassett’s a longer shot, but both should figure in). Beyond that, there are three strong potentials for two slots. Ellen Burstyn managed an Emmy nomination for a 14-second performance once (for 2006’s "Mrs. Harris"), so she shouldn’t have much trouble getting one for "Flowers In The Attic" this time around, even having won this award last year for "Political Animals". Then, it’s the question of the big name against the newcomer: Jacqueline Bisset won acclaim for her turn in "Dancing On The Edge," but we think (and hope) that the buzz behind the relatively little-known Alison Tolman‘s great performance in "Fargo" will win out here. But don’t rule out Janet McTeer in "The White Queen" as a potential surprise.
If We Had A Vote: Tolman, for sure, as I expressed previously. I wouldn’t be against some recognition for Melissa Leo‘s performance in "Treme" either.
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or Movie
Benedict Cumberbatch – "Sherlock: His Last Vow"
Chiwetel Ejiofor – "Dancing On The Edge"
Martin Freeman – "Fargo"
Mark Ruffalo – "The Normal Heart"
Billy Bob Thornton – "Fargo"
As has been the case for a while, this is likely to be movie-star heavy category this year, and certainly a competitive one. Despite the dominance of "The Normal Heart" elsewhere, Mark Ruffalo isn’t the frontrunner to win, though he is a lock for a nomination. Instead, Billy Bob Thornton‘s villainous turn on "Fargo" is probably in pole position here. With two nominations in the last two years, Benedict Cumberbatch should get a third this year, for "Sherlock: His Last Vow." Idris Elba also has two prior nods, for the first two series of "Luther," but we have a feeling he might be beaten to the nod this time by fellow Brit Chiwetel Ejiofor, whose Oscar buzz will help his profile with "Dancing On The Edge." For the fifth slot, our money’s on Cumberbatch and Thornton’s co-star Martin Freeman, with a second nod for "Fargo," but there are some other possibilities here too alongside Elba: Rob Lowe for "Killing Kennedy," Dominic West for "Burton & Taylor," or Emile Hirsch for "Bonnie & Clyde."
If We Had A Vote: Idris Elba. The third season of "Luther" felt like a step down, but Elba’s always been titanic in what could be a generic creation.
Outstanding Actress In A Miniseries Or Movie
Helena Bonham Carter – "Burton & Taylor"
Rebecca Ferguson – "The White Queen"
Jessica Lange – "American Horror Story: Coven"
Sarah Paulson – "American Horror Story: Coven"
Cicely Tyson – "The Trip To Bountiful"
Two things are certain here: Jessica Lange will be nominated once again for her work in "American Horror Story," and Emmy favorite Cicely Tyson will join her, and likely beat her, for "The Trip To Bountiful." Beyond that, Helena Bonham Carter seems like a good bet for her portrayal of superstar Elizabeth Taylor in "Burton & Taylor." After that, things become murkier: Toni Colette might find a way to salvage something from the total mess of "Hostages" with a nomination, while Minnie Driver might figure in for "Return To Zero," or Whoopi Goldberg for "A Day Late And A Dollar Short" (no, we hadn’t heard of either before). But our money’s on "The White Queen" lead Rebecca Ferguson and Lange’s co-star Sarah Paulson grabbing the remaining slots here.
If We Had A Vote: I’d probably abstain. Or vote for Alison Tolman again, because really, she was the lead of "Fargo."
Outstanding TV Movie
"The Normal Heart"
"Return To Zero"
"Sherlock: His Last Vow"
"The Trip To Bountiful"
The category was re-divided this year with the re-emergence of the miniseries in the last few years (having been united only in 2011), which unfortunately leaves rather slim pickings in this category. "The Normal Heart" is, as you may have picked up by now, the no-brainer winner: its only serious competition would be "Sherlock" (which opted to submit as a TV movie rather than a miniseries, despite there being three of them), but it doesn’t have a hope of defeating Ryan Murphy‘s film. Beyond that, there are a few serious contenders, but over "Muhammad Ali’s Final Fight," "Burton & Taylor," and the unintentionally Lol-tastic "Killing Kennedy," we’d certainly put "The Trip To Bountiful," and possibly the Minnie Driver-starring Lifetime movie "Return To Zero." And, while no one seemed to like it very much, Greg Mottola’s star-studded "Curb Your Enthusiasm" stopgap "Clear History" should grab the fifth slot from name recognition alone.
