The Emmys are in two weeks. I know in past years I haven’t posted that much about them, but in expanding my critical horizons, they need to be discussed. Here’s a full-on category-by-category breakdown. The weekend of the ceremony (Sept. 17-18), we’ll regroup–in less detail–to see if anything’s changed.
Projected winners are bulleted.
BEST DRAMA SERIES
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Friday Night Lights (NBC)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
The Good Wife (CBS)
• Mad Men (AMC)
Thoughts: Mad Men has won three years in a row and it looks unlikely any show will stop it; not the critically beloved Friday Night Lights, not the red-hot Game of Thrones.
BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
• Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House
Timothy Olyphant, Justified
Thoughts: Bryan Cranston has dominated this category since Breaking Bad began. But the show just started a few weeks ago, meaning he won’t win again till next year. This is the perfect—and perhaps only—opportunity for Hamm to pick up his first trophy. In fact, everyone here has yet to win an Emmy, so I’d be pleased no matter whose name is called next month.
BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law
Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
Mireille Enos, The Killing
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
• Julianna Marguiles, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Thoughts: Let me say this again: Connie Britton needs one of these already. Seriously, you’re embarrassing yourselves, Academy. Still, it seems Marguiles—as the title character on CBS’ most character-driven show—will be more likely to walk away with it.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Andre Braugher, Men of a Certain Age
Josh Charles, The Good Wife
Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
• Walton Groggins, Justified
John Slattery, Mad Men
Thoughts: Braugher is one of the best television actors of the last decade, yet hasn’t won an award in a while. Like Tony Shalhoub, I’d be OK if he won year in, year out. But this is a category that shifts year-to-year with no dominant force. That means everyone has a fairly equal shot. I’d say it comes down between the diminutive Dinklage or the volatile Groggins, who both add an element to their respective shows that would be sorely absent without them.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Michelle Forbes, The Killing
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
• Kelly MacDonald, Boardwalk Empire
Margo Martindale, Justified
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
Thoughts: Another wide-open race. I enjoyed MacDonald’s performance a lot—she’s that show’s secret weapon. That’s good enough to declare her the front-runner, but there’s a serious possibility Martindale could sneak away with this, much like Aaron Paul did in the supporting actor category last year. I also wouldn’t count out Baranski.
BEST GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Beau Bridges, Brothers & Sisters
Jeremy Davies, Justified
Bruce Dern, Big Love
• Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife
Paul McCrane, Harry’s Law
Robert Morse, Mad Men
Thoughts: Davies was the perfect guest star for that gritty show, and he’s an underrated actor, so any awards ultimately boost his profile. But is there anyone that can out-do the goodwill Fox has? No way.
BEST GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
• Cara Buono, Mad Men
Joan Cusack, Shameless
Loretta DeVine, Grey’s Anatomy
Randee Heller, Mad Men
Mary McDonnell, The Closer
Julia Stiles, Dexter
Alfre Woodard, True Blood
Thoughts: It’s all Mad Men this year (as if that’s different from any other year), though I’d love to see the outrageous Joan Cusack win.
BEST WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
Jason Katims, Friday Night Lights (“Always”)
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Game of Thrones (“Baelor”)
Veena Sud, The Killing (Pilot episode)
Maria and Andre Jacquemetton, Mad Men (“Blowing Smoke”)
• Matthew Weiner, Mad Men (“The Suitcase”)
Thoughts: Mad Men. Sorry, everyone else.
BEST COMEDY SERIES
30 Rock (NBC)
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
• Modern Family (ABC)
The Office (NBC)
Parks and Recreation (NBC)
Thoughts: Modern Family, despite being a little inconsistent this season, is still the far-and-away front runner. The other shows have their fans, but I don’t recall any episode from the others that really caused such a stir. A win for Parks & Rec is the most meaningful, which would hopefully transfer to more viewers next season.
BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
• Steve Carell, The Office
Louis CK, Louie
Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Thoughts: Carell is almost a lock for his last season as Michael Scott. It’s essentially a done deal.
BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
• Laura Linney, The Big C
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Thoughts: Falco won last year, even on a show that’s not that funny. I’d love a Poehler victory for that vastly underrated show. Plimpton’s even better, but I think Linney has the edge, despite essentially playing a caricature of the characters Linney often plays.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
• Chris Colfer, Glee
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Ed O’Neill, Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Thoughts: It’s entirely possible the Modern Family vote will split four ways, leaving Chris Colfer to swoop in and win an Emmy to go alongside his Golden Globe. Ugh.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Jane Lynch, Glee
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
• Betty White, Hot in Cleveland
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Thoughts: Lynch could easily win again and everyone knows Wiig is a huge star and won of SNL’s few saving graces. But the Betty White love will not stop, and America’s Most Trusted Celebrity will get her third Emmy.
BEST GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Will Arnett, 30 Rock
Matt Damon, 30 Rock
Idris Elba, The Big C
Zach Galifianakis, Saturday Night Live
Nathan Lane, Modern Family
• Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live
Thoughts: Timberlake is the highlight of the season every episode he does. But Nathan Lane could also win here, as the flamboyant and ridiculously named Pepper Salzman. But where is Mike O’Malley? He’s easily the best thing on the train wreck that is Glee.
