We have discussed the wonky nature of the ballots, we have made last-minute pleas, but there’s nothing else we can do: The Emmy nominations will be announced this Thursday, July 19, at 8:35am Eastern / 5:35am Pacific. And no matter what or who we would love to see nominated, the Emmy voters are known for their stringent dedication to and admiration of whatever it is they like. The shows and performers we nerds on the internet love usually have a hard time breaking through and grabbing a nomination, which sometimes makes it difficult to separate what we want to happen from what will happen.
Today, I’m going to try to accomplish just that. Below are my predictions in all the major categories, with nominees listed in order of their chance to win, from best to worst. I’ve provided short analysis for the "big" categories and just provided picks for others. Feel free to come back on Thursday to mock my stupidity.
Analysis: There’s a lot of buzz for Homeland and some for Downton Abbey, which is moving over from the TV movie/miniseries category, but I find it very, very tough to believe Mad Men will lose. That sixth spot comes down to Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones and Justified; I went with Empire because of its awards track record and perception of prestige.
Analysis: Probably the most competitive character on the ballot. All nine of these men have legitimate claims to be nominated. Grammer’s an Emmy favorite and Dustin Hoffman is Dustin Hoffman, so they push out Olyphant and Hall (finally). I think Laurie holds on for one final nom, keeping Damian Lewis out of the race. Showtime is putting more of push behind Claire Danes anyway.
Analysis: Another brutal category. Danes is winning this so there’s no real intrigue there, leaving all the questions for nominations. There’s been lots of talk about the Abbey ladies but it’s hard to imagine them pushing out rock-solid mainstays like Hargitay and Sedgwick. Glenn Close is also back, stealing a spot from Kathy Bates.
Analysis: This race isn’t as insane as it's been years past but it's still darn strong, especially with the Breaking Bad men back in the fray. I’m betting that Aaron Paul and Giancarlo Esposito snag the two spots that went to Good Wife men last year, while Nick Nolte’s great work (and profile) push out Braugher (though he can never be counted out). Dinklage, Slattery and Goggins all remain thanks to much-discussed work.
Analysis: I’d love for the two ladies from The Good Wife to step aside for more dynamic performances but I can’t imagine it happening. This is a pretty static category, and we can expect a nice competition between Christina Hendricks and Maggie Smith.
Meredith Stiehm, Homeland, “The Weekend”
Frank Pierson and Matthew Weiner, Mad Men, “Signal 30”
Julian Fellows, Downton Abbey, “Episode 7”
George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones, “Blackwater”
Andre and Maria Jacquemetton, Mad Men, “Commissions and Fees”
Analysis: Mad Men could have more than two of these slots, honestly. Picking Game of Thrones here is tough considering I’m projecting it to not grab a series nom, which means “Blue Ribbon Panel” would be the most likely candidate to slide in. Breaking Bad, for some reason, has yet to be nominated for writing.
Just outside: Breaking Bad, “Face Off”
Analysis: Directing is very difficult to judge, as the Emmy voters often do weird things (like giving the award to a season finale of Dexter over the grand series finale of Lost two years ago). Pilots are often good bets in this category and both Van Sant and Mann are pretty big, appealing names.
Analysis: Listen, I’d love it if this category was full of the likes of Community, Louie, Girls, Archer, Cougar Town, and Happy Endings, but the comedy categories are where Emmy voters seem most off the critical pulse. That means we are likely to see another nomination for Glee—a non-comedy and non-entity as far as quality television is concerned—while middlebrow standbys like 30 Rock, The Big Bang Theory, and Modern Family will continue to dominate (as long as Parks is nominated again).
Analysis: Cryer moves over from the Supporting Actor category, Cheadle arrives, and David returns, joining three nominees from last year. It’s possible that Cheadle doesn’t get the nod and Galecki makes it two years in a row for the Big Bang lead duo.
Analysis: A great year for women in comedy leads to a stuffy, hard-to-predict category. All six of last year’s nominees could return pretty easily, and yet there’s a big slate of new possibilities that deserve recognition as well. This category is so fluid that Melissa McCarthy could slip out of the top six, and she won last year. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a definite addition and I’m betting that voters take the more recognizable Laura Dern over Zooey D. Many people think this is Poehler’s year but I’m a bit terrified that she won't even get nominated. That’s how stacked this category is.
Analysis: This is another one of those categories that we could fill with all our favorites like Danny Pudi, Nick Offerman, Adam Pally, etc.—and yet it will actually look nearly identical to last year’s race. Never, ever bet against Modern Family. Colfer hangs on because he’s presumed (somewhat rightfully so) to be one of the only remaining good things about Glee and unfortunately James Spader takes the last spot because the Emmy voters love him unconditionally.
Analysis: Like the Lead Actress category on the comedy side, this race could look exactly the same last year, or it could be a total mess. I’m leaning toward the former because this is the Emmys we're talking about and it’s naïve to assume change will come. The top five nominees stay the same, with the recently deceased Kathryn Joosten grabbing the hotly contested final spot. If voters don’t feel like they have to honor the deceased, expect Cloris Leachman to nab the last open slot.
Steve Levitan, Modern Family, “Treehouse”
Louis C.K., Louie, “Pregnant”
Abraham Higginbotham and Dan O'Shannon, Modern Family, "Aunt Mommy"
Danny Zucker, Modern Family, "Leap Day"
Tina Fey, 30 Rock, “Kidnapped by Danger”
Analysis: Steve Levitan co-wrote the last two winners in this category, so expect him to grab a nomination again, along with at least two other Modern Family scripts. It’s really a random choice game with ModFam and 30 Rock at this point. Both will likely get multiple nominations, with Louis C.K. hopefully hanging on for a second straight year.
Michael Spiller, Modern Family, "Aunt Mommy"
Steven Levitan, Modern Family, "Baby on Board"
Gail Mancuso, Modern Family, "Leap Day"
Robert B. Wiede, Curb Your Enthusiasm, "Palestinian Chicken"
Beth McCarthy-Miller, 30 Rock, "Live from Studio 6H"
Analysis: More Modern Family domination. These three ModFam directors were all nominated last year, and Spiller won. They will likely all return, as will McCarthy-Miller for her work on the second 30 Rock live show. But there’s a lot of buzz for this Curb episode as well.
Just outside: Great Expectations, Luther
Just outside: Romola Garai (The Hour), Emma Thompson (The Song of Lunch)
Just outside: Gillian Anderson (Great Expectations )
Danny Strong, Game Change
Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia
Jerry Stahl and Barbara Turner, Hemingway and Gellhorn
Bill Kirby, Ted Mann, and Ronald Parker, Hatfields and McCoys (Part 2)
Sarah Phelps, Great Expectations
REALITY COMPETITION SERIES
Just outside: Dancing with the Stars
Just outside: The Pitch, Storage Wars (if there is any justice in the world)
Just outside: Betty White (Betty White’s Off Their Rockers)
And there you have it folks. What do you think? What will be the big surprises—or disappointments—come Thursday morning?