Jim Parsons from "The Big Bang Theory" has walked away with the lead actor prize in this categoy for the past two years, and Alec Baldwin won for "30 Rock" twice in a row before that. Both have been nominated again this year, and while we'd love to see Louis C.K. get recognition for his funny, vulnerable turn as a heightened version of himself in "Louie," we're giving the edge to Parsons again for the most distinctive performance in a show that's a crowd favorite. The supporting actor category is dominated by "Modern Family," with four nominees out of the six coming from ABC's sitcom. But the fact that two different cast members from the show have nabbed the prize the past two years signals the show's lock on the category isn't airtight -- we're going with Max Greenfield's scene-stealing turn as Schmidt on "New Girl," our personal preference also, for the win this time.
"Modern Family" has won the Emmy for writing the past two years, but doesn't have a horse in the race this year, leaving the field open. We're going to give both our pick and prediction to Chris McKenna for his "Community" episode "Remedial Chaos Theory," which uses a wonderfully nerdy alternate universes structure to explore the group's dynamics on an utterly mundane evening. And as for outstanding series, there's no reason to believe "Modern Family" won't win for the third year in a row -- but while the past year's arc wasn't our favorite, we'd love to see "Curb Your Enthusiasm" pick up the prize, since who knows if or when Larry David will bring the show back for another season.
Due to when the last season of "Damages" aired, two-time winner Glenn Close has still got another year to be nominated for lead actress, so we're going to go wild on our prediction here and go with Michelle Dockery for "Downton Abbey" -- the adored period drama is nominated for several categories this year, but this seems one in which it has a particularly good chance. Our pick, however, is Claire Danes for her dedicated, unhinged CIA agent Carrie Mathison on "Homeland." Both 2010 winner Archie Panjabi and her "Good Wife" colleague Christine Baranski are up for supporting actress again, but this feels like it's finally Christina Hendricks' year, especially after what Joan went through on this past season of "Mad Men." She's our own pick, too.
There are some damn charismatic gentlemen up for the award in this lead actor category this year, with Brits Benedict Cumberbatch ("Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia"), Idris Elba ("Luther") and Clive Owen ("Hemingway & Gellhorn") all nominated. But the mammoth success of "Hatfields & McCoys" demands a reckoning, and while Cumberbatch would be our pick, of History's two contenders in this category, Kevin Costner's turn as Devil Anse Hatfield looks likely to be the winner. While Tom Berenger's role in the feuding miniseries is nominated for supporting actor, we're betting that "Sherlock" might actually sneak out a win in the category for Martin Freeman's turn as Dr. John Watson, our pick as well.
Julian Fellowes took the writing award last year for "Downton Abbey," but with the series reclassified as a drama, this category seems set to go to either actor-turned-writer Danny Strong for "Game Change" or Steven Moffat for "Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia." We like Moffat, but will give the edge in terms of prediction to Strong, whose HBO movie clearly struck a nerve. "Hatfields & McCoys" feels like a sure bet for the outstanding miniseries or movie prize, given that it's both critically respected and was a record-breaking ratings event -- but our favorite in the category is once again "Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia."