Here we are again. The biggest night in television is merely days away, where a whole host of actors and actresses descend upon the annual Emmy Awards to see whom has been deemed the strongest in their field, usually to the tune of a disgruntled audience disappointed that somebody more deserving didn’t win instead. It can be predictable and it can be frustrating sometimes, but it sure is all the fun. (Apart from when Maggie Smith wins again. That’s never fun.)
One of the most fun things to do around this time of year, besides basking in the glory that is the return of the Fall season and all the television that comes with it, is making a host of predictions about who will win and who will go home empty-handed and possibly inebriated. As such, I’ve compiled a list of my predictions for all of the major drama categories as well as semi-brief thoughts on why I think they will emerge victorious.
Also, you won’t see any of the comedy categories mentioned here. Unfortunately I do not watch or am familiar with many of the shows or actors nominated, so I wouldn’t feel satisfied sharing opinions on things I have no experience of. I know, I’m quite lacking in the comedy department, but I’m improving. I promise.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA
- Bryan Cranston (Walter White) – Breaking Bad
- Damian Lewis (Nicholas Brody) – Homeland
- Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley) – Downton Abbey
- Kevin Spacey (Frank Underwood) – House of Cards
- Jon Hamm (Don Draper) – Mad Men
- Jeff Daniels (Will McAvoy) – The Newsroom
Prediction: Damian Lewis
Preferred winner: Bryan Cranston
Lewis’ win last year was a deserved but unexpected surprise due to Cranston’s phenomenal work in Breaking Bad. But will he repeat it again this year? It’s very possible, and I would certainly predict his victory, but both contenders have exemplary submissions under their belt that make the choice hard to really nail down. But ultimately I believe Lewis’ “Q&A” will prove to be the deciding factor in getting the actor his second Emmy win.
There is, of course, the possibility of Kevin Spacey causing an upset this year. Homeland‘s triple victory at last year’s Emmys was evidence of how favorable the voters were towards the new show on the block, and they may be again, but House of Cards also has a presence in three of the main categories and may just prove to be this year’s Homeland. Predicting the level of success House of Cards may enjoy come Sunday is difficult, but I wouldn’t be surprised if cleaned up at the weekend. Spacey is a strong actor playing a role in a show that has some degree of buzz surrounding it–buzz that may be enough to tip the scales in his favor.
As for the other nominees in this category, I don’t believe any of them have a chance of catching up to the Cranston/Lewis/Spacey combo: Jon Hamm’s chance came and went a long time ago; Hugh Bonneville is a strange nomination whose name is only up there because of the Academy’s infatuation with Downton Abbey, therefore occupying a spot somebody else deserves to be in; and Jeff Daniels is a good enough actor but has no chance of winning his first Emmy against the rest of the competition.
Nevertheless, it’s hard to decide who the voters will opt for out of the three previously mentioned, as all have something working in their favor, but if I were to splash down a couple rolls of money as a bet, it would be for Damian Lewis.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
- Claire Danes (Carrie Matheson) – Homeland
- Connie Britton (Rayna James) – Nashville
- Michelle Dockery (Mary Crawley) – Downton Abbey
- Vera Farmiga (Norma Bates) – Bates Motel
- Elisabeth Moss (Peggy Olson) – Mad Men
- Kerry Washington (Olivia Pope) – Scandal
- Robin Wright (Claire Underwood) – House of Cards
Prediction: Claire Danes
Preferred winner: Kerry Washington
There are a lot of incredible actresses nominated in this year’s Lead Actress category, from established talent to new faces on the block. It’s a strong category and one with fierce competition. But it doesn’t really matter because there’s only one person I could foresee taking home this award and that’s Claire Danes.
Danes, like co-star Damian Lewis, has submitted “Q&A” as her Emmy submission and its not difficult to see why. Both actors put in mesmerising and absolutely show-stopping performances that are more than enough to earn them their second round of Emmy victories. Critics love Claire Danes. The Academy loves Claire Danes. I love Claire Danes. And I’d be highly surprised if her name isn’t called out on Sunday evening as a token of all that love.
That being said, however, her strongest and most formidable competition (even though both are still several miles behind) comes from Kerry Washington and Robin Wright. Washington’s nomination comes off the back of an acclaimed and frankly brilliant second season of Scandal, while Wright, as with Kevin Spacey, has the potential to be this year’s Claire Danes. Slim potential, but still.
