2016 Emmy Predictions: V.F.’s Experts on Who Will Win

todaySeptember 14, 2016

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How thoroughly will Game of Thrones dominate, is The People v. O.J. Simpson a sure thing, and can anyone beat Julia Louis-Dreyfus?

e Golden Globes are, frequently, filled with surprises (hello, best musical or comedy series Mozart in the Jungle). The Oscars, too, can be tough to anticipate—who would have guessed that Spotlightwould win best picture without garnering any other awards, save for original screenplay?

Hollywood’s other Big Three awards show, though, is generally easier to gauge. At the Emmys, winners tend to be repeat offenders; winning streaks can last for 3, 5, even 10 years. Predicting who will walk home with hardware, then, is a little less fun than it could be—until you reach a year like this one, where new voting rules might mean new sorts of winners. Below, Joanna Robinson andHillary Busis weigh the odds; see how they did this Sunday, September 18, when the Primetime Emmys air on ABC.


Best Drama: Game of Thrones

If you’re having trouble keeping track of all the awards-season records Game of Thrones has broken in the past 12 months, no one would blame you. In 2015, the show beat The West Wing’s record to become the most decorated TV series in a single year. Over the weekend, thanks to a pile of creative and technical wins, Game of Thrones became the show with more Emmy awards—35—than any other drama in TV history. And if it picks up just two wins next Sunday, it will be the most awarded scripted show in Emmy history, handily beating the previous champ, Frasier.

There’s no doubt Game of Thrones will lap Seattle’s favorite radio psychologist, given that it has multiple candidates in the directing, writing, and acting categories. But will it double down on last year’s best-drama win? Most certainly. Last year, new voting rules moved the Emmys away from elite Blue Ribbon panels of the past to a wider voting body, and additional changes make the rules even more Thrones friendly this year. Instead of ranking their preferred nominees, voters this year will simply pick a favorite. With all due respect to Homeland, House of Cards, Better Call Saul, The Americans, and Mr. Robot, there’s only one drama nominee that absolutely dominated the pop-culture conversation this year, and, once again, it’s coming for the throne.

Lead Actor in a Drama: Rami Malek

Despite the fact that this week will see the conclusion of Mr. Robot’s somewhat lackluster second season, this nomination for its wide-eyed star honors his twitchy, dark work in the show’s popular first season. That may or may not matter to voters who just finished casting ballots at the end of last month. But while the stock on Mr. Robot may have fallen a bit this year, voters would be hard-pressed to find fault with Malek’s showstopping lead performance, which is just as idiosyncratic as ever. With the Emmy favorite antiheroes of yore, likeJon Hamm’s Don Draper and Bryan Cranston’s Walter White, finally out of the running, Malek’s unhinged, tech-savvy brooder could usher in a new era.

But if there’s a dark horse stalking Malek, it’s The Americans star Matthew Rhys. The FX series is enjoying its first year of Emmy recognition in major categories, and while Rhys’s performance is not quite as flashy as Malek’s, once you factor in all his wig work, it might be a tie. Plus, the Welsh actor has turned in four years of deep and compelling work on a series that, unlike Mr. Robot, has only grown stronger since its first season. The brilliant FX series absolutely deserves some hardware beyond Margo Martindale’s guest-actress wins, and Rhys—ever a closer on The Americans—might be the one to get the job done.

Lead Actress in a Drama: Viola Davis

There’s no way to praise Matthew Rhys and not give equal respect to his fellowAmericans wig-wearer, Keri Russell. But sometimes, star power trumps nuance and that may be the case with Viola Davis—the only lead-actress nominee who also seems highly likely to get Oscar recognition this year, for her work in Fences. A win from Davis—whose performance so often transcends onHow to Get Away with Murder—would also make for incredible TV. Herinspiring speech after her historic win in this category last year was the emotional high point of the 2015 Emmy Awards.

