Have you entered a betting pool for Monday night’s telecast of The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards? Good for you. I commend your bravery. If you haven’t, and are perhaps perusing this list in the hopes of gaining some sort of insight … good luck with that.
Oh sure, I’ve won a guessing game or two. Well, actually, just that one. But I will say it helps to apply Awards Show Logic to one’s choices. What is Awards Show Logic? It’s simple: Scan the nominees and look not at who deserves to win, but who voters might deem to be a safe choice to win in that particular round of awards. Sometimes those choices happen to be one in the same. In other instances, less so.
In still other cases, Emmy goes bananas and surprises us either pleasantly or… well, let’s just say there’s a reason “The West Wing” won 26 Emmy awards, including during seasons in which it probably would not have ranked among the best shows on television, while “The Wire” won exactly…zero. The point is, Emmy voters are not known for their sense of adventure. They tend get in a habit and stay with it.
Find out whether I’m right about any of this by checking out The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, August 25th on NBC at 8pm ET/5pm PT, which will be hosted by Seth Meyers. Watch along with IMDb’s Editorial team that night to enjoy the best red carpet glamour in our photo galleries. You also can get real-time updates on winners and highlights from the show by monitoring our homepage, by checking IMDb’s page on Facebook, or following @IMDb on Twitter for live results, and @IMDbMelanie for occasional snark. Until then, visit our Road to the Emmys section for the list of Creative Arts Emmy winners, photos from last year’s telecast and more.
Keep reading to see how Awards Show Logic informed my predictions of this year’s winners.
Outstanding Drama Series
Nominees: “Breaking Bad”, “Downton Abbey”, “Game of Thrones”, “House of Cards”, “Mad Men” , “True Detective”.
Who Should Win: “Breaking Bad”
Who Will Win: “Breaking Bad”. Those who have seen the final episodes of AMC’s landmark series know that this prediction needs little explanation. As for “True Detective”, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s a riveting drama that leaned heavily on cinematic style and the ferocious performances of its leads. If Emmy rewards those elements, that’s understandable. But an Outstanding Drama victor should be solid on every level, and “True Detective’s” fabric is a bit too frayed for me to call it for a win here.
Notable snubs: It’s a crime that neither “Masters of Sex” nor “The Good Wife” received nominations. I would trade “Downton Abbey’s” nod for either of these worthy contenders.
Outstanding Comedy Series
Nominees: “Louie”, “Modern Family”, “Orange Is the New Black”, “Silicon Valley”, “Veep”.
Who Should Win: “Orange Is the New Black”. Launched with virtually no fanfare during the summer of 2013, this series was all anyone could talk about in the months following. Emmy takes a while to follow cultural buzz and reach the same conclusions that viewers and critics do, however. While a win wouldn’t be out of the question, it would be a pleasant surprise.
Who Will Win: “Veep”. Helmed by multiple Emmy-nominee and winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus, this series spun out what may be its best season yet, and more viewers have been flocking to it. Plus, the shine may be fading on “Modern Family” in industry award circles…although Emmy does love repeat winners.
Notable snub: “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” came up golden at the Globes, but was shut out here. But frankly its Fox counterpart “The Mindy Project” is just as deserving of a nomination. That said, I wouldn’t trade out any of this crop of nominees for either, so this observation is more emotional than practical.
Nominees: “American Horror Story”, “Bonnie and Clyde”, “Fargo”, “Luther”, “Treme”, “The White Queen”.
Who Should Win: Don’t get me wrong, I loved “Luther” and “Treme”, and I watched “The White Queen” from start to finish. As for “Bonnie and Clyde”…um… anyhoo, scanning the competition there’s really one choice here.
Who Will Win: “Fargo”. One benefit of “True Detective” characterizing itself as a fully-fledged series opposed to a miniseries/anthology drama is that this excellent FX original isn’t going up against it. But Emmy is notoriously and astoundingly dense sometimes, so if it doesn’t win… there’s always next year.
