My 2016 Emmy picks
The Emmys are tonight! These could very well be a mostly-repeat of last year’s winners because of the big rules changes last year, but nonetheless, I thought I’d take a quick stab at picking some winners. Some are who I think will win, some are for who I think should win, and some are just a chance for me to try to get you to watch some amazing TV shows. Here goes nothing!
Outstanding Comedy Series
- Black-ish (ABC)
- Master of None (Netflix)
- Modern Family (ABC)
- Silicon Valley (HBO)
- Transparent (Amazon)
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
- Veep (HBO)
With Big Bang Theory thankfully excised from this category as of late, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with almost any of these shows. But as much as I enjoy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, am moved by Transparent, or laugh at Silicon Valley and Veep, I’ve go to go with the one that hit the trifecta for me: Master of None. Season 1 was really something special and I can’t wait to see if Aziz Ansari can muster up the magic again (thankfully, Netflix is giving him all the time he wants to write it!).
Outstanding Drama Series
- The Americans (FX)
- Better Call Saul (AMC)
- Downton Abbey (PBS)
- Game of Thrones (HBO)
- Homeland (Showtime)
- House of Cards (Netflix)
- Mr. Robot (USA)
The Americans finally got nominated! The Americans finally got nominated!!
Unfortunately, I don’t think it has a chance in hell of winning. Given that, let’s see what our options are. Downton Abbey, Homeland, and House of Cards are barely a shell of their former selves and really have no business being nominated anymore. That leaves us with Better Call Saul, Game of Thrones, and Mr. Robot. I thought Better Call Saul and Mr Robot both had downturns in season 2 (though Mr Robot is nominated for its first season), while Game of Thrones had a surprisingly great uptick in season 6, the first no longer based on the books. I’m glad, because HBO’s huge voting bloc was probably going to deliver Game of Thrones a repeat win either way, but at least it will be well-deserved this year.
Outstanding Variety Talk Series
- Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Crackle)
- The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS)
- Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
- Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)
- The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC)
It hasn’t quite reclaimed the highs of its first season, but John Oliver is still the cream of the crop in late night.
Outstanding Limited Series
- American Crime (ABC)
- Fargo (FX)
- The Night Manager (AMC)
- The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
- Roots (History)
I’m so glad the Emmys separated this into its own category because limited series are KILLING it this year. Any of these shows would be worthy winners and I honestly don’t know if I can decide between Fargo and The People vs. OJ Simpson. I will say that as much as I was looking forward to Fargo after its sublime first season (perhaps my favorite season of TV that year), OJ came out of nowhere and I still remember moments from it more now.
Outstanding Television Movie
- All the Way (HBO)
- Confirmation (HBO)
- Luther (BBC America)
- Sherlock: “The Abominable Bride” (PBS)
- A Very Murray Christmas (Netflix)
If you don’t think a TV movie about a Supreme Court nominee could be supremely gripping, you haven’t seen Confirmation. Kerry Washington and Wendell Pierce are just sublime and make a character story into a thriller in its own right.
Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
- The Amazing Race (CBS)
- American Ninja Warrior (NBC)
- Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
- Project Runway (Lifetime)
- Top Chef (Bravo)
- The Voice (NBC)
As much fluff as it has, there’s nothing better than the finals of American Ninja Warrior. I just love that there’s an obstacle course show that celebrates athletic excellence, not mock it. (coughWipeoutcough)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
- Anthony Anderson as Andre “Dre” Johnson, Sr. on Black-ish (ABC) (Episode: “Hope”)
- Aziz Ansari as Dev Shah on Master of None (Netflix) (Episode: “Parents”)
- Will Forte as Phil “Tandy” Miller on The Last Man on Earth (Fox) (Episode: “30 Years of Science Down the Tubes”)
- William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher on Shameless (Showtime) (Episode: “I Only Miss Her When I’m Breathing”)
- Thomas Middleditch as Richard Hendricks on Silicon Valley (HBO) (Episode: “The Empty Chair”)
- Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman on Transparent (Amazon) (Episode: “Man on the Land”)
Who are we kidding, Jeffrey Tambor is going to win this. You could argue that dramedies should be their own category to give truly comedic performers a real shot at this award (and I would agree with you), but that just isn’t the reality we have right now.
