Like it or not, Oscar season kicks off next week, with the premiere of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Birdman” at the Venice Film Festival. But we must first close off another awards season, and this coming Monday sees the curtains close on the 2013/2014 TV season, with statues handed out at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.
Old favorites like “Breaking Bad,” “Modern Family,” “American Horror Story” and “Game Of Thrones” are girding their loins in anticipation of respective challenges from a host of upstarts like “True Detective,” “Fargo” and “Orange Is The New Black.” To help you get a handle on who’s likely to be heading up to the podium, we’ve made our predictions for the major categories (excluding reality and variety series, which aren’t really our area) below. Weigh in with your own guesses in the comments, and check back on Monday night to find out who takes the prizes.
Outstanding Writing For A Miniseries, Movie Or Dramatic Special
“American Horror Story: Coven” – “Bitchcraft” – Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk (FX)
“Fargo” – “The Crocodile’s Dilemma” – Noah Hawley (FX)
“Luther” – Neil Cross (BBC America)
“The Normal Heart” – Larry Kramer (HBO)
“Sherlock” – His Last Vow” – Steven Moffat (PBS)
“Treme” – “…To Miss New Orleans” – David Simon & Eric Overmyer (HBO)
Should Win: Neither “Luther” or “Sherlock” did their best this time around, so we’d lean towards Noah Hawley’s fine work on “Fargo” here.
Will Win: Probably Hawley, to be honest, though he’ll have some tough competition from Larry Kramer and “The Normal Heart”
Outstanding Directing For A Miniseries, Movie Or Dramatic Special
“American Horror Story: Coven” – “Bitchcraft” – Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (FX)
“Fargo” – “Buridan’s Ass” – Colin Bucksey (FX)
“Fargo” – “The Crocodile’s Dilemma” – Adam Bernstein (FX)
“Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight” – Stephen Frears (HBO) “The Normal Heart” – Ryan Murphy (HBO)
“Sherlock” – “His Last Vow” – Nick Hurran (PBS)
Should Win: Either of those “Fargo” helmers are deserving, maybe Bucksey in a pinch.
Will Win: Ryan Murphy, by virtue of being the most recognizable face that didn’t make an incredibly boring movie about the Supreme Court. “Fargo” might have had a shot, but the vote split will hurt the show’s chances.
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or Movie
Matt Bomer as Felix Turner on “The Normal Heart” (HBO)
Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson on “Sherlock: His Last Vow” (PBS)
Colin Hanks as Officer Gus Grimly on “Fargo” (FX)
Joe Mantello as Mickey Marcus on “The Normal Heart” (HBO)
Alfred Molina as Ben Weeks on “The Normal Heart” (HBO)
Jim Parson as Tommy Boatwright on “The Normal Heart” (HBO)
Should Win: Not being the biggest fan of “The Normal Heart” limits our options here, though we will say that Alfred Molina was typically lovely in his small role.
Will Win: Matt Bomer, who lost a ton of weight for his role, about as speedy a way of ensuring an award as anything of which we are aware.
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or Movie
Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau on “American Horror Story: Coven” (FX)
Kathy Bates as Delphine LaLaurie on “American Horror Story: Coven” (FX)
Ellen Burstyn as Olivia Foxworth on “Flowers In The Attic” (Lifetime)
Frances Conroy as Myrtle Snow on “American Horror Story: Coven” (FX)
Julia Roberts as Dr. Emma Brookner on “The Normal Heart” (HBO)
Alison Tolman as Deputy Molly Solverson on “Fargo” (FX)
Should Win: If you believe, like us, that “American Horror Story” is dumber than a box of rocks, and the idea of it winning any awards for anything makes you feel a bit sick, it narrows your possible picks (though all three actresses, in fairness, chew the scenery with aplomb). But regular readers will know we’re firmly on the Alison Tolman train here.
Will Win: Tolman actually has a good chance, but our gut says that Julia Roberts’ star power will win out.
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or Movie
Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes on “Sherlock: His Last Vow” (PBS)
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Louis Lester on “Dancing On The Edge” (Starz)
Idris Elba as John Luther on “Luther” (BBC America)
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard on “Fargo” (FX)
Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks on “The Normal Heart” (HBO)
Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo on “Fargo” (FX)
Should Win: I think we say this every year, but Idris Elba’s performance in “Luther” is a bruised thing of wonder: a bear with a thorn in his paw who somehow was given a tatty coat and made a police detective. The show’s done now, so it’d be great to see him recognized at last.
