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Emmy Predictions: Who Will, Should, and Could Win

Emmy Predictions: Who Will, Should, and Could Win

Outstanding Comedy Series
Is this the year “Modern Family” is finally, mercifully dethroned? After five consecutive wins, it wouldn’t be prudent to count out the shopworn sitcom, nor are sentimental favorite “Parks and Recreation” and pioneering critics’ darling “Transparent” without passionate supporters. Still, with the current campaign for president proving that HBO’s acidly funny political satire is closer to social realism than we might want to admit, it’s “Veep” that seems primed to play spoiler, removing the broadcast networks’ last toehold in the series categories in the process.

“Louie” (FX)
“Modern Family” (ABC)
“Parks and Recreation” (NBC)
“Silicon Valley” (HB0)
“Transparent” (Amazon)
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)
“Veep” (HBO)

Will will: “Veep”
Should win: “Transparent”
Could win: “Modern Family”

Outstanding Drama Series
With “Breaking Bad” (AMC) long since finished, one hopes Emmy voters will send off Matthew Weiner’s extraordinary “Mad Men” with the valediction it deserves, but I’ll admit this category ties a knot in my stomach. The unorthodox rhythms of the AMC’s drama’s bifurcated final season may scare away the traditionalists, leaving newcomer (and “Breaking Bad” spinoff)  “Better Call Saul” and the resurgent “Homeland” to duke it out with “Game of Thrones”—despite a frustrating, controversial season, a field without a surefire favorite means HBO’s fantasy epic has a real shot at the title. 

“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“Downton Abbey” (PBS)
“Game of Thrones” (HBO)
“Homeland” (Showtime)
“House of Cards” (Netflix)
“Mad Men” (AMC)
“Orange Is the New Black” (Netflix)

Will win: “Mad Men”
Should win: “Mad Men”
Could win: “Game of Thrones”

Outstanding Limited Series
By contrast, this category has a clear frontrunner: “Olive Kitteridge.” The only hurdles for HBO’s acclaimed adaptation of Elizabeth Strout’s novel are its relative distance—it aired nearly a year ago—and the TV Academy’s taste for well-appointed period fare, which gives the excellent “Wolf Hall” an outside chance. By my reckoning, it’s the fierce, bleak intelligence of “The Honorable Woman” that deserves the top spot, but this is no more than a pipe dream.

“American Crime” (ABC)
“American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
“The Honorable Woman” (SundanceTV)
“Olive Kitteridge” (HBO)
“Wolf Hall” (PBS)

Will win: “Olive Kitteridge”
Should win: “The Honorable Woman”
Could win: “Wolf Hall”

Outstanding Variety Talk Series
The real difficulty here is determining where voters’ sympathies lie. Three of the nominees—”The Colbert Report,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and “The Late Show with David Letterman”—bid adieu in the past year, and it’s in the departing half of the category that you’ll likely find the winner. (No surprise, really: those three series have won the Emmy every year since 1997.) Stewart’s the most recent to end his run, Colbert’s won two years running, and Letterman’s longevity gives me pause. It’s a toss-up, so I’ll take a wild stab at Stewart and start waiting for next year’s wide-open field, when the brilliant “Last Week Tonight” has a real chance to receive the recognition it so richly deserves.

“The Colbert Report” (Comedy Central)
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” (Comedy Central)
“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (ABC)
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)
“The Late Show with David Letterman” (CBS)
“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” (NBC)

Will win: “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”
Should win: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
Could win: “The Colbert Report” / “The Late Show with David Letterman”

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
Due respect to “Key & Peele,” home to some of TV’s most reliably excellent running gags—”Obama’s Anger Translator,” “Substitute Teacher”—this is Schumer’s year. Through spring and into summer, Schumer emerged as an agent provocateur for women in Hollywood, testing boundaries of taste and, yes, political correctness as “Inside Amy Schumer” became must-see cultural commentary. (“12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” was then, and remains, the finest episode of television to air this year.) In an awfully strong category, “Inside Amy Schumer” is still head and shoulders above the rest.

