Emmys 2012: Rapid, Probably Premature Winner Predictions

By Cory Barker

Jul 20, 2012

Well, the Emmy nominations are out. Please, take time in the comments to make fun of me and my nomination predictions from earlier in the week. Based on my math, I correctly guessed 99 of the 151 picks I made, which is an okay 65 percent rate. In the major categories (series, lead, and supporting actor in comedy, drama, and miniseries/TV movie), I fared better, getting 59 of my 86 correct.

Suffice it to say, Downton Abbey screwed me. I underestimated its popularity with voters—and perhaps overestimated their allegiance to veteran performers in the acting races—and that’s something I’ll be taking into account right now. Because even though the Emmy winners aren’t announced for three months, it’s never too early to make predictions. You know, so I can look like a fool again.

Here we go, these are your 2012 Emmy winners, with some more detailed thoughts for the big 10 categories:



Will win: Mad Men

Could win: Downton Abbey, Homeland

Calling this a three-show race is probably being too nice, and in the case of Abbey, too reactive to this week’s nominations. There was/is a lot of buzz for Homeland, buzz that was generally confirmed by the noms. The good news is that voters will be asked to watch more episodes before picking a winner, something that should, theoretically, benefit Homeland and perhaps discredit Abbey’s chances. Ultimately though, it doesn’t matter. If Mad Men loses this, it will be the biggest shock of the night.


Will win: Claire Danes (Homeland)

Could win: Juliana Margulies (The Good Wife), Kathy Bates (Harry’s Law)

This race has felt over since the middle of Homeland’s first season. Yet, most of us thought that Julianna Margulies would run away with it after the first season of The Good Wife in 2010 and Kyra Sedgwick won, making Margulies wait a year. Maybe that happens here, but it feels even less likely this go-round. Danes already won for Temple Grandin, and she’s winning again.


Will win: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)

Could win: Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Damian Lewis (Homeland), Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey)

Interesting things afoot here. Buscemi won a Golden Globe for his Boardwalk performance, so he’s still a threat to take home the award. Damian Lewis and Hugh Bonneville could both be swept up in larger waves of support for their respective shows, so we can’t count them out either. And for the love of all things that are holy, Jon Hamm has been deserving of this award for at least three years. BUT, Cranston.


Will win: Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)

Could win: Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)

Maggie Smith’s performance has the most generic buzz of all the Abbey cast and she won this award in the miniseries/TV movie race last year. There’s a swell of support for Christina Hendricks and she deserves it, but the academy has a weird resistance toward celebrating Mad Men performers. Conversely, the academy loves giving Breaking Bad actors awards, so it makes sense that now that Anna Gunn finally got nominated, she could win.


Will win: Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)

Could win: Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)

UGH, this race. Choosing between the two Breaking Bad men is hard enough but with last year’s winner Dinklage, Jared Harris’s “dead guy” juice and the looming Downton Abbey dynasty, this is a tough crapshoot. Both Aaron Paul’s and Dinklage’s performances were more leading than supporting and the former’s was probably the best on all of television for this time period. In a perfect world, I’d say that Giancarlo Esposito would win in his last attempt, leaving Paul and Dinklage to fight it out for a few more years. But this is the Emmys, and the voters hate perfect worlds. Going with my gut here.


Will win: Loretta Devine (Grey’s Anatomy)

Could win: Jean Smart (Harry’s Law), Uma Thurman (Smash)


Will win: Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad)

Could win: Michael J. Fox, Dylan Baker (The Good Wife)


Will win: Julian Fellows (Downton Abbey)

Could win: Semi Chellas & Matthew Weiner (Mad Men); Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff (Homeland)


Will win: Michael Cuesta (Homeland)

Could win: Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), Tim Van Patten (Boardwalk Empire)



Will win: Modern Family

Could win: LOL

Come on.


Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)

Could win: Zooey Deschanel (The New Girl), Melissa McCarthy (Mike and Molly)

This race is competitive as hell. So competitive that the voters nominated an extra lady. I could picture at least six of these women winning and the one that I can’t is the one who deserves it most (sorry, Poehler). Fey, McCarthy, Falco, and Louis-Dreyfus are all former winners and Lena Dunham and Zooey D. are big, buzzy first-time noms. Fey and Falco are probably the least likely of those six to win, and it’s tough to picture Dunham winning here (she might take home an award elsewhere). That leaves McCarthy (last year’s surprise winner), Zooey, and Louis-Dreyfus as our front-runners. Veep feels like an Emmy show, and the voters love Julia, so I’m picking her, though the other two should have good tapes.


Will win: Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)

Could win: Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Don Cheadle (House of Lies)

Jon Cryer’s the biggest dark horse here. He’s a nomination staple and former winner on the supporting side, so his move up to leading-man territory could result in a win. But it will be tough for him to push past even more popular nominees Parsons and Baldwin. I’m just working on the assumption that Jim Parsons wins this race until Big Bang ends in 10 years. He’s this decade’s Kelsey Grammer.


Will win: Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory)

Could win: Julie Bowen, Sofia Vergara (Modern Family)

Another tough one, particularly when you think bigger picture. Kathryn Joosten just passed away, which, for better or for worse, makes her a threat to win. This is the last time Kristen Wiig can be nominated in this category for her work on SNL (she’ll surely be nominated when she comes back to host the show in a year). Mayim Bialik’s work is well-regarded and voters will get a great taste of it while they’re watching episodes of Big Bang for other categories. And obviously, the Modern Family women are here too. Sorry, Merritt Weaver.

