On Thursday morning, TV journalists will be asked to rise out of bed in order to be aggressively aggravated, as the 2015 Emmy Award nominations will be announced.
The Emmy Awards are maddening because all those shows that you love so dearly most likely don’t stand a chance at getting nominated. Sure, we all love Game of Thrones and if you have taste you’d agree that Veep is the best comedy on television. But those small shows that you cherish so much and tell all your friends they have to watch—FXX’s You’re the Worst, Sundance’s Rectify, BBC America’s Orphan Black, and HBO’s Getting On or The Comeback—don’t stand a chance of making it into the big categories.
So from yet another Modern Family takeover to questions over just how much love will be thrown the way of Mad Men for its final season, here are our foolproof picks* for this year’s Emmy Awards nominations in all of the major categories, complete with insightful commentary** about why your favorites will or won’t get in.
Plus, because this may be our only opportunity to champion these little shows that we love, we’ve also included our own wish list of the most deserving nominees. Some overlap with the predicted Emmy nominees—they get it right sometimes! Most don’t have a prayer for a nomination. Justice for Tatiana Maslany!
*These predictions could very likely be completely and totally wrong, though careful consultation with awards experts, critics, and our gut make that highly unlikely.
**Ramblings of a TV addict.
It’s the year that Game of Thrones should be the front-runner to win. Orange Is the New Black’s phenomenal second season is worthy of an Emmy win—had it been nominated in the Comedy category where it belongs. Neither series—nor any of the other predicted nominees—have a prayer of beating Mad Men, which will get a golden statue goodbye from the awards organization that minted its excellence after its surprise, spectacular first season (and again twice after that).
Empire gets in for reviving the flatlining broadcast drama series. House of Cards is still “cool,” though its third season was its weakest. And Downton Abbey, dammit, has cast some sort of Anglo spell on Emmy voters, and will somehow appear again. That leaves the seventh slot to be fought over by the five most likely contenders: The Good Wife, Homeland, Better Call Saul, The Affair, and The Americans. My bet is that The Affair and Better Call Saul will duke it out for a “hot new show” slot, with The Affair winning.
Predictions: The Affair, Downton Abbey, Empire, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Mad Men, Orange Is the New Black
Wish List: Empire, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Orange Is the New Black, Orphan Black, Parenthood, Rectify
To most eyes, this is a three-way race between the safe choice (Modern Family), the cool choice (Veep), and the important choice (Transparent). Best Comedy nominations for that trio are a given, and depending on the mood of voters, any of the three could win. Stalwart—though, admittedly, a bit boring—nominees The Big Bang Theory and Louie are pretty much sure-thing contenders as well.
That leaves two slots to be filled. Let’s predict one safer choice: another bid for Silicon Valley after its surprise nomination last season and even more critical enthusiasm for its second season, and one riskier choice, which actually is safer than it sounds: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which will get in because Emmys love them some Tina Fey…and because it’s so darned delightful. The two biggest potential spoilers are two more critically hailed freshman series, Black-ish and Jane the Virgin. (To the dismay of TV critics everywhere, it’s likely that The Comeback and Parks and Recreation don’t stand a chance.)
Predictions: The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Louie, Silicon Valley, Transparent, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Veep
Wish List: The Comeback, Jane the Virgin, Parks and Recreation, Transparent, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Veep, You’re the Worst
BEST DRAMA ACTOR
Given the industry-wide pleading already going on to finally reward Jon Hamm for his work on Mad Men, it would be a shocker if he doesn’t get nominated. Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), Kevin Spacey (House of Cards), and Terrence Howard (Empire) are all pretty safe bets to join him there as well. From there it gets tricky.