Will Win: Though Mark Ruffalo could surprise, this is almost certainly Billy Bob Thornton’s.
Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or Movie
Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth Taylor on “Burton & Taylor” (BBC America)
Minnie Driver as Maggie Royal on “Return To Zero” (Lifetime)
Jessica Lange as Fiona Goode on “American Horror Story: Coven” (FX)
Sarah Paulson as Cordelia Foxx on”American Horror Story: Coven” (FX)
Cicely Tyson as Mrs. Carrie Watts on “The Trip To Bountiful” (Lifetime)
Kristen Wiig as Cynthia Morehouse on “The Spoils Of Babylon” (IFC)
Should Win: No one here who we’re totally behind, so we guess we’d like to see Kristen Wiig win, if only because her role is so different from the others nominated.
Will Win: Unless Jessica Lange surprises (and given she lost last year, she probably won’t), Cicely Tyson takes this in a walk.
Outstanding TV Movie
“Killing Kennedy” (National Geographic)
“Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight” (HBO)
“The Normal Heart” (HBO)
“Sherlock: HIs Last Vow” (PBS)
“The Trip To Bountiful” (Lifetime)
Should Win: Again, nothing that we adore here, but “Sherlock” is probably our pick of the five.
Will Win: “The Normal Heart,” easily.
“American Horror Story: Coven” (FX)
“Bonnie & Clyde” (A&E)
“Luther” (BBC America)
“The White Queen” (Starz)
Should Win: In theory, we’d like to say that we’d back “Treme” to win, but if we’re being totally honest, the show was always the TV equivalent of that heavy non-fiction hardback that sits on your bedside table for a year and that you feel guilty about never picking up. So we’re going for “Fargo.”
Will Win: Anything but “Fargo” would be a shocker.
Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series
“Episodes” – “Episode Five” – David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik (Showtime)
“Louie” – “So Did The Fat Lady” – Louis C.K. (FX)
“Orange Is The New Black” – “I Wasn’t Ready” – Liz Friedman & Jenji Kohan (Netflix)
Silicon Valley” – “Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency” – Alec Berg (HBO)
“Veep” – “Special Relationship” – Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche (HBO)
Should Win: “Veep” has been on exceptional form this past season, and “Special Relationship” was a season highlight.
Will Win: Most experts are backing “Louie” (C.K. won two years back) but our money’s on a strong showing for “Orange Is The New Black” here.
Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series
“Episodes” – “Episode Nine” – Iain B. MacDonald (Showtime)
“Glee” – “100” – Paris Barclay (Fox)
“Louie” – “Elevator: Part 6” – Louis C.K. (Fox)
“Modern Family” – “Las Vegas” – Gail Mancuso (ABC)
“Orange Is The New Black” – “Lesbian Request Denied” – Jodie Foster (Netflix)
“Silicon Valley” – Minimum Viable Product – Mike Judge (HBO)
Should Win: Louis C.K’s become an exceptional director over the years, and the close of his “Elevator” series of episodes was heartbreaking and beautifully made.
Will Win: Jodie Foster and “Orange Is The New Black” —the name recognition alone would tip her over the edge. Good thing she did a great job.
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Fred Armisen as Various Characters on “Portlandia” – “Pull-Out King” (IFC)
Andre Braugher as Captain Ray Holt on “Brooklyn Nine Nine” – “Christmas” (Fox)
Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy on “Modern Family” – “Spring-a-Ding-Fling” (ABC)
Adam Driver as Adam Sackler on “Girls” – “Two Plane Rides” (HBO)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett on “Modern Family” – “Message Received” (ABC)
Tony Hale as Gary Walsh on “Veep” – “Crate” (HBO)
Should Win: A strong line-up. We’d put two or three of the “Veep” cast above Hale, so we’d go for Andre Braugher: his deadpan police chief should be one joke, but he finds more and more texture to the character as the show goes on.
Will Win: Hale’s the defending champion, but our guess is that Braugher unseats him this year.
