This coming Sunday, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will once again declare what was the best of television over the past year. Andy Samberg is the host this time around which should bring plenty of laughs. It’s bound to be a contentious show as always too. The winners will, of course, drive post-show discussion. Are the shows and actors/actresses that take home an Emmy really the “best”? It’s constantly up for interpretation. One thing is for sure though. This is the final run through for Mad Men and Parks and Recreation and people will be furious if they leave empty handed. There are other things of note too (Modern Family gunning for a sixth win, Tatiana Maslany, new categories), but these two very popular shows going away is easily the biggest news.
Come with me as I break down the categories and briefly discuss who could (and should) go home with the gold on the 20th.
Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Orange Is The New Black
Prediction: Solid shows across the board, but this has to go to Mad Men. Its final season was critically loved and it’s been three years since the last Drama win. Please Academy. Give this the send off it deserves.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Jeff Daniels, Newsroom
Kyle Chandler, Bloodline
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Prediction: If the Academy doesn’t give this to Jon Hamm, they will make a horrible mistake. He has never won this award and this is his eighth nomination. He deserves this. Not just for his excellent turn as Don Draper, but for his many awesome years in the role. Should this go to anyone else, expect the internet to explode with why the Academy sucks.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Claire Danes, Homeland
Taraji P. Henson, Empire
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Robin Wright, House of Cards
Prediction: This is a tough category. While I know she deserves this award, Tatiana Maslany will not take it. It’s a shock in itself that the Academy even tried a show as sci-fi bonkers as Orphan Black. I will be very surprised (and happy) if she does win because it shows that the Academy is actually trying. Honestly though, despite Robin Wright and Viola Davis also doing very well, I’m giving this to Elisabeth Moss. End of Mad Men people!
Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game Of Thrones
Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Michael Kelly, House of Cards
Prediction: As out there as this sounds, I actually think Peter Dinklage can take this. The excitement over his role with Tyrion is an annual occurrence, and I don’t see anyone else on here getting that same buzz. Perhaps Jonathan Banks or Jim Carter can sneak this one through, but I’m fully behind Dinklage.
Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game Of Thrones
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is The New Black
Prediction: If there is one category that Black deserves to win, it’s this one. I’m fully expecting an Uzo Aduba victory here. I’d also love for Lena Headey or Emilia Clarke.
Outstanding Comedy Series
Parks and Recreation
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Prediction: This is it folks. The Comedy victory train for Modern Family will finally stop. The culprit? Transparent. This critically loved Amazon hit strikes a huge chord with the fight for LGBT rights and its lead Jeffrey Tambor has received heapings of praise. Plus, it can get pretty damn funny. On a personal level though, I would love if Parks and Recreation got this. That final season was glorious.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Louis C.K., Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Will Forte, Last Man on Earth
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Prediction: This has Jeffrey Tambor written all over it. Maybe, maybe Will Forte’s hilarious turn in Last Man on Earth can steal it, but I doubt it. This is basically a lock for Transparent.
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
Prediction: I’m going out on a limb here and picking Amy Poehler. Julia Louis-Dreyfus can very well get her fourth win and Amy Schumer became a superstar in 2015, but if Parks and Recreation isn’t getting comedy, its star deserves this. Poehler’s final turn as Leslie Knope hit every mark imaginable for award winning acting. You laughed, you cried, and when she said the show’s final words, you actually felt a sense of loss. Besides, we all know Knope would go nuts at missing this final opportunity.
Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Adam Driver, Girls
Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tony Hale, Veep
Prediction: Modern Family will once again get knocked out of a category, and this time it’s by Tituss Burgess. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was a delightful surprise and Burgess is one of the big reasons why it was so popular. Someone break out the Pinot Noir.
Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Niecy Nash, Getting On
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Allison Janney, Mom
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Gaby Hoffmann, Transparent
Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Prediction: I really, really want Kate McKinnon to get this. The Academy will probably pick Allison Janney though. CBS’s Mom has done really well and Janney is a consistently loved part. If McKinnon somehow pulls through this, I will consider the whole show a success.
Outstanding Variety Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Last Week Tonight
The Late Show
The Tonight Show
Prediction: The Daily Show will be back next year for its final episodes, but you know what won’t come back? The Colbert Report. Sure, Stephen Colbert hasn’t left our television screens yet, but his biggest and first starring vehicle deserves one last award for its amazing goodbye season.
Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
Inside Amy Schumer
Key & Peele
Saturday Night Live
Prediction: This is definitely a toss up between Key & Peele and Inside Amy Schumer. Both shows have become massive sensations this year and they are ushering in a new era of sketch comedy. I’d love for Saturday Night Live to take this since it’s the mother of all sketch comedy shows (and this is a new category, so it works) but I expect one of these two more recent programs to win.
Prediction: My knowledge of this category is exceptionally limited, so I’m just going to pick Olive Kitteridge.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie
Adrien Brody, Houdini
Ricky Gervais, Derek
Timothy Hutton, American Crime
Richard Jenkins, Olive Kitteridge
David Oyelowo, Nightingale
Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall
Prediction: I can’t believe Ricky Gervais is still here for Derek. He will definitely not take this. I’d say David Oyelowo is a safe bet because his performance was the dominant highlight of Nightingale.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a 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, Mrs. Lovett
Prediction: I really like Frances McDormand, and her role is a consistently praised part of Olive Kitteridge. She should get this.
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or A Movie
Regina King, American Crime
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Angela Bassett, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Zoe Kazan, Olive Kitteridge
Prediction: I only watched the premiere of Freak Show, but Sarah Paulson really stuck with me for her dual performance as a woman with two heads and two personalities. It was really impressive and deserves an award.
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or A Movie
Richard Cabral, American Crime
Denis O’Hare, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Finn Wittrock, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Michael Kenneth, Bessie
Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
Damian Lewis, Wolf Hall
Prediction: Bill Murray! That requires no explanation other than Bill Murray is awesome and deserves every award.
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television editor. Every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.