Will Win: “Stranger Things”
With seemingly never-ending buzz, a strong showing at the Creative Arts Emmys (including a critical win for casting), and a few big awards already under its belt, “Stranger Things” looks to be the consensus favorite in a category that could plausibly crown just about any nominee. The only strike against “Stranger Things”: genre. Is this eight-episode horror-thriller really what the Academy wants to elevate as the best of television?
Could Win: “The Handmaid’s Tale”
The prestige pick, the critics’ pick, and the most pertinent story for our times, Hulu’s breakthrough drama series is neck-and-neck with “Stranger Things” for the top spot. That Hulu has never had a contender at this level is a bit disconcerting, as are the unknown viewership numbers, but “Handmaid’s” has a head of steam going into Sunday. It could pull off the upset.
Should Win: “The Handmaid’s Tale”
See above. This is a great show.
Will Win: “Veep”
In another tight race, don’t bet against HBO. “Veep” has won two years in a row; it features a stellar, beloved cast; it’s topical, surprising TV; and it’s a legitimately great show. Barring a steep drop-off in Season 7 — which was announced to be the last after Emmy voting closed — “Veep” should hold onto this title until it leaves office.
Could Win: “Atlanta”
Those who love “Atlanta” love “Atlanta,” making the critically hailed FX comedy a serious threat to take the crown from “Veep.” Donald Glover & Co. created an utterly unique half-hour series that captured the country in an authentic manner. If it wins, no one will be that mad (and many will be very happy).
Should Win: “Veep”
Viewers may dislike repeat winners, but if you’re going to come for the queen, you best not miss — and all these nominees are near=misses compared to “Veep.” Episode-for-episode, it’s the smartest, funniest, most finely produced comedy on TV, and it doesn’t hurt that its cast is utterly flawless. It deserves its third win in a row.
Will Win: “Big Little Lies”
The biggest lock of the night comes in a race that in any other year would be going to the expected No. 2 — or the network’s other nominee. But HBO’s women-led limited series caught the world by storm when it dropped in early 2017, and time has not dampened the affinity for this engrossing mystery.
Could Win: “Feud: Bette & Joan”
Don’t count out how much Hollywood likes admiring itself, but Ryan Murphy’s new FX series didn’t gain comparative steam outside of the industry. It would need to steal a significant number of old Hollywood voters to pull off the upset here.
Should Win: “Big Little Lies”
Let Nicole Kidman never be “forgotten” again.
Will Win: “Black Mirror: San Junipero”
Netflix’s savvy move to split up its limited series into individual TV movies and submit them as such paid off already. “San Junipero” netted two nods (here and for writing), and “Nosedive” snagged one more. But now that it’s in, only two things are holding it back from a win: 1. The power of HBO at the Emmys, and 2. voters who might be willing to let it among the nominees, but not crown a non-TV movie best TV movie. We’re betting in a weak year for the category, the Academy will look past such quibbles.
Could Win: “The Wizard of Lies”
Robert De Niro. HBO. Biopic. These ingredients create catnip for awards voters, but “The Wizard of Lies” didn’t generate a ton of buzz upon its release. If voters saw it, perhaps it can pull the upset.
Should Win: “The Wizard of Lies”
OK, “San Junipero” is certainly more exciting, but we’ve got a soft spot for this overlooked HBO drama. It’s got more heft than it feels like on first viewing.
Drama Series – Lead Actor
Will Win: Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
Brown won for “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” last year, and viewers aren’t any less impressed with his turn in breakout broadcast drama “This Is Us.” He may suffer a bit from vote splitting with co-star Milo Ventimiglia, but Brown is the favorite. He’s got a helluva story, a bright future in the business, and he campaigned pretty hard this year.
Could Win: Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
Odenkirk is always waiting in the wings with “Better Call Saul.” For the past three years, he’s been a presumed runner-up or dark horse contender thanks to an outstanding turn, obvious versatility, and his beloved character. Is this the year he breaks through? Perhaps, but there’s no obvious reason this year is any different than the past two.
Should Win: Matthew Rhys, “The Americans”
Rhys and “Americans” co-star Keri Russell both became surprise nominees in 2016, and even though their show dropped out of the Drama Series nominees in 2017, these two held strong — and rightfully so. Rhys’ turn is only getting more and more gut-wrenching as Phillip Jennings, a Russian spy with a guilty conscience, becomes more and more aware of the risks facing his family. He had an amazing season and deserves to be rewarded for it.