ENTERTAINMENT
09/12/2016 11:45 am ET Updated Sep 12, 2016

Who Will Win And Who Should Win At This Year's Emmys

Will "Game of Thrones" and "Veep" score the top awards again?
HBO

If we’ve hit a golden era of television, the Emmys should be great fun, right? Right! This year’s roster of nominations gives us a fairly apt snapshot of the best in TV, or at least one as good as we can expect from a voting body that has granted “The Big Bang Theory” four Outstanding Comedy Series nominations.

In preparation for Sunday’s awards, I’ve humbly cooked up a handbook for who is likeliest to win. Predicting the Emmys isn’t as scientific as the Oscars ― there aren’t umpteen precursor awards and high-profile publicity blitzes to forecast these prizes. But with a little insight into the Television Academy’s voting history and the current critical zeitgeist, placing bets isn’t impossible. And to remind ourselves that no golden age is without some lackluster choices, I’ve suggested a snubbed replacement nominee in each category. Here we go:

  • Outstanding Comedy Series
    <strong>Nominees:&nbsp;</strong>"Black-ish" / "Master of None" / "Modern Family" / "Silicon Valley" / "Transparent" / "Unbre
    HBO
    Nominees: "Black-ish" / "Master of None" / "Modern Family" / "Silicon Valley" / "Transparent" / "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" / "Veep"

    Will win: "Veep" finally dethroned five-time champ "Modern Family" last year. Considering the political comedy hit an all-time high with its most recent season -- tackling grief in all its tragicomic dimensions -- it seems poised to win again. The problem? Every one of these shows has its own zeitgest-y stature, particularly "Transparent" and "Black-ish," which grew more thoughtful in their second outings.

    Should win: Emmy voters are creatures of habit. They glom onto a few favorites and reward them over and over. As tempting as it is to champion something other than a repeat "Veep" victory, especially given today's abundant comedy landscape, there just isn't anything that touches Selina Meyer and her bumbling crew, who seized the presidency and then watched it slip away.

    Still snubbed: So, so many shows. Chief among them, "Getting On" and "Girls." Bye, "Modern Family."
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
    <strong>Nominees:&nbsp;</strong>Ellie Kemper, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" / Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep" / Laurie Metcalf, "G
    ABC
    Nominees: Ellie Kemper, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" / Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep" / Laurie Metcalf, "Getting On" / Tracee Ellis Ross, "Black-ish" / Amy Schumer, "Inside Amy Schumer" / Lily Tomlin, "Grace and Frankie"

    Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is 4 for 4 in this category. One more, and she'll surpass Helen Hunt for the most wins. Given the episode Louis-Dreyfus chose to submit for voters' consideration, the one about Selina's mother's death, she seems impossible to beat.

    Should win: No one is doing better work on television right now than Louis-Dreyfus, but five consecutive trophies is a lot. Perennial Emmy fave Laurie Metcalf, could -- and should -- spoil, having shut down the "Getting On" hospital with agitated poise. But the show's ratings were never splashy, so did enough voters even watch the show? If not, this award belongs to Tracee Ellis Ross. 

    Still snubbed: Where is Rachel Bloom? She can have Amy Schumer's spot, considering Schumer, ya know, isn't actually crafting a character.
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
    <strong>Nominees:&nbsp;</strong>Anthony Anderson, "Black-Ish" / Aziz Ansari, "Master of None" / Will Forte, "The Last Man on
    Amazon
    Nominees: Anthony Anderson, "Black-Ish" / Aziz Ansari, "Master of None" / Will Forte, "The Last Man on Earth" / William H. Macy, "Shameless" / Thomas Middleditch, "Silicon Valley" / Jeffrey Tambor, "Transparent"

    Will win: Jeffrey Tambor's performance was even more delicate in Season 2 of "Transparent," as Maura Pfefferman dove deeper into the nuances of her identity. Given his long tenure in the industry and the show's importance, Tambor is hard to beat. That is, unless the TV Academy prioritizes diverse nominees, in which case Aziz Ansari has the acclaim to pull forward. The Emmys are still atoning for repeated "Big Bang Theory" and "Two and a Half Men" wins in this category, after all.

