The 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards air this Sunday at 8 ET on FOX. Who’ll take the top prizes? Check out our picks below:
Friday Night Lights
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
Should win: The Good Wife A smart show, with outstanding writing, captivating storylines, and memorable performances. Simply put: there’s no better show on network television.
Will Win: Boardwalk Empire Sure, The Good Wife is the best show on network television. But considering it’s also the only nominee still airing on network television, I’d guess the Emmy voters don’t really care. Mad Men could pick up the prize for a fourth consecutive year (which would tie its number of wins with the records held by Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, and The West Wing). But since Mad Men hasn’t aired a new episode since October 2010 – and won’t air a new episode until March 2012, I’m guessing Don Draper and friends will be out of sight, out of mind – leaving the door wide open for Golden Globe-winning Best Drama Boardwalk Empire to grab the top spot.
Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House
Timothy Olyphant, Justified
Should win: Jon Hamm Divorce. Death. A new agency. If there was a theme for Don Draper in Season 4 of Mad Men, it would be “new beginnings.” But amidst all Don’s change was the stellar performance of Jon Hamm – who takes all of Don’s intricacies and demons and turns them into pure, unabashed genius.
Will Win: Jon Hamm Sure, Michael C. Hall and Hugh Laurie have never won before. And we seriously can get enough of “Coach” Kyle Chandler. But Jon Hamm’s been nominated for the past three years in a row, and never been able to escape Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston. Do you really think voters are not going to take this chance (on Breaking Bad’s off-season) to honor the most iconic character in TV drama history since Tony Soprano?
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Andre Braugher, Men of a Certain Age
Josh Charles, The Good Wife
Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Walton Goggins, Justified
John Slattery, Mad Men
Should win: Alan Cumming Has there been a character this year you loved to hate as much as Eli Gold? He’s sleazy and squirmy and will stop at nothing to win – yet Cumming gives him this insecure emotional center that makes you just root for him. Besides: knowing Alan Cumming outside of this part, you have to give him credit for such an insane transformation.
Will Win: Peter Dinklage Emmy voters love to take chances on the underdogs in this category (see Aaron Paul for Breaking Bad, Zeljko Ivanek for Damages, Alan Alda for The West Wing, etc). Game of Thrones is a big-buzz show, and Dinklage the emotional center of it. Though watch out for Walton Goggins – he’s got strong buzz this year, and could be a real contender.
Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law
Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
Mirelle Enos, The Killing
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Should win: Julianna Margulies One of the toughest categories for me this season. Connie Britton’s Tami Taylor holds a very special place in my heart. The fact that I won’t be seeing her on TV next year is just devastating. Meanwhile, Elisabeth Moss’ Peggy Olson has grown so much from Mad Men’s first season. Yet Moss has kept that glimmer in Peggy’s eye the whole time – showing us that she’s still that same girl from Bay Ridge. But I can’t get enough of Julianna Margulies’ ever-suffering Alicia Florrick. Conflicted, betrayed, and now empowered, Margulies makes it pretty impossible to look away from Alicia Florrick.
Will Win: Julianna Margulies With much respect to Elisabeth Moss and Connie Britton, who turned in some of the best performances I’ve seen on television, Margulies has this in the bag.
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Michelle Forbes, The Killing
Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire
Margo Martindale, Justified
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
Should win: Margo Martindale The veteran character actress turned in a powerhouse performance as Justified’s ruthless kingpin – and submitted her best episode all season (where she goes up against the energy company rep).
Will Win: Margo Martindale She’s got all the buzz going for her, so really, it’s hers to lose.
The Big Bang Theory
Parks and Recreation
Should win: Parks and Recreation For a show that always lives on NBC’s cancellation bubble, it’s surely an honor for Parks and Rec to just be nominated. But Parks and Rec delivered a consistently smart, original, and downright hysterical third season last year. And considering the arc the show has taken since its first season, there isn’t a comedy more deserving this year in my eyes.
