My relationship with the Emmys has always been a volatile one. It’s resulted in shoes thrown at the television (when Keri Russell didn’t win for The Americans last year) but also in tears of joy from my couch (when Matthew Rhys did win last year—and thanked Keri Russell in the cutest way possible). And so I continue to tune in year after year, ready for the emotional roller coaster that comes with caring way too much about whether or not your favorites go home with a shiny gold statue.
With some awards shows, I try to be objective with my predictions, but that never works with the Emmys. I care too much about the shows I love, and I can never separate my head from my heart. As such, my predictions might not be the best guide for your own Emmy pools or parties, but they offer a look into the shows and performances that captured my heart in the last year. And since my job and my life have gotten busier recently (yet again—can’t things ever slow down?!), I hope this will provide you all with a nice little snapshot of my thoughts on this past year of television since it’s been hard for me to write about my thoughts and (MANY) feelings as often as I’d like around these parts.
Without further ado, let’s make some predictions (and talk endlessly about our favorites)! I won’t cover every category—especially because in some categories (like TV Movie), I haven’t seen a single nominee. But I have a horse in most of the races this year, and I can’t wait to share my feelings with you about why I’ll be rooting for them on Sunday night. And if you want even more insight (and emotional, all-caps reactions), I’ll be live tweeting throughout the evening starting with the red carpet at 6 p.m. EST. Come for the analysis—stay for the rabid fangirling over how gorgeous the cast of Game of Thrones is sure to look.
Outstanding Drama Series
My Pick: Game of Thrones
My Thoughts: No matter what your opinion was concerning the final season of Game of Thrones (For the record: My opinion is a cross between a shrug of the shoulders and a fit of rage depending on what storyline we’re talking about), it was impossible to top the show in terms of its production value, cultural impact, and buzz. With a plethora of nominations and a reputation for Emmy glory (even for less than stellar seasons), I think this is one of the few safe bets of the night. And despite my misgivings about the final season as a whole, I think parts of it (namely, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”) were among the best things television gave us in the last year. I’m not sure a TV drama will ever again draw the kind of universal attention and discussion that Game of Thrones did, and I can’t see Emmy voters passing up one last chance to honor its cultural impact.
Outstanding Comedy Series
My Pick: Veep
My Thoughts: This is one category where I can separate my hopes from my sense of reality, and that’s because I’m going to console myself with the idea that The Good Place will have a better shot to win a “body of work” Emmy for its next—and last—season. This time, I think Veep is going to take home one last Emmy in a category stacked with brilliance. I wouldn’t mind any of the nominees winning—and I hope the love is spread around in the writing and directing categories—but I’ve heard nothing but praise for Veep’s final season (I’m still many seasons behind in my quest to watch all of it), so I think Emmy voters will want to send it out on a winning note.
Outstanding Limited Series
My Pick: When They See Us
My Thoughts: This is another powerhouse of a category, but nothing I watched on TV this year has stayed with me in a visceral way like When They See Us. The power of its performances, the clarity of its writing, the immersive and unflinching style of its direction—every part of it was operating at the highest level to produce something masterful. It’s a showcase of this particular medium at its very best, with each episode varying just enough in focus and tone to present a comprehensive look at the lives of human beings caught up in the horrors of the American criminal justice system. The humanity on display in this limited series was almost too painful to process at points, and that is exactly why it deserves this recognition.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
My Pick: Billy Porter (Pose)
My Thoughts: The category is…Emmy winner realness! Pose deserves to be recognized somewhere on this year’s Emmy ballot, and Billy Porter has become enough of a force to be reckoned with that I think he’s going to bring in the show’s main win at this year’s ceremony. No one on Earth could play Pray Tell like he does; his humor and his heart are the driving forces behind one of the most emotionally honest and genuinely uplifting shows on television today. Every moment he’s onscreen, he’s like a flame—sometimes burning everything down around him and sometimes giving off a gentle warmth that makes you feel like it’s all going to be okay. That’s a tough balancing act to achieve, but he does it with style.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
My Pick: Mandy Moore (This Is Us)
My Thoughts: Even though I do think This Is Us struggled a bit in this most recent season, I think it’s still a vitally valuable part of the television landscape, and I think it’s going to get some love on Emmy night. I think this is a particularly wide-open category, and I could see Moore’s industry goodwill coming through with a win for what I think is one of the most underrated performances on television. She’s the only actor in this ensemble to play a part in every timeline, and, as such, she’s become the center of the show—the one set of expressive eyes we look to for continuity and stability in the ever-changing timelines of the Pearson family. Her softness and strength are equally powerful, and her courageous vulnerability that shines through even under layers of old-age makeup is nothing short of award-worthy.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
My Pick: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones)
My Thoughts: This is probably Peter Dinklage’s award to lose (and I’m sacrificing major points in my family Emmy pool with this pick), but I cannot go against the man who’s turned in the most consistently brilliant work on show that has often asked him to make even the most absurd character choices believable. This season perhaps asked that of him more than any other, and despite my frustration with where his character ended up, I was always captivated by what he was doing as an actor in every scene. The fact that he made Jaime’s reunion with Cersei feel emotionally resonant when I wanted to see absolutely nothing less than I wanted to see them embrace again is a true testament to his talent. And if you didn’t swoon over his knighting of Brienne and cry over his decision to leave her, you weren’t paying attention. I think he and Emilia Clarke had to do the most with the least in terms of plausible writing choices this season, and I want to see at least one of them rewarded for their very hard work.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
My Pick: Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones)
My Thoughts: This is another category where the award is definitely going to go to someone from Game of Thrones, and I’m probably picking the wrong one. (My gut says Sophie Turner but a Lena Headey body of work award also would make sense—even if Cersei did basically nothing but stare out a window this season.) However, if Gwendoline Christie is nominated for an award, I am picking her to win that award. I physically cannot root against her. And why should I when she gave one of the most nuanced, vulnerable, and beautiful performances on television this year? Nothing else I saw this year moved me like her work in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” and I know I wasn’t alone in my belief that her work in that episode was the best work by any actor on Game of Thrones this season. Brienne of Tarth is one of my all-time favorite fictional females, and if I couldn’t get the ending I wanted for her on the show, then I at least deserve to see the woman who plays her get the ending she deserves (especially since she has the most empowering Emmy story—with submitting herself for a nomination and then actually getting that nomination).
