This year’s Emmy nominations combine the predictable with the shocking, the shocking with the obvious. I’m breaking down the nominees for Next Projection
Best Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Orange Is the New Black
THOUGHTS: This is the first year of eligibility for Netflix’s prison dramedy Orange is the New Black, and the Academy recognized it in a major way, nominating a good chunk of the cast as well. The producers were wise enough to nominate some of the regulars in the “guest appearance” category, resulting in six of the show’s ten plus regular leads receiving nominations this year, as well as the show.
The rest of the category is an interesting mashup between acid-tongued, world-weary sarcasm (Louie, Veep, Silicon Valley) and Classic sitcom slapstick (The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family).
WHO SHOULD WIN: Veep and OITNB manage to feel both fresh and to be consistently funny, which is a height most of the shows in this category only vaguely aspire to reach.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Brooklyn Nine Nine, which is fresh and funny every week.
WHO WILL WIN: Modern Family is a ratings darling, and an Academy darling as well, having won this category four years in a row. All I can say is that as someone who spent the entire season recapping Modern Family’s lackluster season, it doesn’t even belong up there with the rest of the nominees, let alone in the winner’s circle – yet knowing the Academy’s love of repeat wins they might just end up there again unless Orange is the New Black pulls off an upset, or the voting bloc that adores Julia Louis Dreyfus in the Best Actress Category year after year votes for the series as well.
Best Actress in a Comedy Series:
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis Dreyfus, “Veep”
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation
Taylor Schilling, “Orange Is the New Black
THOUGHTS: Of all of the nominations that went out today, this category is the best evidence of the Academy’s tendency to nominate the same performances year after year, as the docket is loaded with series that failed to stand out among the morass and were, indeed, generally sparsely watched by the American public.
Girls wobbled its way out of popular favor in its third, uneven season, with most of the audience’s disgust falling on Dunham’s uneven Hannah. Nurse Jackie also had a dull, unmemorable season that backtracked upon the sobriety reached by its titular character for wont to do anything else with her. Melissa McCarthy’s third nomination for her role as Molly Flynn in the fourth season of Mike and Molly is more of an indication of the Academy’s love of successful movie stars who also work in television than it is indicative of the quality of her performance (Hint: it was serviceable but not special).
The two are joined by usual lock Julia Louis Dreyfus in Veep, frequent nominee Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation, and newcomer Taylor Schiling in Orange is the New Black.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Schilling is amazing as Piper, and Poehler is the category’s long-nominated but forever also-ran – while she did a good job this season, it was a sadly little-watched one. I predict next year’s her year as Parks exits the airwaves in the spring and heavy competition from Schilling won’t be an issue.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Melissa Fumero for her neurotic yet vivacious and adorable Amy on Brooklyn Nine Nine; Emmy Rossum, whose Fiona Gallagher broke hearts as she binged on cocaine and lost control of her family on Shameless; Anna Farris for her complex portrayal as a mom trying to stay sober on Mom.
WHO WILL WIN: Let’s face it, Julia Louis Dreyfus is a deserved lock for her foul-mouthed and brutally honest Vice President Selina Meyer. If it’s not her, then it’s Schiling, and if it’s not Schiling it’s Poehler.
Best Actor in a Comedy Series:
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Ricky Gervais, Derek
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Louis C.K., Louie
William H. Macy, Shameless
THOUGHTS: The Lead Actor in a Comedy category is yet another mess, stuffed with perennial nominees (Parsons, who has won this category more times than I can count), newcomers (Gervais for the unwatched Derek), and Academy darlings (LeBlanc and Macy, the former of whom the Academy seems to yearn to reward for his contribution to Friends).
Parsons, as always, did yeomen’s work helming The Big Bang Theory this year. And yet there’s something rather…rote about the role; it seems as if Sheldon’s been doing the same dance between Amy Farrah Fowler and the joys of his mint sealed-in-bag comics forever.
Macy, oddly, received a nomination for a season his character Frank spent chiefly in bed and incoherent with a failing liver, though he did have several stand-out scenes.
Louis C.K. had a heavily buzzed about season, delivering some surprisingly thoughtful television to our screens and turning into a surprisingly good and heartfelt actor.