I would love to see Washington win on Sunday (but definitely not Wright, despite the fact she’s a capable actress), but I simply don’t see it happening. “Happy Birthday, Mr President” is a strong episode for her to submit, but it’s not strong enough to usurp Danes’. But I’m just glad to see her actually be nominated and recognised for the magnificent work she constantly puts in on Scandal.
In the rest of the category, I see absolutely no competition anywhere: Connie Britton is an exceptional actress but if she couldn’t win for Friday Night Lights she’s never going to win for the lacklustre Nashville; Michelle Dockery is a good actress but, like Hugh Bonneville, is a nomination born out of stubborn refusal to accept that Downton Abbey isn’t as good as the Academy thinks it is; Elisabeth Moss should’ve won years ago, didn’t, and now never will; and I cannot judge Vera Farmiga’s chances as I have yet to watch Bates Motel.
But overall, this year, like the last, belongs to Claire Danes. She didn’t have competition last year, which she definitely does this time, but I doubt it’ll be enough to dethrone her.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
- Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman) – Breaking Bad
- Jonathan Banks (Mike Ehrmantraut) – Breaking Bad
- Jim Carter (Mr. Carson) – Downton Abbey
- Mandy Patinkin (Saul Berenson) – Homeland
- Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) – Game of Thrones
- Bobby Cannavale (Gyp Rosetti) – Boardwalk Empire
Prediction: Aaron Paul
Preferred winner: Aaron Paul
This is the supporting actor category. Aaron Paul is nominated in it. It goes without saying that he’s going to win the award once again, for the umpeenth year in a row. And why? Because he never ceases to be absolutely incredible as the always-doomed Jesse Pinkman in the always-exceptional Breaking Bad. There really is no other candidate in the running with half a chance at snatching away the award that already has his name written on it. None. But we’ll take a look at them anyway.
The two nominees that would perhaps hold the strongest chance at ruining Paul’s winning streak are Jonathan Banks and Mandy Patinkin. Banks, Paul’s Breaking Bad co-star (and now off on a trip to Belize), joins the Emmy roster for the first and last time for the show. But while he can be considered a viable candidate to win, I doubt he’ll have much fortune in that regard. He’s a strong actor and Mike was certainly a memorable character, but sadly I think a nomination is all that Banks is going to receive for his time on the show.
Patinkin, on the other hand, is something of an uncertainty. Paul is obviously a massive favorite of the Emmy voters, but they also love Homeland–and Patinkin’s increased screen-time in the show’s second season could work in his favor. Patinkin is no stranger to Emmys success, having won the lead actor category in 1995 for his role in Chicago Hope, but whether or not he can repeat that success for the first time in nearly twenty years is something I find myself unable to truly rule out, irrespective of the overwhelming odds.
Outside of Patinkin and Banks, however, there is no other competition to be had from anywhere else in the category. Bobby Cannavale is somebody whose talents I cannot judge due to me not having watched Boardwalk Empire and not intending to in the near future, but even so, I doubt he carries the gravitas to usurp Paul.
Elsewhere, Peter Dinklage has already won the category back in 2011, and while he continues to do a magnificent job on Game of Thrones, I fully believe his victory two years ago will likely be the only kind he experiences. (Also, his nomination should’ve gone to co-star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who provided much stronger performances in the show’s third season.)
And before I forget, there’s Jim Carter, but the less said about this absurd, pointless, and frankly bizarre nomination, the better. I can understand nominating Michelle Dockery. I can understand nominating Maggie Smith. I can even sort of understand the reasonings behind nominating Hugh Bonneville. But a character that’s superfluous and always in the corner of your eye? Absolutely not.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
- Anna Gunn (Skyler White) – Breaking Bad
- Maggie Smith (Violet Crawley) – Downton Abbey
- Christina Hendricks (Joan Harris) – Mad Men
- Christine Baranski (Diane Lockhart) – The Good Wife
- Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) – Game of Thrones
- Morena Baccarin (Jessica Brody) – Homeland
Prediction: Maggie Smith
Preferred winner: Anna Gunn
The supporting actress category is strong this year. Quite strong indeed. But it could’ve been better. We could’ve replaced Maggie Smith with Monica Potter. We could’ve stopped adding insult to injury by not nominating Christina Hendricks for an award she should’ve won last year and now never will. (Actually, the same can be said for the entire Mad Men cast at some point.) But we’re dealt the hand we’re given.