If We Had A Vote: "An Adventure In Space And Time," a loving and touching recreation of the genesis of "Doctor Who." The show managed to pick up several TCA nods, but doesn’t have a high enough profile to figure in here, which is a shame.
"American Horror Story: Coven"
"Dancing On The Edge"
"The White Queen"
This one’s an easier pick than the TV Movie category: "Fargo" is a dead cert (and likely winner), while "American Horror Story" should continue a clean sweep of nominations in this category with "Coven" joining "Murder House" and "Asylum," especially given the new division. "Luther" managed a nod two years ago, and should do the same again, while "Dancing On The Edge" has the right sort of Downton-ish prestige factor to get in as well. As for the fifth slot, "Bonnie & Clyde" has a thin chance, but it’ll probably come down to a battle between two period dramas: all-star Shakespeare adaptation "The Hollow Crown," and Starz/BBC co-production "The White Queen." The former has more prestige, and the latter only mixed reviews, but its mix of class and bodice-ripping feels more likely to pick up Emmy votes.
If We Had A Vote: Sean Durkin‘s superb "Southcliffe" isn’t yet eligible, having not aired in the U.S, so I’d love to see IFC‘s "The Spoils Of Babylon" in its place. I wasn’t totally crazy about the series, but it’d be fun to see such a bare-faced parody among the more serious fare if nothing else.
Click to the next page for the Comedy races.
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Andre Braugher – "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"
Ty Burrell – "Modern Family"
Jesse Tyler Ferguson – "Modern Family"
Tony Hale – "Veep"
Ed O’Neill – "Modern Family"
Eric Stonestreet – "Modern Family"
This category has been dominated by the "Modern Family" boys in recent years, although last year Eric Stonestreet (who’d won two out of the three previous Emmys) was a shock omission from the category, in favor of Bill Hader for "Saturday Night Live," Adam Driver for "Girls" and Tony Hale for "Veep," who took the prize. Stonestreet had stronger material to work with this season, so we could see the full ‘Family’ quartet nominated again, but then again, don’t be surprised to see one slip out. Hader isn’t an option this time, having left ‘SNL,’ while Driver and Hale are very much in contention again too (personally, we’d go for Matt Walsh or Timothy Simons over him, but he probably has the momentum). The likeliest person to grab a non-"Modern Family" slot this year, however, is Andre Braugher for his deadpan detective on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"—the actor is an Emmy favorite, and gets to show a new side of himself here. Driver and Hale will likely battle it out of the last remaining slot, and with his win, we’d give the edge to Hale. If you’re looking for a potential upset, keep an eye on the late "Silicon Valley" actor Christopher Evan Welch, but HBO might have been better off campaigning for him in the Guest Actor category, and it remains to be seen if the series connects with Emmy voters (our guess is: no).
If We Had A Vote: I’d still love Nick Offerman to make the cut, but "Trophy Wife" star Albert Tsai only had the one season, and had the comic nous of performers several times his age.
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik – "The Big Bang Theory"
Julie Bowen – "Modern Family"
Allison Janney – "Mom"
Margo Martindale – "The Millers"
Kate Mulgrew – "Orange Is The New Black"
Sofia Vergara – "Modern Family"
Again, the ladies of "Modern Family" have ruled the roost here the last few years, and in theory that could expand further, with the younger actresses on the show submitting for the first time. They probably won’t feature, but Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara will certainly return, along with "The Big Bang Theory" star Mayim Bialik, who’s been a mainstay the last few years. Beyond that, though, expect a shake-up. The favorite to win, and a lock for nomination, is Allison Janney, a force of nature on the interesting-but-slightly-disappointing "Mom," and we wager that she’ll be joined by "Orange Is The New Black"’s Kate Mulgrew, the most likely nominee from the supporting cast there, at least for this season. Most would assume that last year’s winner, "Nurse Jackie" star Merrit Wever, would return this time, but we have a feeling that Margo Martindale could snatch the nomination in her place (or maybe Mulgrew’s) for "The Millers." Hopefully that makes up for having her talent squandered on the show… With a tight race, that probably doesn’t leave room for Jane Lynch for "Glee" or Anna Chlumsky for "Veep," who both didn’t have as strong showcases this year.
