USA TODAY US Edition
Who will – and who should – win at Emmys
With COVID-19 production delays grounding usual heavy hitters, lesser-known series and actors may have better chances Sunday.
Are we in for a “Schitt’s Creek”-style sweep by “Ted Lasso” at the 2021 Emmys? Will Netflix finally take the “Crown”? Can Kate Winslet’s Philly accent win her the gold? h There are a lot of questions going into Sunday’s 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards (CBS and Paramount+, 8 EDT/5 PDT). But one thing’s for sure: The scaled-down ceremony, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will more resemble a traditional awards show than last year’s virtual one. But even if we know how the glamorous night will look on our TVs, do we know who will win? h This year’s Emmy race has been full of predictable front-runners (“Lasso,” Jean Smart from “Hacks”) and some hopeful spoilers (Bowen Yang of “Saturday Night Live,” “The Boys”). With many perennial Emmy winners not in contention this year because of COVID-19-related production delays – “Succession,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “The Morning Show,” “Better Call Saul” and “Killing Eve” among them – there are many more chances for lesser-known series to triumph. h If you’re planning to play the odds in an Emmy office pool, or just like to be in the know as the envelopes are opened, we pick the likely winners in most major categories and note who should really take home the gold.
“The Boys” (Amazon) “Bridgerton” (Netflix)
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu) “Lovecraft Country” (HBO) “The Mandalorian” (Disney+) “Pose” (FX)
“This Is Us” (NBC)
Should win: “The Boys”
Will win: “The Crown” Nominating a subversive, violent comic book series for the Emmys’ top award was a bold move by members of the TV Academy, but probably as bold as they’ll go with this category. Although Amazon’s “Boys” is meticulously brought to life with stellar performances,
it’s probably a bit too bloody to take home the top award. That will likely go to the fourth season of Netflix’s British royal drama “The Crown,” which found new vigor by adding Emma Corrin and Gillian Anderson to the cast as Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher, respectively. Netflix has never managed to win the Emmys’ top prize, and this is probably its year.
“Cobra Kai” (Netflix)
“Emily in Paris” (Netflix) “Hacks” (HBO Max)
“The Flight Attendant” (HBO Max) “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
“Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+)
Should win: “Hacks”
Will win: “Ted Lasso”
“Ted Lasso,” the feel-good show of the feel-bad year, will be an unstoppable force at this year’s Emmys (if only the fictional Richmond football club could be as unstoppable on the pitch). It’s a superb series but slightly outshone by the dazzling debut of HBO Max’s “Hacks,” a stunning showcase for veteran actress Smart and one of the funniest series of the year. But “Lasso” will likely win here, even if Smart claims best actress.
“I May Destroy You” (HBO)
“Mare of Easttown” (HBO)
“The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
“The Underground Railroad” (Amazon) “WandaVision” (Disney+)
Should win: “I May Destroy You”
Will win: “The Queen’s Gambit”
There was no series from the past year that was as affecting, transcendent, or accomplished as “I May Destroy You,” last summer’s HBO miniseries from creator/star Michaela Coel about a woman who is drugged and sexually assaulted. But the slightly under-the-radar British series doesn’t have the buzz or Hollywood star power of “Gambit,” Netflix’s series about a fictional female chess prodigy (Anya TaylorJoy), which is likely to come out on top. “Gambit” also is an excellent and engrossing series, but it doesn’t quite match the stunning heights of “Destroy.”
Lead actress, drama series
Uzo Aduba, “In Treatment” (HBO)
Olivia Colman, “The Crown” (Netflix)
Emma Corrin, “The Crown” (Netflix) Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu) Mj Rodriguez, “Pose” (FX)
Jurnee Smollett, “Lovecraft Country” (HBO) Should win: Mj Rodriguez, “Pose”
Will win: Emma Corrin, “The Crown” Rodriguez made history when she received an Emmy nomination this summer as the first openly transgender woman contending for a lead acting award. Her performance on all three seasons of “Pose” has been Emmy-worthy, historic or not. But she is likely to be beaten by Corrin, whose portrayal of Princess Diana on “Crown” has been the talk of the town since the fourth season premiered last November.