Don Cheadle is the best part of House of Lies, but his management consultant doesn’t stick out much in the pack, especially in light of the above performances. LeBlanc received his second nomination for playing an outsized version of himself in Showtime’s Episodes, but it’s yet another show that didn’t receive much buzz this season.
The big surprise in the category would be Gervais winning for the little-seen Derek, a Channel 4 series in which he plays a nursing home attendant that was later picked up by Netflix but little buzzed about, especially in comparison to Orange is the New Black. But Gervais has never been much of a political favorite, especially after a disastrous Golden Globes hosting stint two years ago that people don’t seem to be willing to forget about.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Let’s face it, this is a horse race between C.K. and Parsons, with Macy as the dark horse. In my opinion, Parsons should win for his affecting performance in The Normal Heart instead of his walk-in-the-park and yet vital work as Sheldon, but the Academy loves Mr. Cooper.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Andy Samberg, who turned what could have been a terrible character in Jake Peralta into Brooklyn Nine Nine’s heart and soul.
WHO WILL WIN: Expect Parsons to be rewarded again, unless C.K. manages to rally enough people to his side. Someone from Shameless does deserve something, but if anyone from the show’s getting rewarded it will probably be Joan Cusack.
Supporting Actor, Comedy Series:
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Adam Driver, Girls
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Fred Armisen, Portlandia
Tony Hale, Veep
THOUGHTS: A packed category with some surprisingly quirky choices. Among the men listed, Braugher is the standout; his Captain Ray Holt is a somber, stolid man with a rich life and horribly hard for his colleagues to figure out expressions. It’s rare that a character has been able to capture so many hearts with so little emotion, and Braugher is incredible at it.
Of the two Modern Family nominations, Burrell remains the standout performer, and his physical and, at turns, heartbreaking embodiment of Phil Dunphy helped keep Modern Family afloat this season. Ferguson, meanwhile, was funny and packed a bit of emotion into his typical take on Mitch.
On the quirky side of the line, there’s Fred Armisen in the hipster-bating (and lovingly hipster parodying) IFC series Portlandia, which skewers thirty and fortysomethings in a smart, post-SNL way.
Meanwhile, we have two actors who turned in serviceable but not particular interesting performances, with Driver and Hale both doing just what the category label suggests they do; support the richer lead performances of the lead actresses involved.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Braugher, hands down, is the most interesting actor; for consistency, however, Burrell’s the best pick, with Armisen’s multifaceted Cloud Cuckolanders being the dark horse.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Terry Crews, whose work as, well, Terry is consistently one of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s funniest parts; Johnny Galecki and Simon Halsberg for adding extra punch to The Big Bang Theory; Cameron Monaghan and Noel Fisher, who deserved recognition for their breakout year as Ian Gallagher and Mickey Milkovich, whose romance and coming out story, respectively, drove record amounts of viewers to the show this season on Shameless.
WHO WILL WIN: It’s a horserace between Braugher, Ferguson and Burrell; look for Braugher to win and Burrell and Ferguson to cancel one another out. Surprise upset from the outside: Fred Armisen. There’s a very loose chance that Hale might take it, but does Veep have the votes he needs?
Supporting Actress, Comedy Series:
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Allison Janney, Mom
Kate Mulgrew, Orange Is the New Black
Kate McKinnon,Saturday Night Live
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
THOUGHTS: Welcome to the hardest category to call in this year’s race. Every single nominated woman has put in an excellent performance this year.
Bialik’s Amy stepped out of Kaley Cuoco’s shadow to become the nervy, beating heart of the BBT’s gang of nerdlings. Meanwhile, Bowen continued her work as Modern Family’s series straightwoman Claire Dunphy, and Anna Chlumsky continued her standout performance as Veep’s centering force, Amy. There’s also Kate Mulgrew as Orange is the New Black’s prison cook Red, a tough but tender standout from the cast.
There are two surprise nominees in the lot; Kate McKinnon, the best and boldest new standout to come out of SNL in years and Allison Janney for her work as the sarcastic and still struggling recovering addict, the show’s titular Mom, a show that surprised by displaying a tender heart hidden within its dysfunctional, slapstick-coated core.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Again, this is one heck of a tossup, with a lot of strong performances. I’d probably pick Mulgrew, McKinnon and Bialik out of the pack as the category standouts.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Kaley Cuoco, who finally got to add depth to Penny’s seemingly shallow surface on The Big Bang Theory.