Is Clive Owen’s star power enough to get him in for the little seen The Knick? Does critical darling Kyle Chandler have enough mainstream support for a nod for Bloodline? Can Jeff Daniels overcome critics’ lashings for The Newsroom to reap another bid in the category he previously won? Does the Emmy love for James Spader get him in despite The Blacklist’s otherwise lack of awards attention? Will Showtime stars Dominic West (The Affair), Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex), and Liev Schrieber (Ray Donovan) cancel each other out, or will one get in?
Predictions: Kyle Chandler, Bloodline; Jon Hamm, Mad Men; Terrence Howard, Empire; Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul; Clive Owen, The Knick; Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Wish List: Hugh Dancy, Hannibal; Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom; Jon Hamm, Mad Men; Clive Owen, The Knick; Dominic West, The Affair; Aden Young, Rectify
BEST DRAMA ACTRESS
This has the potential to be a historic year for the Emmys when it comes to diversity, with three black actresses all possible nominees for Best Actress: Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder), Taraji P. Henson (Empire), and Kerry Washington (Scandal). But with competition for the six slots so tight this year, we think that Washington, whose show is the least “hot” of the three, will miss out.
Expect Robin Wright to score another House of Cards nod. Julianna Margulies, who won last year for The Good Wife, should be back again. And though awards buzz for Homeland has waned, Claire Danes is an Emmy favorite and worthier than ever for a redeeming season of the Showtime drama. That last slot will go to either Ruth Wilson (The Affair) or Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men). It might sound like a grave injustice to snub Peggy Olson for the final season of Mad Men, but Wilson, who just won the Golden Globe, may actually be the more likely final nominee.
Predictions: Claire Danes, Homeland; Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder; Taraji P. Henson, Empire; Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife; Ruth Wilson, The Affair; Robin Wright, House of Cards
Wish List: Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder; Taraji P. Henson, Empire; Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife; Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black; Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy; Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black
BEST COMEDY ACTOR
This is, frankly, the most boring category at the Emmys. That there are only six slots in every other category is maddening, with so many worthy contenders. For this one, it’s almost hard to fill those six slots. Jeffrey Tambor will definitely be nominated for Transparent, and Jim Parsons and Louis C.K. will be back again for The Big Bang Theory and Louie, respectively.
William H. Macy will be nominated for Shameless, which somehow managed to win its petition to be considered a comedy when Orange Is the New Black didn’t. That’s great—I love Shameless—but every other actor on that show is more worthy. The two slots will go to some combination of Don Cheadle (House of Lies), Billy Crystal (The Comedians), Anthony Anderson (Black-ish), and Matt LeBlanc (Episodes). Anderson and Crystal would be the more inspiring choices, but I actually think Cheadle will take one of those slots. Snooze.
Predictions: Don Cheadle, House of Lies; Billy Crystal, The Comedians; Louis C.K., Louie; William H. Macy, Shameless; Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory; Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Wish List: Anthony Anderson, Black-ish; Will Forte, Last Man on Earth; Jonathan Groff, Looking; Chris Messina, The Mindy Project; Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
BEST COMEDY ACTRESS
This is the most irritating category, but in the best way. There is such an abundance of riches in this category that you could populate an entire second list of six actresses worthy of winning the award who will probably not even be nominated this year. It’s that cutthroat. So while Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), and Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) are all pretty much sure things, that leaves an unfathomable number of performances competing for the last three slots.
Ellie Kemper stands a strong chance of getting in for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Grace and Frankie’s Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda could help Netflix sweep the second half. But could both Tomlin and Fonda get in? And where does that leave Lisa Kudrow, who gave the best comedic performance of the decade on The Comeback? And what of the inspiring Gina Rodriguez, who just won the Golden Globe for Jane the Virgin? Or the hottest comedy star of the moment, Amy Schumer? (And that’s not to even mention Tracee Ellis Ross, Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, Emmy Rossum, Melissa McCarthy, Anna Faris, and Kristen Schaal. TOO MUCH GOODNESS!