Outstanding Television Movie
Nominees: Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, The Normal Heart, “Sherlock: His Last Vow (#3.3)”, The Trip to Bountiful, Killing Kennedy.
Who Should Win: The Normal Heart
Who Will Win: The Normal Heart. Because… HBO.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Nominees: Bryan Cranston for “Breaking Bad”, Jeff Daniels for “The Newsroom”, Jon Hamm for “Mad Men”, Woody Harrelson for “True Detective”, Matthew McConaughey for “True Detective”, Kevin Spacey for “House of Cards”
Who Should Win: Bryan Cranston
Who Will Win: Matthew McConaughey. Yes, Cranston’s final run on “Breaking Bad” was peerless, but Emmy loves A-listers – and who doesn’t want to see the man gives us a big speech that starts with “awright, awright awright”?
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominees: Don Cheadle for “House of Lies”,,Louis C.K. for “Louie”,,Matt LeBlanc for “Episodes”, William H. Macy for “Shameless”, Jim Parsons for “The Big Bang Theory” , Ricky Gervais for “Derek”
Who Should Win: William H. Macy for “Shameless.” Macy’s Frank Gallagher was even more of a mess this season and, in truth, not really funny. But he also served up remarkable work this season. Besides, in Emmy’s world, you don’t have to be funny to take home a statue in the comedy categories. Just ask Edie Falco.
Who Will Win: Originally I’d have said Jim Parsons for “The Big Bang Theory”, but Ricky Gervais showed a different, more poignant side with his performance in Netflix’s “Derek”. Emmy has a knack for throwing some dark horses into the winners circle. And I’ll admit it – I’m curious to see how naughty Gervais’s acceptable speech will be.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Nominees: Idris Elba for “Luther”, Chiwetel Ejiofor for “Dancing on the Edge”, Benedict Cumberbatch for “Sherlock: His Last Vow (#3.3)”, Martin Freeman for “Fargo”, Mark Ruffalo for The Normal Heart, Billy Bob Thornton for “Fargo”
Who Should Win: Billy Bob Thornton. In an ordinary season of television, there would be one clear standout in this category. But this year’s crop of actors in this category makes predicting a front runner a bit of an uncertainty…but only a bit. The real race is between Thornton and Mark Ruffalo, and in that match up our Monopoly money is on….
Who Will Win: Billy Bob Thornton.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Nominees: Lizzy Caplan for “Masters of Sex”, Claire Danes for “Homeland”, Michelle Dockery for “Downton Abbey”, Julianna Margulies for “The Good Wife”, Kerry Washington for “Scandal”, Robin Wright for “House of Cards”
Who Should Win: Robin Wright had a wonderful run in season two of “House of Cards.” However…
Who Will Win: Julianna Margulies has been nominated four times for her work on “The Good Wife”, but won only once. I’m betting Emmy voters will make up for snubbing the series in the Drama category by handing her some hardware for her outstanding performance over the most recent season.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominees: Lena Dunham for “Girls”, Edie Falco for “Nurse Jackie”, Julia Louis-Dreyfus for “Veep”, Melissa McCarthy for “Mike & Molly”, Amy Poehler for “Parks and Recreation”, Taylor Schilling for “Orange Is the New Black”
Who Should Win: Amy Poehler for “Parks and Recreation”. She’s been nominated five times in this category. Five! And she deserved everyone one of those nods.
Who Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She’s been nominated too many times and won too few of those for Emmy not to step up, in my opinion. Not that she doesn’t deserve it; Louis-Dreyfus is the main reason “Veep” evolved from being a very funny comedy to one that’s not to be missed.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Nominees: Helena Bonham Carter for Burton and Taylor, Minnie Driver for Return to Zero, Jessica Lange for “American Horror Story”, Sarah Paulson for “American Horror Story”, Cicely Tyson for The Trip to Bountiful, Kristen Wiig for “The Spoils of Babylon”
Who Should Win: Helena Bonham Carter. Watching her in Burton and Taylor wasn’t just a delight. In a perverse way, her portrayal served as sort of a public tutorial on How to Play Liz Taylor that came too late to school Lindsay Lohan. I actually imagined HBC watching LiLo in her Lifetime pic while on a fainting couch and cooing, “Adorable. How darling. Now stand back and let mama show you how it’s done.”
