The 2015 Emmys take place on Sunday for Los Angeles, and EW’s television experts Lynette Rice and James Hibberd are here to make predictions. Ahead, who they think will take home awards on television’s biggest night. (More of Lynette’s predictions can be found at GoldDerby.com.)
Outstanding Drama Series
House of Cards
Game of Thrones
Orange is the New Black
Better Call Saul
Lynette: This is a tough one. Warm and fuzzies may prompt voters to honor the final season of Mad Men — which was obviously terrific — but my money is on the egregiously under-awarded Game of Thrones.
James: The signs point to a victory lap for the final season of AMC’s modern masterpiece Mad Men. The series is a four-time winner that was shoved aside in recent years by Breaking Bad. So it’s poised to reclaim the top spot, right? Yet, mark these words, perpetually bloody bridesmaid Game of Thrones is eventually going to take this category. HBO’s hit, now on its fifth year, is nominated every season and never wins. This round, Thrones has more nominations than any other show. Respect for Thrones continues to rise within the industry and the only question is whether the Academy bestows the top prize this year, or later. So: Smart money is Mad Men, but I’m thinking for the first time that HBO might overthrow one of AMC’s critical darlings to take the throne.
Outstanding Comedy Series
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Parks and Recreation
Lynette: Sorry, viewers: everyone likes to see a brand new victor in the top categories but the incumbent still delivers the laughs after all these years. So expect Modern Family to win again on Sunday night. And hey, a broadcast TV show should be able to take home an Emmy in at least one category this Sunday, right?
James: Speaking of ending streaks, I’m betting Sunday snaps the five-time category domination for Modern Family. I know: Emmy prognosticators die on this same hill every year. But this time there are two viable candidates to take the top prize: Amazon’s groundbreaking Transparent (which won the Golden Globe for best comedy series) and HBO’s Veep (which is coming off its best season). Either might win, though Veep might have the edge (if only because Emmy voters tend to avoid playing “me too” to the Globes).
Outstanding Actress in Comedy
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie)
Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie)
Amy Poehler (Parks and Rec)
Lisa Kudrow (The Comeback)
Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer)
Lynette: As I’ve always said, Emmy likes to save her surprise wins in the actor categories, and Amy Schumer is truly the It Girl of the season.
James: Amy Schumer is everywhere this year (including our cover) so it’s no surprise she broke into the best actress club despite being on a sketch comedy show instead of traditional narrative series. Still, I suspect she’ll get her due in the sketch category instead of this one. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a longtime Emmy queen, with four wins in this spot, so it’s hard to see her losing for Veep‘s best year.
Outstanding Actor in Comedy
Louis C.K. (Louie)
Anthony Anderson (Blackish)
Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent)
Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth)
William H. Macy (Shameless)
Don Cheadle (House of Lies)
Matt LeBlanc (Episodes)
Lynette: There are plenty of voters who would probably argue that Forte and Louis C.K. were much funnier than Jeffrey Tambor, but Transparent is a culturally relevant show and Tambor’s performance — though more dramatic than knee-slapping — was both extraordinary and history-making.
James: C’mon, it’s Jeffrey Tambor. The overwhelming and well deserved favorite (despite my previous line about Emmys not copying the Globes).
Outstanding Actress in Drama
Robin Wright (House of Cards)
Taraji P. Henson (Empire)
Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder)
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
Claire Danes (Homeland)
Lynette: Such an extraordinary category because everyone is massively deserving of some time at the podium this Sunday, but my money is on Viola Davis. Who else can deliver the line, “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?” with such delicious intensity?
James: Streak Snapping Part III. We’re excited Tatiana Maslany was finally nominated for her multi-faceted performance, but the recognition will end with that. There’s one actress coming off her best season (Elisabeth Moss, yet another perpetual Mad Men bridesmaid, one who has lost five times), plus two buzzy powerhouses coming off their freshman breakouts — Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson. You can make a strong case for any, and if it’s a Mad Men sweep then Moss will take it. Oddsmakers are currently leaning to Davis. I’m going to go out on a limb and bet on Henson. She’s created an iconic character that’s hard to imagine anybody else playing. Say the name “Annalise Keating” and most pop culture fans will have to check Google (which shows 227,000 results for the name of Davis’ character). You say “Cookie Lyon” and everybody knows who you’re talking about (19.2 million results).
Outstanding Actor in Drama
Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
Kyle Chandler (Bloodline)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan)
Lynette: Voters — at least the honest ones — say they aren’t influenced by sentiment when it comes time to honor a performance. But Jon Hamm’s lack of Emmy gold is preposterous, and his final season was hypnotic. Hamm, you can finally clear out that space on your mantle.
James: Streak Snapping Part IV? Bob Odenkirk turned in a compelling performance for the freshman season of Better Call Saul, and Kevin Spacey is always a threat. But Jon Hamm has set a record for the most nominations ever in this category with zero wins (that would be seven). At a certain point, this is just cruel, and Hollywood can’t resist a happy ending.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in Comedy
Niecy Nash (Getting On)
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory)
Gaby Hoffmann (Transparent)
Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Anna Chlumsky (Veep)
Lynette: Mayim Bialik is a treasure and Kate McKinnon deserves a Kristen Wiig-like film career, but longtime voter fave Allison Janney will own this category as long as she and Mom are in primetime.
James: It’s probably down to six-time Emmy winner Allison Janney and Anna Chlumsky. But it’s hard to best against a winner, and Janney will likely take it again.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in Comedy
Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Adam Driver (Girls)
Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele)
Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Tony Hale (Veep)
Lynette: While there is a part of me that wonders whether most — or heck, even half — of the TV Academy members even knew of Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt before the nominations, my guess is that they’ll want to hug it out with breakout star Tituss Burgess once they finally view his episodes. He’s that good.
James: Will Tony Hale ride the Veep wave onto the Nokia stage? Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt breakout Tituss Burgess? Emmy favorite Ty Burrell? My wimpy prediction for this tough category: It’s probably one of those three.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
Uzo Aduba (Orange Is the New Black)
Christine Baranski (The Good Wife)
Lynette: Christine Baranski is one of the main reasons I return to The Good Wife every Sunday, but her cucumber cool portrayal of Diane Lockhart is no match for Lena Headey‘s Cersei Lannister. And let’s be honest: It’s not as if Lockhart has ever been shamed while walking nude into a courtroom. Headey, you blow my mind.
James: Lena Headey has delivered an incredible performance on Thrones since the first season, and if the show was a four-character contemporary-set drama instead of a 30-character fantasy series I bet she would already have a couple of these statues under her belt for this show. Headey faces tough competition from Christina Hendricks, who arguably gave her finest performance yet, and Uzo Aduba, but Headey’s portrayal of Cersei Lannister’s breakdown this season was riveting and this award feels overdue.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama
Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul)
Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline)
Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Michael Kelly (House of Cards)
Alan Cumming (The Good Wife)
Lynette: If there is one show that should be required binging before Sunday, it’s Netflix’s Bloodline — only to see Ben Mendelsohn‘s portrayal of a flawed man who was tragically betrayed by a family that was supposed to protect him.
James: Peter Dinklage and Ben Mendelsohn are formidable. But Jonathan Banks unexpectedly broke our hearts during crusty Mike Ehrmantraut’s flashback episode of Better Call Saul. So after years of strong work playing this character on Breaking Bad, nominated three times and never winning, Banks is poised for victory.
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