Hi there! Welcome to the first in a two-part post about this year’s Emmy nomination, which are set to be announced by Nick Offerman and Kerry Washington on July 19. We’re coming off the back of an insanely good year in TV – Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Parks and Recreation, Community, Louie, Archer, Homeland, Game of Thrones…there are a LOT of amazing shows and actors around at the moment which makes something like the Emmys rather hard to predict. Emmy voters are a fickle bunch. They can alternately be painfully conservative in their choices, or surprisingly forward-thinking. Now, I’ll admit right now that I’m not as up-to-date on the dramatic shows as I am on comedies, so where some of my predictions are coming from a place of my own knowledge, in other cases I am gauging them based on the opinions of other critics. So here goes!
Outstanding Drama Series (preferred winner italicised, otherwise in the order of likelihood to win)
Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Homeland, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire
I only watch four of these six shows – neither Downton Abbey nor Boardwalk Empire are really my thing – and I’m not up to season 5 of Mad Men (just yet, I’m halfway through season 4 and watching rapidly), but I’m pretty confident about these six nominees. There is a slight possibility that Dexter will be nominated again solely because the voters feel obligated, but by all critical accounts Dexter is just being edged out of the nomination field after an uneven sixth season. Mad Men has won four times in a row, and as much as I want Breaking Bad to win – its 4th season was one of the best ever, in my opinion – I think Mad Men will continue its streak. But here’s hoping Breaking Bad scores at least one win for being one of the best TV dramas ever made.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Bryan Cranston, Jon Hamm, Steve Buscemi, Kelsey Grammer, Hugh Laurie, Damian Lewis
Bryan Cranston is the one to beat here, although I feel bad for Jon Hamm. He truly is brilliant as Don Draper, and he was absolutely robbed last year, no matter how happy I was for Kyle Chandler. However, this feels like the inverse of the Drama Series category, where Cranston will dominate and Hamm hopefully scrapes an award by the time the shows ends. Cranston is lucky in this category because he is such an anchor for the show, whereas Mad Men often gives way to supporting characters like Peggy, Pete, and Joan. Breaking Bad has a laser focus on the life of Walter White, and Cranston’s performance is one of the absolute best, and he has the advantage of being given material with far more gravity than Hamm. Not 100% sure that Damian Lewis will scrape into a nomination, but I think he truly deserves it, as anyone who has watched Homeland will attest.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes, Elisabeth Moss, Julianna Margulies, Elizabeth McGovern, Glenn Close, Mariska Hargitay
Claire Danes will win this award. That is honestly without dispute. Her performance in Homeland is often-times literally breath-taking, and she deserves this award. I feel somewhat conflicted, however, because I want Elisabeth Moss to win SOMETHING for playing Peggy Olsen. Having recently watched ‘The Suitcase’, I realise now that she absolutely should have won last year. Peggy is my favourite Mad Men character and Moss kills it in the role, but by all accounts her role in Season 5 was muted by comparison and she would be more at home in the Supporting category, where she could or would very likely win. The last three here I’m not 100% on, especially Close and Hargitay. But those two slots are up in the air, with Mireille Enos, Emmy Rossum, Jessica Pare and other all in contention in varying degrees. I don’t believe for a second that Hargitay deserves a nomination here – not that she is a poor actress – but I think she’ll managed to get nominated again out of regularity. Glenn Close will be nominated because Glenn Close.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Giancarlo Esposito, Peter Dinklage, Aaron Paul, John Slattery, Mandy Patinkin, Alan Cumming
This is one of the most stacked categories this year, with a serious embarrassment of riches in terms of great performances. I’m predicting a bit of an upset, solely because I can’t imagine anyone watching a Giancarlo Esposito submission episode and not vote for him. Gus Fring is one of the greatest villains in history, and yet he was somehow a villain you rooted for in small measures. Aaron Paul is brilliant in the same show, and Peter Dinklage is the returning winner and coming off a season in which he was at the forefront, but by comparison Dinklage just doesn’t have the material to best Esposito in my eyes. Slattery and Patinkin are welcome additions – depending on Homeland’s second season, watch for Patinkin as a possible favourite next year – and Cumming, while a great actor, will likely scrape in though there are likely more deserving nominees, like John Noble, Joel Kinnaman, Johnathon Banks, and so on.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Maggie Smith, Christina Hendricks, Kelly MacDonald, Christine Baranski, Archie Panjabi, Anna Gunn
Look, I love Maggie Smith to death. And from what I’ve seen of her on Downton Abbey, she’s great. But it’s not award-great. She can play an arch bitch with aplomb, but it’s such a nothing role for her, and this is a drama actress award. Which is why I’d give it to Christina Hendricks, even though I don’t think she quite has a chance against Smith who is an awards juggernaut in almost every capacity. Hendricks has done some insanely heavy lifting over the seasons on Mad Men and I strongly feel she deserves recognition, and this seems like the best year for her to do it. It’s close, but Dame Maggie will likely prevail, but I would be equally unsurprised for Hendricks to snap up her first Emmy. The rest of the field I don’t really care about because they are all on shows I barely watch, except Anna Gunn, who I think is seriously underrated as Skyler White. She cops it a lot from Breaking Bad viewers because the character is not terribly likeable, but Gunn does an excellent job with the role she has.
Game Change, American Horror Story, Hemingway and Gellhorn, Sherlock, Hatfields and McCoys, The Hour
No personal prediction from me here because I don’t care, but what used to be (and I wish still was) Downton Abbey’s category is now wide open, and I daresay Game Change will take it.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Movie/Miniseries
Clive Owen, Idris Elba, Woody Harrelson, Bill Nighy, Benedict Cumberbatch
Again, I don’t really care, but I’ll go with Idris Elba because he’s great in everything and this Emmys is turning out to be a depressingly white affair.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Movie/Miniseries
Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Emily Watson, Connie Britton, Rachel Weisz
The other four don’t matter, JuMo has this hands down.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries
Ed Harris, David Strathairn, Martin Freeman, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes
Another bland category, but Harris will likely ride the Game Change wave.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Movie/Miniseries
Jessica Lange, Judy Davis, Sarah Paulson, Gillian Anderson, Frances Conroy
I’m extremely glad that American Horror Story has been submitted as a miniseries, even though that’s a bit of a dubious classification, because I don’t like the idea of Lange, who somehow won the Golden Globe and SAG, detracting from the chances of more deserving winners. Because while I love Jessica Lange, American Horror Story was a big, but entertaining, piece of shit.
Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
I’m not making any real prediction here, I just need to say that any show that isn’t RuPaul’s Drag Race is heinously undeserving.
Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program
Ditto above, but for RuPaul. It’ll probably be Jeff Probst again, which, ugh.
There we have that! My Comedy/Animated/Variety picks will be up in the next day or two. When the nominations are announced I’ll come back and see how I went!