Joosten’s nomination will probably be as far as that goes. People thought Wiig was going to win last year because of Bridesmaids and we’ve seen recent long-time nominees lose yet again in final opportunities. But I’m struggling to pick between Bowen, Vergara, and Bialik. Bowen and Bialik should have better tapes and there’s bound to be a moderate surprise in these major categories, so let’s go with the Big Bang star.


Will win: Ty Burrell (Modern Family)

Could win: Eric Stonestreet, Ed O’Neill (Modern Family)

Shocker, another Modern Family-centric race. Burrell is a strong incumbent and of the show’s performers, he’s the most worthy. But Stonestreet has another Fizbo episode and Ed O’Neill is Ed O’Neill. It’s surely going to be one of these three, though.


Will win: Kathy Bates (Two and a Half Men)

Could win: Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live)


Will win: Jimmy Fallon (Saturday Night Live)

Could win: Michael J. Fox (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Greg Kinnear (Modern Family)


Will win: Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation)

Could win: Louis C.K. (Louie), Lena Dunham (Girls)


Will win: Louis C.K. (Louie)

Could win: Steve Levitan, Jason Winer (Modern Family)



Will win: Game Change

Could win: Hemingway & Gellhorn, Hatfields & McCoys


Will win: Julianne Moore (Game Change)

Could win: Nicole Kidman (Hemingway & Gellhorn)


Will win: Woody Harrelson (Game Change)

Could win: Clive Owen (Hemingway & Gellhorn), Kevin Costner (Hatfields & McCoys), Idris Elba (Luther)


Will win: Jessica Lange (American Horror Story)

Could win: Frances Conroy (American Horror Story), Sarah Paulson (Game Change)


Will win: Ed Harris (Game Change)

Could win: David Straithairn (Hemingway & Gellhorn)


Will win: Danny Strong (Game Change)

Could win: Steven Moffat (Sherlock); Ted Mann, Ronald Parker, Bill Kirby (Hatfields & McCoys)


Will win: Jay Roach (Game Change)

Could win: Phillip Kauffman (Hemingway & Gellhorn)



Will win: The Amazing Race

Could win: Top Chef, The Voice


Will win: Phil Keoghan (The Amazing Race)

Could win: Betty White (Betty White’s Off Their Rockers), Tom Bergeron (Dancing With The Stars)


Will win: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Could win: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Colbert Report

Make your own winner predictions in the comments!

Cory Barker is a co-founder of This Was Television and the founder of TVSurveillance.com. Follow him on Twitter: @corybarker.

  • Comments (62)
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  • BarryDalton Aug 05, 2012

    I predict that you will get some, but not all, of these picks correct.

  • wrapdk Jul 24, 2012


    Will win: Modern Family Could win: LOL - Come on.

    That's funny

  • Akkustikkoppler Jul 23, 2012

    Outstanding Special Class Programs:

    Will win:

    Herbie Hancock, Gustavo Dudamel And The LA Phil Celebrate Gershwin (Great Performances) PBS A production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET, BFMI, WDR in cooperation with ARTE, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and C Major

    Could win:

    Louis C.K. Live At The Beacon Theatre FX Networks Pig Newton, Inc. in association with FX Productions

    (selfish self-honoring prediction here)

  • DaveJohnson4 Jul 23, 2012

    The title of this article should also include the adjective, "Inaccurate."

    How could Breaking Bad not win Best Series, let alone be left off the "could win" list? Don't get me wrong, I love Downton and it's indeed a trendy show. But a win for that series would be more about rewarding it for season one than anything since last year was great, but far from perfect.

    Mad Men --meh, I've never understood the appeal.

    Homeland -- Can't see them going for a show after one season.

    But this past season of Breaking Bad? Superb. It made the transition from (arguably) a one-man show, focused on Walt, to an ensemble production that saw the characters of Hank, Skyler, and Jesse becoming almost more interesting. "I *am* the one who knocks!"

    Breaking Bad wins best series and lead actor; Downton wins best actress. Mark it.

  • drrdheroe Jul 23, 2012

    so no one thinks that Breaking Bad MIGHT have a chance of winning best drama? are Emmy voters THAT blind?

  • DavidRouben Jul 23, 2012

    Who does the cast of modern family have to blow in order to get all those emmy nominations? I must know!

  • heartzkidnapper Jul 23, 2012

    Nothing new ! and the winners will be the same ...Geez ! at least give a nomination for the amazing direction of GOT's "BlackWater" episode , let "Homeland" win the best drama although i know "Mad Men" will get it again . It is so annoying that the same boring results for the same category "Don't get me wrong i like Homeland , GOT and Breaking Bad" but we need a change even if it is a bad one ....i will be more than happy if "Jersey Shore" win the best drama for this Year "i know it is reality and sucks :P"!

  • ludoTV Jul 23, 2012

    Breaking Bad or Homeland will win best Drama - who isn't a bit tired of Mad Men by now...

  • FriendlyCrono Jul 25, 2012

    Mad Men has been getting better every year.

  • Nickylucas Jul 22, 2012

    I see Breaking Bad winning Best Drama and Peter Dinklage winning Supporting Actor.

    Mad Men is a great show, but if they win 5 years in a row I would start asking how much AMC is paying the Emmys.

  • bostonbeliever Jul 22, 2012

    I think most of your predictions are spot-on, but of course it is often easier to pick the Emmy winners than the nominees. The Emmys voters are not known for unpredictability.

    Your comment about how since one actor won a Golden Globe for the role, they have a better shot at getting the Emmy made me laugh. Let's be honest here: the Golden Globes are the red-headed step child of the award circuit. They are even more of a popularity contest than the rest put together, and blatantly so.

    I think that Giancarlo Esposito will win over Aaron Paul and Dinklage. I think Sherlock has a much better chance than you gave it to win the various miniseries categories.

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