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Emmys Dream Ballot: The Most Deserving Drama Nominees

With nominations only a week away, these are the series and performers we hope to see up for Emmys in 2016.

MR. ROBOT -- "m1rr0r1ng.qt" Episode 109 -- Pictured: (l-r) Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson, Christian Slater as Mr. Robot -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/USA Network)

“Mr. Robot”

Virginia Sherwood/USA Network

On Thursday, July 14, the Television Academy will announce the nominees for the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, and we have all the faith in the world they’ll get every single choice just right.

OK, maybe they won’t, but only because the 19,000-plus voters literally can’t get every choice right. Unless all the categories squeeze out miraculous ties resulting in extra nominees — similar to last year’s Supporting Actress in a Comedy category — there are simply too many outstanding series and performers to fit on the overall ballot.

So our choices below not only represent IndieWire’s highest recommendations in the top-line comedy categories, but also some of the shows and performers overlooked thus far in the campaign season. On a related note, category placement is determined, aptly, by our own wishes and not the submission guidelines of the TV Academy. It would be grand to hear their names announced at all come nomination day, but we just hope they know how much their work has been appreciated this past TV season.

Now, without further adieu, IndieWire’s drama dream ballots (all choices listed alphabetically):

Outstanding Drama Series

  1. “The Americans”
  2. “Better Call Saul”
  3. “The Leftovers”
  4. “Mr. Robot”
  5. “Orange is the New Black”
  6. “The Path”
  7. “UnREAL”
    Bonus Pick: “Hannibal”

Is this finally the year “The Americans” sneaks into the race? A few experts think so, even if the competition has never been fiercer. Nevertheless, what Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields did in Season 4 cannot be overpraised, and the same can be said for Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould on “Better Call Saul.” “Orange is the New Black,” in its first season indisputably considered a drama, aptly took its stories to darker depths — and should be rewarded justly. Oh, and then there’s this little show called “The Leftovers” that became the best television series of 2015 in its second season (and remains the one to beat in 2016). So, just maybe, it deserves a nod, too. Meanwhile, a few newcomers shot into contention with a bullet, as “UnREAL,” “The Path” and “Mr. Robot” all proved why the so-called golden age of television is just getting started. But we’d consider letting any one of these slide if it meant “Hannibal” finally nabbed a slot in its final year.

Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Drama Series

Indiewire Interviews:

Joe Weisberg & Joel Fields on “The Americans”
Damon Lindelof on “The Leftovers”

UnREAL Season 2 Episode 4 Shiri Appleby
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  1. Shiri Appleby, “UnREAL”
  2. Carrie Coon, “The Leftovers”
  3. Eva Green, “Penny Dreadful”
  4. Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black”
  5. Krysten Ritter, “Marvel’s Jessica Jones”
  6. Keri Russell, “The Americans”
    Bonus Pick: Viola Davis, “How to Get Away With Murder”

We can’t even get into the fine thespians left off this list because it would take up twice the allotted space for this blurb. More importantly, look at how essential each and every one of these choices seems: Can we really cut anyone? Shiri Appleby nailed every level of “UnREAL’s” clever commentary without losing an ounce of authenticity or heart. Carrie Coon hit us like a brick through the window in “The Leftovers” Season 2. Eva Green closed out a landmark performance in the (surprise) final season of “Penny Dreadful.” Tatiana Maslany continued to kill it on “Orphan Black.” Krysten Ritter stepped into “Jessica Jones'” boots and immediately felt like an icon, and Keri Russell, well, what’s left to say about Keri Russell after four seasons of “The Americans”? She’s the best, and we all know it.

Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series

Indiewire Interviews:

‘Orphan Black’ Star Tatiana Maslany on How Improv Helps Her Clones Come to Life
Krysten Ritter on Loving Female Showrunners and the Challenge of ‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones’

Aden Young - in the SundanceTV original series "Rectify" - Photo Credit: Curtis Baker
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  1. Kyle Chandler, “Bloodline”
  2. Rami Malek, “Mr. Robot”
  3. Mads Mikkelsen, “Hannibal”
  4. Matthew Rhys, “The Americans”
  5. Justin Theroux, “The Leftovers”
  6. Aden Young, “Rectify”
    Bonus Pick: Bobby Cannavale, “Vinyl”

Kyle Chandler: silent power through reactions. Rami Malek: wild intensity bottled to maximum poignancy. Mads Mikkelsen: icon-defying magnetism. Matthew Rhys: fatherhood in all its joys and sorrows, personified. Justin Theroux: an impossible blend of confusion and clarity, found through desire. Aden Young: a singular performance for a singular character. Bobby Cannavale: the only aspect of “Vinyl” that delivered more than was promised. Thank God we don’t have to choose a winner.

Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

Indiewire Interviews:

Kyle Chandler on Building a Very Personal Backstory for ‘Bloodline’ Season 2
Justin Theroux: Why ‘The Leftovers’ Knows How To Kill Its Characters So Well

The Leftovers Season 2 Regina KingThe Leftovers Season 2 Regina King

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

  1. Danielle Brooks, “Orange is the New Black”
  2. Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones”
  3. Regina King, “The Leftovers” 
  4. Miranda Otto, “Homeland”
  5. Holly Taylor, “The Americans”
  6. Constance Zimmer, “UnREAL”
    Bonus Pick: Abigail Spencer, “Rectify”

Doesn’t it look kind of strange, seeing another person’s name next to “Orange is the New Black” in the supporting actress category? Well, even though you won’t have to get used to it, as Uzo Aduba remains a frontrunner in the category, the work of Danielle Brooks on “Orange” Season 3 is equally deserving of kudos. Same goes for Emilia Clarke, who may face tough competition from fellow “Game of Thrones” star Lena Headey this year, but absolutely owned Season 6. Regina King and Miranda Otto, meanwhile, slipped into established series and stole both shows, dominating the screen on “The Leftovers” and “Homeland,” respectively. Holly Taylor and Abigail Spencer topped the high bars set by themselves in previous seasons of “The Americans” and “Rectify,” while Constance Zimmer established “UnREAL” as must-see TV with her performance alone.

Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Indiewire Interviews:

Miranda Otto on Digging Into the Juiciest Women’s Role on Television
Constance Zimmer Is Not a Bitch, But She Doesn’t Think It’s a Dirty Word

The Path Aaron Paul & Hugh Dancy
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

  1. Hugh Dancy, “The Path”
  2. Christopher Eccleston, “The Leftovers”
  3. Rupert Friend, “Homeland”
  4. Andre Holland, “The Knick”
  5. Michael McKean, “Better Call Saul”
  6. Christian Slater, “Mr. Robot”
    Bonus Pick: Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”

OK, OK. You caught us. On our ideal Emmys ballot, “The Leftovers” would snag a nod in every category — hell, it would win most of ’em. But admitting as much doesn’t take anything away from these other top-tier contenders. Hugh Dancy would fit right in on the HBO series, as an impossibly magnetic — and insane — cult leader (who, officially, was submitted as a lead actor for reasons we don’t understand), while Rupert Friend might be the only man who could stop him as a tenacious CIA agent on “Homeland.” Andre Holland could patch up any damages, but, moving away from “Leftovers”-land, Holland has been stealing scenes since Episode 1 of “The Knick.” He’s overdue, as is Michael McKean, who stole the spotlight from last year’s supporting star Jonathan Banks — meaning he obviously put forth one helluva performance. Still, it’s Peter Dinklage (from that other HBO show) who stands the best chance of actually getting nominated, and his sincere year on “Game of Thrones” makes him more than worthy.

Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Indiewire Interviews:

Christopher Eccleston Has Faith in Season 2, and in Damon Lindelof
Christian Slater on Season 2 and Why He Can’t Lie About The Show’s Secrets

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