WHO WILL WIN: This is probably Mulgrew’s category to lose, but don’t count out Bowen or Chlumsky.
Best Drama Series
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
THOUGHTS: A whole host of the usual suspects in this category, with the addition of HBO’s new upstart True Detective.
Game Of Thrones and Breaking Bad both had strong, landmark seasons, one can’t deny that, with Breaking Bad delivering a gutpunch of a final season and Thrones finally laying brat king Joffrey to waste.
Downton Abbey, meanwhile, is on the downswing after too many character deaths and too much depressing drama; the snarky, soapy soufflé most of America was enchanted with two years ago has long since gone flat, and this season didn’t carry even a quarter of the buzz that the previous two did.
Mad Men, meanwhile, had a decent though not particularly important half-season leading into a final half next May; when your big stand-out scene involves a fantasy musical number that’s a direct reference to the goofy 60’s sitcom bubble you’re trying to puncture you know you’re in trouble.
House of Cards proceeded along its sleek but not particularly distinguished path that lies an inch above mediocrity thanks to Wright’s and Spacey’s hard work. And rounding out the pack, True Detective had a solid combination of excellent writing and top-notch Hollywood talent behind it that elevated it beyond the level of a typical police procedural.
WHO SHOULD WIN: It’s a solid horserace between Detective, Thrones and Breaking Bad. I think the meth dealers have the obvious upper hand here, though.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Orphan Black, in a walk off.
WHO WILL WIN: You know Breaking Bad will win. I know Breaking BadBreaking Bad will win.
Best Actress in a Drama Series
Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex
Claire Danes, Homeland
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Kerry Washington, Scandal
Robin Wright, House of Cards
THOUGHTS: A stacked race with a few surprises, the biggest of which is Lizzy Caplan’s nomination as the Johnson half of the Masters and Johnson team in Masters of Sex . She won’t win it, but it’s nice to see her work acknowledged.
Claire Danes scored one of Homeland’s few nominations for a third season that was shaky to terrible at best; the show finally did the right thing in killing off Brody, but where will it go from here? Michelle Dockery – and not Jessica Brown Findlay, to my surprise – scored the biggest acting nod for the Downton Abbey cast as her Mary and Matthew finally married, Mary was widowed and the Crawleys dealt with World War I.
In a banner year for The Good Wife, which shook things up to put some distance between the show and its status as a highly-touted, critically acclaimed bubble project, Julianna Margulies’ performance was one of the least talked about aspects – but her performance was great, if not perfect. Kerry Washington, meanwhile, was an obvious choice for her nearly flawless work in the juicy, soapy and highly-buzzed-about Scandal.
Rounding out the category is Robin Wright as the ice cold Claire Underwood in House of Cards.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Washington and Margulies turned in beautiful work this year, and Margulies has previously won for the series; either they or Wright would be worthy of the trophy. Homeland and Downton’s time has long passed, and unless the Academy’s love affair with Danes carries over to this year look for both actresses to be snubbed. The big spoiler this year could just be Caplan.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: HOW did Tatiana Maslany NOT score a nomination for her multifaceted portrayal of multiple clones in Orphan Black?!”
WHO WILL WIN: Washington has the buzz, the ratings punch and the actual talent to pull off a win here. It’s possible that Margulies might repeat or Danes might upset, but look for Kerry to pick up the duke.
Best Actor in a Drama Series
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Woody Harrelson, True Detective
Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
THOUGHTS: This was Bryan Cranston’s year. Taking us through Walter White’s final months with vicious laser precision, Cranston was so heavily buzzed about earlier in the year he might as well have opened his own honey hive.
Daniels, a perpetual Emmy favorite, is in a show that was generally persona non grata this year – well, everywhere but at awards shows; while a favorite among boomers, The Newsroom’s analysis of the Millennial generation has left much of the younger crowd cold on the show.
Unsurprisingly, both Harrleson and this year’s Best Actor Oscar holder Matthew McConaughey both won nominations for their work in True Detective; a true duet between actors, the show wouldn’t work without the co-balance between them, which is the best reason why neither will take home a trophy this year.
