Emmys 2014 Editors' Picks: Who We Think Should Win in This Year's Drama Categories

By Cory Barker

Aug 24, 2014

Somehow, the Emmys are already upon us. The telecast is airing nearly a month earlier than usual this year, and on a Monday (August 25 at 8pm on NBC), to boot. Although many of the nominees didn't quite satisfy our dream choices, we here at TV.com are still committed to making sure the best possible people and shows take home the shiny trophies. After working through the miniseries and comedy races, we're bringing it home with the drama categories. Will Breaking Bad finish strong, or will HBO's risky decision to enter True Detective as a drama instead of a miniseries actually pay off? Regardless of the outcome, here's who we believe deserves some new hardware.



Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), Josh Charles (The Good Wife), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), and Jon Voight (Ray Donovan)


Bobby Cannavale (2013), Aaron Paul (2012), and Peter Dinklage (2011)


Andy: Josh Charles | Cory: Josh Charles | Jen: Peter Dinklage | Kaitlin: Aaron Paul

Nick: Peter Dinklage | Noel: Josh Charles | Tim: Peter Dinklage

WHY JOSH CHARLES SHOULD WIN: At first I thought Charles submitting "Hitting the Fan" was an odd choice, but after a re-watch focused on his performance, doing so was a smart move. Charles mixes up an emotional cocktail, combining Will Gardner's feelings of shock, betrayal, outrage, and heartbreak into a performance that never goes big, but instead goes just big enough; no one does sad, doleful, near-teary eyes like Charles. After firing Alicia, Will shifts into "commando" mode, and so does Charles. There are no emotional pauses or stumbles. It's tour de force performance in a tour de force season for him. Noel Kirkpatrick

WHY AARON PAUL SHOULD WIN: Peter Dinklage or Josh Charles could just as easily walk away with this award, but Aaron Paul is a two-time winner and four-time nominee whose show is in its final year of eligibility. Breaking Bad's final season was heart-stopping and intense, fulfilling in all the right ways, and one of the series' best outings. Paul might not have had as much to do in Season 5B as he did in seasons past, but he maximized the screen time he did get as the broken and beaten Jesse Pinkman, especially in “Confessions,” when he played Jesse as haggard, despairing, and angry. You could feel the pain seeping from his performance, bitch. —Kaitlin Thomas


THE NOMINEES: Christine Baranski (The Good Wife), Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), and Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)


Anna Gunn (2013), Maggie Smith (2012), and Margo Martindale (2011)


Andy: Christine Baranski | Cory: Anna Gunn | Jen: Anna Gunn | Kaitlin: Anna Gunn

Nick: Anna Gunn | Noel: Christine Baranski | Tim: Anna Gunn

WHY ANNA GUNN SHOULD WIN: For all the terrible remarks, insensitive blathering, and misguided hatred for the dynamic and layered Skyler White, Anna Gunn should win Emmys until 2017 even though Breaking Bad has been off the air for a year already. It's only fair. Nick Campbell

WHY CHRISTINE BARANSKI SHOULD WIN: In The Good Wife's fifth season, everyone and everything associated with the series raised its already high-flying game. And throughout a run that saw Diane Lockhart weathering a blindside betrayal from two colleagues, the grisly death of her professional partner, and repeated blows to her career ambitions, Baranski remained an island of poise. Whether steeling herself against assaults from without or within the firm, or letting her guard down to begin reconnecting with Alicia over drinks, Baranski invests Diane with the quiet resolve that make her both a person to admire and a force to be reckoned with. —Andy Daglas



Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Woody Harrelson (True Detective), Matthew McConaughey (True Detective), and Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)


Jeff Daniels (2013), Damian Lewis (2012), and Kyle Chandler (2011)


Andy: Jon Hamm | Cory: Matthew McConaughey | Jen: Matthew McConaughey

Kaitlin: Matthew McConaughey | Nick: Bryan Cranston | Noel: Bryan Cranston

Tim: Bryan Cranston

WHY MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY SHOULD WIN: While HBO's decision to submit True Detective as a drama instead of a miniseries was a ballsy one, I would've had an equally difficult time choosing between Matthew McConaughey, Martin Freeman, and Billy Bob Thornton if McConaughey had entered the "lesser" race. FargoTrue Detective, and Breaking Bad's final half-season showcased so much skill and talent that I almost wish they'd been separated by a year or two in order to spread the awards love around—but hey, that's a good problem to have, right? Bryan Cranston's work on Breaking Bad was, of course, amazing... but so was McConaughey's on True Detective. His Rust Cohle was captivating, even if you didn't care for the series itself, and he deserves to walk away with an Emmy to show for it. —Jen Trolio

