We are winding down the last hours of Emmys voting, the time when a large number of the ballots are still being filled out. Nothing is set in stone quite just yet. It looks like voters took notes from our Awards Radar FYC pieces (drama, comedy, limited) where we spotlighted performances and series that may not have been on your radar leading to some exciting nominations.
ICYMI, we returned to deliver an Emmy-focused podcast episode with members of the Awards Radar TV team to discuss many of the categories. Amanda Spears, Abe Friedtanzer and I had a lively discussion bringing three different perspectives to the Emmy prediction debate. You can listen to that here.
Continuing that conversation, let’s take a quick look at the categories, the movers and those that seem to have locked in their spots – if there are any. Here’s my current thinking behind some top categories. More to follow in upcoming Awards Radar TV articles leading up to the Emmys ceremony on September 12th.
DRAMA SERIES: With its incredible 25 nominations and 14 of those in acting categories, it is tough to place HBO’s Succession, the Roy family business drama anywhere besides the top spot. With that said, there are several series that are making their case for a coup. Apple TV+’s Severance continues to gain momentum, a series slow burn that gains new appreciation which can be seen in its HCA TV Awards win for Best Streaming series. Then there’s Saul (or is it Jimmy or is it Gene?) – Better Call Saul. The series is scheming to sneak in at the last minute to earn the votes needed. The love is there for the AMC series which has consistently been nominated for Outstanding Drama Series across its run. 6 for 6 and an impressive 46 nominations (with a criminal zero wins) across the run of the series. Not to mention a perfectly timed, critically-lauded finale dropping smack in the phase two voting will factor into the verdict. Will enough voters call Saul? We shall see. Two other series that are in the mix are Yellowjackets (Showtime) and Squid Game (Netflix). Both series have their paths to gold, but the recency of some of the other series and the powerhouse strength of Succession stand in their way.
PREDICTION: SUCCESSION (8/21)
DRAMA ACTOR: Slippin’ Jimmy has surprised us again, Bob Odenkirk slipping into the top spot with the stellar closure to the series fresh in voters’ minds. Odenkirk’s work has been awards worthy since season one and I think voters are going to use this opportunity to acknowledge that. Lee Jung-jae‘s work in Squid Game has been racking up awards wins and could easily still take the Emmy home here. We had him as our pick as early as last week. At the same time, Severance has nabbed a little of everyone’s momentum. Could Adam Scott benefit from this surge or is the hill to big? We shall see. Then again, never count out the Roys – Jeremy Strong nor Brian Cox would shock anyone with a win this year.
PREDICTION: BOB ODENKIRK (8/21)
DRAMA ACTRESS: Do you hear that buzz buzz buzz sound? That’s Yellowjackets – a series that fans and critics love. One of the reasons for that love, the incredible work of one of Hollywood’s most under-appreciated actresses, Melanie Lynskey. She has delivered top-notch performances across genres and across decades. Her work on Yellowjackets looks to be the one that has stung voters. The other nominee that hovers around the top of our rankings Zendaya – here work on Euphoria (HBO) already sent her home with an Emmy last year and this season’s work is arguably even better. If only Britt Lower (no I won’t drop it) Severance (HBO) was given her Emmy nom, we would be looking at one heck of a three actress race. Since I do not own a time machine to change that, I believe the race is between these two amazing actresses.
PREDICTION: MELANIE LYNSKEY (8/21)
DRAMA ACTOR SUPPORTING: The Supporting Actor Drama picture is one of the blurriest of all races. Very impressive work across the board, but no clear frontrunner. My guess is it will go to one of the Succession actors who have yet to fail us and both offered perhaps their best performances yet in the series, Matthew Macfadyen or Kieran Culkin. We can’t forget Billy Crudup who already took home the trophy once for Apple TV+’s The Morning Show. Then again, if Squid Game has retained enough love from last September it could spill out in both supporting drama categories.
PREDICTION: KIERAN CULKIN (8/21)
DRAMA ACTRESS SUPPORTING: Jung Hoyeon has been attracting a lot of love her work on the series. Standing in her way are seven other actresses who all came through with Emmy-worthy performances. On that list is one who has been consistently snubbed by Emmy voters for work that matched and at times topped that of the titular character, Better Call Saul‘s Rhea Seehorn for her astonishing work as Kim Wexler. After watching the finale, as many voters surely had, then it is hard to believe it will not weigh in heavily on the votes. Hence, she has now topped our picks. I know they have next year to reward the series, but now is the time. If voters agree, we could see a pair of Saul acting wins. If not, Julia Garner (Ozark), Sarah Snook (Succession), Christina Ricci (Yellowjackets), Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria), J. Smith-Cameron (Succession) and Patricia Arquette (Severance) more than earned the chance at gold. Imagine what a race this would have been if The Academy did not snub Sarah Goldberg (Barry)?
