Sunday, September 20, 2015

2015 Emmy Award predictions

The 67th Primetime Emmy awards air tonight at 8:00 PM EST, so I figured I'd offer some predictions for how the night will go down.  The Emmys seem a little harder to predict than the Oscars, so I could end up with only a 50% success rate, but that also makes watching the show a little more fun.  As always, there will be some frustrating picks from the voters, but more and more it seems like their choices are falling in line with the critical consensus.  Let's hope that means Modern Family's reign of terror will finally come to an end...

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
Ryan Murphy, American Horror Story: Freak Show (Episode: "Monsters Among Us")
Dee Rees, Bessie
Hugo Blick, The Honourable Woman
Uli Edel, Houdini
Tom Shankland, The Missing
Lisa Cholodenko, Olive Kitteridge
Peter Kosminsky, Wolf Hall

Should win: Wolf Hall
Will win: Olive Kitteridge

PBS' adaptation of Hilary Mantel's novel Wolf Hall has really stuck with me since it aired earlier this year, particularly Peter Kosminsky's bracing direction.  However, Lisa Cholodenko is the bigger name and Olive Kitteridge seems to be a more Emmy-friendly property.

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
John Ridley, American Crime (Episode: "Episode One")
Dee Rees, Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois, and Horton Foote; Bessie
Stephan Merchant, Gene Stupnitsky, and Lee Eisenberg; Hello Ladies: The Movie
Hugo Blick, The Honourable Woman
Jane Anderson, Olive Kitteridge
Peter Straughan, Wolf Hall

Should win: Olive Kitteridge
Will win: Olive Kitteridge

This is another category where the "Should win" pick boils down to Wolf Hall and Olive Kitteridge.  Ultimately, I went with Kitteridge, which was one of my favorite things to air on TV last year.  It took an "unfilmable" book and turned it into a rich epic of intimacy.  I think the Emmy voters will agree with me here.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Angela Bassett, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Zoe Kazan, Olive Kitteridge
Regina King, American Crime
Mo'Nique, Bessie
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Freak Show

Should win: Zoe Kazan
Will win: Sarah Paulson

I will shout to the heavens about Zoe Kazan's performance in Olive Kitteridge, particularly in the first hour of the miniseries, because it's just so darn good.  But ultimately, I think the voters will go with Sarah Paulson, since the task of playing Siamese twins is much flashier and American Horror Story has a history of winning awards for its actors.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Richard Cabral, American Crime
Damian Lewis, Wolf Hall
Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
Denis O'Hare, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Michael K. Williams, Bessie
Finn Wittrock, American Horror Story: Freak Show

Should win: Richard Cabral
Will win: Bill Murray

I'm going with Richard Cabral, whose performance I hated at first in American Crime, then grew to love through the sheer power of its weirdness.  Bill Murray feels like a lock to win here, though.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honourable Woman
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Queen Latifah, Bessie
Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
Emma Thompson, Live from Lincoln Center -- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in Concert with the New York Philharmonic

Should win: Frances McDormand
Will win: Frances McDormand

Jessica Lange is an awards favorite and Queen Latifah has some dark horse steam from her work in Bessie, but this is definitely McDormand's category.  Her performance as the titular character in Olive Kitteridge was complex, daring, and riveting.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Adrien Brody, Houdini
Ricky Gervais, Derek: The Special
Timothy Hutton, American Crime
Richard Jenkins, Olive Kitteridge
David Oyelowo, Nightingale
Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall

Should win: Mark Rylance
Will win: David Oyelowo

I haven't seen Nightingale, but David Oleylowo's got that runoff goodwill for his performance in Selma, so I think he'll take the award.  My pick would be Mark Rylance, who wrung so much out of that sullen face of his in Wolf Hall.  I quite liked Richard Jenkins and Timothy Hutton too.  Just, whatever you do, don't give the award to Ricky Gervais, Emmy voters.

Outstanding Limited Series
American Crime
American Horror Story: Freak Show
The Honourable Woman
Olive Kitteridge
Wolf Hall

Should win: Olive Kitteridge
Will win: Olive Kitteridge

American Horror Story will never be on my wavelength, American Crime was just fine, and The Honourable Woman had an electrifying ending but was sometimes a chore to get to that point.  Despite greatly enjoying Wolf Hall, Olive Kitteridge is still the easy pick for me.  Its quality, plus the prestige associated with being on HBO, will make it an easy pick for Emmy voters too.