If We Had A Vote: With Uzo Aduba likely to nab a Guest Actress nod for "Orange Is The New Black," I’d again like to see the show’s Laverne Cox get in here.
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
Don Cheadle – "House Of Lies"
Louis C.K. – "Louie"
John Goodman – "Alpha House"
Matt LeBlanc – "Episodes"
Jim Parsons – "Big Bang Theory"
Andy Samberg – "Brooklyn Nine Nine"
A surprisingly thin category this year, especially with long-time fixture Alec Baldwin, and last year’s Jason Bateman, not eligible this time around. As such, that means that four of last year’s batch are dead certs to return: Jim Parsons (a likely winner once more), Louis C.K., and, sharing the Showtime-series-that-no-one-appears-to-actually-watch slots, Don Cheadle and Matt LeBlanc for "House Of Lies" and "Episodes." Beyond that, Andy Samberg is the likeliest to join them: ratings for "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" are low, but it’s critically adored, he’s a recognizable face, and he got the Golden Globe already. There’s a number of options for the last slot: William H. Macy has switched over from the drama race, though we’ll not sure he’ll have any luck. Robin Williams and Michael J. Fox might have been dead certs if their shows had been hits, but with both already cancelled, their chances are slim. And "Silicon Valley" star Thomas Middleditch has buzz in some circles, but we think it’s a stretch. Instead, we’re putting our chips on a relative longshot: you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who watched Amazon‘s "Alpha House," but the Academy showed last year they don’t have a problem nominating online-only series, Amazon have pushed hard for nominations, and the Emmys are very fond of John Goodman (he’s an eleven-time nominee).
If We Had A Vote: Of the realistic possibilities, I’d go with Thomas Middleditch, of the unrealistic ones, few have been as deserving as Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele: the breadth of their comic skills are kind of staggering.
Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
Lena Dunham – "Girls"
Edie Falco – "Nurse Jackie"
Anna Faris – "Mom"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – "Veep"
Amy Poehler – "Parks and Recreation"
Taylor Schilling – "Orange Is The New Black"
Again, this category is somewhat dug into the trenches: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a mortal lock to return (and likely win a third in a row), while Amy Poehler should join her despite the Academy not seemingly getting "Parks and Recreation" as a whole, and Edie Falco could read a phone book for a season worth of "Nurse Jackie" and still get a nomination. "Girls" felt less buzzy this year, but that shouldn’t matter to this particular voting bloc, so look for Lena Dunham to get her third nod here too. With Tina Fey and Laura Dern not options this year, that leaves a couple of slots open, and it could end up going to prior nominees: Melissa McCarthy, who won in 2011, was nominated last year, but fell off in 2013, or Zooey Deschanel, who made it in for the first season of "New Girl." But really, we think it’s more likely to go to newcomers, with Taylor Schilling of "Orange Is The New Black" and Anna Faris of "Mom" being the likeliest candidates. But if you’re looking for dark horses, don’t discount Amy Schumer of "Inside Amy Schumer," Minnie Driver of "About A Boy" or even Wendi McLendon-Covey of "The Goldbergs."
If We Had A Vote: The cast of "Trophy Wife" were all superb, but I’d certainly give Marcia Gay Harden the edge out of anyone—she may not have been technically the lead, but she dominated the show enough to make it in here.
