The 2016 Emmy Awards are upon us, and this is the first year in my Emmy-viewing history (which extends back to my early high school years when I first felt the bitter sting of disappointment every time Alias didn’t win) that I have a rooting interest in nearly every category. Although I’m still frustrated by some of this year’s snubs and the overall lack of pleasant surprises among the nominees, it’s nice to see some of my favorites from the world of television with a fighting chance to take home an award this year.
The Emmys give us a chance to celebrate television while eating pizza on our couch and freaking out every time our favorites are shown in the audience (or is that just me?), so no matter how annoyed I get about nominees and winners, I watch them with rabid enthusiasm every year. And you can join in the rabidly enthusiastic fun on Twitter, where I’ll start live-tweeting with my reactions to the red carpet coverage at 6 p.m. EST!
Without further ado, here are my picks for who I think will win each of the night’s major awards (except Outstanding Television Movie because I didn’t see any of the nominees) and who I wish would win. Don’t forget to share your hopes and your predictions for this year’s Emmys in the comments!
Outstanding Drama Series
My Pick and My Wish: The Americans
My Thoughts: I’ll be honest with all of you; I really think Game of Thrones has the best chance to win this award. But I can’t pick against what I consider the best show on television when it has finally found itself in this position. And if Emmy voters want to go in a different direction since Game of Thrones won last year (which isn’t likely, but it could happen), then I think The Americans is in a prime position to move to the front of the pack. This season was universally loved by critics and fans; it has more buzz around it than ever before; and it nicely fills the “20th century American dramatic period piece” void left behind by Mad Men. The Americans is simply a brilliant piece of television and has been for years, and it’s time Emmy voters took notice.
Outstanding Comedy Series
My Pick: Veep
My Wish: black-ish
My Thoughts: I don’t think any show is going to upend Veep’s reign of dominance, especially considering the plethora of other awards it’s nominated for. However, I’d love to see black-ish shock everyone with a win in this category. It had a stellar sophomore season that tackled important issues with honesty and heartfelt emotion (“Hope” was one of the most profound episodes of television in all of 2016.) while never losing its sharp sense of humor.
Outstanding Limited Series
My Pick and My Wish: The People v. O.J. Simpson
My Thoughts: The People v. O.J. Simpson could have gone wrong in so many ways, but somehow it ended up being a true triumph. It managed to take an event analyzed for more than a decade by legal experts and everyday Americans and open our eyes to the humanity that got lost in the media circus. That focus on the personal stories of the people on both sides of the trial allowed its stellar cast to shine, and its strong ensemble work and surprisingly deep and nuanced tone is what will help it emerge victorious.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
My Pick: Rami Malek (Mr. Robot)
My Wish: Matthew Rhys (The Americans)
My Thoughts: My heart says that Rhys’s haunting performance—which was such an integral part of this stunning season of The Americans—is more than worthy of love from Emmy voters. However, my head says that there is simply too much hype around Malek’s work and Mr. Robot itself for the past two years for them to ignore it any longer.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent)
My Wish: Anthony Anderson (black-ish)
My Thoughts: This award is once again Tambor’s to lose, but it would be fun to see Anderson take home a surprise win, especially because his submission episode (“Hope”) was such a strong one. As a longtime Tambor fan, though, I won’t be disappointed to see him in the spotlight again.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
My Pick and My Wish: Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson)
My Thoughts: Vance took what could have been a caricature and turned it into a multifaceted portrayal of one of the most famous lawyers in recent American history, revealing new layers to a man who many thought they knew everything about. There are some definite “sure things” at this year’s Emmy Awards, and Vance’s victory is one of them.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
My Pick and My Wish: Keri Russell (The Americans)
My Thoughts: This is the best shot The Americans has at taking home one of the big awards it’s nominated for this year. Russell has the name recognition, respected career choices (her film career is also an asset here), and excellent choice of a submission episode (“The Magic of David Copperfield V”—the best an actor could ask for in terms of an one-episode highlight reel) that you need to win a category like this one. Russell is a woman at the top of her craft, balancing the ferocity and devotion to her cause that have made Elizabeth Jennings such a formidable character since the pilot with a new vulnerability and devotion to her family that have come to the surface mainly through Russell’s expressive eyes and body language. Russell plays Elizabeth’s strength as a soldier and uncertainty as a wife and mother with equal believability, and that dichotomy in a female character has always been the key to making The Americans stand out in a sea of “prestige dramas.”
