These are our fearless Emmy predictions
And you thought the battle for the Iron Throne was brutal.
On Sunday, Sept. 17, they’ll be crowning television royalty at the annual Emmy Awards, and several of the marquee races feature formidable contenders. Making things even more intriguing is the absence of drama powerhouse “Game of Thrones,” which is ineligible this year because its latest season arrived too late.
Of course, predicting what will go down on Emmy night is always an iffy deal. Just when you think voters are stuck in a rut, they stun you by showering their love on a newbie or two.
Still, there’s no harm in trying. Here’s a breakdown of the major categories, along with our best guesswork. Wager at your own risk.
“Better Call Saul” (AMC); “The Crown” (Netflix); “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu); “House of Cards” (Netflix); “Stranger Things” (Netflix); “This Is Us” (NBC); “Westworld” (HBO).
Should win: “The Handmaid’s Tale” Will win: “This Is Us” With “Game of Thrones” sidelined, the field appears to be wide open with five freshman series taking on established veterans “Better Call Saul” and “House of Cards.” Hulu’s riveting adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian thriller struck a nerve amid a year of political tension. It’s certainly a worthy candidate. But my gut tells me that the heartwarming blockbuster hit “This Is Us” will take the prize. If it does, it would be the first broadcast network series to prevail in the category since “24” did in 2006.
“Atlanta” (FX); “Blackish” (ABC); “Master of None” (Netflix); “Modern Family” (ABC); “Silicon Valley” (HBO); “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix); “Veep” (HBO). Should win: “Atlanta” Will win: “Veep” It’s great to see the voters recognize the work of actorauteurs, as represented by Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” and Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None.” Both are outstanding shows that reject the predictable pace and rhythms of the standard sitcom in favor of a naturalistic, indie film-like approach. “Atlanta,” in particular, has some momentum after being honored by the Golden Globes and the TV critics. Still, it’s difficult to imagine that the consistently brilliant “Veep” — with its biting political satire — won’t pull off a three-peat.
“Big Little Lies” (HBO); “Fargo” (FX); “Feud: Bette and Joan” (FX); “The Night Of” (HBO); “Genius” (National Geographic).
Should win: “Big Little Lies” Will win: “Big Little Lies” I’ve long been a “Fargo” guy. Few pieces of television are as masterful as the first two installments of the snow-capped saga inspired by the Coen brothers classic. But in its third outing, “Fargo” experienced a bit of a drop-off, leaving “Feud” and “Big Little Lies” to battle it out here. “Feud” was a wickedly delicious guilty pleasure set in old Hollywood. But “Big Little Lies,” a smartly crafted adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s best-seller, was so provocative, relentlessly mesmerizing and packed with star power. In a close call, it gets the nod.
Best actress, drama
Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder,” ABC); Claire Foy (“The Crown”); Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”); Keri Russell (“The Americans,” AMC); Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”); Robin Wright (“House of Cards”).
Should win: Elisabeth Moss Will win: Elisabeth Moss It’s hard to believe that Moss has racked up seven Emmy nominations over her career and never won. That shut-out streak should end on Sunday. Yes, she’s part of an impressive field that includes a previous winner (Davis), but Moss hit new peaks with her stunningly magnetic performance as Offred. It’s time for the voters to make amends for failing to honor her all those years for “Mad Men.”
Best actor, drama
Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”); Anthony Hopkins (“Westworld”); Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”); Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”); Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan,” Showtime); Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”); Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”).
Should win: Sterling K. Brown
Will win: Sterling K. Brown
Brown was a winner last year for his remarkable work in “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” The Stanford grad has been just as good, if not better, in “This Is Us” — especially through his arc as the adopted son bonding with his cancerstricken birth father. He simply has a way of cracking your heart open. Then again, the “This Is Us” vote possibly could be split between
Best actress, comedy
Pamela Adlon (“Better Things,” FX); Tracee Ellis-Ross (“Black-ish”); Jane Fonda (“Grace and Frankie,” Netflix); Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”); Allison Janney (“Mom,” CBS); Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”); Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”).
Should win: Julia LouisDreyfus
Will win: Julia LouisDreyfus
First, let’s applaud the voters for recognizing Adlon for her great work in a freshman show that wasn’t exactly on everyone’s radar. Now on to the reining queen. My God, LouisDreyfus has already won the prize five years in a row! And, yes, Emmy reruns usually bore us to tears. Then again, every one of her prizes has been earned and her live-wire performance as Selina Meyer continues to be TV hall-of-fame stuff. Louis-Dreyfus is comedy perfection.
Best actor, comedy
Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”); Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”); Zach Galifianakis (“Baskets,” FX); Donald Glover (“Atlanta”); William H. Macy (“Shameless,” Showtime); Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent,” Amazon).
Should win: Donald Glover Will win: Jeffrey Tambor Tambor has posted backto-back victories, so he’s the clear favorite. On the other hand, “Transparent” failed to earn a best-comedy series nomination for the first time, so maybe some of the show’s buzz is waning. Either way, I’d love to see Glover capture the prize for his textured and precisely rendered performance as a restless drifter struggling to gain some traction in life. He’s a star on the rise.
Best actress, limited series or movie
Carrie Coon (“Fargo”); Felicity Huffman (“American Crime,” ABC); Nicole Kidman (“Big Little Lies”); Jessica Lange (“Feud”); Susan Sarandon (“Feud”); Reese Witherspoon (“Big Little Lies”).
Should win: Nicole Kidman Will win: Nicole Kidman This is the glamor category, packed with Oscar winners and big-name performers. It’s also the most difficult race to call. Will the “Feud” and “Lies” women cancel each other out, paving the way for Coon or Huffman? Among the “Feud” leads, Lange had the juicier role, and the same goes for Kidman in “Lies.” Her quiet storm of a performance as a battered wife caught in a turbulent marriage was the kind of raw and emotionally devastating portrayal rarely seen on television. So I’ll go with her, but won’t put any money on it.
Best actor, limited series or movie
Riz Ahmed (“The Night Of”); Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock: The Lying Detective,” PBS); Robert De Niro (“The Wizard of Lies,” HBO); Ewan McGregor (“Fargo”); Geoffrey Rush (“Genius”); John Turturro (“The Night Of”).
Should win: Ewan McGregor Will win: Robert De Niro Don’t get me wrong, De Niro was excellent as financial swindler Bernie Madoff. But I’m picking him mainly because Emmy voters often seem to go ga-ga over major movie stars. The guy who really stood out was McGregor, who played not one, but two, major characters. And he not only drew distinctive personalities from each man, but managed to find both the humor and pathos in both.
And the Emmy should also go to …
Supporting actress, drama: Chrissy Metz, “This Is Us”
Supporting actor, drama: John Lithgow, “The Crown”
Supporting actress, comedy: Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”
Supporting actor, comedy: Alec Baldwin, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Supporting actress, limited series or movie: Regina King, “American Crime”
Supporting actor, limited series or movie: Alexander Skarsgard, “Big Little Lies”
TV movie: “Wizard of Lies”
Variety talk series: “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” (HBO)
Variety sketch series: “Saturday Night Live”
Brown and co-star Ventimiglia, which would most likely leave the door open for Odenkirk. “Atlanta,” starring Donald Glover, left, and Tyree Henry, has won raves, but can it upend perennial favorite “Veep” at the Emmy Awards?
Sunday’s Emmy Awards could be a big night for “The Handmaid’s Tale” star Elisabeth Moss.