Will Win: Modern Family Then again, Modern Familyis a riot. Plus, it has a broader audience and more relatable storylines. And the entire principle cast is nominated. If MF doesn’t win, it’d be the biggest shock of the night.
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Louis C. K, Louie
Steve Carell, The Office
Johhny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Should win: Steve Carrell It’s hard to believe he’s had five previous nominations with no wins. Now on his sixth and final nomination for The Office, it’s about time to give Steve Carrell his time up at the podium.
Will Win: Steve Carrell For his pitch-perfect portrayal of Michael Scott: the most iconic TV doofus since Homer Simpson.
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Chris Colfer, Glee
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Ed O’Neill, Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Should win: Ed O’Neill It’s not the most standout role. But really – what is Modern Family without the old curmudgeon Jay? Besides, Ed O’Neill has never won an Emmy. For fuck’s sake, GIVE AL BUNDY AN EMMY!
Will Win: Ty Burrell Colfer could snatch this prize up – if it was Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Last year’s winner Stonestreet didn’t really have a breakout moment this season – and it’s he’s tied too closely to Jesse Tyler Ferguson for me. Voters may want to go with Cryer, after the Charlie Sheen nonsense. But I think Ty Burrell is the only one who really stands out on his own. His Phil Dunphy is one of the most loveable morons I’ve seen on television since, well, Steve Carrell’s Michael Scott.
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Laura Linney, The Big C
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Should win: Amy Poehler Leslie Knope started off as the over-the-top female Michael Scott. Amy Poehler turned her into a down-to-earth, sweet, loveable kook. Talk about a transformation. Plus: don’t you just want to see what Poehler’s acceptance speech would be like?
Will Win: Laura Linney This is Tina Fey’s sixth straight nominations, but she’s only picked up the trophy once (in 2008). Last year, Edie Falco grabbed the prize for Nurse Jackie. The year before that, Toni Collette for The United States of Tara. I wouldn’t be surprised if cable network Showtime wins again with Linney’s incredibly layered performance as cancer-stricken Cathy Jamison.
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Jane Lynch, Glee
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Betty White, Hot in Cleveland
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Should win: Jane Krakowski I know she’s on the bottom of the Emmy pool, but I don’t care what you say: Jenna Maroney is one of the best characters on television, period. The fact that Jane Krakowski is still Emmy-less is a complete mind-fuck to me.
Will Win: Betty White Okay. So Jane Krakowski isn’t going to win. I obviously know that. And sorry Jane Lynch – you may be hosting the show this year, but you’re not getting a second win for Sue Sylvester. Especially because your second season performance quickly became cliché and tired. Julie Bowen and Sofie Vergara are both amazing in Modern Family – but I fear they’ll cancel each other out. And although a loved Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids, she was a little subdued this season on SNL. Ultimately, you can’t underestimate Betty White’s pull over Emmy voters – and the fact that her sitcom, Hot in Cleveland, will feel very comfortable and familiar to older voters.
The Amazing Race
Dancing with the Stars
So You Think You Can Dance
Should win: So You Think You Can Dance The best of the reality competition shows airing right now, SYTYCD is more than just a weekly vote-off talent competition. Each week, viewers are given an education in dance, exposing a whole new generation to a wide array of dance forms. Let the wannabes of American Idol and the D-list chumps of Dancing with the Stars move over: SYTYCD is filled with the best talent in television.
Will Win: Top Chef As much as I love SYTYCD, I understand why they may not get the attention they deserve. American Idol is getting the big push from FOX, hoping the new life of JLo and Stevie Tyler will get them the prize. But I’m not sure Emmy voters love these reality stars trying to swoop in and steal their jobs – so they’ll always vote for non-threatening talent. Like chefs. Hey, Top Chef took top prize last year on a weaker season. The all-stars season in the running this year, on the other hand, should keep the show from packing its knives and going home empty-handed.