    Should win: It's hard to argue against Tambor, but it's not easy to imbue television's most lovable character, Richard Hendricks, with a skittish versatility. That distinction belongs to Thomas Middleditch.

    Still snubbed: It was a pipe dream that the Emmys would pay attention to an edgy show like "You're the Worst." If they did, how about nominating Chris Geere instead of William H. Macy?
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
    <strong>Nominees:&nbsp;</strong>Anna Chlumsky, "Veep" / Gaby Hoffmann, "Transparent" / Allison Janney, "Mom" / Judith Light,
    HBO
    Nominees: Anna Chlumsky, "Veep" / Gaby Hoffmann, "Transparent" / Allison Janney, "Mom" / Judith Light, "Transparent" / Kate McKinnon, "Saturday Night Live" / Niecy Nash, "Getting On"

    Will win: This category is mostly made up of industry vets experiencing television renaissances. How to pick one? Nobody from "Saturday Night Live" has ever received this prize, and, with the exception of "Mom," none of these shows generate killer ratings. Allison Janney is a seven-time Emmy winner already, so her favored status may make for an easy box to check.

    Should win: For her soothing compassion and quiet rage as Nurse DiDi on "Getting On," Niecy Nash is the only correct choice. The under-appreciated HBO gem ended its run this year, so the Emmys won't have another chance to reward Nash.

    Still snubbed: Consistently the funniest person in any scene, Melanie Lynskey deserves recognition for "Togetherness." I feel dirty for blaspheming Janney, but she's had her time in this category.
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
    <strong>Nominees:&nbsp;</strong>Louie Anderson, "Baskets" / Andre Braugher, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" / Tituss Burgess, "Unbreaka
    Netflix
    Nominees: Louie Anderson, "Baskets" / Andre Braugher, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" / Tituss Burgess, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" / Ty Burrell, "Modern Family" / Tony Hale, "Veep" / Keegan-Michael Key, "Key and Peele" / Matt Walsh, "Veep"

    Will win: It's already clear that voters love at least two of these shows: "Veep" and "Modern Family." Between them, Tony Hale and Ty Burrell have won four times over the last six years (two trophies each). With "Modern Family" falling out of vogue, the prize could very well land in Hale's hands again. But it often seems there's no supporting player more beloved on television right now than Tituss Burgess' whimsical Titus Andromedon on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt."

    Should win: It's hard to argue against Hale, but after two previous wins, it would be so much more fun to see Burgess nab it.

    Still snubbed: Voters are paying attention to "Silicon Valley" -- just not to its supporting players, particularly T.J. Miller and Zach Woods. They were given more to do this year than Matt Walsh was on "Veep."
  • Outstanding Drama Series
    <strong>Nominees:&nbsp;</strong>"The Americans" / "Better Call Saul" / "Downton Abbey" / "Game of Thrones" / "Homeland" / "H
    HBO
    Nominees: "The Americans" / "Better Call Saul" / "Downton Abbey" / "Game of Thrones" / "Homeland" / "House of Cards" / "Mr. Robot"

    Will win: There's no show on television that seizes more of the zeitgeist than "Game of Thrones," the most honored drama in Emmy history. The final two episodes of its sixth season are some of the series' best. There isn't a competitor that's consistent enough to dethrone the "Game," even though Golden Globe champ "Mr. Robot" carries a lot of new-kid clout for its freshman season. 
     
    Should win: See above. 

    Still snubbed: The shaky second season of "UnREAL" annihilated a lot of the backstage reality-TV drama's critical favor, but its first outing -- the one that's eligible for this prize -- made for television's sharpest prime-time soap. Better that than "Downton Abbey," even if it finished its run on a relatively high note.
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
    <strong>Nominees:&nbsp;</strong>Kyle Chandler, "Bloodline" / Bob Odenkirk, "Better Call Saul" / Rami Malek, "Mr. Robot" / Ma
    FX
    Nominees: Kyle Chandler, "Bloodline" / Bob Odenkirk, "Better Call Saul" / Rami Malek, "Mr. Robot" / Matthew Rhys, "The Americans" / Liev Schreiber, "Ray Donovan" / Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards"

    Will win: Rami Malek's stardom has skyrocketed since the first season of "Mr. Robot" bowed last summer. It helps that the second season aired during the Emmy voting period, boosting its awareness. It's hard to trace patterns in this category after the Bryan Cranston/Jon Hamm era, but the tortured psychology Malek brings to his character makes him the cool, weird kid in town. One problem: After three losses, Kevin Spacey is inching toward "it's his time" territory.