Davis will have to beat Emmy favorites Claire Danes (Homeland) and Robin Wright (House of Cards), as well as first-time nominees Russell and Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black). And though an episode of Empire doesn’t go by without Taraji P. Henson laying everything she has on the table, the Television Academy has proved reluctant to give the enormously popular Fox show any actual awards. Its four-time nominee Wright, who had a particularly juicy season of political scheming this year, who will prove Davis’s toughest competitor—but, once again, Claire Underwood will likely find herself outmaneuvered.

Supporting Actor in a Drama: Jonathan Banks

There’s a real groundswell of support behind Game of Thrones star and luscious-hair-haver Kit Harington. Perhaps people feel he deserves an Emmy simply for keeping his mouth shut for nearly a year about the fate of Jon Snow. But despite his impressive rendezvous with a stampede of horses and his harrowing mosh-pit antics in “The Battle of the Bastards,” you’d be hard-pressed to pick out a moment this season where Harington’s acting really bowled audiences over. Jon Snow came back to this world as blank and pouty as he left it.

Instead, let’s consider Better Call Saul’s ace in the hole: Jonathan Banks. Though he didn’t have a heartbreaking, showstopping monologue this season to match last year’s “I killed my boy” (and—really—he should have won last year), he’s a constant delight as he takes both an emotional and a physical beating in service of Better Call Saul’s nuanced dramedy. But Banks will have a hard road to the Emmy on Sunday. Last year, many experts considered him a lock to win—only to see him lose to Peter Dinklage after a relatively weak season for Tyrion Lannister. So, as always, watch the Thrones.

Supporting Actress in a Drama: Dame Maggie Smith

Like the previous category, this one is also crowded with some stiff Westerosi competition. Three actresses, Maisie Williams, Lena Headey, and Emilia Clarke, will be vying for Emmy gold, with most experts calling this race for Headey. Maybe they don’t want to know what she’ll do with that leftover wildfire if she loses.

But as fabulous as Headey was this season, last season, and every moment she’s been on Game of Thrones, there’s a real danger of the three co-workers canceling each other out. That’s been the conventional wisdom of awards shows ever since Joel Grey defeated three Godfather actors in 1973 to win a best-supporting-actor Oscar. It’s also, potentially, why Regina King surprised all the Emmy predictors last year to beat out three American Horror Storyactresses in the best-supporting-in-a-limited-series category. So if Williams, Headey, and Clarke cancel each other out, then this Emmy could go to Dame Maggie Smith for her years of sly, snarky service to the Downton Abbey cause. After all, it’s her last chance to win for this role (again).


Best Comedy: Veep

Veep finally broke Modern Family’s long, long winning streak in this category last year—and this September, we can expect it to begin a winning streak of its own. Master of None has Zeitgeisty, cool-kid Netflix caché; Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is an exuberant live-action cartoon; Transparent is as funny and poignant as it is socially significant; Silicon Valley keeps finding increasingly inventive ways to hit the reset button; Black-ish is like a modernized, feel-good T.G.I.F. throwback; and Modern Family is, you know, still trucking, which is no small feat for a formerly buzzy sitcom now pushing 167 episodes.

There is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to comedy on television today, and almost any of these options would be a worthy winner. But Veep will most likely clinch the title, for two reasons: one, it won in 2015, and the Emmys aren’t known for their unpredictability. And two? Great as the competition may be, Veep’s razor-sharp, caustic writing makes it stand out from the pack. Who could fault this show for being this category’s new anointed one?

Leading Actor in a Comedy: Jeffrey Tambor

Aziz Ansari may be a jack of all trades—he’s up for statuettes in writing, directing, and acting this year—but barring a major upset, he won’t be the master of this one. (Those behind-the-scenes nods, though, could very well bear fruit.) Instead, expect the Emmy to go to another buzzy performance in a different moving, thoughtful streaming comedy: that of Jeffrey Tambor inTransparent, who also won in this category last year. His portrayal of trans woman Maura Pfefferman is the whole package, an aching portrait of longing and the thrill of discovery. It’s complex, layered, and masterful, the type of performances awards were made for.