Who Will Win: Cicely Tyson, who reprised her Broadway-originated role for The Trip to Bountiful.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominees: Fred Armisen for “Portlandia”, Andre Braugher for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, Ty Burrell for “Modern Family”, Adam Driver for “Girls”, Jesse Tyler Ferguson for “Modern Family”, Tony Hale for “Veep”
Who Should Win: Andre Braugher for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”. Although Andy Samberg won the Lead Comedy Actor Golden Globe, Braugher’s deadpan Captain Holt is the ingredient that makes “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” so completely enjoyable. Plus, he’s won Emmys twice previously.
Who Will Win: Tony Hale for “Veep”. This is one of those choices that makes sense when you put Emmy’s goggles on. Who doesn’t love Buster Bluth?
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Nominees: Jim Carter for “Downton Abbey”, Josh Charles for “The Good Wife”, Peter Dinklage for “Game of Thrones”, Mandy Patinkin for “Homeland”, Aaron Paul for “Breaking Bad”, Jon Voight for “Ray Donovan”
Who Should Win: Peter Dinklage for “Game of Thrones”
Who Will Win: Aaron Paul for “Breaking Bad”. This is a tough call… Dinklage took us through Tyrion Lannister’s toughest, most emotionally challenging chapter without losing the character’s soul in his performance. But Paul made our hearts bleed for Jesse Pinkman in those final episodes. In the end, this is the last time that Emmy can salute him for that role.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Nominees: Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart, Martin Freeman for “Sherlock: His Last Vow (#3.3)”, Colin Hanks for “Fargo”, Alfred Molina for Return to Zero, Jim Parsons for The Normal Heart, Joe Mantello for The Normal Heart (2014) (TV)
Who Should Win: Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart
Who Will Win: Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart. Because…HBO. Also, he was amazing.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominees: Mayim Bialik for “The Big Bang Theory”, Julie Bowen for “Modern Family”, Anna Chlumsky for “Veep”, Allison Janney for “Mom”, Kate Mulgrew for “Orange Is the New Black”, Kate McKinnon for “Saturday Night Live”
Who Should Win: Kate Mulgrew for “Orange Is the New Black”
Who Will Win: Allison Janney for “Mom”. This is a category where Emmy likes to surprise and shock us – remember last year’s Merritt Wever upset? Knowing this gives Mulgrew the edge…except for the fact that Janney is a five-time Emmy winner.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominees: Christine Baranski for “The Good Wife”, Joanne Froggatt for “Downton Abbey”, Anna Gunn for “Breaking Bad”, Lena Headey for “Game of Thrones”, Christina Hendricks for “Mad Men”, Maggie Smith for “Downton Abbey”
Who Should Win: Christine Baranski for “The Good Wife”
Who Will Win: Anna Gunn for “Breaking Bad”. Both have won Emmys once, although Baranski has been nominated 11 times (including her win) to Gunn’s three. Having said that, this is the last time Gunn can win for this role. Baranski will be back.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Nominees: Angela Bassett for “American Horror Story”, Kathy Bates for “American Horror Story”, Ellen Burstyn for Flowers in the Attic, Frances Conroy for “American Horror Story”, Julia Roberts for The Normal Heart, Allison Tolman for “Fargo”
Who Should Win: Allison Tolman for “Fargo”. She may be a newcomer, but Tolman’s turn in FX’s anthology series hit all the right notes and announced her arrival as a major talent. It would be quite a coup if she wins, and she’d have a fair chance at doing so if not for…
Who Will Win: Julia Roberts for The Normal Heart. A-lister. Celebrity. HBO branding. Emmy voters love all of those factors. And I hope I’m wrong with this call, because Tolman truly deserves the Emmy here.
The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards air at 8pm ET/5pm PT Monday, August 25th on NBC.