    Should win: Bob Odenkirk was good on "Breaking Bad," but he is great on "Better Call Saul." 

    Still robbed: Nix Spacey's hammy drawl and pay some mind to Clive Owen, who battled another season of addiction on the sharp medical drama "The Knick."
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
    <strong>Nominees:&nbsp;</strong>Claire Danes, "Homeland" / Viola Davis, "How to Get Away with Murder" / Taraji P. Henson, "E
    ABC
    Nominees: Claire Danes, "Homeland" / Viola Davis, "How to Get Away with Murder" / Taraji P. Henson, "Empire" / Tatiana Maslany, "Orphan Black" / Keri Russell, "The Americans" / Robin Wright, "House of Cards"

    Will win: "The Americans" went largely unrecognized throughout its first three seasons. Could Keri Russell right that wrong with a win? She has tough competition in Viola Davis, who would be a repeat winner, and Robin Wright, who remains the best part of "House of Cards."

    Should win: 
    The TV Academy can make up for consistently snubbing Russell's "Felicity" work by handing her this award, which is not undeserved on its own. Or it can recognize Tatiana Maslany, who morphs into an ungodly amount of clones on "Orphan Black."

    Still snubbed: Claire Danes' time has come and gone. Her slot belongs to Carrie Coon, who moved away from grief and into mournful action in Season 2 of "The Leftovers."
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
    <strong>Nominees:&nbsp;</strong>Emilia Clarke, "Game of Thrones" / Lena Headey, "Game of Thrones" / Maggie Smith, "Downton A
    PBS
    Nominees: Emilia Clarke, "Game of Thrones" / Lena Headey, "Game of Thrones" / Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey" / Maura Tierney, "The Affair" / Maisie Williams, "Game of Thrones" / Constance Zimmer, "UnREAL" 

    Will win: One more Maggie Smith trophy for the road? The Dowager Countess didn't even earn a nomination last year, but voters may have a hard time splitting hairs over three different "Game of Thrones" actresses. Then again, it's hard to think of anything else when Cersei Lannister is literally burning King's Landing down. This will probably go to Lena Headey.

    Should win: For her steely vengeance arc, Headey deserves the Iron Throne and more.

    Still robbed: This list is long. Maisie Williams is the wrong Stark sister to champion -- that should be Sophie Turner, who gave her maturest performance yet as Sansa on "Game of Thrones." And sorry, Maggie Smith, but your posh retorts are nothing compared to the grief Christine Baranski showcased in the series finale of "The Good Wife."
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
    <strong>Nominees:&nbsp;</strong>Jonathan Banks, "Better Call Saul" / Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones" / Kit Harington, "Gam
    AMC
    Nominees: Jonathan Banks, "Better Call Saul" / Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones" / Kit Harington, "Game of Thrones" / Michael Kelly, "House of Cards" / Ben Mendelsohn, "Bloodline" / Jon Voight, "Ray Donovan" 

    Will win: Peter Dinklage has snagged this trophy twice, so voters may be in the mood to toss it to Kit Harrington instead, whose evolution as a performer was evident in "Game of Thrones" this year. If not him, Jonathan Banks seems like the only one who's strong enough to be our man.

    Should win: Ben Mendelsohn's fame has ballooned over the past few years as the actor landed coveted roles in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" and "Ready Player One." Hopefully that helps to attract voters to his menacing turn on "Bloodline." 

    Still snubbed: If we're being honest, it wasn't Dinklage's strongest season. Give his slot to Andre Holland for "The Knick."
  • Outstanding Limited Series
    <strong>Nominees:&nbsp;</strong>"American Crime" / "Fargo" / "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" / "The Night
    Outstanding Limited Series
    Nominees: "American Crime" / "Fargo" / "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" / "The Night Manager" / "Roots"

    Will win: This feels like a no-brainer. "The People v. O.J. Simpson" was the year's most inspired series, a highbrow mix of grubbiness and camp. 