Ansari and Anderson would be worthy winners, but of course their performances just aren’t showy enough. But I would love to see Middleditch win this one time for an underrated performance as the glue that binds together Silicon Valley.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
- Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix) (Episode: “Kimmy Goes to a Hotel!”)
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus as President Selina Meyer on Veep (HBO) (Episode: “Mother”)
- Laurie Metcalf as Dr. Jenna James on Getting On (HBO) (Episode: “Am I Still Me?”)
- Tracee Ellis Ross as Dr. Rainbow “Bow” Johnson on Black-ish (ABC) (Episode: “Sink or Swim”)
- Amy Schumer as Amy on Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central) (Episode: “Welcome to the Gun Show”)
- Lily Tomlin as Frankie Bergstein on Grace and Frankie (Netflix) (Episode: “The Test”)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is going to (deservingly) win for a record 5th year in a row…but what if she didn’t? Can we just give this award to Laurie Metcalf for her INCREDIBLE guest appearance in the 3rd episode of Horace and Pete after she was snubbed in that category at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards show last weekend? (She lost to Margo Martindale, who appeared in all of one short inconsequential scene during the entire season of The Americans.)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
- Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn on Bloodline (Netflix) (Episode: “Part 23”)
- Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson on Mr. Robot (USA) (Episode: “eps1.0_hellofriend.mov”)
- Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill on Better Call Saul (AMC) (Episode: “Klick”)
- Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings on The Americans (FX) (Episode: “The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears”)
- Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan on Ray Donovan (Showtime) (Episode: “Exsuscito”)
- Kevin Spacey as President Frank Underwood on House of Cards (Netflix) (Episode: “Chapter 52”)
This might be the most wide-open category of the whole show. Bryan Cranston and Jon Hamm are both gone, and though Chandler is a previous winner, Bloodline is no Friday Night Lights (watch Friday Night Lights!).
I’m again going ride-or-die for The Americans, and Matthew Rhys should probably have been nominated and won this awards years ago. That said, The American just isn’t popular enough for him to win this year, so it’s going to come down to Bob Odenkirk and Rami Malek. And as much as Odenkirk has fleshed out the character of Saul, no one’s giving a performance like Rami Malek right now. After seeing multiple actors win this in their last year of eligibility (Chandler for Friday Night Lights, Hamm for Mad Men), let’s see if the rookie can bring it on home this time.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
- Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison on Homeland (Showtime) (Episode: “Super Powers”)
- Viola Davis as Prof. Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder (ABC) (Episode: “There’s My Baby”)
- Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon on Empire (Fox) (Episode: “Rise by Sin”)
- Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning, Alison Hendrix, Cosima Niehaus, Beth Childs, Rachel Duncan, and MK on Orphan Black (BBC America) (Episode: “The Antisocialism of Sex”)
- Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings on The Americans (FX) (Episode: “The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears”)
- Robin Wright as First Lady Claire Underwood on House of Cards (Netflix) (Episode: “Chapter 49”)
I know The Americans and its actors barely got nominated in some of these categories and they have no real chance of winning any of them, which is why I’ve been picking alternate winners in most of these categories. But Keri Russell is SO good as a committed Russian spy that I just don’t have the heart to pick anyone but her. Seriously Emmy voters, start watching The Americans so they can start winning some awards!!