Lead actor, drama series
Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us” (NBC) Jonathan Majors, “Lovecraft Country” (HBO) Josh O’Connor, “The Crown” (Netflix) Regé-Jean Page, “Bridgerton” (Netflix)
Billy Porter, “Pose” (FX)
Matthew Rhys, “Perry Mason” (HBO)
Should win: Regé-Jean Page, “Bridgerton”
Will win: Josh O’Connor, “The Crown”
Was there a bigger breakout star from the 20202021 TV season than Page, the smoldering “Bridgerton” duke who also wowed audiences on “Saturday Night Live”? His hype is deserved after his “Bridgerton” performance stole the show from every other cast member, chewing scenery left and right. However, Page is more the populist pick this year and O’Connor the insider favorite. After two seasons playing the pained Prince Charles on “Crown,” he is likely to win.
Lead actress, comedy series
Aidy Bryant, “Shrill” (Hulu)
Kaley Cuoco, “The Flight Attendant” (HBO Max) Allison Janney, “Mom” (CBS)
Tracee Ellis Ross, “Black-ish” (ABC)
Jean Smart, “Hacks” (HBO Max)
Should win: Jean Smart, “Hacks”
Will win: Jean Smart, “Hacks”
All hail the queen of television. No one in the industry has had a year quite like Smart, who is a double nominee for “Hacks” and her supporting turn in limited series “Mare of Easttown.” The veteran actress has found the perfect role as a has-been Las Vegas comedian who begrudgingly accepts a young writer on her staff. And she is astonishingly good. Although she’s up against excellent performances, particularly from Bryant and Cuoco, this is her award to lose. And she won’t.
Lead actor, comedy series
Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish” (ABC) Michael Douglas, “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix) William H. Macy, “Shameless” (Showtime) Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+) Kenan Thompson, “Kenan” (NBC)
Should win: Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso”
Will win: Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso”
There is no stopping the offense of positivity, folksy accents and physical comedy that Sudeikis unleashes as an American football coach turned hapless British soccer coach in this comedy based on a character created for an NBC Sports promo. The success of the series was contingent on Sudeikis making Ted a realistic, likable character, and he has succeeded many times over. Mustache and all, Sudeikis gives one of the best performances of his career.
Lead actress, limited series or TV movie
Michaela Coel, “I May Destroy You” (HBO) Cynthia Erivo, “Genius: Aretha” (National Geographic)
Elizabeth Olsen, “WandaVision” (Disney+) Anya Taylor-Joy, “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix) Kate Winslet, “Mare of Easttown” (HBO)
Should win: Michaela Coel, “I May Destroy You” Will win: Kate Winslet, “Mare of Easttown” In addition to writing one of the best series of the TV season, Coel also gave one of the best performances. Her portrayal of Arabella, a woman struggling to remember and recover from a devastating assault, is haunting. But it’s hard to beat a movie star like Winslet who comes to TV and makes a hit. The endless hype over the work she put into developing her Philadelphia-area accent only works in her favor.
Lead actor, limited series or TV movie
Paul Bettany, “WandaVision” (Disney+)
Hugh Grant, “The Undoing” (HBO)
Leslie Odom Jr., “Hamilton” (Disney+)
Ewan McGregor, “Halston” (Netflix) Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Hamilton” (Disney+) Should win: Hugh Grant, “The Undoing”
Will win: Paul Bettany, “WandaVision” “WandaVision” has a shocking amount of Emmy momentum behind it, despite the TV Academy’s historically shunned superhero series. For Kathryn Hahn as supporting actress in a limited series it’s deserved, but here it feels a bit of an overreach. As wonderful as Bettany is, his performance as the android Vision wasn’t anything special. But he’ll likely win anyway. It’s a bummer for Grant, who was consistently the best part of HBO’s soapy and twisty “Undoing.”
Supporting actress, drama series
Gillian Anderson, “The Crown” (Netflix) Helena Bonham Carter, “The Crown” (Netflix) Madeline Brewer, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu) Ann Dowd, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu) Aunjanue Ellis, “Lovecraft Country” (HBO) Emerald Fennell, “The Crown” (Netflix) Yvonne Strahovski, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu) Samira Wiley, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu) Should win: Gillian Anderson, “The Crown”
Will win: Gillian Anderson, “The Crown”
“The Crown” is poised for a potential near-sweep in the acting categories among Corrin, O’Connor and Anderson.
