Emmy Guide 2020: Drama

Better Call Saul (AMC)
The Crown (Netflix)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Killing Eve (BBC America)
The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Ozark (Netflix)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
Succession (HBO)

Should win: Better Call Saul
Could win: Ozark
Will win: Succession
Should have been nominated: Mindhunter (Netflix)

The skinny: Even though it’s been nearly a year since Succession has last aired a new episode, it feels like it has all the momentum. Chalk that up to a lackluster season from The Handmaid’s Tale and Game of Thrones ending, but it’s clearly the frontrunner. Ozark has also been steadily building its case over the past two ceremonies, and its eligible season will be fresher in voters’ minds.

But for all their strengths, they pale in comparison to Better Call Saul, which just wrapped its best season to date. A thrilling, daring expansion of its themes of interior rot.

Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Steve Carell, The Morning Show
Brian Cox, Succession
Billy Porter, Pose
Jeremy Strong, Succession

Should win: Brian Cox
Could win: Billy Porter
Will win: Jeremy Strong
Should have been nominated: Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

The skinny: While Porter could no doubt win again (and use his acceptance speech to call out the Academy for ignoring his trans co-stars), it seems it’s down to the father-son duo of Succession. Cox is a long-respected actor of stage and screen, but he hasn’t won a major award since an Emmy 20 years ago. I’m giving the slight edge to Strong, who’s been an exceptional That Guy until this show came along.

But I’m still not sure how they could forget Bob Odenkirk, who somehow got even better in his 10th year playing this part.

Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show
Olivia Colman, The Crown
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Laura Linney, Ozark
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Zendaya, Euphoria

Should win: Sandra Oh
Could win: Jennifer Aniston
Will win: Laura Linney
Should have been nominated: Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale

The skinny: This one’s gonna be a nail-biter. With Moss shockingly snubbed (whatever you think about this season of Handmaid’s Tale, Moss is still acting her ass off), it’s down to Linney and Aniston. The former, who already has four Emmys, is now clearly the lead of the show, getting even more deeply involved with the family’s illegal dealings. But the latter is still beloved, at least judging by her SAG win for a show that’s otherwise received mixed reviews. She won what seems like a lifetime ago for Friends, but seeing as that show’s remained in the public consciousness all this time, that can only help her. Still, I’m sticking to my guns, but I may regret that come Monday.

Nicholas Braun, Succession
Billy Crudup, The Morning Show
Kieran Culkin, Succession
Mark Duplass, The Morning Show
Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call Saul
Matthew Macfadyen, Succession
Bradley Whitford, The Handmaid’s Tale
Jeffrey Wright, Westworld

Should win: Giancarlo Esposito
Could win: Matthew Mcfadyen
Will win: Bradley Whitford
Should have been nominated: Tom Pelphrey, Ozark

The skinny: By far the most wide open race in the drama field. My brain tells me the Succession and Morning Show dudes will cancel each other out, leaving Esposito (who’s long overdue), Wright (who’s already won for this show), and Whitford. He won Guest Actor for this role last year, and previously won in this category for The West Wing. He’d make history if he wins, as every other gentleman with multiple wins in this category earned it for the same show.

Still, I’m shocked Tom Pelphrey isn’t here. As popular as Ozark is, and as exceptional as he was (in what what will have been most viewers’ first exposure to him), I thought he had this sewn up.

Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown
Laura Dern, Big Little Lies
Julia Garner, Ozark
Thandie Newton, Westworld
Fiona Shaw, Killing Eve
Sarah Snook, Succession
Meryl Streep, Big Little Lies
Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale

Should and will win: Meryl Streep
Could win: Laura Dern
Should have been nominated: Rhea Seehorn, Better Call Saul

The skinny: Another tough one. I would not be shocked if Dern, Garner or Newton repeat. Helena Bonham Carter seems to have some momentum, but I’m still going with Streep. The addition of her character was the only reason to do a second season. While it got mixed reviews, she was tremendous as a master of manipulation.

But why does this or any other award matter if Rhea Seehorn wasn’t nominated for giving the best performance on TV by any actor?

Better Call Saul (“Bad Choice Road”)
Better Call Saul (“Bagman”)
The Crown (“Aberfan”)
Ozark (“All In”)
Ozark (“Boss Fight”)
Ozark (“Fire Pink”)
Succession (“This Is Not for Tears”)

Should win: Better Call Saul (“Bad Choice Road”)
Could win: Ozark (“Fire Pink”)
Will win: Succession
Should have been nominated: Mindhunter (“Episode 3”)

The skinny: It will be absolutely preposterous if Ozark adds a writing trophy to its unconscionable directing win last year, but it could happen. At least it would be for its most heart-wrenching episode. That’s why I’m picking Succession to repeat in this category.

The Crown (“Aberfan”)
The Crown (“Cri de Coeur”)
Homeland (“Prisoners of War”)
The Morning Show (“The Interview”)
Ozark (“Fire Pink”)
Ozark (“Su Casa Es Mi Casa”)
Succession (“Hunting”)
Succession (“This Is Not for Tears”)

Should win: The Crown (“Aberfan”)
Could win: Ozark (“Fire Pink”)
Will win: Succession (“This Is Not for Tears”)
Should have been nominated: Better Call Saul (“Bagman”)

The skinny: I could see The Crown surprising here again, and will be livid if Ozark repeats. But it’s going to be one of the two Succession episodes. My money’s on the finale.

But where, oh where, is Vince Gilligan, who directed the most heart-pounding episode of TV in 2020?

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