Spacey continued to be a compelling as Card’s VP, but very few eyeballs were trained on him this year; ditto Hamm on Mad Men.
WHO SHOULD WIN: In a field filled with A-list actors, it really is Cranston’s trophy to lose; no other performer crawled into the creepy skin of their roles as efficiently as he did.
If I had to pick anyone else, I’d finger Spacey as a spoiler.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED:
WHO WILL WIN: Either voters will be dazzled enough by McConaughey’s Oscar gold to split the trophy between he and Cranston or McConaughey and Harrelson will cancel each other out. Otherwise, it’s Cranston’s trophy and we’re just looking at it.
Supporting Actor, Drama Series
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Josh Charles, The Good Wife
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan
THOUGHTS: Aaron Paul was a season-long lock for a nomination in his final season inhabiting the skin of Jesse Pinkman, so his nomination’s no surprise. Neither is Dinklage’s nomination after Tyrion’s trying year on Game of Thrones.
The rest of the gentlemen in the category simply supported, and did a fair if not stand-out job doing so. Jim Carter was typically stalwart as unflappable butler Charles Carson; Mandy Patinkin was his typical stalwart CIA directing self, working his ass off to protect the country (and his mentoree Carrie); Josh Charles’ nomination, meanwhile, seems to mainly stem from his character’s dramatic surprise death versus any quality put into his portrayal.
The surprise dark horse nomination for Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan on the moderately popular multi-genre mob/showbiz series Ray Donovan, which peaked big with its first episode and seemed to lose its way and buzz over a season’s time.
WHO SHOULD WIN: I’d split the trophy between Dinklage and Paul, both of whom put on master classes in their respective roles. Charles is definitely the dark horse spoiler here.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: How did Dean Norris not receive a nod as Hank Schrader? His work was immortal this season. That said, it’s understandable if the show wanted to promote Paul over Norris for the Academy’s views.
WHO WILL WIN: Dinklage and Paul co-owned their series with panache and intensity, but the academy’s likely to give the sweep to Breaking Bad.
Supporting Actress, Drama Series
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
THOUGHTS: This category’s gotten a bit route in recent years; Dame Maggie Smith, Christina Hendricks and Anna Gunn all receive their seemingly annual nods for their respective parts. Only Gunn shone bright as Skyler White learned the full truth about her husband’s true nature and fought for a free life for their son and daughter.
Christine Baranski’s nomination is an interesting choice considering how much of a showcase the series was for the Alicia Florrick character this season; on the other hand, Joanne Froggatt had a lot of meat to play through as Anna Bates dealt with a controversial rape storyline that polarized viewing audiences. And Lena Headey was fiercely intriguing as mother lion Cerci Lannister on Game of Thrones.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Gunn wiped the floor with everyone else in the category this year, and while Headey was understated and Baranski always has the chops, it ought to be her year again this year.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: SophieTurner’s beautiful, controlled performance as the runaway Sansa Stark deserved some sort of notice.
WHO WILL WIN: Gunn’s the likeliest victor; Headey has meatier material ahead of her in the next season, as most ASOIAF fans know, and Smith has better roles ahead of her as well. Look for Hendricks to pick up the duke next year if the final season of Mad Men burns brightly.
Best Miniseries or Movie
American Horror Story: Coven
Bonnie & Clyde
The White Queen
THOUGHTS: In a category that usually picks sweeping substance over style, this year’s category is overstuffed with flashy movies that looked good and did decently-to-wonderfully in the ratings but were ultimately hollow; I have no idea how inconsequential fluff like The White Queen and its mock-Game of Thrones veneer landed a nomination, let alone a second look from the voters.
The usually staid category’s few nods to quality come in the form of the acclaimed Luther and Treme, with the mixed-to-positively acclaimed Fargo reboot and the initially-acclaimed American Horror Story: Coven also getting nods, alongside the overblown and half-baked Bonnie and Clyde.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Luther was solid this season, a good procedural with real feeling. Treme was also beautiful, continuing to reflect back a New Orleans still dealing with an identity crises years after the levies failed.
