TV: Emmy Nomination Predictions

Every year, I pay much more attention to the Emmy Awards than they deserve. I sometimes wonder what that is – why, for example, I always celebrate nomination day by going out and getting an ice cream cone for myself. And I think the reason is this:

As a prospective television writer, I have a huge appreciation for television performers. And as a fan of television, even moreso. These people, week in and week out, build characters that we let into our homes through their skill, effort and natural charisma, supported and partnered with the writers, directors and crew around them. The awards themselves may seem meaningless, but damn, it’s nice to see their word rewarded anyhow.

So, my predictions, after going through the ballot and ranking them in what I see as likelihood of nomination…

Bold = Nomination Predictions
Italics = My Choices

Outstanding Comedy Series

  1. Modern Family
  2. The Big Bang Theory
  3. New Girl
  4. 30 Rock
  5. Curb Your Enthusiasm
  6. Louie
  7. Girls
  8. Parks and Recreation
  9. Veep
  10. Glee
  11. Community
  12. Nurse Jackie
  13. House of Lies
  14. Raising Hope
  15. Mike & Molly
  16. Happy Endings
  17. Suburgatory
  18. Don’t Trust the B– in Apartment 23
  19. How I Met Your Mother
  20. Enlightened
  21. Cougar Town
  22. The Middle
  23. Desperate Housewives
  24. Entourage

Outstanding Dramatic Series

  1. Breaking Bad
  2. Game of Thrones
  3. Mad Men
  4. Homeland
  5. Boardwalk Empire
  6. Downton Abbey
  7. The Good Wife
  8. Justified
  9. Boss
  10. Luck
  11. Damages
  12. Sons of Anarchy
  13. Shameless
  14. Grey’s Anatomy
 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
  1. Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory
  2. Jon Cryer as Alan Harper, Two and a Half Men
  3. Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock
  4. Larry David as Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
  5. Louis CK as Louie, Louie
  6. Ed Helms as Andy Bernard, The Office
  7. Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan, House of Lies
  8. Johnny Galecki as Leonard Hofstadter, The Big Bang Theory
  9. Josh Radnor as Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother
  10. Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt, Parks & Recreation
  11. Jeremy Sisto as George Altman, Suburgatory
  12. Joel McHale as Jeff Winger, Community
  13. Billy Gardell as Mike Biggs, Mike & Molly
  14. Thomas Jane as Ray Drecker, Hung
  15. Garrett Dillahunt as Burt Chance, Raising Hope
  16. Chris D’Elia as Alex Miller, Whitney
  17. Neil Flynn as Mike Heck, The Middle
  18. Colin Ferguson as Jack Carter, Eureka

A category with a lot of names, many deserving… and many sleepwalking through roles they’ve been nailing for years. My choices here were a mixed bag, really: Parsons and Baldwin are consistently excellent and very awardable; Louis C.K. deserves recognition for what is essentially a fantastic one-man show both comedic and dramatic; Scott and Dillahunt are outside shots from well-liked shows who manage to elevate already strong writing with genuine sweetness; D’Elia managed to be the oasis of strength in a cesspool and deserves a lot of credit for elevating the writing around him; and Ferguson is a personal favourite who will never be nominated for this role, despite being great at every note the writers toss at him.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Dramatic Series

  1. Bryan Cranston as Walter White, Breaking Bad
  2. Jon Hamm as Don Draper, Mad Men
  3. Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, Boardwalk Empire
  4. Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody, Homeland
  5. Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan, Dexter
  6. Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens, Justified
  7. Kelsey Grammer as Tom Kane, Boss
  8. Hugh Laurie as Gregory House, House
  9. William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher, Shameless
  10. Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Ike Evans, Magic City

I was surprised when I came up with only ten candidates I thought were competitive in this category. This is only 20% of those on the ballot, but to be honest, that’s not a stretch: once you sift out the leads from buzzless crime procedurals, cop dramedies, forgotten one-time contenders and lighthearted USA Network fare, you’re really left with these gentlemen. Even Morgan is a stretch. I feel his show will mature to a level where it will be considered here, but it’s too early to consider that possibility, especially with such a clear group of frontrunners. And really, once you exit the top four here, pretty much anyone on this list could grab those last two spots. I chose Olyphant and Macy, the former because he’s great in a very good show, and the latter because he’s excellent in a role that is much more palateable, thanks to his performance, than it should be.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

