Want to quickly have an idea of who to root for at this year’s Emmys on Sunday September 20th? This Emmy Awards cheat sheet ought to give you a quick understanding of each major category. For individual category analysis, please visit the main Emmy Award predictions page by clicking
The Drama Categories:
Outstanding Drama Series
Most Likely: Mad Men
Dark Horse: Game of Thrones
Why: This category is the battle of Mad Men versus Game of Thrones. Both shows are worthy of the win and the result could go either way.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Most Likely: Viola Davis – How to Get Away With Murder
Dark Horse: Elisabeth Moss – Mad Men
Why: Viola Davis is on the verge of making Emmy history in this category if she were to win, but Elisabeth Moss has the sentiment on her side if Mad Men sweeps this year.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama SeriesMost Likely: Jon Hamm – Mad Men
Dark Horse: Kyle Chandler – Bloodline
Why: Jon Hamm is long overdue for an Emmy win in this category and he also provided his best work in Mad Men’s series finale. However, Kyle Chandler is a force to be reckoned with.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesMost Likely: Christina Hendricks – Mad Men
Dark Horse: Lena Headey – Game of Thrones
Why: Christina Hendricks was a definitive scene-stealer in Mad Men’s final season and her submission episode showcases her performance in both strength and vulnerability. Lena Headey, however, offered one of the most shocking scenes in the Game of Thrones universe with her ‘shame walk’ and that may be tough for voters to ignore.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesMost Likely: Jonathan Banks – Better Call Saul
Dark Horse: Ben Mendelsohn – Bloodline
Why: Jonathan Banks is a fan favorite and also has the post-Breaking Bad nostalgia on his side, however, Ben Mendelsohn offered one of the most compelling performances on television this year and easily could upset this category.
Outstanding Direction for a Drama SeriesMost Likely: Game of Thrones – David Nutter (“Mother’s Mercy”)
Dark Horse: Boardwalk Empire – Timothy Van Patten (“Eldorado”)
Why: The season five finale for Game of Thrones is still one of the most talked about episodes of television this year and that alone puts it as the frontrunner in this category.
Outstanding Writing for a Drama SeriesMost Likely: Mad Men – Matthew Weiner (“Person to Person”)
Dark Horse: Game of Thrones – David Benioff, D.B. Weiss (“Mother’s Mercy”)
Why: Mad Men’s series finale ended on a profound level that was entirely indicative of its writing. If Mad Men loses in this category, this will be considered a tremendous upset.
The Comedy Categories
Outstanding Comedy SeriesMost Likely: Veep
Dark Horse: Transparent
Why: Veep has proven its worth with its fourth season, but Transparent’s bravery in bringing about the discussion of the transgendered community may allow for it to sneak in a win over Veep.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy SeriesMost Likely: Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep
Dark Horse: Lisa Kudrow – The Comeback
Why: Despite winning the last three years in a row, Julia Louis-Dreyfus seems to have a good hold in this category, but Lisa Kudrow may surprise this category with her hilarious and very human performance from HBO’s The Comeback.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy SeriesMost Likely: Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent
Dark Horse: William H. Macy – Shameless
Why: This category is a lock for Jeffrey Tambor, and for just reason. His performance was a respectful and honest portrayal of an individual deciding to be the person they are meant to be and never doing it at the expense of the transgendered community.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy SeriesMost Likely: Anna Chlumsky – Veep
Dark Horse: Allison Janney – Mom
Why: Anna Chlumsky delivered her best work on the fourth season of Veep, but she does have an uphill battle against last year’s winner, Allison Janney.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy SeriesMost Likely: Tituss Burgess – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Dark Horse: Tony Hale – Veep
Why: Tituss Burgess was the best element of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and he is as close to a lock in this category as one ever one could be.
Outstanding Direction for a Comedy SeriesMost Likely: Veep – Armando Iannucci (“Testimony”)
Dark Horse: Transparent – Jill Soloway (“Best New Girl”)
Why: Veep’s “Testimony” episode was filmed entirely in the format of one-on-one depositions and grand jury testimony hearings. It was a original and surprisingly effective narrative strategy that worked to Veep’s benefit.
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy SeriesMost Likely: Transparent – Jill Soloway (“Pilot”)
Dark Horse: Veep – Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, Armando Iannucci (“Election Night”)
Why: Jill Soloway’s pilot script for Transparent was the perfect foundation the show needed in order to take off properly by both introducing its characters, but also respectfully introducing the transgendered community as well.
The Limited Series or TV Movie Categories
Outstanding Limited SeriesMost Likely: Olive Kitteridge
Dark Horse: Wolf Hall
Why: The HBO limited series that chronicles the life of a complicated woman for twenty-five years is a force to be reckoned with unless the Emmys shift towards their traditional trend of honoring historical dramas.
Outstanding TV MovieMost Likely: Bessie
Dark Horse: Nightingale
Why: The HBO biopic on the life of depression-era blues singer Bessie Smith is seemingly a lock in this category unless the mentally disturbing Nightingale has something to say about that.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV MovieMost Likely: Frances McDormand – Olive Kitteridge
Dark Horse: Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Honourable Woman or Queen Latifah – Bessie
Why: This is a three-way fight in this category. McDormand won the SAG for her performance, Gyllenhaal has won the Golden Globe and Latifah is a steady favorite. This could go any way, but McDormand is the safest bet.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV MovieMost Likely: David Oyelowo – Nightingale
Dark Horse: Mark Rylance – Wolf Hall
Why: David Oyelowo’s one-man show in the HBO movie Nightingale is both astonishing and frightening to watch at the same time. The complexity of Oyelowo’s performance will be difficult to beat, yet Mark Rylance offers an equally compelling, though more subtle, performance in the BBC historical drama, Wolf Hall.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or TV MovieMost Likely: Sarah Paulson – American Horror Story: Freak Show
Dark Horse: Mo’Nique – Bessie
Why: Aside from the fact that Sarah Paulson is long overdue for a win in this category, she offered a double performance starring as Siamese twins in the horror anthology. Yet don’t underestimate Mo’Nique who did her own singing and offered a wonderfully subtle performance as Bessie Smith’s mentor in Bessie.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV MovieMost Likely: Bill Murray – Olive Kitteridge
Dark Horse: Finn Wittrock – American Horror Story: Freak Show
Why: Bill Murray’s performance is minimal, at best, in the limited series, but he has the sentimental vote on his side. Emmy award viewers should brace for a potential Wittrock upset in this category for his frightening performance as a man-child serial killer in American Horror Story’s latest season.
Outstanding Direction for a Limited Series or TV MovieMost Likely: Olive Kitteridge – Lisa Cholodenko
Dark Horse: Wolf Hall – Peter Kosminsky
Why: Lisa Cholodenko’s blunt style of direction gave viewers an honest and sometimes uncomfortable narrative featuring the limited series’ title character, but also was ambiguous enough to allow viewers to formulate their own opinions of the characters instead of being guided on how to feel towards them.
Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series or TV MovieMost Likely: Olive Kitteridge – Lisa Cholodenko
Dark Horse: Wolf Hall – Peter Straughan
Why: Lisa Cholodenko’s script adequately captured the concept of a stern woman in a changing world she does not understand while never fully vilifying her actions. However, Peter Straughan’s stellar script for Wolf Hall perfectly captured the era of Reformation England in both the establishment of setting, but also in dialect.