PREDICTION: RHEA SEEHORN (8/21)
COMEDY SERIES: Out of the eight nominees here, there are paths for five of them. Some have a bigger climb than others, but none of them would be a true shock based on the respective love for each. Most have double digit nominations in all the right categories, and one just seems to be mentioned in all the right conversations including many times concluding the phrase ‘and the winner is…” as of late. Abbott Elementary (ABC) has gone from underdog the near the top of our rankings. Out of all the series it is the one that keeps gaining momentum. Is it enough to take home the trophy? That will depend on the retained love for Ted Lasso (Apple TV+). The series was last year’s comedy category bulldozer and with 20 nomination this year, how do you not pick it to win? Other series that are still in the mix but will need a little help to find gold. Barry (HBO), Hacks (HBO Max) and Only Murders in the Building (Hulu) are not short on love, but as of right now, the race feels to be between a football (soccer) team and a public school staff.
PREDICTION: TED LASSO (8/21)
LEAD COMEDY ACTOR: The retention of Emmy love for Ted Lasso is going to factor in a lot here. Still a voters, fan, and critics darling, but will they want to spread the wealth? The lead actor comedy category is full of familiar faces, some past winners in Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso), Donald Glover (Atlanta), and Bill Hader (Barry) – some industry icons Steve Martin and Martin Short (Only Murders In the Building) and a rocketing young star, Nicholas Hoult (The Great – Hulu). Martin and Short have the unfortunate reality that they are compete against their fellow co-star – making voter pick between Charles or Oliver (how cruel). A tough choice potentially creating a scenario where they cancel each other out. With Atlanta only landing three nominations this year, and The Great just starting to gain Emmy momentum, my money is still on Sudeikis for now.
PREDICTION: JASON SUDEIKIS (8/21)
LEAD COMEDY ACTRESS: This race looked locked up just a few weeks back, ending with Jean Smart (Hacks) walking away with a second trophy and not looking back. That is until a certain elementary school moved in on the the block. Now Smart must be looking through her character’s vanity mirror over her shoulder as Quinta Brunson appears to be quickly gaining ground. Taking home some wins just as voting is going on not only proves there is love for the series and her work, it also could influence some voters – is that enough to take Smart off the thrown? This presumably two-woman race is in a category with some very strong performances. Issa Rae closing out her fantastic series work on Insecure (HBO), Rachel Brosnahan of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video) with her fourth nomination, Kaley Cuoco‘s ambitious five-part performance on season two of The Flight Attendant (HBO Max) and Elle Fanning the new kid on the block for The Great all make great cases, but it seems likely Smart of Brunson will win here.
PREDICTION: JEAN SMART (8/21)
COMEDY ACTOR SUPPORTING: So many great performances in one category. Again, you can make a case for several – the quality of the work is evident on screen with each episode. Still, where do the votes land? Being such a large group – eight nominees, I think this will favor last year’s Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso). The love for the series is obviously there with three nominees in this category alone. The others being Nick Mohammed and Toheeb Jimoh (one of my favorite nominations this year). Will their inclusion take away crucial votes? If so, that could open the door for one of the Barry actors, the legendary Henry Winkler (who won for his season one work) or Anthony Carrigan (who has not)? They could split votes too – opening a path for Tyler James Williams, arguably Abbott Elementary‘s funniest character to take hope the trophy. The multi-series nominations make reading the tea leaves tougher, while also making me think that it may be easiest to stick with what you know. And who the f*** doesn’t love Goldstein’s Roy Kent?
PREDICTION: BRETT GOLDSTEIN (8/21)
COMEDY ACTOR/ACTRESS SUPPORTING: This category has me torn. Hannah Waddingham‘s (Ted Lasso) situation is similar to that of her co-star Brett Goldstein. She too may lose some votes to co-starts Juno Temple and Sarah Niles. That goes both ways, her running in the race makes it much tougher for them to gain the momentum needed. So why not give it to her again since she was just as good this season or better? The answer is because you can spread the wealth with other worthy un-awarded nominees. Janelle James (Abbott Elementary) comes to mind first and is the one to keep the closest eye on. Her work has been praised and rightfully so. Then there’s Hannah Einbinder on Hacks who could take advantage of the split votes to find her way to the stage. It was another meaty role, one so meaty many see her as co-lead – does that hurt her? If you watched this season Alex Borstein‘s (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) funeral scene is some of the best work of her career. While she has won twice for the same role, and Maisel does not get all the attention it used to, you cannot count her great consistently great work out. For right now, it’s Hannah’s to lose. If Abbott Elementary is going to have a huge night, this may be the tip off.
