Thursday, June 12, 2014

2014 Emmy Predictions: The Drama Nominees

Four for you, Glen Coco! You go, Glen Coco! Aaaaaand none for Dexter Morgan.
As much as I love the Oscars, the Emmys are perhaps my favorite awards ceremony out of all of the top awards in different artistic media. What makes them so fascinating is that, unlike the Oscars, it's not a completely new batch of nominees from year to year. This means that as a show remains on the air, you get to see new trends in how the Emmy voters view different shows. For example, a show like Weeds was an Emmys darling at the start of its run, before being completely shut out during its later seasons. I have a feeling that this has happened to another Showtime series-- Dexter, which used to be a consistent Emmy nominee, but failed to score long-held nominations last year and had what most considered to be an abysmal final season this past year. Other shows, meanwhile, grow in the Emmys' estimation. The Big Bang Theory was completely ignored when it first aired, but has-- for better or for worse (in my opinion, worse)-- since become a considerable Emmy threat. Last year, there was a lot of buzz for the acclaimed series The Americans, and it got almost completely shut out. Does it have a chance to break into the field this year? And then there's the question of how tried-and-true series which have been on the air for years stack up to newer seasons. Look no further than the Best Drama category this year, where most agree it will be a race between the last season of Breaking Bad and the first season of True Detective. It adds an extra element to the predictions game-- instead of looking at other awards ceremonies to make your predictions, you actually get to look at the Emmys themselves.

As always, this is not necessarily who I want to be the nominees-- it is simply who I think they will be. And I'm making these predictions a full month in advance so things could definitely change as the predictions near. But, for now, here are my predictions for the nominees in the major categories. Let's start with the drama categories.

Outstanding Drama Series:

Malcolm in the Middle had one of the weirdest finales ever.
My Predictions: 
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men
True Detective

The Good Wife
Masters of Sex

The Americans
Boardwalk Empire

I already mentioned that this category will probably come down to a race between the last season of Breaking Bad and the first season of True Detective. I don't see how Breaking Bad won't come out on top, but regardless, both are shoo-ins for a nomination at least. Then, we have longtime Emmy darling Mad Men. While it was once the odds-on favorite to win this category every year, it has not won in the past two years, and will struggle to win again. Still, it's a pretty safe bet for a nomination. So is HBO epic Game of Thrones-- which was seen as a long shot for a nomination in its first year, but has proven itself as a consistent Emmy favorite. Netflix's House of Cards is also a lock.

This leaves one spot left, with a lot of shows competing for it. Downton Abbey and Homeland have both been nominated the past two years (with Homeland winning once) but have experienced diminishing critical returns with each season. This opens up the field for a new show to take this last spot. A good bet would be Masters of Sex, which has gotten a lot of attention but remains a bit of a wildcard given the competitiveness of the Drama categories. If any series is going to be crack this category from the previous nominees, it will be The Good Wife-- a previous nominee itself, which has not been nominated in this category for the past two years. But this last season was hailed as one of the series' best-- if it's going to get back into the Emmys' graces, this would have been the season to do it. Something tells me, though, that Downton Abbey will be nominated again after all. While a lot of people are not with me on this prediction, Downton Abbey  has been shown a disproportionate amount of Emmy love in each of its seasons. The Emmys LOVE this show, and it is hard for me to imagine it not being at play here.

This means that Boardwalk Empire-- another previous nominee in this category, which was once considered a favorite to win the award back in 2011-- is pretty much out completely. I don't see good odds for The Americans either, despite its high acclaim. It didn't manage to impress Emmy voters last year, and with True Detective at play, I think that the category has only gotten more competitive.

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series:

But, like, actually, how the hell did Matthew McConaughey become one of the most acclaimed actors of our generation? How did this happen? When did this happen?
My Predictions:
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Michael Sheen, Masters of Sex

Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Woody Harrelson, True Detective
Damian Lewis, Homeland
James Spader, The Blacklist

Mads Mikkelsen, Hannibal
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Liev Schrieber, Ray Donovan

Another really tough category here. Bryan Cranston will definitely be nominated for his portrayal of Walter White in Breaking Bad's final season. And he will win. He has to win. He's been snubbed now for two years in a row (I'm STILL reeling from Jeff Daniels' perplexing surprise win in this category last year) and this year he will reclaim the award that is rightfully his. The only one who could possibly unseat him is Matthew McConaughey for True Detective, riding in on a wave of Oscar momentum. Many think Daniels will be left out this year, as more and more become disillusioned with both his performance and The Newsroom as a whole. But, as much as a I understand why he might fail to score a nomination here, he wasn't just nominated last year, he WON THE WHOLE THING. To not get nominated the next year would be a huge snub, and he clearly has a lot of fans who will vote for him blindly, so I do think he's a safe bet here. Another safe bet is Kevin Spacey, who portrays the character of evil Southern Kevin Spacey on House of Cards. I also think that Jon Hamm-- the perpetual bridesmaid of the Emmys-- will be nominated for his work on Mad Men. I call him a bridesmaid because this would be his 7th nomination in this category and he STILL has not won, but also because he's in the movie Bridesmaids.