WHY BRYAN CRANSTON SHOULD WIN: If you don't know, you need to call somebody. Maybe Saul. —Nick Campbell



Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Claire Danes (Homeland), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Kerry Washington (Scandal), and Robin Wright (House of Cards)


Claire Danes (2012 and 2013) and Julianna Margulies (2011)


Andy: Julianna Margulies | Cory: Robin Wright | Jen: Lizzy Caplan 

Kaitlin: Julianna Margulies | Nick: Lizzy Caplan | Noel: Julianna Margulies 

Tim: Lizzy Caplan

WHY ROBIN WRIGHT SHOULD WIN: It's a little harder to choose Wright once you learn that she didn't submit the fourth episode of House of Cards' second season, which was simply one of the best performances on all of TV (or the internet) in the last calendar year. Instead, the actress went with the still-solid season finale that gave her character a couple out-of-the-ordinary emotional moments. Wright's performance is not the kind that really shines in one episode, but in a crowded field, she still stands out quite a bit. —Cory Barker

WHY LIZZY CAPLAN SHOULD WIN: Even though Masters of Sex didn't make a huge splash in its first season, it quietly became one of the best shows of 2013, and Lizzy Caplan was (and continues to be) outstanding at its center. She's infused Virginia Johnson with poise, wit, a palpable sense of curiosity and purpose, and an incredible range of emotion; even though she's an underdog in this crowded race, there's no one who I'd like to see win it more. —Jen Trolio



Breaking BadDownton AbbeyGame of ThronesHouse of CardsMad Men, and True Detective


Breaking Bad (2013), Homeland (2012), and Mad Men (2008 through 2011)


Andy: Breaking Bad Cory: Breaking Bad Jen: Breaking Bad |Kaitlin: Breaking Bad

Nick: Breaking Bad Noel: Breaking Bad Tim: Breaking Bad

WHY BREAKING BAD SHOULD WIN: You’d be hard-pressed to find a series as finely tuned as Breaking Bad was from start to finish. The final half-season, which began with Walt’s warning to Hank to “tread lightly” and culminated with his lifeless body on the floor of Jack’s meth lab, was perfectly and meticulously plotted. It hit every note, it answered every question, and it did so by raising the stakes and demanding we pay attention, dammit. Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, and Betsy Brandt turned in what will probably be the best performances of their careers, and behind the scenes, Vince Gilligan and his entire creative team delivered equally admirable work, particularly in “Ozymandias,” which is probably one of the finest hours of television in the history of the medium. And since this is the show's last chance to win it, the Emmy is theirs to lose. —Kaitlin Thomas

Who do you think should win in this year's drama races?

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  • Abrittain Aug 25, 2014

    Rick Hoffman (Louis Litt) of Suits should get a nod for Best Supporting Actor, he massively deserves it

  • tnetennba Aug 25, 2014

    Only one of these choices is really easy: Lizzy Caplan for lead actress. Of course, it wouldn't have been so easy if the people responsible for the nominations didn't have their heads up their asses. Keri Russell and Tatiana Maslany should have been nominated. If they had been, I would have chosen Keri Russel, even though it would have been painful to not vote for the incredible Lizzy Caplan. Tatiana is the third choice for me. Julianna Margulies fourth. Michelle Dockery is good, but she doesn't carry her show like the others do, and I have no idea why Robin Wright keeps getting nominated for these things. This year she's at least sort of a lead character, but still a really boring one. It was completely insane to nominate her last year, when she wasn't the lead actress or the best actress on her own show.

    I wonder how much our choices for actors and actresses are influenced by what shows we like the best. I like The Americans much better than Masters of Sex (because the things happening on MoS aren't as interesting), and Masters of Sex better than Orphan Black (because OB isn't nearly as well done overall). So I ended up ranking the actresses in the same order as their shows, and didn't seriously consider Clare Danes, who is still very good, but on a show that had a disappointing season.