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Ted Danson (The Good Place)
My Thoughts: Is this probably going to Bill Hader? Yes. Do I care? No. I will sing Ted Danson’s praises until the end of time. I need The Good Place to win at least one Emmy, and I think this is its best chance because Danson already has the hearts of Emmy voters. His work is smart, sharp, silly, and sincere—the perfect combination for a show that thrives on being all those things at once too.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
My Thoughts: No one is going to beat her, and I’m not sure anyone should. Although this is another powerhouse of a category, I don’t think Emmy voters are going to miss one last chance to award JLD for her work on Veep, especially after coming back from cancer treatment to anchor the show’s much-praised final season. I could see Phoebe Waller-Bridge pulling the upset because she has so much buzz around her right now, but I think the old ties are too strong to break in this case.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Tony Hale (Veep)
My Thoughts: Gary is such an iconic character, and I cannot imagine anyone but Hale playing him. Although I could see Tony Shaloub possibly taking home the win in this category, my gut says Emmy voters will want to reward Veep—their longtime darling—as much as they can before saying goodbye, and that includes honoring Hale one last time.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Betty Gilpin (GLOW)
My Thoughts: A girl can dream, can’t she? Ever since I watched Season Two of GLOW last summer, I’ve been screaming from the rooftops that Betty Gilpin should win an Emmy for her weird, wonderful, hilarious, and heartbreaking work that gives one of the TV world’s strongest ensembles the kind of spark that ignites it into a unpredictable blaze in every single episode. Whether she’s singing “Home on the Range,” screaming at her best friend/most hated enemy, or selling every fake smile as Liberty Belle, Gilpin is giving the kind of tour de force performance that most actors can only dream of delivering—and she does it all while body-slamming her costars.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
My Pick: Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us)
My Thoughts: As the one young man who was asked to play his character as both a teenager and an adult, Jerome is the audience’s constant through the painful passage of time in When They See Us—especially in the haunting final installment of the series. He—like the other young actors—gives a performance grounded in such natural openness and palpable fear that you can’t look away, even when that’s all you want to do. His performance is a huge part of the reason the title of this limited series is so effective—he allows you to see Korey Wise as a person, and his intense vulnerability never lets you forget for one second that you’re watching the story of a human being and not just a name on the news. It’s the kind of work that gets under your skin and into your head—unforgettable in the truest sense of the word.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
My Pick: Michelle Williams (Fosse/Verdon)
My Thoughts: This might be the clearest lock of the night, and I’m thrilled about it. Going into Fosse/Verdon, I had high hopes for Williams’s performance, and she exceeded every expectation I had. Every gesture, every tear, every vocal inflection, every dance step, and every look was layered—a performance within a performance as she played a woman who was always “on,” always putting on a show, even if it just to fool herself into thinking her career and her marriage were going to last forever. She became Gwen Verdon in a way that feels as if she was channeling her spirit from the great beyond. It’s the kind of lived-in performance that only the most dedicated, natural, and supremely talented actors can give, and it’s the kind of performance that should go down as one of the all-time great biopic performances in any medium.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
My Pick: Stellan Skarsgard (Chernobyl)
My Thoughts: I’d love for one of the men of When They See Us to take this one home, but I think Emmy voters are going to want to give Chernobyl some love, and they’ll likely look to one of its biggest names to do so. I have too much of a fear of nuclear disaster topics to watch it (I blame reading Hiroshima in eighth grade.), but the buzz around this show has yet to quiet down, and I think it’s coming away a winner somewhere at these Emmys, and I could see it claiming this victory.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
My Pick: Patricia Arquette (The Act)
My Thoughts: In what I think is a battle between the Patricias (with the next closest contender being Clarkson for Sharp Objects), I think Arquette is coming out on top as a way to award her stellar last year in TV. If Williams wasn’t such a sure thing for Fosse/Verdon, Arquette probably would have won for Escape at Dannemora, so I think voters will see this as a worthy replacement. Arquette truly transforms herself into her roles, and this was no exception. Her unsettling work in Hulu’s telling of one of the most infamous stories in recent history should give the streaming service a victory in one of the night’s main categories, since I don’t foresee it winning anywhere else.
What are your picks for this year’s Emmys? Let’s have some fun talking about the high points of the last year of TV in the comments!