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
- Bryan Cranston as President Lyndon B. Johnson on All the Way (HBO)
- Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes on Sherlock: “The Abominable Bride” (PBS)
- Idris Elba as DCI John Luther on Luther (BBC America)
- Cuba Gooding Jr. as O. J. Simpson on The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
- Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Pine on The Night Manager (AMC)
- Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran on The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
Courtney B. Vance didn’t just embody Johnnie Cochran, he WAS Johnnie Cochran. Just thinking about his performance makes me want to watch that show all over again. So damn good.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
- Kirsten Dunst as Peggy Blumquist on Fargo (FX)
- Felicity Huffman as Leslie Graham on American Crime (ABC)
- Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday on Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (HBO)
- Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark on The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
- Lili Taylor as Anne Blaine on American Crime (ABC)
- Kerry Washington as Anita Hill on Confirmation (HBO)
I know most experts have this pegged at Sarah Paulson’s award to lose, but does anyone else remember how people went from being bewildered at the casting of Kirsten Dunst to anointing her as the favorite to win this category during Fargo season 2? I do, I do!
That said, even I was surprised to see Sarah Paulson has been repeatedly nominated in this category the last few years, but never won. I can’t wait to see her acceptance speech tonight.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
- Louie Anderson as Christine Baskets on Baskets (FX) (Episode: “Easter in Bakersfield”)
- Andre Braugher as Captain Ray Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox) (Episode: “The Oolong Slayer”)
- Tituss Burgess as Titus Andromedon on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix) (Episode: “Kimmy Gives Up!”)
- Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy on Modern Family (ABC) (Episode: “The Party”)
- Tony Hale as Gary Walsh on Veep (HBO) (Episode: “Inauguration”)
- Keegan-Michael Key as Various Characters on Key & Peele (Comedy Central) (Episode: “Y’all Ready for This?”)
- Matt Walsh as Mike McLintock on Veep (HBO) (Episode: “Kissing Your Sister”)
Mike McLintock might be the most woebegone character on Veep, and if you’ve seen the cast of caricatures on that show, you know that’s saying something. Burrell and Hale have gotten their gold in this category before, it’s time for some new blood.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
- Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer on Veep (HBO) (Episode: “C**tgate”)
- Gaby Hoffmann as Alexandria “Ali” Pfefferman on Transparent (Amazon) (Episode: “Bulnerable”)
- Allison Janney as Bonnie Plunkett on Mom (CBS) (Episode: “Terrorists and Gingerbread”)
- Judith Light as Shelly Pfefferman on Transparent (Amazon) (Episode: “Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump”)
- Kate McKinnon as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live (NBC) (Episode: “Host: Ariana Grande”)
- Niecy Nash as Denise “DiDi” Ortley on Getting On (HBO) (Episode: “Don’t Let It Get in You or on You”)
I don’t know if variety show actors have real shots at the acting awards anymore, but for my money, Kate McKinnon is the heart of Saturday Night Live these days and I’d love to see her win this, even as much as I like all of the other nominees on their shows.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
- Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut on Better Call Saul (AMC) (Episode: “Bali Ha’i”)
- Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “No One”)
- Kit Harington as Jon Snow on Game of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “Battle of the Bastards”)
- Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper on House of Cards (Netflix) (Episode: “Chapter 44”)
- Ben Mendelsohn as Danny Rayburn on Bloodline (Netflix) (Episode: “Part 23”)
- Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan on Ray Donovan (Showtime) (Episode: “The Kalamazoo”)
He might not have had a showpiece episode like last year, but Jonathan Banks is overdue for this award. He was robbed during season 5 of Breaking Bad when he lost to co-star Aaron Paul, but I think this will finally be his year.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
- Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “Book of the Stranger”)
- Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “The Winds of Winter”)
- Dame Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham on Downton Abbey (PBS) (Episode: “Episode Six”)
- Maura Tierney as Helen Solloway on The Affair (Showtime) (Episode: “204”)
- Maisie Williams as Arya Stark on Game of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “No One”)
- Constance Zimmer as Quinn King on UnREAL (Lifetime) (Episode: “Mother”)
Lena Headey had so many great showcase moments during this season of Game of Thrones (no spoilers, but if you’ve seen the episode she’s nominated for, you know what I’m talking about) and she would be a worthy winner indeed.
But can we take a moment to appreciate the greatness that is UnREAL season 1 and especially Constance Zimmer?! This is a show that had no business being so good (and in season 2, it sadly wasn’t), but my god Constance Zimmer is putting on a showcase week after week. Whoo boy, she has come a long way since Good Morning, Miami!