BEST GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Elizabeth Banks, 30 Rock
Kristin Chenoweth, Glee
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
Dot Jones, Glee
Cloris Leachman, Raising Hope
• Gwyneth Paltrow, Glee
Thoughts: The misplaced Glee love continues. Tina Fey has plenty of love but Cloris Leachman—who is Betty White’s only competition as the gamest old-lady comedian—deserves it more as the sometimes lucid, frequently topless, always hilarious Maw Maw.
BEST WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Matt Hubbard, 30 Rock (“Regaining”)
David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, Episodes (“Episode 107”)
Louis CK, Louie (“Poker/Divorce”)
• Steven Levitan and Jeffrey Richman, Modern Family (“Caught in the Act”)
Greg Daniels, The Office (“Goodbye, Michael”)
Thoughts: Only one 30 Rock nod? That’s surprising. Louis CK’s highly personal “Poker/Divorce” deserves it but Modern Family’s funniest Season 2 episode is the obvious choice.
BEST MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Cinema Verite (HBO)
Downton Abbey (PBS)
The Kennedys (Reelz Channel)
• Mildred Pierce (HBO)
The Pillars of the Earth (Starz)
Too Big to Fail (HBO)
Thoughts: Mildred Pierce. It’s not even a contest.
BEST ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Idris Elba, Luther
Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood
William Hurt, Too Big to Fail
Greg Kinnear, The Kennedys
Barry Pepper, The Kennedys
• Edgar Ramirez, Carlos
Thoughts: A stacked category filled with real-life characters, this is a tough race to call. But I expect Edgar Ramirez, who starred in the six-hour account of the ’70s most infamous terrorist, to win here.
BEST ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Taraji P. Henson, Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story
Diane Lane, Cinema Verite
Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey
Jean Marsh, Upstairs Downstairs
• Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce
Thoughts: The other ladies, while lovely, gifted actresses, should not bother to show up.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Paul Giamatti, Too Big to Fail
Brian F. O’Byrne, Mildred Pierce
• Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
Tom Wilkinson, The Kennedys
James Woods, Too Big to Fail
Thoughts: Giamatti looks EXACTLY like Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, but someone from Mildred Pierce is winning every category, dammit.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Eileen Atkins, Upstairs Downstairs
Melissa Leo, Mildred Pierce
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
• Evan Rachel Wood, Mildred Pierce
Mare Winningham, Mildred Pierce
Thoughts: Mildred Pierce! Mildred Pierce! Mildred Pierce!
BEST VARIETY/MUSIC/COMEDY SERIES
The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
• The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC)
Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)
Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Thoughts: Let’s not kid ourselves. Despite a second sympathy nod for the mistreated Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show will win yet again, extended its winning streak to nine.
BEST WRITING FOR A VARIETY/MUSIC/COMEDY SERIES
The Colbert Report
• The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Saturday Night Live
Thoughts: The Colbert Report won last year, and I would love to see Jimmy Fallon get some love. But The Daily Show is as sharp as ever, and will win for a sixth time.
BEST VARIETY/MUSIC/COMEDY SPECIAL
Bette Midler: The Showgirl Must Go On (HBO)
Carrie Fisher in Wishful Drinking (HBO)
Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden (HBO)
• The Kennedy Center Honors (CBS)
The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway (HBO)
Thoughts: My love Pee-Wee is out in the open, but the Emmys are still quite a boring lot, and I expect the snoozy Kennedy Center Honors special to win. But don’t discount the Divine Miss M. The recording of her Vegas finale is top-notch.
BEST WRITING FOR A VARIETY/MUSIC/COMEDY SPECIAL
• 64th Annual Tony Awards
Colin Quinn: Long Story Short
Louis CK: Hilarious
Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Benefit for Autism Education
The Real Women of SNL
Thoughts: Oh, the Tonys you say. Yawn.
BEST REALITY PROGRAM
Antiques Roadshow (PBS)
• Deadliest Catch (Discovery)
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List (Bravo)
Undercover Boss (CBS)
Thoughts: Hoarders is the of-the-moment show, contrasted with the is-that-still-on? face Kathy Griffin and Antiques Roadshow conjure. But I think the newly poignant Deadliest Catch will win for the first time this year.
BEST REALITY COMPETITION PROGRAM
The Amazing Race (CBS)
American Idol (Fox)
Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
Project Runway (Lifetime)
So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
• Top Chef (Bravo)
Thoughts: Top Chef ended last year’s Amazing Race streak. I don’t watch any of these shows, so from my end, they all have an equal shot. But why buck the trend? Chef will remain a cut above the rest to Emmy voters.
BEST HOST FOR A REALITY OR REALITY COMPETITION PROGRAM
Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars
Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
• Jeff Probst, Survivor
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Thoughts: Probst has won this category every year since its inception. It’ll stay that way.
BEST ANIMATED PROGRAM
The Cleveland Show (Fox)
Futurama (Comedy Central)
Robot Chicken: Star Wars—Episode III (Cartoon Network)
The Simpsons (Fox)
• South Park (Comedy Central)
Thoughts: The nominated episode for The Simpsons (“Angry Dad: the Movie”) was one of the sharpest in recent years and explored different animation techniques in its parody of the film industry. But as a reward for continued satire, and as a make-up for honoring a Christmas special over last year’s brilliant, extremist-baiting “200/201,” South Park will win again.