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik as Dr. Amy Fowler on “The Big Bang Theory” – “The Indecision Amalgamation” (CBS)
Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy on “Modern Family” – “The Feud” (ABC)
Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer on “Veep” – “Detroit” (HBO)
Allison Janney as Bonnie Plunkett on “Mom” – “Estrogen And A Hearty Breakfast” (CBS)
Kate McKinnon as Various Characters on “Saturday Night Live” – “Host: Anna Kendrick” (NBC)
Kate Mulgrew as Red Reznikov on “Orange Is The New Black” – “Tit Punch” (Netflix)
Should Win: Kate McKinnon has been exceptional on SNL since she started on the series, and her continual brilliance is one of the reasons that we have faith that, when it comes out of its current awkward transition period, it’s going to have a good few years.
Will Win: Kate Mulgrew is the dark horse to watch, but Emmy favorite Allison Janney (who just took a Guest Actress award for “Masters Of Sex” too) is the clear favorite here.
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
Louis C.K. as Louie on “Louie” – “Model” (FX)
Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan on “House Of Lies” – “Wreckage” (Showtime)
Ricky Gervais as Derek Noakes on “Derek” – “Episode 6” (Netflix)
Matt LeBlanc as Himself on “Episodes” – “Episode Six” (Showtime)
William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher on “Shameless” – “Lazarus” (Showtime)
Jim Parsons as Dr. Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory” – “The Relationship Diremption” (CBS)
Should Win: Louis C.K. He hasn’t always been the most confident performer, but he’s grown and grown with each season of his show.
Will Win: One of the widest and toughest races this year, almost anyone except LeBlanc and Cheadle could take this. Macy’s the dark horse to watch, but our guess is that Ricky Gervais will upset three-time winner Parsons.
Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath on “Girls” – “Beach House” (HBO)
Edie Falco as Jackie Peynton on “Nurse Jackie” – “Super Greens” (Showtime)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Myer on “Veep” – “Crate” (HBO)
Melissa McCarthy as Molly Flynn on “Mike & Molly” – “Mind Over Molly” (CBS)
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope on “Parks & Recreation” – “Recall Vote” (NBC)
Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman on “Orange Is The New Black” – “The Chickening” (Netflix)
Should Win: That Amy Poehler has never won in this category is ridiculous, and she had a good year on “Parks & Recreation.”
Will Win: Don’t rule out Taylor Schilling here, but a third time for Julia Louis-Dreyfus and “Veep” seems like the most likely outcome.
Outstanding Comedy Series
“The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
Modern Family” (ABC)
“Orange Is The New Black” (Netflix)
“Silicon Valley” (HBO)
Should Win: “Orange Is The New Black” is the best show in the batch, but it feels a bit like category fraud that it’s here at all, so we’d be fine with “Veep” winning too.
Will Win: “Modern Family” dominated the last four years, but it feels like it’s on the downswing this time around. “Veep” could step up, but “Orange Is The New Black” is the safer bet.
Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series
“Breaking Bad” – “Felina” – Vince Gilligan (AMC)
"Breaking Bad” – “Ozymandias” – Moira Walley-Beckett (AMC)
“Game Of Thrones” – “The Children” – David Benioff & D.B. Weiss (HBO)
“House Of Cards” – “Chapter 14” – Beau Willimon (Netflix)
“True Detective” – “The Secret Fate Of All Life” – Nic Pizzolatto (HBO)
Should Win: Hard to decide, but given the mammoth task they have producing the show itself and the consistently high quality of the writing, we’d love to see Benioff and Weiss recognized for “Game Of Thrones.”
Will Win: Whether or not they were dirty tricks by a competitor (which is quite possible), those plagiarism allegations probably made a dent in Nic Pizzolatto’s chances. They were pretty trumped up, although him acting like a douchebag afterwards may not have endeared him any further. He still has a chance, but we think that Vince Gilligan will get this, as recognition for the series as a whole.
Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series
“Boardwalk Empire” – “Farewell Daddy Blues” – Tim Van Patten (HBO)
“Breaking Bad” – “Felina” – Vince Gilligan (AMC)
“Downton Abbey” – “Episode One” – David Evans (PBS)
“Game Of Thrones” – “The Watchers On The Wall” – Neil Marshall (HBO)
“House Of Cards” – “Chapter 14” – Carl Franklin (Netflix)
“True Detective” – “Who Goes There” – Cary Joji Fukunaga (HBO)
Should Win: It was impressive that Neil Marshall delivered movie-level production values on a prestige cable drama budget, but it was too dark to see what was going on half the time. So Fukunaga FTW.
