The 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards airs tonight at 9pm. You’d be forgiven if this catches you off guard; it’s about a month earlier than usual due to football, and it’s airing on a Monday, as if NBC was worried about the overlap between Emmys and MTV Video Music Awards viewers (but really because of how early Labor Day is this year). If you’re unprepared, there’s no need to worry! Flavorwire has you covered with a list of all the nominees in the big categories, our (mostly) informed predictions, and even our personal picks. Even if we’re wrong, we’ll still get a night of tipsy celebrities, meandering acceptance speeches, and awkward topical humor. We’re all winners!
Outstanding Drama Series
Breaking Bad Downton Abbey Game of Thrones House of Cards Mad Men True Detective
PREDICTION: Breaking Bad for the second year in a row. I’d be surprised if Downton Abbey or House of Cards managed to snag an award. Mad Men has been less than impressive (and already has too many awards) this season. If Game of Thrones were to win, this would surely be the year but I don’t see that happening, either.
PICK: While there is definitely a case to be made for the brilliance of True Detective — I wouldn’t mind it winning — Breaking Bad had such a satisfying ending that it deserves to go out on top.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama
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
PREDICTION: Matthew McConaughey will win because it’s the Emmys’ idea of a surprise victory. Spacey, Hamm, and Harrelson don’t have a real chance this year (next year will be Hamm’s moment) and Jeff Daniels’ win last year was so bizarre that it could never happen again. The only real challenger is Bryan Cranston, who’s already picked up a handful of awards for his role in Breaking Bad.
PICK: Bryan Cranston. I’m still not over his work in “Ozymandias” and I can’t think of any other lovable actor who did better work turning into such a loathsome villain before our eyes.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama
Claire Danes, Homeland Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife Kerry Washington, Scandal Robin Wright, House of Cards
PREDICTION: The hype behind both Homeland and Downton Abbey has been steadily fizzling out so I can’t imagine Danes or Dockery winning. If Margulies does, it will just be to make up for snubbing The Good Wife, but that won’t happen, either. Really, this category comes down to Wright vs. Washington — my money is on Wright.
PICK: Lizzy Caplan! Lizzy Caplan! I just adore Caplan in everything she’s done and though I know she’s a long shot (next year, though, watch out!), I still want her to win.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama
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
PREDICTION: About half of these nominations feel like good luck and true examples of “I’m just happy to be nominated.” The other half are a mixed bag. Josh Charles could end with a bang but this is a battle between Peter Dinklage and Aaron Paul. Unfortunately, Paul didn’t have much to do in the final Breaking Bad episodes (though he was great in the submitted “Confessions”) so I could easily see this going to Dinklage.
PICK: Aaron Paul should win an award for every episode of Breaking Bad this season. He should also retroactively win awards for everything he’s ever been in from that one MTV original movie to those Instagram photos of him hugging pizza delivery men.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey Lena Headey, Game of Thrones Christine Baranski, The Good Wife Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
PREDICTION: Even the most misguided, staunch haters of Skyler White can’t deny Anna Gunn’s performance in “Ozymandias.” Out of all of Breaking Bad‘s nominations, this is the one that’s a definite shoo-in. The nomination was just a mere formality.
PICK: There is no one but Anna Gunn.
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
David Evans, Downton Abbey (“Episode 1”) Carl Franklin, House of Cards (“Chapter 14”) Cary Joji Fukunaga, True Detective (“Who Goes There”) Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad (“Felina”) Neil Marshall, Game of Thrones (“The Watchers on the Wall”) Tim Van Patten, Boardwalk Empire (“Farewell Daddy Blues”)
PREDICTION: “Felina” was a great wrap-up to an amazing series of television, and season finales often get rewarded, but Cary Joji Fukunaga directed the entirety of True Detective Season 1 with no missteps — and “Who Goes There” was the best.
PICK: Fukunago. “Who Goes There” elevated the series to a whole new level, and that six-minute long unbroken scene was as intense and flawless.
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
Moira Walley-Beckett, Breaking Bad (“Ozymandias”) Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad (“Felina”) David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Game of Thrones (“The Children”) Beau Willmon, House of Cards (“Chapter 14”) Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective (“The Secret Fate of All Life”)
PREDICTION: There is definitely a lot of great writing in this category but there was no episode of television more haunting than “Ozymandias” this year and everyone knows it.
PICK: No, really, just go watch “Ozymandias” again.
Outstanding Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory Louie Modern Family Orange Is the New Black Silicon Valley Veep
PREDICTION: Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory are generally Emmy favorites but Orange Is the New Black will win. It is a fantastic program in every way — acting, writing, directing — and its first season was one of the biggest delights of television last year. The only real “controversy” here is that the show tends to be far more dramatic than comedic, and is the only hour-long inclusion in this category.