“Drunk History” (Comedy Central)
“Inside Amy Schumer” (Comedy Central)
“Key & Peele” (Comedy Central)
“Portlandia” (IFC)
“Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

Will win: “Inside Amy Schumer”
Should win: “Inside Amy Schumer”
Could win: “Key & Peele”

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
I don’t see any particular reason why “The Amazing Race,” which has won the Emmy in this category 10 of the 12 times it’s been awarded, shouldn’t continue it’s winning ways this year. The two previous upsets? Fellow nominees “The Voice” and the still-delicious “Top Chef.”

“The Amazing Race” (CBS)
“Dancing with the Stars” (ABC)
“Project Runway” (Lifetime)
“So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox)
“Top Chef” (Bravo)
“The Voice” (NBC)

Will win: “The Amazing Race”
Should win: “Top Chef”
Could win: “The Voice”

Outstanding Lead Actress (Comedy)
It seems inevitable that Julia Louis-Dreyfus will win her fourth straight Emmy for the role of now-President Selina Meyer (and her sixth overall, from an astounding 20 nominations), and it’s hard to fault the TV Academy for sticking with what works. If voters are feeling frisky, there are plenty of options—Amy Schumer, for the breakout season of her Comedy Central sketch show; Lily Tomlin, in the midst of a late-career boomlet; Amy Poehler, for her final bow as beloved do-gooder Leslie Knope. Nine years after inaugurating the role of Valerie Cherish, however, it’s Kudrow’s desperate, painfully funny, and ultimately moving turn that seems likeliest to last: it is, after all, the comic performance of the past decade. 

Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie” (Netflix)
Amy Schumer, “Inside Amy Schumer” (Comedy Central)
Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie” (Showtime)
Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation” (NBC)
Lisa Kudrow, “The Comeback” (HBO)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep” (HBO)

Will win: Louis-Dreyfus
Should win: Kudrow
Could win: Poehler

Outstanding Lead Actor (Comedy)
Despite the strength of “Louie” this season, and popular debuts from Forte and Anderson, this category is Tambor’s to lose. As trans woman Maura Pfefferman, Tambor seamlessly shifts from Maura’s self-actualization to the challenges of coming out to her three adult children—the ballast holding the many threads of Jill Soloway’s warm, humane family dramedy together.  

Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish” (ABC)
Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes” (Showtime)
Don Cheadle, “House of Lies” (Showtime)
Louis C.K., “Louie” (FX)
William H. Macy, “Shameless” (Showtime)
Will Forte, “The Last Man on Earth” (FOX)
Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent” (Amazon)

Will win: Tambor
Should win: Tambor
Could win: Forte

Outstanding Supporting Actress (Comedy)
With eight (!) nominees, a certain amount of pedigree may come in handy, which is why I give defending champion Janney the edge here, with two-time winner Julie Bowen leading the chase behind her. Watch Amy’s meltdown on “Veep,” however, and the competition evaporates: capturing the insanity politics engenders in the formerly sane, Chlumsky conveys the central thrust of the series in 90 note-perfect seconds. She’s equally brilliant throughout the season, but if they awarded Emmys for individual scenes, Chlumsky would win in a walk.

Niecy Nash, “Getting On” (HBO)
Julie Bowen, “Modern Family” (ABC)
Allison Janney, “Mom” (CBS)
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
Gaby Hoffman, “Transparent” (Amazon)
Jane Krakowski, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)
Anna Chlumsky, “Veep” (HBO)

Will win: Janney
Should win: Chlumsky
Could win: Bowen

Outstanding Supporting Actor (Comedy)
While Burrell looks to consolidate the “Modern Family” vote for his third win in the category, I’m banking on a strong showing for “Veep” across the board—one that, along with the stunning climactic argument of “East Wing,” will carry Tony Hale to his second Emmy for the role of loyal bag man Gary Walsh. From “Peeno Noir” to his, uh, unorthodox version of the “national anthem,” however, it’s Burgess, as the winsome and totally hilarious Titus Andromedon, who counts as his series’ MVP. The great “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” just wouldn’t work without him.

Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (FOX)
Adam Driver, “Girls” (HBO)
Keegan-Michael Key, “Key & Peele” (Comedy Central)
Ty Burrell, “Modern Family” (ABC)
Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)
Tony Hale, “Veep” (HBO)

Will win: Hale
Should win: Burgess
Could win: Burrell

Outstanding Lead Actress (Drama)
Welcome to murderer’s row. This category is so competitive you could put together a remarkable list of nominees from the also-rans—Gillian Anderson, Lizzy Caplan, Vera Farmiga, Tea Leoni, Julianna Margulies, and Keri Russell, to name but six. Though Henson’s scene-stealing turn as Cookie Lyon remains in front, the relatively weak showing for “Empire” at nominations time suggests there’s plenty of room for Danes, Davis, or Wright to nab the trophy. Even Moss, whose secretary-turned-copy chief Peggy Olson is one of the finest creations to come out of this golden age of television, may have a shot if “Mad Men” shows strength, but I’m not willing to get my hopes up just yet. 

Claire Danes, “Homeland” (Showtime)
Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder” (ABC)
Taraji P. Henson, “Empire” (FOX)
Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black” (BBC America)
Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men” (AMC)
Robin Wright, “House of Cards” (Netflix)

Will win: Henson
Should win: Moss
Could win: Davis

Outstanding Lead Actor (Drama)
As suave, thoroughly damaged ad man Don Draper, Jon Hamm fully inhabited what must now be considered one of the most iconic roles in the history of television, and after seven previous nominations, it’s time he received his due. Odenkirk and Chandler both deserve praise for their performances, but to see Hamm lose an eighth consecutive time would be nothing short of a travesty. Fingers crossed.

Kyle Chandler, “Bloodline” (Netflix)
Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom” (HBO)
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men” (AMC)
Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
Liev Schrieber, “Ray Donovan” (Showtime)
Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards” (Netflix)

Will win: Hamm
Should win: Hamm
Could win: Odenkirk

Outstanding Supporting Actress (Drama)
Ok, fine, I’m in the bag for “Mad Men.” But in the course of eight years, Hendricks transformed the vivacious, slightly catty Joan Holloway into a woman in full—brought low by rape, sexism, and the ugly coercion of “The Other Woman,” yet resilient enough to reinvent herself again and again, as office manager, voting partner, independent businesswoman, feminist pioneer. After Cersei Lannister’s searing walk of shame, Headey leads the pack, and voters unwilling to award “Orange is the New Black” the Emmy for Best Drama may make amends here, but Hendricks, like Joan, demands to be taken seriously.  

Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey” (PBS)
Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men” (AMC)
Uzo Aduba, “Orange Is the New Black” (Netflix)
Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife” (CBS)

Will win: Headey
Should win: Hendricks
Could win: Aduba

Outstanding Supporting Actor (Drama)
Banks looks to channel the critical support for “Better Call Saul”—not to mention the TV Academy’s abundant love of “Breaking Bad”—into a win here, with former winner Dinklage providing the stiffest competition. Unfortunately, “Bloodline” probably landed too quietly this spring to carry Mendelsohn to what would be a well-deserved victory: his mercurial Danny Rayburn is one of the most slippery, compelling figures to come down the pike in quite some time.

Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
Ben Mendelsohn, “Bloodline” (Netflix)
Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey” (PBS)
Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”
Michael Kelly, “House of Cards” (Netflix)
Alan Cumming, “The Good Wife” (CBS)

Will win: Banks
Should win: Mendelsohn
Could win: Dinklage

Outstanding Lead Actress (Limited Series/TV Movie)
Despite impressive Emmy track records, Lange—for a weak season of “AHS”—and Huffman—for the little-watched “American Crime”—are unlikely to throw a wrench in McDormand’s path to the prize. It’s Gyllenhaal, though, as immaculate as her close-cropped hair, who transforms the raw materials into the headiest brew. With the arch of her back or strain of her voice, she manages to transform Anglo-Israeli businesswoman Nessa Stein from power broker to fragile figure and back again. (As expected, “Bessie” won the Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie at last week’s Creative Arts Emmys.)

Felicity Huffman, “American Crime” (ABC)
Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
Queen Latifah, “Bessie” (HBO)
Frances McDormand, “Olive Kitteridge” (HBO)
Emma Thompson, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Live from Lincoln Center)” (PBS)
Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Honorable Woman” (SundanceTV)

Will win: McDormand
Should win: Gyllenhaal
Could win: Huffman

Outstanding Lead Actor (Limited Series/TV Movie)
If “Olive Kitteridge” proves as popular with Emmy voters as I suspect it will, Jenkins should just edge out Oyelowo here—whatever sympathies may have accrued to the latter after his “Selma” snub may well be erased by the flaws of “Nightingale,” despite the actor’s bravura performance. Not entirely out of the running is Rylance, whose Thomas Cromwell registers as a Tudor Frank Underwood without the taste for theatrics, a man of humble beginnings, spotty past, and deceptively placid manner. Cromwell is the creation of an actor, in other words, who need not raise his voice to command your attention, and that’s a rare skill indeed.

Timothy Hutton, “American Crime” (ABC)
Ricky Gervais, “Derek Special” (Netflix)
Adrien Brody, “Houdini” (History)
David Oyelowo, “Nightingale” (HBO)
Richard Jenkins, “Olive Kitteridge” (HBO)
Mark Rylance, “Wolf Hall” (PBS)

Will win: Jenkins
Should win: Rylance
Could win: Oyelowo

Outstanding Supporting Actress (Limited Series/TV Movie)
I must admit I now regret titling my initial review “Might As Well Give Mo’Nique Her Emmy for HBO’s ‘Bessie’ Now,” not because she’s not deserving—her performance as Ma Rainey is, from head to toe, a magnetic, show-stopping turn—but because I fear I was sorely premature. When even the Broadcast Television Journalists Association cannot see that Mo’Nique’s superior to (the admittedly terrific) Paulson, I can’t say I have much hope that she’ll triumph with the TV Academy, unless Bates and Bassett siphon away a few “AHS” votes. This promises to be the biggest, least surprising snub of the night. 

Regina King, “American Crime” (ABC)
Sarah Paulson, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
Angela Bassett, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
Kathy Bates, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
Mo’Nique, “Bessie” (HBO)
Zoe Kazan, “Olive Kitteridge” (HBO)

Will win: Paulson
Should win: Mo’Nique
Could win: Bates

Outstanding Supporting Actor (Limited Series/TV Movie
Woof. Not much to root for in this category. Murray, the favorite—if only for the name recognition factor—is barely awake for his brief turn in “Olive Kitteridge,” this season of “AHS” was its worst to date, Williams’ role in “Bessie” is underwritten, and I can’t say Cabral made much of an impact on me in “American Crime.” I guess that leaves Lewis, who turns in a serviceable performance as Henry VIII, only to be utterly upstaged by Rylance and the snubbed Claire Foy (as Anne Boleyn) at every turn. When this category comes up, I suggest taking a break to fix a drink.  

Richard Cabral, “American Crime” (ABC)
Denis O’Hare, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
Finn Wittrock, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
Michael Kenneth Williams, “Bessie” (HBO)
Bill Murray, “Olive Kitteridge” (HBO)
Damian Lewis, “Wolf Hall” (PBS)

Will win: Murray
Should win: Lewis
Could win: Wittrock

The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards air Sunday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on FOX.

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