Will Win: We wonder what might have happened if Rian Johnson and “Ozymandias” had landed the “Breaking Bad” nomination, but it didn’t, so this is Fukunaga’s easily.
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
Jim Carter as Charles Carson on “Downton Abbey” – “Episode One” (PBS)
Josh Charles as Will Gardner on “The Good Wife” – “Hitting The Fan” (CBS)
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister on “Game Of Thrones” – “The Laws Of Gods And Men” (HBO)
Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson on “Homeland” – “Gerontion” (Showtime)
Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman on “Breaking Bad” – “Confessions” (AMC)
Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan on “Ray Donovan” – “Fite Nite” (Showtime)
Should Win: Peter Dinklage had his best season on “Game Of Thrones,” and thoroughly deserves a second Emmy.
Will Win: Josh Charles certainly has a chance, and Aaron Paul could take a third, despite his character being somewhat passive and/or absent for much of the final run of “Breaking Bad.” But we have a funny feeling that Jon Voight is going to upset here.
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart on “The Good Wife” – “The Last Call” (CBS)
Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates on “Downton Abbey” – “Episode Four” (PBS)
Anna Gunn as Skyler White on “Breaking Bad” – “Ozymandias” (AMC)
Lena Headey as Cersei Lanister on “Game Of Thrones” – “The Lion & The Rose” (HBO)
Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris on “Mad Men” – “The Strategy” (AMC)
Maggie Smith as Dowager Countess of Grantham on “Downton Abbey” – “Episode Eight” (PBS)
Should Win: No one we’re totally behind here, but it’d be nice to see some recognition for Lena Headey, though she’s had stronger seasons on the show.
Will Win: After taking it last year, Anna Gunn’s likely to repeat, though don’t rule out Baranski or Froggatt either.
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Bryan Cranston as Walter White on “Breaking Bad” – “Ozymandias” (AMC)
Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy on “The Newsroom” – “Election Night: Part II” (HBO)
Jon Hamm as Don Draper on “Mad Men” – “The Strategy” (AMC)
Woody Harrelson as Detective Martin Hart on “True Detective” – “The Locked Room” (HBO)
Matthew McConaughey as Detective Rustin Cohle on “True Detective” – “Form & Void” (HBO)
Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood on “House Of Cards” – “Chapter 26” (Netflix)
Should Win: We know one thing for sure: if Jeff Daniels wins again, we’re going to be pissed. All the others are deserving, but Bryan Cranston hasn’t won since the third season of “Breaking Bad,” so it’d be great to see him close off the show with another.
Will Win: Unfortunately, “True Detective” category-frauded its way in to the Drama race, so he’ll be beaten by Matthew McConaughey (although, obviously that’s a superb performance). Fun fact: the last person to win the Emmy and the Oscar in the same year was Helen Hunt.
Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson on “Masters Of Sex” – “Pilot” (Showtime)
Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison on “Homeland” – “The Star” (Showtime)
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley on "Downton Abbey” – “Episode One” (PBS)
Julianna Marguiles as Alicia Florrick on “The Good Wife” – “The Last Call” (CBS)
Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope on “Scandal” – “The Fluffer” (ABC)
Robin Wright as Claire Underwood on “House Of Cards” – “Chapter 26” (Netflix)
Should Win: Julianna Marguiles was better than ever on “The Good Wife,” but we’d just give Lizzy Caplan the edge, partly because the show could use the boost.
Will Win: Marguiles is a strong contender, and don’t rule out Claire Danes, but our best guess is that Robin Wright, who’s doing career-best work on “House Of Cards,” wins here.
Outstanding Drama Series
“Breaking Bad” (AMC)
“Downton Abbey” (PBS)
“Game Of Thrones” (HBO)
House Of Cards” (Netflix)
“Mad Men” (AMC)
“True Detective “(HBO)
Should Win: “The Americans.” What do you mean it isn’t nominated? How could it not be nominated? Fine. “True Detective.”
Will Win: This is a two-horse race, but “Breaking Bad” likely just has the edge over “True Detective.”