Outstanding Drama Series
Game of Thrones
Will and Should Win: Breaking Bad
The most breathtakingly filmed, constantly surprising thriller on TV continues to tally business successes, moral failures, and unsuspecting victims.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Damian Lewis, Homeland
Will and Should Win: Bryan Cranston
The ongoing devolution of Cranston’s meth-making Walter White from mild chemistry teacher to steely drug kingpin could have been melodramatic, but Cranston rooted his performance in a terrifying reality.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law
Glenn Close, Damages
Claire Danes, Homeland
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Marguiles, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Will and Should Win: Claire Danes
Homeland was the season’s best new cable drama, and much of the reason for that was Danes’ performance as Carrie, a brilliant, anxiety-ridden CIA agent.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Will Win: Giancarlo Esposito
Esposito artfully infused quiet strength in Gus Fring, the man with the big secret: He wasn’t running a fast-food restaurant, he was running drugs — and Walter White’s life. That is, until a big explosion blew Gus away.
Should Win: Aaron Paul
Costar Paul’s Jesse is just as strong, but this is Esposito’s Emmy year.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Will and Should Win: Christina Hendricks
Joan’s increased responsibilities on Mad Men — single mom, newly promoted partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce — gave Hendricks a chance to turn in an even more fully formed, heart-wrenching performance.
Outstanding Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Will Win: Modern Family
Family remains network TV’s funniest, warmest sitcom. Not even a highly publicized salary dispute will trounce the show’s chances.
Should Win: Girls
In an alt-universe, I’d pick cable’s best new comedy, but that show is young and its time will come.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Louis C.K., Louie
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Will and Should Win: Louis C.K.
These guys are great, but no one worked as hard as C.K., the assiduously schlubby writer/director/editor/star of his terrific FX sitcom.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Never underestimate the power of a familiar, beloved face to sway voters, and Louis-Dreyfus proved she still has crack timing on HBO’s Veep. It’d be a pleasure to see Louis-Dreyfus accept another Emmy.
Should Win: Amy Poehler
That said, Poehler’s performance on Parks and Rec matched the Seinfeld vet’s.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burell, Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Max Greenfiel, New Girl
Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live
Ed O’Neill, Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Will and Should Win: Ed O’Neill
One of the few Modern Family cast members who hasn’t yet won an Emmy, O’Neill deserves one. His performance as the gruff-on-the-outside, marshmallow-on-the-inside Jay was a comic gem.
Oustanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Kathryn Joosten, Desperate Housewives
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Will Win: Mayim Bialik
There’s a lot of buzz for Bialik’s fine work on Big Bang Theory, and she’s honed a character who can go toe-to-toe in any scene with Emmy winner Jim Parsons — no small feat.
Should Win: Julie Bowen
Last year’s winner deserves another Emmy for blending slapstick with smarts.