    The second easiest choice is Breaking Bad for best drama, because that was an incredible final (half) season, but it hurts to vote against Game of Thrones. GoT isn't far behind, and is lightyears ahead of the the third best show. If it doesn't win next year, I will be furious.

    Lead actor: Bryan Cranston. Yes, McConaughey was very good too, and so was Woody Harrelson.

    Supporting actor: Aaron Paul. But it's painful to vote against Peter Dinklage, and I think Josh Charles was really great too. Last year Mandy Patinkin was my favorite, but he didn't get very good scenes this year.

    Supporting actress: It's too hard to choose between Christine Baranski, Lena Headey and Anna Gunn. It's good to see that Joanne Froggatt is nominated.

  • ale00928 Aug 25, 2014

    Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) should win for supporting actor (he could almost be regarded as lead actor too it it was up to me).
    Game of Thrones should win as Outstanding Drama Serie. If Breaking Bad wins One More Thing, I swear I won't watch TV for a whole year.
    But I do think Anna Gunn should win for putting up with all the lies from Walter White though.
    Matthew McConaughey of course should win for a terrific performance and because I and many others have had enough of Brian Cranston.
    Breaking Bad WAS an awesome TV show, but: Enough it´s Enough!

  • LilPeregrine Aug 25, 2014

    In the supporting actor and actress categories it is simply impossible to choose a winner! So many great performances this year!
    But although Breaking Bad was probably one of the best, most subtle drama of all times, I feel like it's over now, and it shouldn't be here... Hell WHY is it here? Hasn't it been over for more than a year now? I'm torn between "it's its last chance to get rewards" and "Get outa here Breaking Bad! You're over!"

    Jim Carter (Downton Abbey) should win because he's been greater and greater with each season of Downton Abbey!
    Josh Charles (The Good Wife), should win because his LAST season on TGW (snirf) has been its best (and it's his last chance to get something for playing this part!
    Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) should win because he's amazing and his character is the only true human being in King's landing (but that's the part, not the actor)
    Mandy Patinkin (Homeland) should win because he's MANDY PATINKIN! (And if he doesn't we'll have to prepare to die)
    Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) should win because it's his last chance, since BB is over, and also because he's great!

    Christine Baranski (The Good Wife) should win because her character showed some layers this season, and she owned them!
    Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey) should win because she's an amazing yet underrecognized actress
    Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) should win because in the end, Skylar did NOT suck! We were wrong! And surprizing us this way was quite a performance!
    Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) should win because she's regal
    and of course Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey) should win because... well... she's Maggie Smith!

  • tnetennba Aug 25, 2014

    The eligibility period is May 1 2013 to April 31 2014, if I remember correctly. (Maybe it's June 1-May 31). Season 5b of BB was aired in August and September of 2013.

  • LilPeregrine Aug 26, 2014

    Oh! OK! Thanks! That makes more sense! GO BB, then!

  • amystoner6 Aug 25, 2014

    Tatiana Maslany should be here :(

  • tnetennba Aug 25, 2014

    And Keri Russell.

  • _Kevin_K_ Aug 25, 2014

    I'm just hoping Breaking bad and everyone involved with it make a real harvest at this year's emmys. They should win even in the categories where they're not nominated.

  • sangbaran Aug 25, 2014

    Terri Russel nt getting a nomination is scandalous. And yes she has been way better than Kerri Washington in the overhyped Shondaland drama.

  • modernfamily120 Aug 25, 2014

    Robin Wright needs to win best actress!

  • tnetennba Aug 25, 2014

    I don't understand why she's even nominated.

  • katerinananai Aug 24, 2014

    I don't know who is going 2 win, but i know that i don't want anna gunn 2 win...i can't stand her...

  • ivanpeters2003 Aug 25, 2014

    Her personally or her character in BB?

    If the latter, thats why she should win.

  • katerinananai Aug 26, 2014

    And she won ...lol

  • katerinananai Aug 25, 2014

    Yeah u r right i thought of it l8er...:p still what an annoying character!

  • Anonymous_A Aug 24, 2014

    All the awards for Tatiana Maslany!!!

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