CovenFargo was another middling effort that started out strong but spent too much time echoing the source of its cheery yet gory source; without Marge Gunderson, who cares about the frozen north? The White Queen and Bonnie and Clyde were flat-out awful examples of style over substance that should’ve been much better than they were.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: The Normal Heart, with its beautifully acting and extremely effecting plot, would have normally been a lock for this category years ago. With its main ensemble nominated, it’s a shock that it didn’t score a nod; Dancing on the Edge, with its unique motif and well-written story about a jazz band traveling Europe during World War II was criminally undernoticed.
WHO WILL WIN: Treme, Fargo and Coven will go right down to the wire in the end. Look for the result of the actors awards to guide this one. So far, I’m picking Fargo.
Best Actress Miniseries or Movie
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Coven
Helena Bonham Carter, Burton and Taylor
Minnie Driver, Return to Zero
Kristen Wiig, The Spoils of Babylon
Cicely Tyson, The Trip Bountiful
THOUGHTS: Well, this is quite the odd mix of bedfellows. Lange and Paulson’s battling mother/daughter duo were a good reason to turn into Coven. The next three are choices that get odder as they go along; Helena Bonham Carter for a slightly-less trashy version of Elizabeth Taylor than we got out of Lindsay Lohan in Liz and Dick? Minnie Driver for a Lifetime movie with an extremely odd point of view on parenting (if you suffer through a miscarriage so traumatic it splits your marriage in twain, an accidental pregnancy will cure it right up!) Kristen Wiig in an Adult Swim parody of the sorts of sprawling multi-night TV movie epics that used to hold court in this category? And then in comes Ms. Cecily Tyson in a remake of The Trip to Bountiful to cleanse your palette to cleanse your palette.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Tyson was beautiful in Bountiful. Does the Academy have a finely honed enough sense of camp to understand where Wiig, Bonham-Carter, Paulson and Lang are coming from? On a technical basis, Paulson spent the majority of the season doing a sub-Joan Crawford imitation when she wasn’t sinking into the wallpaper; Lang fared the best against the completely confusing directions the writers sent her character in. If the Academy still has a yen for camp after handing all the major awards last year over to Behind the Candelabra, look for Bonham-Carter or Wiig to surprise. I’d pick Tyson as the best of the ‘serious’ crowd and Wiig the best of the camp field.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Even though the production was generally a campy nightmare, Zoe Saldana did a good job of anchoring NBC’s Rosemary’s Baby reboot.
WHO WILL WIN: If anyone from Coven is destined to take home the trophy, it’s Lange. Otherwise, Tyson is a lock with Wiig as a dark horse.
Best Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dancing on the Edge
Martin Freeman, Fargo
Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo
Idris Elba, Luther
Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: His Last Vow
THOUGHTS: Unsurprisingly, Fargo dominates the category, as most of its supporting talent was a-list – but surprisingly Chiwetel Ejiofor scored a nom for the underrated Dancing on the Edge, in which he gives a fine performance. Freeman is a double nominee, with a nod for his work as Watson in the BBC version of Sherlock in the supporting category; his work here is arguably stronger than in the Beeb show from which Cumberbatch, too, is nominated; Thornton, however, outshines him. The best performance is given by Ruffalo as the heartbroken man struggling against the spread of the AIDS crises in The Normal Heart and Elba as the titular character in Luther.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Ruffalo’s performance in The Normal Heart was powerful enough to move mountains; in a category filled with strong actors, he stands out boldly. Ejiofor or Thornton, too, would be good choices, as would Elba. As for Cumberbatch and Freeman, both are strong enough…but prove the weakest in a strong field.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: If Kristen Wiig was strong enough to earn a nod on the women’s side of the field, then Tobey Maguire deserves a nod for his equally ridiculous performance as a foundling oil heir in The Spoils of Babylon.
WHO WILL WIN: Ruffalo is impossible to ignore, but if the Academy chooses to do so watch Ejiofer make up his Academy Award loss win or for Thornton to take it.
Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie
Colin Hanks, Fargo
Jim Parsons, The Normal Heart
Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart
Alfred Molina, The Normal Heart
Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart
Martin Freeman, Sherlock: His Last Vow
THOUGHTS: It’s The Normal Heart A-Palooza, as most of the major supporting cast of the movie picks up nominations. Also along for the ride are Colin Hanks in Fargo and Martin Freeman as Watson in Sherlock.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Of the supporting players, Mantello and Parsons put in the strongest performances, with Bomer proving that he’s no one-note pretty boy and Molina bringing up the rear. Freeman is, as always, serviceable in his role as Watson, and Hanks is indistinguishable next to the bigger names surrounding him.
WHO SHOUL D HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Taylor Kitchner’s strong performances ended up lost among the sea of a-listers that inhabited The Normal Heart, which is a shame because his work was transcendent.
WHO WILL WIN: IfThe Normal Heart nominations don’t cancel each other out, look for Parsons or Bomer to pick it up. If they do, then it’s Freeman’s award.
Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie
Frances Conroy, American Horror Story: Coven
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Coven
Angela Bassett, American Horror Story: Coven
Allison Tolman, Fargo
Ellen Burstyn, Flowers In the Attic
Julia Roberts, The Normal Heart
THOUGHTS: The Emmys have added a brand new scary phrase to the lexicon of fear: “The Emmy Award Nominated Flowers in the Attic”. Burstyn is, admittedly, the campiest highlight in the campiest movie of the year, so it’s arguable she deserves the nod. There are a trio of Coven nominations, and Alison Tolman and Julia Roberts round out the list.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Of the three Coven nominations, Bates provides the most nuanced performance; Conroy’s Myrtle Snow is mostly a comedic figure, and Bassett goes whole hog with a sneery, campy performance. Burstyn is less cartoonish, though not by much. Tolman is a satisfying police officer, and Roberts is strong as a doctor and burgeoning AIDS activist. I would, ironically, go with Conroy or Bates, both of whom delighted on a weekly basis. Roberts was also excellent, but not quite as compelling.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: How one could nominate Conroy without nominating Lily Rabe as the best and most rootworthy of Coven’s witches, Misty Day, is beyond me.
WHO WILL WIN: Unless Bates squeaks this one out, the category should be all Roberts.
Outstanding Animated Program
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Manhattan Project
THOUGHTS: For the first time in time immaterial we actually have a Best Animated Program category minus Family Guy or The Simpsons. This is Futurama’s final season, and it was an overall solid one, too; South Park’s was noted for its three-part Game of Thrones tribute episodes, “Black Friday;” Bob’s Burgers truly found its stride, with episodes dedicated to deconstructing Bronies and the hazards of sleepovers alike. Meanwhile, Archer pulled off a controversial game-changer that turned the quasi-CIA supporting network of superspies into outlaws. And the Manhattan Project was noteworthy due to its being a crossover special between the modern day animated incarnation of the Turtles and their original 80’s counterparts – all voiced by their original voice artists.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Archer had an inconsistent but decent year, sadly not something I’d call Emmy worthy – I would have given them the duke for season two’s amazing Archer-recovers-from-cancer plot. The Manhattan Project had its problems, including a tendency to make fun of the 80’s turtles for being old fashioned, rendering it possibly unappealing for older voters. South Park balanced hilarious episodes like “Informative Murder Porn” with depressing episodes like “The Hobbit”, but had more misses than hits, including the “Black Friday” trilogy.
Futurama had more hits than misses this season, with at least four episodes that stand the test of time as classics, and Bob’s Burgers delivered a handful of golden nuggets too. It’s a tie for me, therefore, between it and Bob’s Burgers.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: The Venture Brothers will one day get their due. I hope. With luck, in this category.
WHO WILL WIN: The least “alienating” option to Academy voters is probably Futurama, which has won here before. Unless South Park takes the category again, it’ll be a race between Futurama and Bob’s Burgers to the end.