    Should win: You could make easy cases for "Fargo" or "American Crime," but there really was nothing more intriguing than "The People v. O.J. Simpson." 

    Still robbed: This is a solid roster, but let's swap "The Night Manager" for "Show Me a Hero."
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
    <strong>Nominees:&nbsp;</strong>Kirsten Dunst, "Fargo" / Felicity Huffman, "American Crime" / Audra McDonald, "Lady Day at E
    FX
    Nominees: Kirsten Dunst, "Fargo" / Felicity Huffman, "American Crime" / Audra McDonald, "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill" / Sarah Paulson, "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" / Lily Taylor, "American Crime" / Kerry Washington, "Confirmation"

    Will win: What a splendid group of women. Most of them come with a heap of industry clout, but it's Sarah Paulson who generated the most attention, for her turn as O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark. It helps, too, that Paulson had a supporting-actress nomination for "American Horror Story: Freak Show." Voters won't want to overlook her twice. 

    Should win: This is the hardest, and the most exciting, category of any. Kirsten Dunst did career-best work as disenfranchised optimist Peggy Blumquist on "Fargo."

    Still snubbed: Nope. No way. This category is perfect.
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
    Bryan Cranston, "All the Way" / Benedict Cumberbatch, "Sherlock: The&nbsp;Abominable Bride" / Idris Elba, "Luther" / Cuba Goo
    FX
    Bryan Cranston, "All the Way" / Benedict Cumberbatch, "Sherlock: The Abominable Bride" / Idris Elba, "Luther" / Cuba Gooding Jr., "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" / Tom Hiddleston, "The Night Manager" / Courtney B. Vance, " "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"

    Will win: We know the TV Academy adores Bryan Cranston, whose buzz stems from a role he first brought to Broadway. If it's not Cranston, expect "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" vet Courtney B. Vance to prevail for his performance as O.J. Simpson defendant Johnnie Cochran. 

    Should win: Vance all the way, baby.

    Still snubbed: Benedict Cumberbatch is old news, and Cuba Gooding Jr. was a few notes off as O.J. Simpson. Instead, "Show Me a Hero" in Oscar Issac (get it?) and show me the money in Patrick Wilson's "Fargo" performance.
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
    <strong>Nominees:&nbsp;</strong>Kathy Bates, "American Horror Story: Hotel" / Olivia Colman, "The Night Manager" / Regina Ki
    FX
    Nominees: Kathy Bates, "American Horror Story: Hotel" / Olivia Colman, "The Night Manager" / Regina King, "American Crime" / Melissa Leo, "All the Way" / Sarah Paulson, "American Horror Story: Hotel"

    Will win: If enough voters watched "American Crime" (doubtful), this trophy would act as a twofer, given that Regina King was left off the ballot for "The Leftovers." Instead, it'll probably go to industry vet Jean Smart, for her role as the steely matriarch of a crime clan on "Fargo."

    Should win: Smart is a fine choice, but it is really is King's moment.

    Still snubbed: Nix either of the "American Horror Story" ladies for Cristin Milioti on "Fargo" and/or Anika Noni Rose on "Roots."
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
    <strong>Nominees:&nbsp;</strong>Sterling K. Brown, "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" / Hugh Laurie, "The Ni
    FX
    Nominees: Sterling K. Brown, "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" / Hugh Laurie, "The Night Manager" / Jesse Plemons, "Fargo" / David Schwimmer, "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" / John Travolta, "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" / Bokeem Woodbine, "Fargo"

    Will win: No one feels like a sure bet here, but Sterling K. Brown's performance unfolded in layers, channeling deeper internal reckoning with each passing week. His competition? Hugh Laurie, who earned six nominations for "House" but never won.

    Should win: Brown or Bokeem Woodbine, who seethed with wry danger as an executioner on "Fargo."

    Still robbed: It feels wrong to pick on David Schwimmer, who was perfectly fine as Robert Kardashian. But Denis O'Hare was the lifeblood of "American Horror Story: Hotel," sensitively portraying a transgender bartender named Liz Taylor.
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