Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Getty Images)
The Emmys, television’s slightly-less-glitzy answer to the Oscars, are this Sunday, and we have some relatively uneducated guesses as to which of the nominees will bring home an oddly spiky statuette.
Best Actress in a Comedy nominees
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
This overstuffed category–seven nominees!–excluded two of last year’s nominees as well as the acclaimed and Golden Globe-winning Laura Dern performance on Enlightened, so each person here has a passionate base of support. Even so, it’s not hard to believe that Edie Falco and Tina Fey have already been rewarded amply, and Melissa McCarthy’s moment of big-screen fame after Bridesmaids contributed more to her win last year than any great love for Mike & Molly. That leaves four! Zooey Deschanel’s New Girl performance seems too controversial to gain broad support here, while Lena Dunham will get her reward elsewhere, in the writing category. Amy Poehler’s Parks and Recreation simply doesn’t seem as popular among Emmy voters–it failed to get a Best Comedy nomination–and Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won twice, for two different series. They like her any way they can get her, and she’ll win for being the star of a buzz-y, popular show.
Best Actor in a Comedy nominees
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Louis C.K., Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
The last four years have seen only two men win in this category–Alec Baldwin and Jim Parsons. It’s between those two. With the explosive popularity of The Big Bang Theory one of the biggest stories of the TV season, and 30 Rock winding down, there’s no one standing in Jim Parsons’s way.
Best Actress in a Drama nominees
Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law
Glenn Close, Damages
Claire Danes, Homeland
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
With Claire Danes’s performance on the Showtime series so uniquely acclaimed for its balance of devotion and madness, this is the least close race of the night.
Best Actor in a Drama nominees
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Damian Lewis, Homeland
Emmy voters tend to carve out a comfortable groove, and three-time winner Bryan Cranston would be the likeliest pick here–had he not been ineligible last year, breaking the habit. Now it seems wide open, and given that not a single actor from Mad Men has never won–and voters will want to throw it support somewhere given that its Best Drama win is far from assured–Jon Hamm could end up the lucky new winner.
Best Miniseries or Movie nominees
American Horror Story (FX)
Game Change (HBO)
Hatfields & McCoys (History)
Hemingway & Gellhorn (HBO)
Luther (BBC America)
Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (PBS)
The Sarah Palin drama from HBO feels more prestigious, more eminently award-able, than the two other contenders in this category, FX’s attention-getting, but trashy, American Horror Story, and History’s downmarket, popular Hatfields & McCoys.
Best Reality-Competition Series nominees
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)
The CBS travel series has won this award every year but one in the category’s existence–why change it up now? (The same goes for Best Variety, Music, or Comedy series, where Jon Stewart’s Daily Show has an unbroken streak leading back to the early 2000s.)
Best Comedy Series nominees
30 Rock (NBC)
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Modern Family (ABC)
30 Rock won this award for its first three seasons; Modern Family followed with wins for its first two. A third trophy makes sense–three years is about enough time for the bloom of youth to go off a show, and aside from The Big Bang Theory, the programming here isn’t quite as appealing to a mass audience. Modern Family may not win again after this year, but it looks hard to stop right now.
Best Drama Series nominees
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Breaking Bad (AMC)
Downton Abbey (PBS)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
Mad Men (AMC)
Mad Men, on the other hand, has won this trophy four consecutive times–no drama has ever made it to five. And the heat seems a bit off Mad Men, at least relatively, with a field of many shows even more water-cooler-y (and Boardwalk Empire). We’re calling this one for the expensive, surprisingly popular genre series Game of Thrones, which has made TV safe for fantasy.