PICK: I love Orange is the New Black but also fully believe it’ll win next year, so I wouldn’t mind if Louie won, despite my qualms with this season, or even Veep, which had its funniest season yet. But who I am kidding: I’ll even take Silicon Valley over Modern Family and TBBT.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy
Louis C.K., Louie Don Cheadle, House of Lies Ricky Gervais, Derek Matt LeBlanc, Episodes William H. Macy, Shameless Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
PREDICTION: We’re all in agreement that Jim Parsons will win, right? Even if you don’t like his show or his work, he is undoubtedly an Emmy favorite (three awards already) and people adore him. That said, it wouldn’t be a total long shot if Louis C.K. edged out a win.
PICK: It’d be fun if Ricky Gervais won just to see Twitter rightfully explode with hatred (and because he’ll obviously have the only speech that aggressively doesn’t thank God). William H. Macy is always great and I want him to win so maybe, finally, everyone will start appreciating Shameless but I’m going to have to go with Louis C.K., who conveys a wealth of emotion in subtle performances.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy
Lena Dunham, Girls Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black
PREDICTION: Dunham, Falco, Schilling all do solid and admirable work, Poehler never phones it in even during lesser Parks episodes, and McCarthy has been making the most out of some terrible scripts — but no one is on the same level as Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
PICK: Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The end.
Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine Adam Driver, Girls Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family Ty Burrell, Modern Family Fred Armisen, Portlandia Tony Hale, Veep
PREDICTION: I can definitely see Tony Hale winning again (I can’t reiterate enough how good Veep was this season and if it doesn’t win for best comedy, voters could try to make up for it with acting awards) but Andre Braugher has a good chance, too.
PICK: Andre Braugher. Aside from the fact that I’m still firmly on the Anything But Modern Family train — Ferguson and Burrell aren’t bad but they are nothing revelatory — there is no one in this category that has made me belly laugh more than Braugher and his perfectly dry delivery.
Supporting Actress in a Comedy
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
PREDICTION: It’s a race between Allison Janney, the brightest spot in the otherwise dull Mom, and Kate Mulgrew with an equally terrifying and comedic performance on Orange Is the New Black. Even though Janney already won this year for guest performance in Masters of Sex, she might take home two.
PICK: So many of these actresses deserve awards just for churning out good performances from unimpressive scripts — Janney, Bialik, McKinnon — but I’ll go with Mulgrew here.
Outstanding Directing in a Comedy SeriesParis Barclay, Glee (“100”) Louis C.K., Louie (“Elevator Part 6”) Jodie Foster, Orange is the New Black (“Lesbian Request Denied”) Mike Judge, Silicon Valley (“Minimum Viable Product”) Gail Mancuso, Modern Family (“Vegas”) Iain B. McDonald, Episodes (“Episode 309”)
PREDICTION: This is always a strange category to predict — can you think of any particularly memorable directing choices in Modern Family or Glee? — and Louis C.K.’s standout directing skills should mean a win for him… but it’ll go to Jodie Foster for “Lesbian Request Denied.”
PICK: Eh, why not Mike Judge so we can say Kid Rock was in an Emmy Award winning episode of television?
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Alec Berg, Silicon Valley (“Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency”) Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, Armando Iannucci, Veep (“Special Relationship”) Louis C.K., Louie (“So Did the Fat Lady”) David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik, Episodes (“Episode 305”) Liz Friedman & Jenji Kohan, Orange is the New Black (“I Wasn’t Ready”)
PREDICTION: Based on all the talk surrounding it, it wouldn’t be a surprise if “So Did the Fat Lady” won, and if Silicon Valley were to sneak in a win, it would be in this category. I’m still going to go with “I Wasn’t Ready,” though, because pilot episodes tend to have an advantage here.
PICK: “Special Relationship” was worth the praise, but “I Wasn’t Ready” catapulted everyone into binge-watch mode.
American Horror Story: Coven Bonnie & Clyde Fargo Luther Treme The White Queen
PREDICTION: Fargo was much-appreciated, much-praised, and much-discussed this year. With True Detective out of this category and gunning for best drama instead, Fargo is the safe prediction. I don’t think anything else has a chance.
PICK: As much as I loved Fargo in the beginning, I don’t think it really stuck the landing. It’s still great enough to get an Emmy, but I have to pick Luther solely because the Emmys could use an appearance by Idris Elba.
Outstanding Variety Series
The Colbert Report The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Jimmy Kimmel Live Real Time with Bill Maher The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Saturday Night Live
PREDICTION: The Colbert Report broke Jon Stewart’s streak last year so it’s a sure bet that it’ll continue that trend — and for good reason.
PICK: Jimmy Fallon will win in the coming years so I’ll pick Colbert, too.
Outstanding Reality-Competition SeriesThe Amazing RaceDancing With the StarsProject RunwaySo You Think You Can DanceTop ChefThe Voice
PREDICTION: The Voice because it’s the lazy, easy choice and is still crazy popular among, well, everyone.
PICK: Until Catfish is nominated, I will not recognize any reality show-related categories.