PREDICTION: HANNAH WADDINGHAM (8/21)
LIMITED SERIES / ANTHOLOGY/ TV MOVIE
LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES: The Limited/Anthology categories are bizarre. No, not the nominees, but the sheer number of nominees from two highly nominated series The White Lotus (HBO Max) and Dopesick (Hulu). Their nominations in all the right categories makes them our neck and neck frontrunners. It is a coin flip right now with two competing perspectives on the same idea. In this time where checking your news feed is enough to drive you towards depression or to pick up a sign and protest are voters going to make a statement or go with the much lighter option? Inventing Anna (Netflix) and The Dropout (Hulu) have their work cut out for them. My dark horse here is Pam & Tommy (Hulu) which earned more nominations than expected and stands out among the three remaining nominees both in tone and because it delivered much more substance than expected. Dopesick wins the coin toss today. It is mesmerizing tv and to be entertained while feeling educated is a good combo during these.
PREDICTION: DOPESICK (8/21)
LEAD ACTOR LIMITED SERIES OR TV MOVIE: Two words, Michael Keaton (Dopesick). I have to admit I was late to Dopesick. I was not all that excited about the series, that all changed after the first episode – I was mesmerized. Keaton’s work had a lot to do with that. A few week’s earlier I would have said Colin Firth (The Staircase) was going to walk away with this trophy, but the limited series did not get a fraction of the love it was expected to. Sebastian Stan (Hulu) and Himish Patel (Station Eleven – HBO Max) both really surprised with some knockout performances which deserved the spotlight. Even so, I think the Keaton will walk away with this. It is one of my favorite performances of the year and of his career.
PREDICTION: MICHAEL KEATON (8/21)
LEAD ACTRESS LIMITED SERIES OR TV MOVIE: Lily James delivered the a physical transformation to play Pam Anderson – and that was just the beginning of what made her performance in Pam & Tommy so great. She was funny, grounded and surprisingly touching. Which is why she (along with the series as a whole is outperforming expectations. James has a real shot at the Emmy. Her toughest competition is Amanda Seyfried for The Dropout (Hulu). Just do not count out any of the stellar actresses in the category. The work they left of the screen makes a case for all of them, even Julia Garner (Inventing Anna) who is currently neck and neck in the Supporting Actress Drama category. Voters obviously appreciate her work.
PREDICTION: AMANDA SEYFRIED (8/21)
SUPPORTING ACTOR LIMITED SERIES OR TV MOVIE: This category is wild. Seven spots of the eight are taken up by two series: Murray Bartlett, Steve Zahn, Jake Lacy (The White Lotus) and Will Poulter, Peter Sarsgaard, and Michael Stuhlbarg (Dopesick). The apparent frontrunner at this time is Bartlett who has already taken home some gold for the performance. Again, there’s a case for the rest of the nominees. The one nominee that keeps calling my name, Seth Rogen (Pam and Tommy). not only because all of his competition comes from two series, but also because he was excellent in the series which was a surprise as a whole. Will it or Rogen surprise us on Emmy night?
PREDICTION: MURRAY BARTLETT (8/21)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS LIMITED SERIES OR TV MOVIE: I said the last category was wild, well this one makes it look tame. All eight spots are taken up by two series and six of those are for one series, The White Lotus: Jennifer Coolidge, Natasha Rothwell, Connie Britton, Sydney Sweeney and Alexandra Daddario. Yet one finds a way to top the rankings – Coolidge. She has taken home Critics Choice and an HCA. Her competition is tough – with Kaitlyn Dever (Dopesick) looking like her strongest competition. Those six nominees from one series (I believe) is unprecedented. How does that affect your frontrunner? It could easily give Dever an easy ride to an Emmy win. Her co-star Mare Winningham does not look to steal too many of her votes which could provide the push needed to win.
PREDICTION: JENNIFER COOLIDGE (8/21)
Let us know if you agree with our prediction rankings, tell us your predictions or just rave about yo-ur favorite performances and series of the year in our comments.
Check back over the next couple of weeks as we bring you additional category predictions, Awards Radar TV writers’ insights, and original Emmys-related features leading right up to the ceremony.