Lowdown: This one feels very much like a two-horse race, with the also-rans being cableseries stars Dern, Dunham and Falco and 30 Rock alumna Fey; Louis-Dreyfus and Poehler are leading the field with unquestionably hilarious performances in shows that are clearly and undeniably laugh-generating comedies. It’s a well-deserved photo finish.
The envelope, please: Louis-Dreyfus Jason Bateman, Arrested Development Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory Matt LeBlanc, Episodes Don Cheadle, House of Lies Louis C.K., Louie Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Lowdown: Baldwin is an Emmy favourite, and could generate some thanks-for-the-memories votes now that 30 Rock is done, and Parsons has established himself as the funniest player on a mainstream network sitcom. Bateman could attract a block of votes because of all the attention Netflix’s revival of Arrested Development generated, and C.K., a one-man creative juggernaut on a lesser-known cable comedy, certainly deserves serious consideration.
The envelope, please: Parsons Breaking Bad Downton Abbey Game of Thrones Homeland House of Cards Mad Men
Lowdown: Once again, the drama-series category produces a list of nominees that should be kept handy as a primer sheet for anyone who says there’s nothing good on TV these days. This is the golden age of television, and here’s all the proof you need. Top to bottom, a great collection
Outstanding drama series
Outstanding lead actor in a comedy series of shows, but there’s really only one choice here.
The envelope, please: Breaking Bad 30 Rock Girls Louie Modern Family The Big Bang Theory Veep
Lowdown: It’s the cable comedies vs. the network sitcoms — did Emmy voters opt for safer, traditional broadcast fare, or edgier, more outthere specialty-net offerings? Modern Family and Big Bang are even money on the network side, and Louie and Veep are equally worthy atop the made-for-cable bracket. If this is a play-it-safe vote, Big Bang will triumph ... but the betting here is that it won’t be.
The envelope, please: Veep
Lowdown: Not surprisingly, a very diverse collection of nominees — AHS: Asylum topped all programs with 17 nominations, but that won’t be enough to earn it the big prize. Top of the Lake was a beautifully crafted but largely unnoticed crime drama, and Al Pacino’s performance in Phil Spector definitely caused a stir. Michael Douglas and Matt Damon delivered fearless performances that turned Candelabra into the most talked-about movie of the year.
The envelope, please: Behind the Candelabra
Outstanding comedy series
Outstanding miniseries or movie American Horror Story: Asylum Behind the Candelabra The Bible Phil Spector Political Animals Top of the Lake
Jim Parsons, right, and Simon Helberg in a scene from The Big Bang Theory.