  1. Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, 30 Rock
  2. Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, Veep
  3. Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day, New Girl
  4. Melissa McCarthy as Molly Flynn, Mike & Molly
  5. Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Parks & Recreation
  6. Kat Dennings as Max Black, 2 Broke Girls
  7. Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath, Girls
  8. Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton, Nurse Jackie
  9. Laura Linney as Cathy Jamison, The Big C
  10. Laura Dern as Amy, Enlightened
  11. Felicity Huffman as Lynette Scavo, Desperate Housewives
  12. Lea Michele as Rachel Berry, Glee
  13. Martha Plimpton as Virginia Chance, Raising Hope
  14. Mary-Louise Parker as Nancy Botwin, Weeds
  15. Patricia Heaton as Frankie Heck, The Middle
  16. Courteney Cox as Jules Cobb, Cougar Town
  17. Christina Applegate as Reagan Brinkley, Up All Night
  18. Krysten Ritter as Chloe, Don’t Trust the B– in Apartment 23
  19. Whitney Cummings as Whitney Cummings, Whitney
  20. Jane Levy as Tessa Altman, Suburgatory

This one had a lot of contenders to cut down, and a lot of deserving actresses. In fact, I could see any of the top ten here scoring a nomination, and the call between Dennings (whose show is a breakout hit and whose role is more overtly comedic) and Dunham (whose show is a huge critical hit for HBO and whose performance has been praised) was difficult. My own picks include three of my predicted nominees (the always-excellent Fey, Poehler and breakout newbie Deschanel) and four very dark horses: Plimpton, whose work is always stellar even when the writing is weak, and Ritter and Levy, whose breakout ABC shows are too young and under-the-radar to catch Emmy’s attention.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Dramatic Series

  1. Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick, The Good Wife
  2. Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson, Mad Men
  3. Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison, Homeland
  4. Glenn Close as Patty Hewes, Damages
  5. Mirielle Enos as Sarah Linden, The Killing
  6. Jessica Paré as Megan Draper, Mad Men
  7. Emmy Rossum as Fiona Gallagher, Shameless
  8. Kathy Bates as Harriet Korn, Harry’s Law
  9. Marg Helgenberger as Catherine Willows, CSI
  10. Emily VanCamp as Emily Thorne, Revenge
  11. Dana Delany as Megan Hunt, Body of Proof
  12. Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, Scandal
  13. Madeline Stowe as Victoria Grayson, Revenge
  14. Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham, Fringe

Pretty strong group at the very top here, but only about four real locks. I could see any of Enos, Paré, Rossum or Bates taking those last two slots, depending on whether voters go for a former contender, a buzzy new lead on Emmy favourite Men, a beloved and overlooked lead or name recognition. Myself, I agreed with these top four, but went for dark horse Rossum, who is excellent in every moment Shameless gives her, and VanCamp, who is masterful in flitting between a thousand faces while never breaking out of her show’s soapy genre – or, descending into unseemly levels of camp.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedic Series

  1. Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy, Modern Family
  2. Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett, Modern Family
  3. Max Greenfield as Schmidt, New Girl
  4. Ed O’Neill as Jay Pritchett, Modern Family
  5. Eric Stonestreet as Cameron Tucker, Modern Family
  6. Chris Colfer as Kurt Hummel, Glee
  7. Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
  8. Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute, The Office
  9. Jack McBrayer as Kenneth Parcell, 30 Rock
  10. Tony Hale as Gary, Veep
  11. Adam Driver as Adam Sackler, Girls
  12. Jake Johnson as Nick, New Girl
  13. Nick Offerman, Parks & Recreation
  14. Justin Kirk as Andy Botwin, Weeds
  15. James Spader as Robert California, The Office
  16. Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold, Entourage
  17. John Krasinski as Jim Halpert, The Office
  18. Jason Segel, How I Met Your Mother
  19. Zack Galifinakis as Ray Hueston, Bored to Death
  20. Ken Jeong as Ben Chang, Community
  21. Chevy Chase as Pierce Hawthorne, Community
  22. James Van Der Beek as James Van Der Beek, Don;t Trust the B– in Apartment 23
  23. Adam Pally as Max, Happy Endings
  24. Damon Wayans Jr. as Brad, Happy Endings
  25. Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer, Parks & Recreation
  26. Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford, Parks & Recreation
  27. Danny Pudi as Abed Nadir, Community
  28. Donald Glover as Troy Barnes, Community
  29. Jim Rash as Dean Pelton, Community
  30. Ian Gomez as Andy Torres, Cougar Town
  31. Brian Van Holt as Bobby Cobb, Cougar Town
  32. Hunter Parrish as Silas Botwin, Weeds

This category is pretty starkly divided between, well, Modern Family and everyone else. And though the Family men are strong, I can’t put any of them in my top tier. Greenfield and Johnson have made New Girl must-watch TV when its lead is only occasionally funny, offering detailed and hilarious performances every week; the same can be said of Offerman and Pratt, whose work every week for Parks is consistently excellent and consistently unrewarded. Pudi vanishes into every aspect of the complex and sometimes hard to like Abed, as his unique perspective often drives his offbeat show. And a controversial choice I feel absolutely no shame for: Hunter Parrish, whose character was a waste of space in Weeds’ early years, but in the past few has become the show’s most consistently fantastic dramatic performer as his character has grown into the heart of the show. His confrontation of Nancy in “Game-Played” is one of the year’s clear standouts for me, performance-wise, and its a shame nobody’s paying attention.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Dramatic Series