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
Phil Lord and Chris Miller, The Last Man on Earth ("Alive in Tucson")
Louis C.K., Louie ("Sleepover")
Mike Judge, Silicon Valley ("Sand Hill Shuffle")
Jill Soloway, Transparent ("Best New Girl")
Armando Iannucci, Veep ("Testimony")

Should win: Jill Soloway, Transparent ("Best New Girl")
Will win: Jill Soloway, Transparent ("Best New Girl")

This one really ended up hinging on the specific episode that was picked for each show.  I think Louie is one of the best directed shows on television, but nothing in "Sleepover" really grabbed me.  On the other hand, I wasn't as blown away by Transparent as some people were, but there's no denying the power of Soloway's direction in the mesmerizing "Best New Girl."

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik, Episodes ("Episode 9")
Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth ("Alive in Tucson")
Louis C.K., Louie ("Bobby's House")
Alec Berg, Silicon Valley ("Two Days of the Condor")
Jill Soloway, Transparent ("Pilot")
Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, and Tony Roche; Veep ("Election Night")

Should win: Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, and Tony Roche; Veep ("Election Night")
Will win: Jill Soloway, Transparent ("Pilot")

Transparent may not win Outstanding Comedy Series, so I can see the Emmy voters giving it love in the writing category, which it often carves out for brainier television.  I'd personally go with Veep's "Election Night," which, like most Veep episodes, is a hurricane of jokes and tragedy.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Gaby Hoffmann, Transparent
Allison Janney, Mom
Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Niecy Nash, Getting On

Should win: Anna Chlumsky
Will win: Allison Janney

In this clown car of a category, I'd go for Allison Janney to win, who has the trifecta of already being an Emmy winner, excelling at comedy, and being able to display her dramatic talents in Mom.  As far as personal picks go, Anna Chlumsky's tense, nervy performance on Veep has been a favorite of mine since day one, and she's only gotten better and better.  And though Niecy Nash has no shot of winning, I'm just happy she got nominated for her work on the underrated Getting On.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Adam Driver, Girls
Tony Hale, Veep
Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele

Should win: Tituss Burgess
Will win: Andre Braugher

Two words: Peeno Noir.  This is a stacked category without a bad apple in the bunch (say what you will about Modern Family's horrifying decline, but Ty Burrell is still hilarious on that show).  I think Emmy voters might go with Andre Braugher, since he's the biggest actor in the category.  If Tony Hale had submitted the episode where he breaks down on the bathroom floor, I could have easily seen him repeat his win from last year.  Also, weird choice for them to only nominate Keegan-Michael Key and not (the arguably more talented) Jordan Peele.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Should win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Can Julia Louis-Dreyfus really win another one?  It seems like she's got 7 Emmys at this point.  Voters may finally award Amy Poehler as a goodbye gift to Parks and Recreation, but I still think they love Louis-Dreyfus and Veep has more awards buzz than ever.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Louis C.K., Louie
Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

Should win: Jeffrey Tambor
Will win: Jeffrey Tambor

This is one of those categories where I don't feel all that enthusiastic about any of the nominees.  I usually love Louis C.K.'s performance on Louie, but he didn't do much to stand out in a weaker season.  Anthony Anderson and Will Forte are both good, but I don't know if their work is quite at the level of award winning.  I don't watch Shameless and the less said about LeBlanc and Cheadle's inclusion, the better.  That leaves Jeffrey Tambor by default, even though his performance on Transparent involves almost no comedy.  Still, he's very good, so I don't begrudge him the award.

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
Drunk History
Inside Amy Schumer
Key & Peele
Saturday Night Live

Should win: Key & Peele
Will win: Inside Amy Schumer

Drunk History and Portlandia aren't my thing, and I gave up on Saturday Night Live a few years ago.  That leaves Key & Peele and Inside Amy Schumer for my personal pick.  Key & Peele had a spottier season than usual, but I'm not quite as over the moon about Inside Amy Schumer, so I'll still pick the former.  However, 2015 is the year of Amy Schumer and this category feels like the obvious way for Emmy voters to recognize that.

Outstanding Comedy Series
Modern Family
Parks and Recreation
Silicon Valley
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Should win: Veep
Will win: Veep

My order of preference would go: Veep, Louie, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Silicon ValleyTransparentParks and Recreation, Modern Family.  As much as I'd perversely enjoy another win for Modern Family, I think their five-year winning streak is going to come to an end.  The slow build of Veep recognition is finally going to bubble over for the big prize.