Outstanding Host: Reality-Competition Program
Betty White, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers
Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars
Jane Lynch, Hollywood Game Night
Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, Project Runway
Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance
Anthony Bourdain, The Taste
THOUGHTS: Everyone’s favorite octogenarian repeats in this category, alongside the usually unflappable Tom Bergeron, Cat Deeley of the dance competition show “So You Think You Can Dance”, and the model/designer team of Klum and Gunn from Project Runway. Newcomers include Bourdain, more famous for his world-traversing food shows, who pops up for the first time in this category as steward of “the Taste”, and first time nominee (in this category at least) and actress Jane Lynch, who got the nod for her NBC game show Hollywood Game Night.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Bergeron remains one of the best reasons to watch DWTS, a successfully smooth host who knows how to work live. White is still a capable actress and a wonderful talk show guest, but she’s less compelling as a game show host. Deeley knows how to move a show along well enough, but has no special spark of personality. Gunn and Klum’s show is sadly slipping beyond its buzzworthy hayday, though that will probably change the second they get a juicy contestant. The wildcards are Lynch and Bourdain, both of whom showed surprising magnetism in their hosting roles. Given the choice, though, I’d definitely go with Bergeron.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Phil Koegan, who somehow makes The Amazing Race seem fresh and unique every season.
The Academy adores Betty White, so don’t be surprised if she ends up with the trophy. Otherwise, it’s likely to be Lynch’s.
The Amazing Race
So You Think You Can Dance
Dancing with the Stars
This category’s struggled over the years to honor competition shows that manage to both be culturally enriching and educational; sometimes it’s a task so fruitless Big Brother gets a nod. Thus,. for years this category has belonged to the Amazing Race, with its generally family-friendly travelogues, tendency toward moral lessons about cheating and human fallibility, and beautiful cinematography. Dancing With The Stars faced drooping ratings and tried to streamline the show’s progress in response, leading to a ratings plateau that the show can’t seem to climb out of. Top Chef, SYTYCD and Project Runway had decent, though not remarkable, seasons. The category newcomer is NBC’s competition juggernaut The Voice.
WHO SHOULD WIN: The Amazing Race remains a compelling program that’s worth watching no matter who’s battling it out to be first on the mat, which is why I’m giving it to them.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Chopped, the addictive chef competition show hosted by the Food Network.
WHO WILL WIN: The Race has been the category darling for years, and unless The Voice causes an upset that won’t be changing anytime soon.
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
THOUGHTS: Surprisingly, Jay Leno didn’t nail a final goodbye Emmy on his way out the door this past fall. Instead, his successor Fallon scooped up a nod, along with his direct timeslot competitors Stewart, future Letterman successor Colbert and Kimmel. Perennial nominee SNL rounds out the category, with surprise dark horse Bill Maher.
WHO SHOULD WIN: SNL didn’t have much of a banner year this year, though it’s been consistently funnier than it has been in recent times. That’s not Emmy worthy, and neither is the same-old-same-old from Kimmel. Fallon has brought a gentle, funny, creative sensibility back to Late Night that’s worth noting, but it’s Colbert and Stewart’s race to lose.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: You have to give Dave Letterman credit for continuing to be a threat even while Fallon and Kimmel fistfight for ratings supremacy. Will Colbert be half as successful in his timeslot?; Conan O’Brien, meanwhile, continues to plug away with relatively little attention, his show is at least worth a nomination, if not a win.
WHO WILL WIN: With SNL putting in an average season and Kimmel working a little too blue for the average voter, the race is likely to come down to a contest between Fallon, Colbert and Stewart. Smug Maher has never been a political favorite and probably won’t nail an Emmy until his predecessors are no longer a threat. While Colbert is consistently funnier, the Academy has shown a pronounced preference for Stewart. Therefore, perennial favorite The Daily Show is likely to get the duke.
Dog with a Blog
Good Luck Charlie
Nick News With Linda Ellerbee - Family Secrets: When Violence Hits Home
One Last Hug: Three Days at Grief Camp
Wynton Marsalis – A YoungArts Masterclass
THOUGHTS: I have no idea why serious mini-docs like One Last Hug and Linda Ellerbee’s Nick New series have been combined into a category that also includes Dog with a Blog, but the Academy ought to consider a separate reality-based category so it won’t happen again.
WHO SHOULD WIN: It’s impossible to compare something as worthwhile as the Nick News special with something that’s as lighthearted as Good Luck Charlie. It’s extremely likely that One Last Hug will probably pull it out in the end.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Jessie is a perfectly cute sitcom that was worth a nod.
WHO WILL WIN: While I would love to live in a world where I could use the sentence “The Emmy winning Dog With a Blog”, I think Emmy voters will give this to Ellerbee again.