Anderson is the biggest lock of the three, receiving wide acclaim for her take on controversial British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. With the help of wigs and a very specific accent, Anderson embodied the public figure with eerie accuracy. Her stories were a standout on this season of “Crown,” and industry insiders aren’t too skeptical about her chances here.
Supporting actor, drama series
Giancarlo Esposito, “The Mandalorian” (Disney+) O-T Fagbenle, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu) John Lithgow, “Perry Mason” (HBO)
Tobias Menzies, “The Crown” (Netflix)
Max Minghella, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu) Chris Sullivan, “This Is Us” (NBC)
Bradley Whitford, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu) Michael K. Williams, “Lovecraft Country” (HBO) Should win: Michael K. Williams, “Lovecraft Country”
Will win: Michael K. Williams, “Lovecraft Country” Williams has been the favorite in this category for weeks for his sensitive and strong performance as a troubled father on HBO’s one-season sci-fi drama. That the beloved actor died suddenly at 54 on Sept. 6 only adds poignancy to the expected win. His death will not affect Emmy voting, however; the ballot deadline was Aug. 30.
Supporting actress, comedy series
Aidy Bryant, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC) Hannah Einbinder, “Hacks” (HBO Max)
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC) Rosie Perez, “The Flight Attendant” (HBO Max) Cecily Strong, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC) Juno Temple, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+) Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+) Should win: Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso” Will win: Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso” Sudeikis gets a lot of acclaim for “Lasso,” but he is surrounded by impeccably cast and superbly talented co-stars, Waddingham chief among them. Previously best known as the nun who shouted “shame” on “Game of Thrones,” Waddingham has blossomed in her complex role as Rebecca, a wealthy divorcée who hires the inexperienced Ted, hoping to destroy her exhusband’s beloved soccer team. No character in the series goes through a bigger transformation than Rebecca, and Waddingham makes every minute believable.
Supporting actor, comedy series
Carl Clemons-Hopkins, “Hacks” (HBO Max) Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+) Brendan Hunt, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+)
Nick Mohammed, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+) Paul Reiser, “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix) Jeremy Swift, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+) Kenan Thompson, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC) Bowen Yang, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC) Should win: Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso”
Will win: Bowen Yang, “Saturday Night Live” Every year when making Emmy predictions, it’s always worth throwing in one wild-card pick to anticipate some of the shocks. This year that’s Yang, a phenomenal addition to “SNL” in his short time as a performer on the series. Although Goldstein, who plays surly veteran soccer player Roy Kent on “Lasso,” is a comedic delight, the sheer number of “Lasso” nominations in this category are likely to cancel each other out.
Supporting actress, limited series or TV movie
Renee Elise Goldsberry, “Hamilton” (Disney+) Kathryn Hahn, “WandaVision” (Disney+) Moses Ingram, “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix) Julianne Nicholson, “Mare of Easttown” (HBO) Jean Smart, “Mare of Easttown” (HBO) Phillipa Soo, “Hamilton” (Disney+)
Should win: Kathryn Hahn, “WandaVision”
Will win: Kathryn Hahn, “WandaVision” “WandaVision” can’t match the other limited series nominated this year, but it does have one performance that is absolutely Emmy-worthy, and that’s character actress Hahn’s turn as a kooky neighbor and villain Agatha Harkness. Equal parts comedic and creepy, Hahn elevated every scene of the sitcom fantasy series she was in, even when the convoluted script gave her bad dialogue to spew.
Supporting actor, limited series, or TV movie
Thomas Brodie-Sangster, “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
Daveed Diggs, “Hamilton” (Disney+)
Paapa Essiedu, “I May Destroy You” (HBO) Jonathan Groff, “Hamilton” (Disney+)
Evan Peters, “Mare of Easttown” (HBO) Anthony Ramos, “Hamilton” (Disney+)
Should win: Evan Peters, “Mare of Easttown” Will win: Evan Peters, “Mare of Easttown” After years of playing wild teens and supernatural characters on shows like FX”s “American Horror Story,” Peters finally got a chance to show off his mature acting chops as a young and eager detective in HBO’s murder-mystery series. The actor held his own against Winslet’s star power and offered a quieter, but no less nuanced, performance.