Again, this leaves one spot open, with four people likely competing for it (and any of those four could knock out Hamm, or even Daniels). Those four are Damian Lewis, James Spader, Woody Harrelson, and Michael Sheen. Lewis is a previous winner in this category and of these four is the only nominee from last year, plus his character was killed off this season (um...spoilers. Sorry) which tends to help score a nomination. But, the poorer reviews of this season of Homeland imply that the show is not as much of a force to be reckoned with, and I see this as an indication that Lewis will be knocked out in favor of a bigger, newer name. Spader is certainly not completely new to the Emmys-- he has won several in years past-- so his Emmy darling status makes him a strong possibility for a nomination here. The only problem is that The Blacklist, while popular, really is not all that good. And while even the show's harshest critics agree that Spader is really good in it, the show's overall negative reaction will hurt Spader's chances in such a loaded category. A lot of people are predicting that McConaughey's co-star Harrelson will be the one to grab the nomination, and there's a good chance of this. But, given that McConaughey's name is the one being thrown around much more consistently, I think that Harrelson is going to end up playing second fiddle to his Oscar-winning co-star. This leaves one major contender for the sixth nomination: Michael Sheen for Masters of Sex. The acclaimed show might make a huge splash on Emmys night and garner multiple nominations, or it might end up with a disappointing premiere Emmys showing (a la The Americans last year). If the latter is the case, then I think Sheen is the show's best chance at a major nomination.

Regardless, previous nominees like Steve Buscemi and Hugh Bonneville are looking more and more like longshots as their shows have lost favor and bigger names have thrown their hat into the ring. It also means that Matthew Rhys and Mads Mikkelsen-- who both gained a bit of buzz last year and still have some this year-- are probably going to fail to be contenders for the second time. Of my longshots, the one with the best possibility of pulling an upset is Liev Schrieber for Ray Donovan, but he's in the same position as Spader, and between the two, Spader has the better shot.

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series:

I haven't seen Scandal, and don't know much about it, but it sounds as if it's The West Wing but everyone is sleeping together. Accurate?

My Predictions:
Claire Danes, Homeland
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Kerry Washington, Scandal
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Connie Britton, Nashville
Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex
Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey
Keri Russell, The Americans

There are four pretty certain locks here: Claire Danes, Elisabeth Moss, Kerry Washington, and Robin Wright. All were nominated last year and have a strong chance of getting nominated again (with many thinking that Washington will disrupt Danes' two-year winning streak). This means there are two spots left. Last year, due to the competitive nature of the category, there were actually seven nominees (the reason for this is complicated and might be the subject of another post-- if people are interested in the voting technicalities, let me know in the comments and I'll run through them). The other three nominees from last year-- Michelle Dockery, Connie Britton, and Vera Farmiga-- all have a chance of getting nominated again, and it's likely that at least one of them will, but it's highly unlikely, I think, that two of the three will gain nominations again. Of the three, I think Britton has the worst chance of repeating a nomination. Now that it's in its second season, Nashville has lost a lot of buzz, and Britton has with it. I think Dockery has the best chance of the three, given the aforementioned crush the Emmys has on Downton Abbey. If Dockery does grab the fifth nomination, that leaves one extra spot, which I think will be taken by a nominee we didn't see last year. Julianna Margulies has a great shot at this-- a previous winner in this category, Margulies has the benefit of a really strong season which could catapult her back into the running. But she faces some tough competition. Elizabeth McGovern has been nominated for her work on Downton Abbey, and is submitting herself in the leading actress category for the first time this year. Tatiana Maslany's work on Orphan Black is widely considered some of the best on television, and her exclusion last year was considered a major snub. Lizzy Caplan has gotten great reviews for her work on the new series Masters of Sex, and has a shot here. Lastly, many still hold out hope that the Emmys will recognize The Americans this year and are throwing Keri Russell's name around. This category is really up in the air and could be full of surprises when the nominations are announced in July.