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
My Wish: Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish)
My Thoughts: Dreyfus owns this category. However, Ross is definitely my “dark horse” pick. She’s a visible presence in the industry, she plays a great character on a show that has some big nominations this year, and she manages to be both hilarious and heartwarmingly relatable every week.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
My Pick and My Wish: Sarah Paulson (The People v. O.J. Simpson)
My Thoughts: This might be the most certain victory at this year’s Emmys (which means Kirsten Dunst will probably win now that I just jinxed it—and I actually wouldn’t be too upset because I thought Dunst was outstanding in “Fargo”), and for good reason. Paulson took a woman everyone had already made their assumptions about and made her finally feel like a person and not a punch line, turning Marcia Clark into the heart and soul of this series.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
My Pick and My Wish: Kit Harington (Game of Thrones)
My Thoughts: Although this award might go to Peter Dinklage instead, I believe it’s definitely going to be a win for Game of Thrones. The reason I’m choosing Harington is because his submission episode (“Battle of the Bastards”) was such a huge moment for the show as a whole, and he was definitely the recipient of the most buzz out of the entire cast this season.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
My Wish: A tie between Braugher and Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
My Thoughts: Braugher has consistently been one of the funniest men on television for years, and my gut tells me this is finally his year. However, I’m torn between rooting for him and rooting to Burgess, who was the M.V.P of the excellent second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
My Pick and My Wish: Sterling K. Brown (The People v. O.J. Simpson)
My Thoughts: I was too young at the time of the O.J. Simpson trial to remember Chris Darden, so I didn’t fully appreciate the masterful job Brown did of capturing his voice, mannerisms, and demeanor until I saw trial clips during the O.J.: Made in America documentary. Brown’s performance was so much more than expert mimicry, though; it was filled with heart, internal conflict, and sincere emotion in a way that stands out above the others in his category.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
My Pick and My Wish: Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
My Thoughts: This is another category that almost certainly belongs to Game of Thrones, and Headey’s work this season—especially in the finale (which was her submission episode)—was almost universally praised. Headey has impressed me from the very start of the show, and I’d love to see her get recognized for playing such a complex, challenging role with such confidence.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Allison Janney (Mom)
My Wish: Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
My Thoughts: I can’t bet against Janney at the Emmys. However, my heart belongs to McKinnon. No one on Saturday Night Live makes me laugh harder than she does, and if you didn’t fall a little bit in love with her after seeing Ghostbusters, you’re lying to yourself.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
My Pick: Olivia Colman (The Night Manager)
My Wish: Regina King (American Crime)
My Thoughts: This is one category that I don’t have much investment in or much of an informed opinion to provide, but I do think Emmy voters will want to recognize The Night Manager somewhere. Despite that belief, I have always been a big fan of King’s and have heard and read nothing but great things about her work on American Crime.
Outstanding Reality Talk Series
My Pick: The Late Late Show with James Corden
My Wish: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
My Thoughts: After Corden’s win for Carpool Karaoke, it seems very likely that he could come away the winner in this category, too. I’d love to see Oliver win and to see political humor honored in a year when it’s been better and more important than ever, but Corden has been such a pleasant addition to late-night comedy that I’d be happy with him winning.
Outstanding Reality Competition Program
My Pick: The Voice
My Wish: Dancing with the Stars
My Thoughts: It’s either going to be The Voice or The Amazing Race in this category, so I chose the one Emmy voters will think is the most “fresh” choice of the two. However, the dancer in me will continue to root for Dancing with the Stars until it finally wins.
Outstanding Host for a Reality Program
My Pick: Ryan Seacrest (American Idol)
My Wish: Tom Bergeron (Dancing with the Stars)
My Thoughts: Seacrest is the sentimental favorite now that American Idol is over, but I think Bergeron handles the challenges of being on live television with a sense of cool charm that sets him apart from other hosts.