Predictions: Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie; Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep; Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation; Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer
Wish List: Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project; Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep; Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation; Emmy Rossum, Shameless
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA
The question here is how many Game of Thrones actors will get in. Peter Dinklage, as always, is a given. Kit Harrington, for his work as Jon Snow, would be a much worthier addition.
Predictions: Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul; Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones; Michael Kelly, House of Cards; Mandy Patinkin, Homeland; John Slattery, Mad Men; Jon Voight, Ray Donovan
Wish List: Matt Czuchry, The Good Wife; Kit Harrington, Game of Thrones; Michael Kelly, House of Cards; Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline; Joe Morton, Scandal; Craig T. Nelson, Parenthood
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA
This category could be populated exclusively with Orange Is the New Black actresses. If they go full Orange, then Uzo Aduba, Kate Mulgrew, Lorraine Toussaint, and Laverne Cox all stand chances of getting in (in that order). More likely, only one will make it, and that will be Aduba.
Predictions: Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black; Christine Baranski, The Good Wife; Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey; Lena Headey, Game of Thrones; Christina Hendricks, Mad Men; Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Wish List: Carrie Coon, The Leftovers; Christina Hendricks, Mad Men; Lena Headey, Game of Thrones, Yael Stone, Orange Is the New Black, Lorraine Toussaint, Orange Is the New Black; Bellamy Young, Scandal
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY
There was a time that four of these slots were actors on Modern Family. We pray that this never happens again.
Predictions: Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Ty Burrell, Modern Family; Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family; Hugh Laurie, Veep; Tony Hale, Veep
Wish List: Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family; Chris Pratt, Parks and Recreation; Andrew Rannells, Girls; Timothy Simons, Veep
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY
This category is always the most fun—and also the hardest to predict. Things that are certain in life are death, taxes, a Julie Bowen nomination, and an Allison Janney win. Beyond that is anyone’s guess!
Predictions: Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory; Julie Bowen, Modern Family; Anna Chlumsky, Veep; Allison Janney, Mom; Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live; Judith Light, Transparent
Wish List: Anna Chlumsky, Veep; Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Amy Landecker, Transparent; Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live; Niecey Nash, Getting On; Eden Sher, The Middle
AND THE REST…
Best TV Movie: Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Curtain, Poirot’s Last Case; Bessie; Derek: The Final Chapter; Killing Jesus; Nightingale
Best Limited Series: American Horror Story: Freak Show; The Honourable Woman; The Missing; Olive Kitteridge; Wolf Hall
Best TV Movie/Limited Series Actor: Adrien Brody, Houdini; Ricky Gervais, Derek: The Final Chapter; Timothy Hutton, American Crime; Richard Jenkins, Olive Kitteridge; David Oyelowo, Nightingale; Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall
Best TV Movie/Limited Series Actress: Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honourable Woman; Felicity Huffman, American Crime; Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show; Queen Latifah, Bessie; Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge; Frances O’Connor, The Missing
Best TV Movie/Limited Series Supporting Actor: Michael Chiklis, American Horror Story: Freak Show; Damian Lewis, Wolf Hall; Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge; Jonathan Pryce, Wolf Hall; Stephen Rea, The Honourable Woman; Finn Wittrock, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Best TV Movie/Limited Series Supporting Actress: Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show; Mo’Nique, Bessie; Cynthia Nixon, Stockholm, Pennsylvania; Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Freak Show; Janet McTeer, The Honourable Woman; Susan Sarandon, Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe
Best Reality Competition Program: The Amazing Race, Dancing With the Stars, Project Runway, Top Chef, So You Think You Can Dance, The Voice
Best Reality Host: Tom Bergeron, Dancing With the Stars; Anthony Bourdain, The Taste; Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance; Heidi Klum/Tim Gunn, Project Runway; Jane Lynch, Hollywood Game Night; Jeff Probst, Survivor
Best Variety Talk Series: The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Late Show with David Letterman, Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Best Variety Sketch Series: Drunk History, Inside Amy Schumer, Key and Peele, Portlandia, Saturday Night Live, The Soup