Emmys 2012: And (We Think) the Nominees Will Be...

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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.


DRAMA

BEST SERIES

Mad Men
Homeland
Downton Abbey
Breaking Bad
The Good Wife
Boardwalk Empire


Just outside: Game of Thrones, Justified, The Walking Dead, Damages


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.


LEAD ACTOR

Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Dustin Hoffman, Luck
Kelsey Grammer, Boss
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Hugh Laurie, House


Just outside: Damian Lewis (Homeland), Timothy Olyphant (Justified), Michael C. Hall (Dexter)


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.


LEAD ACTRESS

Claire Danes, Homeland
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Glenn Close, Damages
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer


Just outside: Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Kathy Bates (Harry’s Law), Debra Messing (Smash), Mirelle Enos (The Killing)


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.


SUPPORTING ACTOR

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad
John Slattery, Mad Men
Nick Nolte, Luck
Walton Goggins, Justified


Just outside: Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age), Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), Neal McDonough (Justified), Alan Cumming (The Good Wife)


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.


SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire
Anjelica Houston, Smash


Just outside: Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), Morena Baccarin (Homeland), Rose Byrne (Damages), Megan Hilty (Smash)


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.


WRITING

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”


Just outside: The Good Wife, “Blue Ribbon Panel”; Justified, “Slaughterhouse”


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.


DIRECTING

Michael Cuesta, Homeland, “Pilot”
Neil Marshall, Game of Thrones, “Blackwater”
Gus Van Sant, Boss, “Pilot”
Michael Mann, Luck, “Pilot”
Tim Van Patten, Boardwalk Empire, “To the Lost”


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.


GUEST ACTOR

Andre Braugher, Law & Order: SVU
Mykelti Williamson, Justified
Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife
Matthew Perry, The Good Wife
Robert Morse, Mad Men
Chris Messina, Damages


GUEST ACTRESS

Loretta Devine, Grey’s Anatomy
Jean Smart, Harry’s Law
Lucy Liu, Southland
Julia Ormand, Mad Men
Alexis Bledel, Mad Men
Louise Fletcher, Shameless



COMEDY

BEST SERIES

Modern Family
30 Rock
Parks and Recreation
The Big Bang Theory
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Glee


Just outside: Girls, New Girl, Veep, Louie


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).


LEAD ACTOR

Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Louis C.K., Louie
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Don Cheadle, House of Lies


Just outside: Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory), Tim Allen (Last Man Standing), Will Arnett (Up All Night), Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation)


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.


LEAD ACTRESS

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Laura Dern, Enlightened
Melissa McCarthy, Mike and Molly
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie


Just outside: Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), Laura Linney (The Big C), Lena Dunham (Girls), Martha Plimpton (Raising Hope)


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.


SUPPORTING ACTOR

Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Ed O’Neill, Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Chris Colfer, Glee
James Spader, The Office


Just outside: Max Greenfield (New Girl), Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation), Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory), Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live)


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.


SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Jane Lynch, Glee
Betty White, Hot in Cleveland
Kathryn Joosten, Desperate Housewives


Just outside: Cloris Leachman (Raising Hope), Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), Kristin Chenoweth (GCB), Cheryl Hines (Suburgatory), Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory)


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.


WRITING

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.


DIRECTING

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.


GUEST ACTOR

Alan Alda, The Big C
Will Arnett, 30 Rock
Paul Rudd, Parks and Recreation
Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live
Michael J. Fox, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Matthew Bomer, Glee


GUEST ACTRESS

Kathy Bates, Two and a Half Men
Blythe Danner, Up All Night
Mary Steenburgen, 30 Rock
Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live
Maya Rudolph, Saturday Night Live
Ellen Barkin, Modern Family



TV MOVIE/MINISERIES

MOVIE/MINISERIES

Game Change
Hemingway and Gellhorn
American Horror Story
The Hour
Hatfields and McCoys
Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia


Just outside: Great Expectations, Luther


LEAD ACTOR

Clive Owen, Hemingway and Gellhorn
Kevin Costner, Hatfields and McCoys
Woody Harrelson, Game Change
Idris Elba, Luther
Dominic West, The Hour


Just outside: Bill Paxton (Hatfields and McCoys), Bill Nighy (Page Eight), Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)


LEAD ACTRESS

Julianne Moore, Game Change
Nicole Kidman, Hemingway and Gellhorn
Connie Britton, American Horror Story
Emily Watson, Appropriate Adult
Rachel Weisz, Page Eight


Just outside: Romola Garai (The Hour), Emma Thompson (The Song of Lunch)


SUPPORTING ACTOR

Ed Harris, Game Change
David Stratharin, Hemingway and Gellhorn
Michael Gambon, Page Eight
Ralph Fiennes, Page Eight
Powers Boothe, Hatfields and McCoys


Just outside: Martin Freeman (Sherlock), Ray Winstone (Great Expectations)


SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Sarah Pulson, Game Change
Judy Davis, Page Eight
Mare Winningham, Hatfields and McCoys
Francis Conroy, American Horror Story


Just outside: Gillian Anderson (Great Expectations )


WRITING

Danny Strong, Game Change
Steven Moffat,
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


DIRECTING

Ryan Murphy, American Horror Story
Jay Roach, Game Change
Kevin Reynolds, Hatfields and McCoys
Phillip Kaufman, Hemingway and Gellhorn
David Hare, Page Eight



REALITY/VARIETY

REALITY COMPETITION SERIES

The Amazing Race
American Idol
Top Chef
The Voice
So You Think You Can Dance
Project Runway


Just outside: Dancing with the Stars


REALITY PROGRAM

Deadliest Catch
Antiques Roadshow
Mythbusters
Undercover Boss
Hoarders
Intervention


Just outside: The Pitch, Storage Wars (if there is any justice in the world)


REALITY HOST

Jeff Probst, Survivor
Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance
Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race


Just outside: Betty White (Betty White’s Off Their Rockers)


VARIETY SERIES

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
The Colbert Report
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Real Time with Bill Maher
Conan
Saturday Night Live


Just outside: Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Show with David Letterman


And there you have it folks. What do you think? What will be the big surprises—or disappointments—come Thursday morning?

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