This year's Emmy nominations will be announced bright and early tomorrow morning, sending some television shows and stars soaring to the heights of the profession, and leaving others cold and lonely in the dark. Who will be nominated? Who will be snubbed? Let's make some predictions in the big categories.
Now that TV has beaten film into a lifeless pulp, or whatever cultural trend spotters are saying these days, this is an awfully crowded category. There are mainstays like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, crowd favorites like Homeland and Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey, and a couple of precocious newcomers. Though its second season is currently airing, the first season of Aaron Sorkin's hated/beloved The Newsroom is in Emmy contention this year — will its glossy schmaltz and excellent pedigree woo the Emmy voters despite its tepid critical reception? Also a big question this year is whether voters will heed Netflix's many pleas and recognize House of Cards, which never aired on television, as one of the year's best. (They ought to, in my estimation.) And then there are the scattered others, good shows like Boardwalk Empire and The Good Wife that will probably be lost in all the prestige shuffle.
Predicted Nominees: Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Homeland, Game of Thrones, House of Cards
Wishful Thinking: The Sundance Channel's lyrical, elegiac, mysterious series Rectify was unlike anything else on television this season.
Ugh, Modern Family. There is no doubt that Modern Family will be up for its gazillionth award, and will probably win it. Beyond that, things get a bit more interesting. The new, retooled, and not exactly beloved Arrested Development is another Netflix hopeful, though I think it has less of a chance than Cards. But it certainly would be interesting to see a show nominated nine years after it won the prize — and seven years after it was canceled. The younger Emmy voters may want to reward Netflix's innovation, and older voters still love that nice Ron Howard boy, so it could happen. HBO's pair of witty, urbane comedies, Girls and Veep, will likely be on the list. Ending its seven-season run on a high note as it did, 30 Rock will probably get up there too. (It could even win the whole thing.) Comedy is almost as crowded as drama, with other great series like Louie and Parks and Recreation (well, is P&R really great anymore?) vying for a spot against juggernaut Big Bang Theory and sleeper hit New Girl. Comedy is still where the broadcast networks have some footing, so it'd be a boon for them if something like New Girl could edge out the hip cable stuff. It probably won't, though.
Predicted Nominees: 30 Rock, Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Veep, Girls
Wishful Thinking: Louie is just so damn good, guys. But is it a comedy? That's the tricky thing.
Best Actor, Drama
Men! So many upset, taciturn, angry men. Bryan Cranston has become a straight-up evil monster on Breaking Bad. Damian Lewis is a terrorist/isn't a terrorist/is a terrorist/isn't on Homeland. And Don Draper is always a nightmare. Joining those jerks are new jerks on the block Will McAvoy, Jeff Daniels's narcissistic headcase character on The Newsroom, and Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood, the lead devious mind on House of Cards. And then of course there's Steve Buscemi's murderer guy on Boardwalk Empire and Michael C. Hall's murderer guy on Dexter and Timothy Olyphant as a guy who catches murderers (sometimes he kills them) on Justified. It's a real rogues gallery. My guess is that Daniels will be nominated as a way of wanly honoring Sorkin's entire show, and Kevin Spacey's Respected Movie Actor sheen will endear him to the Academy.
Predicted Nominees: Kevin Spacey, House of Cards; Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad; Damian Lewis, Homeland; Jon Hamm, Mad Men; Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Wishful Thinking: Olyphant deserves some serious recognition for anchoring the complex and knotty Justified with such cool grace.
Best Actress, Drama
With as much attention as her show got this year, I'd be surprised to not see Kerry Washington on the list this year. Scandal is more soap than anything else, but, hell, so is Downton Abbey, and Michelle Dockery is probably going to get a nomination again. Obviously Claire Danes will repeat this year — though Homeland was an uneven mess in its second season, her elastic-faced craziness was consistently compelling throughout. Though Mad Men doesn't really have a lead woman role (or any lead role except for Don), Elisabeth Moss will likely be a double nominee this year, for the miniseries Top of the Lake and for her sturdy work as adwoman Peggy. Past that, Robin Wright could sneak in for her icy, elegant House of Cards performance, and then network divas Connie Britton and Julianna Margulies will be left to battle it out for a spot.
Predicted Nominees: Claire Danes, Homeland; Kerry Washington, Scandal; Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men; Robin Wright, House of Cards; Connie Britton, Nashville
Wishful Thinking: Robin Wright gave the best television performance of the year, but Vera Farmiga on Bates Motel was so loopy and wild and ferociously committed that I would love to see her at least recognized with a nomination. What a kooky delight she was.
Best Actor, Comedy
Alec Baldwin will probably be winning this for his final lap on 30 Rock. He's already won a bunch, but that's fine. He'll be up against old familiars like Big Bang's Jim Parsons and Two and a Half Men's Jon Cryer, because Chuck Lorre is paying off Academy members at this point I'm petty sure. Past those old stalwarts, I think we can expect to see Louis C.K. on the list, as a mea culpa for not nominating his show. Showtime has Matt LeBlanc, for Episodes, and Don Cheadle, for House of Lies, in contention, but I don't think we'll see both of them up there.
Predicted Nominees: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock; Louis C.K., Louie; Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory; Don Cheadle, House of Lies; Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Wishful Thinking: He's a long shot in so many ways — it's a cartoon, he plays a woman — but John Roberts is so marvelous on Bob's Burgers as daffy/sweet mom Linda that he deserves a mention.
Best Actress, Comedy
Lena Dunham and Julia Louis-Dreyfus are going to be HBO ambassadors for sure. Tina Fey will likely win for her final season of 30 Rock. Amy Poehler and Zooey Deschanel are good bets, playing quirky leads on well-liked network shows. I don't know why, but I have the strangest Kaley Cuoco feeling right now, though it's probably because of her recent proximity to Henry Cavill. Beyond them, things get a bit murky. Edie Falco is always a safe bet, no matter the show. Mindy Kaling is well-liked, but she's just doing a slightly kinder, calmed-down variation on Kelly from The Office. Maybe Melissa McCarthy?
Predicted Nominees: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep; Lena Dunham, Girls; Tina Fey, 30 Rock; Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation; Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Wishful Thinking: Laura Dern was so marvelous on Enlightened that I wish they could just give her an Oscar for it. But, again, was it really a comedy?