Outstanding Comedy Series
"The Big Bang Theory"
"Orange Is The New Black"
There were a fair few freshmen series this year that, with a less entrenched line-up (or more adventurous voting body), would surely be material for nomination: "Getting On," "Silicon Valley," "Broad City," "Review," "The Goldbergs," "Enlisted" et al. But the top few series don’t have a chance of missing out: "Modern Family" and "The Big Bang Theory" repping the middlebrow, "Louie" and "Veep" the critics’ favorites. But we’re not sure "Girls" will join them, despite two nominations for the first two seasons: it’s as good as it’s ever been, but no longer the buzziest thing on the block. "Orange Is The New Black" and "Brooklyn-Nine Nine" both have the critical swell, and should figure in here too, though it’s still possible that Lena Dunham‘s series will cling on in the place of one or the other.
If We Had A Vote: "Orange Is The New Black" is my favorite "comedy" of the year by Emmy standards (it still feels more like a drama to me), but I’d be happy for recognition of "Review," "Rick & Morty," "Broad City," "Silicon Valley" or "Veep" as well.
Click on to the next page for our predictions for the Drama categories:
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
Josh Charles – "The Good Wife"
Peter Dinklage – "Game Of Thrones"
Dean Norris – "Breaking Bad"
Aaron Paul – "Breaking Bad"
Jon Voight – "Ray Donovan"
Jeffrey Wright – "Boardwalk Empire"
Thanks, in part, to characters being killed off, there’s faster turnover in this race than in many of the others, with last year’s victor Bobby Cannavale, and "Breaking Bad" fave Jonathan Banks both out. And some of the other nominees seem rockier too: "Downton Abbey" isn’t the behemoth it once was, so we reckon neither Jim Carter nor Brendan Coyle will figure in this time, while "Homeland" also took a hit, making Mandy Patinkin‘s chances rockier (especially given that he missed out in the first season). The dead certs are two-time winners Aaron Paul, and Peter Dinklage, the latter of whom has three nods and one win, and had some of the best material he’s ever had on "Game Of Thrones" this season. We reckon that Paul’s co-star Dean Norris will finally grab a nod, having proven central to the final run of episodes in the series. Beyond that, given the creative resurgence on the series, the dramatic events around his character, and his co-stars’ decision not to submit this year to give him a better chance, we’re confident that "The Good Wife" actor Josh Charles will grab a nod too. Beyond that, it’s unlikely that John Slattery will return after a few years of missing out, and while we’d be happy if Peter Sarsgaard made the cut for his excellent turn in "The Killing," two newcomers seem more likely: Jeffrey Wright for "Boardwalk Empire," and Jon Voight for "Ray Donovan."
If We Had A Vote: I’d love if Charles Dance were to make the cut for "Game Of Thrones," but it’s hard enough for actors to stand out from the ensemble, even without competing with Dinklage.
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Christine Baranski – "The Good Wife"
Joanne Froggatt – "Downton Abbey"
Anna Gunn – "Breaking Bad"
Christina Hendricks – "Mad Men"
Michelle Monagahan – "True Detective"
Maggie Smith – "Downton Abbey"
Some surprisingly slim pickings in this race (write better female roles, TV scribes). Anna Gunn will be nominated again, and will likely win again, while category stalwarts Maggie Smith, Christine Baranski and Christina Hendricks should all return again. Last year’s nominee Morena Baccarin won’t return as her character barely featured in the third season of "Homeland." We’d actually argue the same about Emilia Clarke, who made the cut last time, but mostly stood around for the fourth season of "Game Of Thrones," and certainly didn’t have much material to get her teeth into. We suppose that Lena Headey is the most likely to step up from that show, but we think it’s more likely that the "True Detective" juggernaut will bring Michelle Monaghan into play here, despite the underwritten nature of her character. For the final slot, "Scandal" actress Bellamy Young had some potent material to play with, but we think it’s more likely that "Downton Abbey" thesp Joanne Froggatt will return, though don’t count out another "Breaking Bad" nod for Betsy Brandt here either.
If We Had A Vote: "The Americans" is sadly unlikely to make any inroads into most races this time around, but Annet Mahendru is more than deserving for her work on the show this time around.