While I would love to say this category is unpredictable, that I couldn’t possibly guess who the voters would opt for, I cannot. We know the likelihood of Maggie Smith winning and failing to turn up once again is incredibly strong. We can try and convince ourselves that the clouds might part and the pattern will break, but deep down we probably know how delusional that is. It sucks, but that’s the Emmys for you.
This is one of those occasions where I firmly believe that all of the other nominees alongside Maggie Smith deserve to win more than her. It’s not that I dislike Smith or the character she plays (I actually love both), but Violet is nothing more than a vessel for the produce of the witty one-liner conveyer belt. She delivers her lines brilliantly, there’s no doubt about that, but in terms of actual character, Violet is severely lacking. Yet the Emmy voters wear glasses that have nothing but Smith imprinted on the lens, so she’s going to win again. Maybe that’ll change eventually, but this year isn’t it.
If there is anyone who could perform the miracle known as stealing Smith’s Emmy, it would be Anna Gunn. Gunn was nominated in last year’s awards but her presence in season four was nowhere near as compelling as that of season five, of which she is nominated for this year. For the last twelve months I have been stating, quite vehemently, that this award belongs to her, that nobody else deserves it more than she does. I stick by that. The likelihood of her winning is slim beyond description, but boy would I be overwhelmed with joy if she did.
Elsewhere, the two newbie nominees in the forms of Morena Baccarin and Emilia Clarke (I’m still surprised by her nomination even two months later) are interesting prospects, but again, not destined for victory. Baccarin had more to do in Homeland’s second season and she spent that time proving how good an actress she is, but her chances of winning are probably the lowest of the four Homeland actors nominated this year. And Clarke, despite me being thrilled at the fact she’s nominated, is just going to have to be satisfied with being having her name up there because there’s simply no way she’ll be able to beat the Smith machine. Not even with fire and blood.
Finally, Christina Hendricks and Christine Baranski have chances of victory so slim that we may as well just take their names out of the running right now. Hendricks’ best chance of winning was last year, and she should’ve become the first Mad Men actor to win an award, but she failed and her chance has now disappeared into thin air. As for Baranski, as fabulous as she is in The Good Wife, she has just as much chance of winning as Hendricks. But she’s the only one carrying the torch for The Good Wife this year (I will go to my grave being unable to forgive Julianna Marguilles’ snub), so I have to root for her somewhat.
OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
- Downton Abbey
- Breaking Bad
- House of Cards
- Mad Men
- Game of Thrones
Prediction: House of Cards
Preferred winner: Breaking Bad
Now this is unpredictable. Of the three nominees I consider the most capable of winning (Homeland, Breaking Bad, House of Cards), each has something working in their favor: Homeland has a mixed response to its second season but plenty of love from the Academy; Breaking Bad has never won this category before but has tremendous amounts of critical acclaim, not to mention the ‘final season buzz’ to possibly grant it success for the first time; and House of Cards has the possibility of pulling a Homeland and being the new show that cleans up at the awards. It’s difficult predicting what I think will win, but I went with House of Cards because I’m unconvinced that it’s not going to win something this year. Maybe it won’t win anything. Maybe it’ll win everything. Maybe it’ll pull a Mad Men and only ever win the drama series category. I don’t know. But I consider it a strong contender nevertheless.
Of the other three nominees, I really don’t think any stand much chance of winning. Downton Abbey may be loved enough to continually see a presence in the categories every year, but the only award it ever seems to do well in is the supporting actress category. As for Mad Men it has won the category countless times but had its streak broken last year, most likely for good. And Game of Thrones, despite being almost universally adored by critics and viewers alike, will always be hindered by genre bias and simply won’t win, at least not any time soon.
As I said, this category is quite difficult to predict and I’m still not completely satisfied with my prediction that House of Cards will emerge victorious, but it’ll be interesting to see who does succeed, that’s for sure. This is definitely an occasion where I hope I’m wrong.