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Emmys 2017: The Locks, Spoilers, and Most Deserving Winners in the Wildest Gold Rush in Years

The Emmys are more unpredictable than ever. Here's how the 2017 race is shaping up.

Stranger Things

Courtesy Netflix

Drama Series – Lead Actress

Will Win: Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Moss’ Emmy history is nothing but losses. She went 0-6 on “Mad Men” and 0-1 for “Top of the Lake.” Technically, she could still win for the latter (next year), but we think she’ll get an award before then. Her turn in “The Handmaid’s Tale” is nothing short of jaw-dropping. It’s precise without losing its emotional power, and Moss carries the weight of an entire gender on her back throughout the weighty 10 episodes. She’s got this.

Could Win: Claire Foy, “The Crown”

If “The Crown” emerges as the Emmys force many expected prior to the nominations, Foy could be a spoiler here. The prestige Netflix drama earned a fair share of nominations, but some thought it would be leading the race, not trailing fellow streaming series like “Stranger Things.” It’s unlikely anyone stops Moss, but there is quite a bit of passion out there for this period drama.

Should Win: Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

There’s a case to be made for Keri Russell and Evan Rachel Wood here, but it’s hard to deny Moss as the deserving victor given her unjust winless streak, plus her powerful performance straight out of the gate. Give her the gold.

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Donald Glover, "Atlanta"

Comedy Series – Lead Actor

Will Win: Donald Glover, “Atlanta”

Glover, the creator, writer, director, and star of “Atlanta,” should benefit in this category from being a multi-hyphenate. Yes, he’s up for directing and writing honors as well, but just as voters tend to favor showrunners and creators in those categories, they like do-it-all stars in the acting categories. Combine that with the heat behind the series and Glover should be able to unseat the reigning champ.

Could Win: Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”

Speaking of the reigning champ, what about Jeffrey Tambor? He won his first two Emmys (after six prior nods) for “Transparent,” and his performance certainly didn’t dip in Season 3. That being said, the series dropped a bit out of favor with the Academy, with “Atlanta” bumping it out of the Comedy Series category. That indicates a downturn for Amazon’s landmark original, and it could mean bad news for Tambor.

Should Win: Zach Galifianakis, “Baskets”

If anyone is going to be rewarded for the twins trend on TV, it should be Galifianakis. Not only did “Baskets” improve in Season 2, but so did the star’s performances as Chip and Dale, two polar opposite brothers who were better defined than ever by Galifianakis’ pitch perfect turns.

Veep - Be Mad! Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Comedy Series – Lead Actress

Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”

Let the queen reign (and see the above explanation for “Veep’s” expected victory).

Could Win: Tracee Ellis Ross, “Black-ish”

Over the five glorious years of Louis-Dreyfus’ reign, many contenders have stepped to the queen. All have failed, including Ross, who came up short last year. But that was last year. “Black-ish” has gained some steam since then, and the Emmy campaign backing the cast and series has been ample, to say the least. This could be the year Louis-Dreyfus steps down (especially since there’s a good case for Pamela Adlon, as well).

Should Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”

Shut up, she deserves it. No one on television has ever delivered such a viciously scrupulous comedic performance, incorporating tight blocking, quick turns, and rapidly fluctuating emotional swings into one very believable character. Louis-Dreyfus can have all the awards she wants because she deserves them.

Riz Ahmed in "The Night Of"

Limited Series – Lead Actor

Will Win: Riz Ahmed, “The Night Of”

If not for “Big Little Lies,” “The Night Of” might be the favorite in even more categories. But given the lack of “Lies” ladies here, we’re thinking the Academy will make room to honor the second buzziest limited series of last season by giving its central performance the gold. Ahmed’s transformation was haunting, and it’s turned him into a star. His series may have aired over a year ago, but it’s doubtful anyone forgot what he accomplished.

Could Win: Robert De Niro, “The Wizard of Lies”

If movie stars still ruled television, De Niro would be a lock here, but the Academy doesn’t always go with the big screen veterans. That De Niro’s performance was one of his best in recent memory helps, though we’re worried not enough people watched it — especially when compared to “The Night Of.”

Should Win: Ewan McGregor, “Fargo”

OK, maybe we’re just suckers for dual performances, but both of McGregor’s turns were award-worthy in the third season of “Fargo.” Such humanity; such heart; such open-eyed confidence and grin-and-bear-it insecurity. Some may have their issues with his accent, but all we heard was two broken-hearted brothers.

Big Little Lies - Running gif

Limited Series – Lead Actress

Will Win: Nicole Kidman, “Big Little Lies”

Nicole Kidman never went anywhere. She’s been delivering outstanding work, year in and year out, and it’s your fault if you missed out on gems like “The Paperboy” or “The Family Fang.” Luckily, everyone saw “Big Little Lies,” and now everyone is talking about Kidman. She should be a lock here, barring an upset from one consistently liked Emmy darling.

Could Win: Jessica Lange, “Feud: Bette & Joan”

A two-time Oscar winner, five-time Golden Globe winner, and three-time Emmy victor, Lange is playing Oscar and Golden Globe winner Joan Crawford. So it’s only fitting that she delivered an award-worthy turn. It’s just that… Nicole Kidman. She’s so good. Can Lange really top her?

Should Win: Carrie Coon, “Fargo”

Rather than explain for the 1,000th time why Carrie Coon’s “Fargo” performance was outstanding — and far more challenging than even she gives herself credit for — let’s just say this: Anyone close enough to New York to pop into Manhattan for a play, don’t miss “Mary Jane” at the New York Theatre Workshop. Coon stars as the titular MJ, a mother caring for a sick child with an upbeat, can-do attitude that’s repeatedly challenged over the course of the 100-minute play. The way she relegates the ever-burning flame within Mary is something to behold, and an excellent illustration of her subdued turn in “Fargo”: As Gloria Burgle, she’s frozen until the ice cracks. But the fire always finds its way out, and Coon knows just how to keep it lit.

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