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Bryan Cranston – "Breaking Bad"
Jon Hamm – "Mad Men"
Woody Harrelson – "True Detective"
Matthew McConaughey – "True Detective"
Kevin Spacey – "House Of Cards"
James Spader – "The Blacklist"
At one point, it seemed that this would be a cakewalk for Bryan Cranston (who won for the show’s first three seasons, but hasn’t picked one up since), but HBO‘s decision to put "True Detective" in the drama race rather than miniseries makes Matthew McConaughey the frontrunner just ahead of him. Either could take it, and both will be nominees. Kevin Spacey should return as well, despite "House Of Cards" mostly shitting the bed in its second season, and though he’s less of a dead cert than old Rust, Woody Harrelson should join his co-star in the line-up here (he’d have won if he’d gone Supporting, but it probably would have been category fraud). Past that, while the show is too pulpy to figure in elsewhere, "The Blacklist" is an unignorable phenomenon at least in terms of its lead performance: the TV Academy love them a bit of James Spader, and the show’s success depends principally on his scenery chewing here. That leaves one slot open, and plenty of worthy contenders, like previous nominees Steve Buscemi, Hugh Bonneville, and Damian Lewis (the latter’s reduced part in "Homeland" probably puts him out of contention), or newcomers Michael Sheen of "Masters Of Sex" and Liev Schreiber of "Ray Donovan." But the battle will probably come down to a six-time nominee who’s never won, and last year’s winner, and we think we’d just give the edge to Jon Hamm over Jeff Daniels, given the way that "The Newsroom" evaporated from pop culture. Expect an upset either way.
If We Had A Vote; Demian Bichir was terrific on "The Bridge," but I’ll keep beating the drum for Mads Mikkelsen in "Hannibal" until someone listens.
Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Robin Wright – "House Of Cards"
Claire Danes – "Homeland"
Vera Farmiga – "Bates Motel"
Julianna Marguiles – "The Good Wife"
Elisabeth Moss – "Mad Men"
Kerry Washington – "Scandal"
Last year, this category historically included seven nominees, but given that it likely involved a tie for sixth place, it’s unlikely to happen again, which means blood on the floor. Robin Wright is probably safest for "House Of Cards," given that she had meatier material in her second season on the show, while Elisabeth Moss and Kerry Washington are very likely to join her. "Homeland" might be on a downswing, but Claire Danes is still attention-grabbing (and unlike co-star Damian Lewis, central) enough to the show to return here. And although she missed out last year, Julianna Marguiles has never been better on "The Good Wife" than in its last season, and given the show’s aggressive campaigning, will likely return this time. There are some potential newcomers that could threaten: Keri Russell and Lizzy Caplan are both great on "The Americans" and "Masters Of Sex," respectively, but we sense them struggling to get much traction with Academy voters. And as deserving as she is, and as fervent her fanbase are, Tatiana Maslany of "Orphan Black" just hasn’t been seen by enough voters to make the cut. We also suspect that last year’s nominees Connie Britton and Michelle Dockery will fall off, but have a funny feeling that Vera Farmiga and "Bates Motel" will end up taking that last slot.
If We Had A Vote: I’m very mixed on "Orphan Black" as a whole, but there’s no doubting Maslany’s immense talent. She’d be on my ballot, though Caplan and Russell would be a close second.
Outstanding Drama Series
"Game Of Thrones"
"The Good Wife"
"House Of Cards"
We may come to regret saying this, but this actually feels like an easier call to make than the acting categories. "Breaking Bad" and "Game Of Thrones" are rock solid, as is "House Of Cards." And "True Detective" will certainly join them, as the most widely praised new drama of the year. As we’ve said, "Homeland" and "Downton Abbey" feel like they’re trending down, and though it’s not impossible that they’ll make the cut, we think that, in their place, "Mad Men" will cling on, and be joined by the resurgent "Good Wife," which has campaigned very aggressively, emphasizing that it makes almost twice as many episodes as any of its competition while maintaining a similar level of quality. Sadly, that means a shut-out for critical favorites "The Americans," "Masters Of Sex" and "Hannibal," and mainstream smash "Scandal" (which actually had a ropey year), but so be it.
If We Had A Vote: "Hannibal" is like nothing else on television, but I might lean towards "The Americans," which could actually benefit more from the Emmy exposure it’s sadly unlikely to get.