His only real competition is Black-ish star Anthony Anderson, whose genial but topical family comedy racked up three major Emmy noms this year—signaling big support for the show among the Academy’s voters. Tambor may seem like a lock, but Anderson could very well stop his streak before it begins.

Leading Actress in a Comedy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Come on. Of course it’s J.L.D.! Julia Louis-Dreyfus is nigh-on unstoppable, having won this award for this role every single year she’s been eligible—and there’s no reason to expect that streak to end this year. Season 5 saw Selina Meyer grappling with the thrill of real power and a host of humiliating new lows, all of which Louis-Dreyfus played to the hilt; she’s not just a legacy pick, she’s also a real M.V.P. And that’s especially true in a field that, for the first time since 2011, doesn’t also include her onetime hottest competition, Amy Poehler.

If anyone’s going to topple this juggernaut, who could it be? Laurie Metcalflost a pair of statuettes at the Creative Arts ceremony last weekend, so maybe voters were waiting to give her a surprise win here for Getting On. Or maybeEllie Kemper’s or Tracee Ellis Ross’s fresh faces and exuberance will be enough to get their feet in the door. But wait, no, what are we talking about; Louis-Dreyfus is going to win. So it was, and so it shall be.

Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Tony Hale

Expect Veep to be the Game of Thrones of the comedy set, except with more acting awards than its dragon-filled network-mate. Hale’s hangdog co-star Matt Walsh may be more deserving of the prize this year—Mike’s adoption story line gave the comedy vet a few new interesting layers to explore in Season 5—but it’s Hale who has the most awards-friendly role as ultra-loyal, undeniably pathetic Gary.

If Hale doesn’t win, though, it may be because the Academy decided to bring in some fresh meat—most likely from Louie Anderson, who stepped seamlessly into a role conceived for a woman in Baskets, or perhaps Tituss Burgess, the showiest member of Kimmy Schmidt‘s formidable ensemble.

Supporting Actress in a Comedy: Allison Janney

Janney is a seven-time Emmy winner, and two of those statuettes came for her role in Chuck Lorre’s surprisingly affecting addiction sitcom; there’s no reason to suspect that her momentum will slow this year, unless a crushing wave of support finally elevates Anna Chlumsky toward the award she so richly deserves.

Then again, there’s another dark horse who could easily ride off with the prize:Kate McKinnon, who’s been up for this award three years in a row but has never seemed like a more topical winner (she plays Hillary Clinton! Also,Ghostbusters!) than she does now. Saturday Night Live cast members don’t generally fare well in this category; the real money’s in guest-hosting, as joint winners Tina Fey and Amy Poehler discovered at the Creative Arts ceremony last weekend. McKinnon, though, has a better chance than anyone of changing that.


Limited Series: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

If ever there were a sure thing at an awards show, it would be this show in this category. The People v. O.J. Simpson dominated the pop-cultural conversation for 10 weeks in an addictive, soapy way, but carries with it enough prestige-drama pedigree to satisfy the sometimes-snobby voting members of the Television Academy. This category has its origins in the old days of TV mini-series, and still carries with it some of the old expectations that cerebral literary adaptations will win the day. (See: last year’s Olive Kitteridge sweep.) But The People v. O.J. Simpson had it all—brains and soap bubbles—and should lock up a number of Emmys for the well-nominated FX this year.

Leading Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie: Courtney B. Vance

Just like The People v. O.J. Simpson, Courtney B. Vance’s Johnnie Cochran had everything voters could want from an award-winning turn. Vance pulled off Cochran’s showboat moments with ease—even injecting new life into courtroom zingers much of the audience knew by heart. And in episodes like the John Singleton–directed “The Race Card,” Vance also tapped into the personal rage and frustrations that Cochran projected onto the Simpson case.

