The Primetime Emmy Awards are Friday night, and the broad strokes of the ceremony are pretty easy to guess at: Neil Patrick Harris will charmingly sing and dance, Breaking Bad will win a bunch of stuff, and the whole thing will run about 40 minutes too long. But let’s get into some specific predictions: Flavorwire has carefully considered the nominees, consulted with various prognosticators, and worked up the following list of Emmy predictions that will surely win your betting pool. (Do people do those for the Emmys?) And just for good measure, we’ve thrown in our own picks in each category as well. Here we go:
BEST SERIES (DRAMA) Breaking Bad (AMC) Downton Abbey (PBS) Game of Thrones (HBO) Homeland (Showtime) House of Cards (Netflix) Mad Men (AMC)
PREDICTION: Breaking Bad. The show’s current ubiquity, as it finishes off its run, can only help its chances come Sunday — and it’s frankly more likely to win this year (with all that chatter surrounding it) than next. Unless they do something truly unforgettable. Which they probably will. PICK: Breaking Bad. Yes, this might be one of those rare occasions where the Emmy for television’s best drama actually goes to television’s best drama.
BEST ACTOR (DRAMA SERIES)
Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) Damian Lewis (Homeland) Jon Hamm (Mad Men) Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom) Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
PREDICTION: Spacey. The actors’ branch won’t forget Cranston next year, and may very well hold off until then to give him one more for Walter White. No, we’re giving the edge to Spacey here; the Emmys love movie stars and Spacey is the strongest element of the trashy but enjoyable Cards. And his prize is the best way to acknowledge the show (and upstart Netflix) without going overboard. PICK: Hamm, who has somehow never won an Emmy for playing Don Draper. And whatever flaws you found with the show this year, his work on it was magnificent — pushing deeper into the troubled psyche and always right on the edge of letting you know what he’s thinking (but rarely crossing it).
BEST ACTRESS (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)
PREDICTION: Danes. Carrie Mathison is the kind of showy role that most actors will give their eye-teeth for, and the former Angela Chase continues to impress. PICK: Moss. She’s so quietly effective as Peggy Olson that it’s easy to underestimate her value to Mad Men. But her exit from Sterling Cooper clearly affected the show, and her aborted affair with Ted gave Moss some fascinating beats to play this year.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (DRAMA SERIES) Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad) Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire) Jim Carter (Downton Abbey) Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) Mandy Patinkin (Homeland) Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
PREDICTION: Expect Paul to three-peat — he’s doing amazing work on the show and is universally beloved off-screen. PICK: Banks, a veteran character actor who transformed a no-nonsense utility role into one of Bad’s most fascinating enigmas.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (DRAMA SERIES)
Morena Baccarin (Homeland) Christine Baranski (The Good Wife) Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)
PREDICTION: Gunn. People have been whispering “Emmy” since Skylar took that quiet, spooky stroll into the pool last season; she’ll probably also get points for her classy handling of the increasingly loud and disturbing online chatter about her character. PICK: Gunn, for brilliantly bringing Bad’s most complex character to life.
BEST TV MOVIE OR MINI-SERIES
American Horror Story: Asylum (FX) Behind the Candelabra (HBO) The Bible (History) Phil Spector (HBO) Political Animals (USA) Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel)
PREDICTION: Behind the Candelabra. Big-name director going out at the top of his game, high-profile stars playing against type, impressive production design, witty screenplay; it’s hard to imagine how Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic doesn’t take the prize. PICK: Top of the Lake. Jane Campion’s haunting procedural may have been too challenging and idiosyncratic for Emmy voters, but it was far and away the highlight of this category.
BEST SERIES (COMEDY)
30 Rock (NBC) The Big Bang Theory (CBS) Girls (HBO) Louie (FX) Modern Family (ABC) Veep (HBO)
PREDICTION: Modern Family. Every year there is at least one undeserving repeat winner to infuriate Emmy haters; I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be three-time winner Modern Family — unless Emmy voters to decide to give the prize to the equally vanilla The Big Bang Theory. PICK: Louie. If there were any justice in the world, the statue would go to television’s best comedy, coming off its most inventive and exploratory season, with multi-episode storylines and unexpected shots of powerful pathos. But there’s no justice in the world.
BEST ACTOR (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)
PREDICTION: Baldwin. Expect the voters to go with a safe pick here — either previous winners Jim Parsons or Alec Baldwin. But the sentimentality factor of 30 Rock’s final season should give it the edge. PICK: Bateman. He’s always been the brilliant straight-man glue that held AD together, and the discombobulated structure of the Netflix season put that skill to the test. He passed it — and eased his character to some new, darker, and more desperate places to boot.
BEST ACTRESS (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)
PREDICTION: Louis-Dreyfus. The notorious JLD won this prize last year — and her work only got sharper, funnier, and (in the best way) sadder this season. PICK: Poehler, the generous and invaluable point guard of the best comedy ensemble on television.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (COMEDY SERIES)
Ty Burrell (Modern Family) Adam Driver (Girls) Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live) Tony Hale (Veep) Ed O’Neill (Modern Family)
PREDICTION: O’Neill. But the Family domination is a little overwhelming here, so you can probably safely pick any of those three. PICK: Driver, though there’s an argument to be made that his was more a dramatic than comic turn this season.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (COMEDY SERIES) Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory) Julie Bowen (Modern Family) Anna Chlumsky (Veep) Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) Jane Lynch (Glee) Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie)
PREDICTION: Vergara. It’s her fourth nomination without a win, so this is how they’ll “shake up” the comedy categories. PICK: Krakowski, who never got enough credit for her contributions to 30 Rock — she was uproarious, gloriously weird, and up for anything. If voters are feeling sentimental, she could sneak in.
BEST SERIES (VARIETY)
The Colbert Report (Comedy Central) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central) Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC) Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC) Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) Saturday Night Live (NBC)
PICK/PREDICTION: The Daily Show wins every year. It will win again this year.
BEST SERIES (REALITY/COMPETITION)
The Amazing Race (CBS) Dancing with the Stars (ABC) Project Runway (Lifetime) So You Think You Can Dance (Fox) Top Chef (Bravo) The Voice (NBC)
PICK/PREDICTION: The Amazing Race wins every year. It will win again this year.