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Drama:

Pictured: The most and the least bald male cast members of Breaking Bad
My Predictions:
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Josh Charles, The Good Wife
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Dean Norris, Breaking Bad
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad

Michael B. Jordan, Boardwalk Empire
Jeff Perry, Scandal                             
Peter Sarsgaard, The Killing
John Slattery, Mad Men
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan
Jeffrey Wright, Boardwalk Empire

For this award to go to Aaron Paul for his performance as a sad puppy dog, he first has to be nominated, and he will be. The next spot in this category will go to Peter Dinklage, who continues to be submitted in the supporting category despite everyone's belief that the show is really about him. Unlike the other categories, Dinklage and Paul are the only two real locks, so this category is a little bit more undecided, but  if there is a third sure bet, it's for Mandy Patinkin in Homeland.

This leaves four spots wide open. While his nomination is not as assured as it has been in previous years, I think Jim Carter is a pretty safe choice to be the fourth nominee. The Breaking Bad writers basically wrote the season in such a way that it would assure Dean Norris a nomination, so he will likely join the ranks of Giancarlo Esposito and Jonathan Banks as antagonists-to-Walter-White-who-get-nominated-once-after-their-characters-are-killed.

This leaves one more spot open-- one that had been filled by last year's winner Bobby Cannavale, who is not eligible this year. It's possible that this free spot will be filled by another actor from the star-studded Boardwalk Empire cast-- most likely Michael B. Jordan or Jeffrey Wright-- but I think it will more likely go to a previous nominee, one who just missed out on making it last time. That would mean either Josh Charles for The Good Wife or John Slattery for Mad Men, and as much as I love Slattery, I think Charles has the better shot.

The third option is that the free spot will go to someone completely new. The best chance of this is Jon Voight, who won the Golden Globe this year and has received several nominations from other awards. In fact, he's probably the safest bet to gain a nomination, but I put him down as just a possibility because...I just really don't see Ray Donovan doing all that well. It's not that people think it's the worst's just that it really doesn't have the substance to be a true Emmys contender. The smart money is on Voight, but I'm taking a risk and leaving him off of my list of nominees. Another possible newcomer to the category is Jeff Perry for Scandal, whose nomination could show a surge in Emmy attention towards the show.

Lastly, there's Peter Sarsgaard for The Killing. You have no idea how much I want this to happen. I have already spoken about how I feel this show is criminally underrated. And I think if the show has any shot at all of getting Emmys love for its exceptional third season, it's on Sarsgaard. He's a recognizable name, and he gave an INCREDIBLE performance. He certainly deserves it, and there has been a tiny bit of buzz surrounding him. Not much, but perhaps it will be enough for him to score a surprise nomination.

Supporting Actress: Drama:

Maggie Smith in the film Gosford Park, but you totally thought it was from Downton Abbey, didn't you?

My Predictions:
Morena Baccarin, Homeland
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Michelle Monaghan, True Detective
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife

Betsy Brandt, Breaking Bad

This category has the potential to be pretty up in the air. At one point, I would have put previous winner Archie Panjabi as a lock for a nomination-- but after she failed to score one last year, she might be out of luck. The supporting categories tend to be rife for upsets, so they become difficult to really predict. But, that means that when making predictions, the previous year's nominees become your best bet. And, sure enough, I think that all of last year's nominees have a chance to score a nomination again this year. But, there's a twist in the form of newcomer Michelle Monaghan, who seems like she has a great chance of winning for her work on True Detective. If Monaghan is in, though, it means that one of last year's nominees is going to be out, and I think the most likely is Emilia Clarke. That means, my predictions are Monaghan, plus last year's nominees Morena Baccarin, Christine Baranski, Anna Gunn, Christine Hendricks, and Maggie Smith.

If someone else breaks into the nominees (possibly unseating Baccarin? I don't know) then the best bet would be either Panjabi or Downton Abbey's Joanne Froggatt, who might join her co-star Smith. There has also been a little bit of buzz for Lena Headey to take Clarke's nomination as the representative for Game of Thrones.

The only wildcard here is Betsy Brandt for Breaking Bad. I honestly think that Brandt could have had a shot, but the writers didn't give Marie a specific standout episode like they did with, say, her husband Hank. Before the season aired, I thought that Brandt would be a surprise contender here, but after the season ended, I thought this wasn't as likely. Still, Brandt is getting a little bit of buzz, and if the Emmys decide to just shower Breaking Bad with all of the awards then Brandt could pull an upset and walk away with a nomination.

And, those are my thoughts on the drama nominees. Please discuss in the comments-- do you think my predictions are correct, or way off? Who deserves a nomination but won't get one? Let me know, and be sure to check out my predictions for the comedy categories.

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