Outstanding Guest Actor in Drama
Paul Giamatti as Harold Levinson in Downton Abbey
Dylan Baker as Colin Sweeney in The Good Wife
Reg E. Cathey as Freddy in House Of Cards
Robert Morse as Bertram Cooper in Mad Men
Beau Bridges as Barton Scully in Masters of Sex
Joe Morton as Rowan Pope in Scandal
THOUGHTS: A surprisingly interesting and diverse field, though all of the actors featured are all part of various shows that have already received nomination. Of all those nominated, Robert Morse’s sprightly exit from Mad Men got the largest number of tongues wagging.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Bridges was refreshingly compelling in his brief part, and thus my vote goes to him.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Michael J. Fox had one heck of a tough year; his self-titled show crashed and his standout recurring role on the Good Wife was snubbed here.
WHO WILL WIN: Emmy voters love big Hollywood names in guest spots, so don’t be surprised if they go for Bridges or Giamatti, with Giamatti retaining a slight edge.
Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series
Margo Martindale as Claudia in The Americans
Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones
Kate Mara as Zoe Barnes in House of Cards
Allison Janney as Margaret Scully in Masters of Sex
Jane Fonda as Leona Lansing in The Newsroom
Kate Burton as Sally Langston in Scandal
WHO SHOULD WIN: Rigg’s brassy, sassy take on Olenna is positively riveting; she’s sort of an ancient world version of Dame Smith’s arch matriarch. She’s perfect and magnetic in a role that would have been over the top in other hands.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Rose Leslie’s bitter, beautifully layered take on Ygritte would have been a welcome entrant to the category
WHO WILL WIN: Rigg should take it in the end, adding another win to Games’ total.
Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series
Bob Newhart as Arthur in The Big Bang Theory
Nathan Lane as Pepper Saltzman in Modern Family
Steve Buscemi as Marty in Portlandia
Jimmy Fallon as Host in SNL
Louis C.K. as Host in SNL
Gary Cole as Kent Davison in Veep
THOUGHTS: Newhart pulls in another nomination as Sheldon’s idol, the now-deceased science show host Arthur. Nathan Lane’s flighty Pepper Saltzman also picks up another nomination, as does Steve Buschemi for his appearance on “Portlandia”. Gary Cole’s Kent Davidson and two SNL hosting gigs round out the nominations.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Neither man’s SNL hosting gig was any great shakes; Cole was amusing as Kent and Newhart’s Arthur was surprisingly compelling for a part so brief, but it’s Lane’s Saltzman who remains hilarious.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Bruce Campbell’s amusing take on dream therapist Ashford Simpson on Psych was worth a second look.
WHO WILL WIN: The Emmys love Newhart, who will likely repeat in this category.
Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series
Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols in Orange is the New Black
Uzo Aduba as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in Orange is the New Black
Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset in Orange is the New Black
Tina Fey as Host in SNL
Melissa McCarthy as Host in SNL
Joan Cusack as Sheila Jackson in Shameless
THOUGHTS: A large number of Orange is the New Black co-stars ended up in this category this year; with most of them bumped up to regulars next season, watch the supporting side of things get a little tighter for the show. Uzo Aduba’s extremely compelling Suzanne Warren will compete directly with Laverne Cox’s equally compelling Sophia Burset (Cox’ nomination marks the first time a trans actress has ever been nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award ) and face off with Lyonne’s brash Nicky. Melissa McCarthy joins the duel nominee club alongside Tina Fey for her SNL hosting gigs, and Joan Cusack rounds out the cast for her role in Shameless.
WHO SHOULD WIN: It’s pretty impossible to decide between Aduba and Cox, both of whom are brilliantly compelling in their parts; while Fey’s guest hosting gig was fun, it wasn’t a standout, and McCarthy was often upstaged by her costars. Cusack will likely be back and in better form on next season’s edition of Shameless; this season her stereotypical involvement with a native American family was cringeworthy.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Marilu Henner’s repeated appearances as Boyle’s hot-to-trot were always a highlight during this season’s Brooklyn Nine Nine.
WHO WILL WIN: Aduba has more critical buzz than Cox going into the awards, but don’t count out the possibility of Fey or McCarthy sweeping the category.