It’s been an incredible year for television – and that has meant some very tough decisions for Emmy voters.
“House of Cards” put Netflix on the map in a big way. “Breaking Bad” exploded – not just in the episodes that are eligible, but in the ones that are airing right now. Kerry Washington has serious heat for “Scandal.”
Let’s take a moment to savor what a year it’s been. “Game of Thrones” brought us a shocking “Red Wedding.” Walter White got caught. Don Draper stopped running from his past. “Nashville” and “Scandal” showed primetime how to do soapy drama right. Kevin Spacey looked us in the eye – again and again – and told us what’s what.
If ever there was an awards to just say all the nominees are winners and skip the ceremony, this is it. But the statuettes are already paid for, so I guess we’d better make some final predictions. Here they are.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Connie Britton, “Nashville”
Claire Danes, “Homeland”
Michelle Dockery, “Downton Abbey”
Vera Farmiga, “Bates Motel”
Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men”
Kerry Washington, “Scandal”
Robin Wright, “House of Cards”
Will win and should win: Moss. She’s deserved a win for years now, and this was the season that finally put Peggy Olson on top. Moss will have to stave off strong challenges from Washington, Wright and Danes (last year’s winner) but I think she can. If she doesn’t win for this, she’ll win for her Lead Actress in a Movie or Miniseries role for “Top of the Lake.”
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Hugh Bonneville, “Downton Abbey”
Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”
Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”
Damian Lewis, “Homeland”
Will win: Spacey. This race is between Spacey and three-time winner Cranston. I think Emmy voters will give it to Spacey as a way of recognizing “House of Cards” in general. Spacey rules the show like his character does the Congress. Great as his supporting cast is, there would be no show without him.
Should win: Cranston or Spacey. Cranston was excellent – he always is – but the Emmys can also recognize him next year, when the current episodes of “Breaking Bad” are eligible. The new episodes run rings around the ones now up for consideration. In fact, let’s give “Breaking Bad” next year’s awards on Sunday.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
Jason Bateman, “Arrested Development”
Louis C.K., “Louie”
Don Cheadle, “House of Lies”
Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes”
Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”
Will win: Louis C.K. The Emmys are going to lose some credibility if they don’t give this to C.K. sometime. There’s no prize for writing, directing, starring in and editing your own show, so this is the least they can do.
Should win: Louis C.K.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Laura Dern, “Enlightened”
Lena Dunham, “Girls”
Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
Tina Fey, “30 Rock”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”
Will win: Louis-Dreyfus. Her show had the funniest season, and she won last year. If it ain’t broke…
Should win: Dern. “Enlightened,” her HBO show, was more ambitious than any of its competitors here, and was frankly too challenging to win viewers over. Dern’s Amy Jellicoe was smart, idiotic, inspiring, infuriating, heroic and repulsive – just like a real person. Dern played the hell out of her.
Outstanding Comedy Series
“The Big Bang”
Will win: “Veep.” It’s smart and brutally funny, and “Modern Family” has plenty of wins already with three.
Should win: “Louie.” It goes deeper than “Veep,” really exploring what it means to be a human, with a daring mix of light and dark. It’s wasn’t as funny as “Veep” last season, but it felt more real.
Outstanding Drama Series
“Game of Thrones”
“House of Cards”
Should win and will win: “Breaking Bad.” I’m going to be honest. “Breaking Bad” is my favorite show, ever. But I didn’t think the first half of Season 5 – which is eligible this year – was as good as Season 4. And the current, final episodes are blowing both away. They’re the best television I’ve ever seen. But life isn’t fair, so I think Emmy voters will award “Breaking Bad” for the first half of Season 5 as a way of recognizing the whole show’s run. They could wait until next year and award the current run, but there’s always the risk that they won’t, so just to be on the safe side they’ll give “Breaking Bad” the Emmy now.
Dark Horse: “Game of Thrones” has the most total nominations this year, edging out “Breaking Bad.” And it had a stunning season. I can’t count it out.
Outstanding Reality-Competition Series
“The Amazing Race”
“Dancing With the Stars”
“So You Think You Can Dance”
Will win and should win: “The Voice.” I know, “Amazing Race” actually is amazing and wins almost every year. But “The Voice” feels fresh and of the moment, and it has a good heart. I think it’s time.