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Tim Van Patten, Boardwalk Empire ("Eldorado")
David Nutter, Game of Thrones ("Mother's Mercy")
Jeremy Podeswa, Game of Thrones ("Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken")
Lesli Linka Glatter, Homeland ("From A to B and Back Again")
Steven Soderbergh, The Knick ("Method and Madness")

Should win: Steven Soderbergh, The Knick ("Method and Madness")
Will win: David Nutter, Game of Thrones ("Mother's Mercy")

In terms of who should win, this feels like a no-brainer.  No director added to a show more than Steven Soderbergh did to The Knick.  His work in "Method and Madness" and throughout the entire season felt like the work of a true master.  And though he's by far the biggest name in the category, I'm still not sure he's a runaway pick to win.  It feels like voters are itching to give Game of Thrones, TV's most talked-about show, more awards and the fantastic "Mother's Mercy" feels like a good way to do that.  The inclusion of "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" could split the vote between Thrones lovers, but the rape scene was controversial enough that it may not get much love.  Needless to say, this will be an interesting category to watch out for.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
Joshua Brand, The Americans ("Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?")
Gordon Smith, Better Call Saul ("Five-0")
David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, Game of Thrones ("Mother's Mercy")
Matthew Weiner & Semi Chellas, Mad Men ("Lost Horizon")
Matthew Weiner, Mad Men ("Person to Person")

Should win: Matthew Weiner, Mad Men ("Person to Person")
Will win: Matthew Weiner, Mad Men ("Person to Person")

I'm happy that The Americans got nominated for something (especially for "Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?"), and in another year I would have picked it for my personal choice.  But come on, there's "Person to Person" staring us right in the face.  I've always found Mad Men's writing to be a clear step above the rest of the television landscape, and "Person to Person" is the best series finale since "Made in America" closed out The Sopranos many years ago.  Matt Weiner doesn't seem to be a beloved figure in the industry these days, but I think voters will award him anyway.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Should win: Lena Headey
Will win: Christina Hendricks

The submission tape plays a larger role in my "should win" decision than any other category.  I like Uzo Aduba, Lena Headey, and Christina Hendricks about equally as actors, but Headey sails past her competitors when you consider how strong "Mother's Mercy" is as a submission.  Even with the digital trickery that was involved, the "shame" scene was one of the bravest performances of the year.  Still, I think voters will be feeling generous towards Mad Men's swan song and award Hendricks accordingly.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Michael Kelly, House of Cards
Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline

Should win: Ben Mendelsohn
Will win: Jonathan Banks

I'm not even completely finished with Bloodline's first season, but Ben Mendelsohn's performance is blowing me away.  However, I think Emmy voters like Jonathan Banks too much to go any other way.  There's no shame in that; he'd be my second pick anyway.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Taraji P. Henson, Empire
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Should win: ELISABETH MOSS!!!
Will win: Viola Davis

People go on and on about how Jon Hamm has never won an Emmy for his performance on Mad Men, but to me the real tragedy is that Elisabeth Moss has never won (and probably never will).  She's the best actor on television, hands down.  Just look at the scene in her submission episode, "Person to Person," where she shifts emotions from her phone conversation with Don to her phone conversation with Stan.  It's masterful.  Unfortunately, I think this award will go to Viola Davis, who's certainly good, but she's no Moss.  Special shout out to Tatiana Maslany for finally getting nominated for her head-spinning work on Orphan Black, so everybody on the Internet can stop crying about their girlfriend not being recognized.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Kyle Chandler, Bloodline
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Should win: Jon Hamm
Will win: Jon Hamm

This is finally going to be the year Jon Hamm wins it, unless Emmy voters decide to troll us all again and vote for Jeff Daniels.

Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men
Orange is the New Black

Should win: Mad Men
Will win: Mad Men

My order of preference would go: Mad Men, Orange is the New Black, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, Homeland, Downton Abbey, House of Cards.  Mad Men won this award in each of its first four seasons and I think Emmy voters will award their former favorite once again for its swan song.  It doesn't hurt that Mad Men had the best year out of all the nominees by a country mile.  Game of Thrones and Orange is the New Black would be the closest contenders for voters but Thrones still feels like it might suffer from genre snobbery and Orange is the New Black probably got hurt by moving over to the drama category.

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