Vance is up against some stiff competition, including a trifecta of awards-friendly thespians: Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, and Benedict Cumberbatch. All are impressive—but the way Vance’s emotionally intense performance cut directly into one of the conflicts ripping America apart at the moment is enough to send those Brits packing back across the pond.

Leading Actress in a Limited Series/TV Movie: Sarah Paulson

It’s a bit premature to call Sarah Paulson the Susan Lucci (or even Jon Hamm) of this decade, but with nominations every year since 2012 and two this year for her concurrent turns on The People v. O.J. Simpson and American Horror Story, Ryan Murphy’s most reliable leading lady certainly has the momentumto take home her first Emmy Award.

But even without a compelling awards show narrative behind her, Paulson turned in what many consider to be the TV performance of the year in The People v O.J. Simpsonand radically changed the public perception of a real-life figure, Marcia Clarke, while she was at it. Paulson’s Clarke will be battling a few other tragic real-life women for Emmy gold this year: namely, Audra McDonald’s Billie Holliday and Kerry Washington’s Anita Hill. But most experts see Kirsten Dunst as Paulson’s main competition, thanks to her loopy, murderous turn in Season 2 of Fargo. Does that mean no matter what, one of FX’s leading ladies is likely to bring home Emmy gold? You betcha.

Supporting Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie: Sterling K. Brown

Emmy voters, quite simply, are thirsty for Juice this year; it seems all but certain that The People v. O.J. Simpson will sweep nearly every category in which it’s nominated. (Hell, it already got four wins at the Creative Arts Emmys last weekend.) And with a full three cast members up for statuettes here, the only real question is who the lucky man will be: Sterling K. Brown, for his even-tempered, quietly smoldering Chris Darden? David Schwimmer, for his sad-eyed, morally tortured Robert Kardashian? Or John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, the ultimate macher? If the Emmys were the Oscars, the award might seem as good as Travolta’s; the film academy loves a comeback. Since they’re not, though, Brown seems the safest bet; he had the most screen time out of all three of these men, for one thing, and he also showed a greater range in his role.

Then again: vote-canceling, as previously discussed, could certainly come back to haunt The People v. O.J. Simpson here. And if it does, there’s a real chance that Fargo‘s bumbling butcher (Jesse Plemons) or ultra-smooth hitman (Bokeem Woodbine) could sneak in to steal the ball, as it were. Then againon that then again: they, too, might end up canceling each other out. So, hell, congratulations, perennial Emmy bridesmaid Hugh Laurie: perhaps this is the year that, after eight nominations, you finally get to bring home the gold.

Supporting Actress in a Limited Series/TV Movie: Jean Smart

Most people assumed last year that this award belonged to Sarah Paulson; most people were wrong. Regina King made for an upset winner, and she could very well repeat that feat this year—albeit, as several pundits might tell you, for the wrong performance. (How come you didn’t watch The Leftovers Season 2, hmmm?) But one award for a series that just hasn’t resonated with audiences the same way as it has with critics might be enough. Olivia Colman was great in The Night Manager, but the show just doesn’t have the same buzz as some of its competitors. Oscar winner Melissa Leo didn’t have much to do beyond give smiles and support to her presidential husband in All the Way; Paulson’s a lock for the lead category, so she probably won’t garner major support here; Kathy Bates is a perennial favorite, but did she do anything on the last season ofAmerican Horror Story that she hadn’t done before?

Which leaves us with the category’s most likely winner: Jean Smart, a force to be reckoned with in FX’s Fargo. Smart won’t just be the winner by default; she’s also an Emmy darling (count her three previous statuettes) who gave one of the year’s most memorable performances as a steely crime matriarch. The fact remains, however, that the competition is murky, which ups her chances—as does the fact that O.J.’s dominance all but destroys Fargo’s chances in the other categories, and you know that show has to win something.

Source: vanityfair.com

Written by: New Generation Radio

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