  1. Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, Breaking Bad
  2. Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones
  3. Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring, Breaking Bad
  4. Vincent Kartheiser as Pete Campbell, Mad Men
  5. Michael Pitt as Johnny Darmody, Boardwalk Empire
  6. John Slattery as Roger Sterling, Mad Men
  7. Alan Cumming as Eli Gold, The Good Wife
  8. Nick Nolte as Walter Smith, Luck
  9. Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson, Homeland
  10. Chris  Noth as Peter Florrick, The Good Wife
  11. Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder, Justified
  12. Josh Charles as Will Gardner, The Good Wife
  13. Joel Kinnaman as Stephen Holder, The Killing
  14. John Noble as Walter Bishop, Fringe
  15. Jeremy Allen White as Lip Gallagher, Shameless

Strong category with a bunch of clear frontrunners. Because I’ve yet to catch up on Boardwalk, I’ll instead shine a light on White, who has been doing fantastic work even as his cahracter’s spent the season running in circles.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  1. Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy, Modern Family
  2. Sofia Vergara as Gloria Pritchett, Modern Family
  3. Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney, 30 Rock
  4. Kaley Cuoco as Penny, The Big Bang Theory
  5. Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester, Glee
  6. Kathryn Joosten as Karen McCluskey, Desperate Housewives
  7. Cheryl Hines as Dallas Royce, Suburgatory
  8. Cloris Leachman as Maw Maw, Raising Hope
  9. Maya Rudolph as Ava Alexander, Up All Night
  10. Betty White as Elka Ostrovsky, How in Cleveland
  11. Naya Rivera as Santana Lopez, Glee
  12. Melissa Rauch as Barnadette Rostenkowski, The Big Bang Theory
  13. Conchata Ferrell as Berta, Two and a Half Men
  14. Ana Gasteyer as Sheila Shay, Suburgatory
  15. Hannah Simone as CeCe, New Girl
  16. Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate, Parks & Recreation
  17. Alison Brie as Annie Edison, Community
  18. Yvette Nicole Brown as Shirley Bennett, Community
  19. Teri Hatcher as Susan Delfino, Desperate Housewives
  20. Cobie Smulders as Robin Scherbatsky, How I Met Your Mother
  21. Jenna Fischer as Pam Halpert, The Office
  22. Merritt Wever as Zoey Barkow, Nurse Jackie
  23. Alyson Hannigan as Lily Aldrin, How I Met Your Mother
  24. Eve Best as Eleanor O’Hara, Nurse Jackie
  25. Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins, Parks & Recreation
  26. Gillian Jacobs as Britta Perry, Community
  27. Eliza Coupe as Jane, Happy Endings
  28. Elisha Cuthbert as Alex, Happy Endings
  29. Busy Philips as Laurie Keller, Cougar Town


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

  1. Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart, The Good Wife
  2. Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris, Mad Men
  3. Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones
  4. Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma, The Good Wife
  5. Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones
  6. Kelly Macdonald as Margaret Schroeder, Boardwalk Empire
  7. Morena Baccarin as Jessica Brody, Homeland
  8. Anna Gunn as Skyler White, Breaking Bad
  9. January Jones as Betty Francis, Mad Men
  10. Sandra Oh as Christina Yang, Grey’s Anatomy
  11. Kiernan Shipka as Sally Draper, Mad Men
  12. Michelle Fairley as Catelyn Stark, Game of Thrones
  13. Michelle Forbes as Mitch Larsen, The Killing
  14. Rose Byrne as Ellen Parsons, Damages
  15. Joelle Carter as Ava Crowder, Justified
  16. Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Game of Thrones
  17. Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, Game of Thrones
  18. Morgan Saylor as Dana Brody, Homeland
The six actresses at the top of this list are all fantastic. However, as big a fan as I am of Baranski, Panjabi and Clarke, none had particularly blowout seasons this year. Meanwhile, again, I remain behind on Boardwalk. Thus, I’ve decided  to include Baccarin in my picks, and for the other three, I’ve selected standout young actresses who don’t have a shot at nominations: Turner and Williams of Game of Thrones, and Saylor of Homeland, all of whom managed to be key parts of what made their shows so strong this year.
So… what do you think?

One response to “TV: Emmy Nomination Predictions

  1. WatchActing June 16, 2012 at 5:38 am

    Anna Torv should be in the top 6.

    Multiple versions of a character Olivia Dunham that hardly has any backstory, but simply through Anna Torvs brilliant acting you regocnize each version at once.
    She played to at once ,amber and blue with the memory switch, and two toget her in one scene, Olivia and Altlivia, in several episodes.

    Watch One Night in October, and see that in 1 scene of the two Olivias together Anna Torv shows more acting range than any actress of the list.

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