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
- Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden on The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) (Episode: “Manna From Heaven”)
- Hugh Laurie as Richard Onslow Roper on The Night Manager (AMC) (Episode: “Episode 5”)
- Jesse Plemons as Ed Blumquist on Fargo (FX) (Episode: “Loplop”)
- David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian on The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) (Episode: “Conspiracy Theories”)
- John Travolta as Robert Shapiro on The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) (Episode: “100% Not Guilty”)
- Bokeem Woodbine as Mike Milligan on Fargo (FX) (Episode: “Palindrome”)
This is supposed to be OJ’s year at the Emmys, but I really hope its rising tide doesn’t life all of its boats because both of the Fargo actors nominated here were just so good. I know Bokeem Woodbine was the breakout star of Fargo, but of the two, I’ve got to give this to the ever-exasperated Jesse Plemons, who just kept delivering week after week.
(Though if David Schwimmer wins this, I won’t be mad at all - I never thought I could like a Kardashian so much!).
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
- Kathy Bates as Iris on American Horror Story: Hotel (FX) (Episode: “Battle Royale”)
- Olivia Colman as Angela Burr on The Night Manager (AMC) (Episode: “Episode 6”)
- Regina King as Terri LaCroix on American Crime (ABC) (Episode: “Season Two: Episode Eight”)
- Melissa Leo as First Lady Lady Bird Johnson on All the Way (HBO)
- Sarah Paulson as Sally McKenna on American Horror Story: Hotel (FX) (Episode: “The Ten Commandments Killer”)
- Jean Smart as Floyd Gerhardt on Fargo (FX) (Episode: “Fear and Trembling”)
The best part of the so-called Golden Age of TV and now Peak TV is that amazing actors like Jean Smart finally get to play roles that TV would never had room for before. She’s. Just. So. Good.
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
- Catastrophe (Episode: “Episode 1”), Written by Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan (Amazon)
- Master of None (Episode: “Parents”), Written by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang (Netflix)
- Silicon Valley (Episode: “Founder Friendly”), Written by Dan O’Keefe (HBO)
- Silicon Valley (Episode: “The Uptick”), Written by Alec Berg (HBO)
- Veep (Episode: “Morning After”), Written by David Mandel (HBO)
- Veep (Episode: “Mother”), Written by Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck (HBO)
During Modern Family’s reign atop the main comedy series category (especially in its later not-so-deserving years), people would say that the winner in this category was the “real” best comedy series. Now that the former category’s nominees are so diverse and good, I don’t know that that applies anymore. I would happy with any of these to win on their writing merits alone, but I’m going to go with Master of None here and particularly its terrific nominated episode.
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
- The Americans (Episode: “Persona Non Grata”), Written by Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg (FX)
- Downton Abbey (Episode: “Episode 8”), Written by Julian Fellowes (PBS)
- Game of Thrones (Episode: “Battle of the Bastards”), Written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss (HBO)
- The Good Wife (Episode: “End”), Written by Robert King and Michelle King (CBS)
- Mr. Robot (Episode: “eps1.0_hellofriend.mov”), Written by Sam Esmail (USA)
- UnREAL (Episode: “Return”), Written by Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (Lifetime)
The particular episode of Game of Thrones nominated here isn’t exactly known for its writing, and Downton Abbey is Downton Abbey, but the rest of the nominees here are great. I love them all, but I’d give this to Mr Robot, whose pilot had no business at all working and yet completely did. Bravo and bonsoir, Mr. Esmail.
Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
- Fargo (Episode: “Loplop”), Written by Bob DeLaurentis (FX)
- Fargo (Episode: “Palindrome”), Written by Noah Hawley (FX)
- The Night Manager, Written by David Farr (AMC)
- The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Episode: “From the Ashes of Tragedy”), Written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (FX)
- The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Episode: “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”), Written by D. V. DeVincentis (FX)
- The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Episode: “The Race Card”), Written by Joe Robert Cole (FX)
I just can’t do it, I just can’t. Give Fargo AND The People vs OJ all the awards!