This Sunday night, the 2012 Primetime Emmy Awards will be given out in a ceremony hosted by Jimmy Kimmel on ABC. So with the ballots in and the nominees readying themselves for Sunday's festivities, it is time for me to give my predictions in the major categories. This year, I'll only deal with the Drama and Comedy Series categories as I believe most of the other major categories (Variety, Reality, etc.) are just too predictable (I mean, does anyone really think The Daily Show won't win Best Variety Series for a tenth year in a row!?!?!).
BEST DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Boardwalk Empire (HBO), Breaking Bad (AMC), Downton Abbey (PBS), Game of Thrones (HBO), Homeland (Showtime), Mad Men (AMC)
Will Win: Last year, cable favorite Mad Men tied a record with 3 now legendary NBC shows (Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and The West Wing) by winning this category for a fourth time. Most critics believe if any show can break the record, its Mad Men. Their fifth season was one of the most anticipated shows of the Spring schedule and their season was filled with jaw-dropping moments. And while some may say other shows are stepping up their game, those same people were singing the same tune last year and Mad Men still won.
Should Win: This is tough for me. While I believe Mad Men will break the record, I would love to see one of two other shows claim the prize. Showtime's Homeland is smartly written and very timely for this day and age (plus it won the Golden Globe earlier this year!); and Downton Abbey is also smartly written (though about a completely different world than Homeland's!) and brilliantly acted (6 actors are nominated this year for their work!). Both shows are very deserving of the top prize and have the buzz to push Mad Men off the pedestal (or at least try!).
Dark Horse: But one other show has more buzz going for it than Homeland and Downton Abbey put together, and that is the critically lauded fourth season of Breaking Bad. If Mad Men's creator Matthew Weiner has left a bad taste in Hollywood's mouth because of his negotiation antics with AMC, Emmy voters could choose to reward the other AMC show nominated and deny Weiner his record-breaking trophy.
BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey (PBS); Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire (HBO); Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad (AMC); Michael C. Hall, Dexter (Showtime); John Hamm, Mad Men (AMC); Damian Lewis, Homeland (Showtime)
Will & Should Win: He's won the three other times he was nominated and he gave again a chilling performance in his show's fourth season. Let's face it, this category belongs to Bryan Cranston!
BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Kathy Bates, Harry's Law (NBC); Glenn Close, Damages (DirecTV); Claire Danes, Homeland (Showtime); Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey (PBS); Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife (CBS); Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men (AMC)
Will & Should Win: This was another tough category for me. But Golden Globe winner Claire Danes plays one of the most intriguing characters on Dramatic TV in recent memory. As a CIA Agent with severe bipolar disorder, Danes' Carrie Mathison does things that most people won't love her for but does them "in the service of her country." Danes (who won an Emmy two years ago for the HBO movie Temple Grandin) acts with such nuance that you find her character more interesting rather than pathetic.
Don't Count Her Out: If there is one person who can beat Danes, its last year's champ Julianna Margulies. In her episode submission, Margulies gives one of the best performances she has done on her series The Good Wife (which shamefully was shut out of the Best Drama Series category!). If Emmy voters find Danes' character too unlikable, they may want to reward Margulies for the second year in a row.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Jim Carter, Downton Abbey (PBS); Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey (PBS); Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones (HBO); Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad (AMC); Jared Harris, Mad Men (AMC); Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad (AMC)
Will Win: Giancarlo Esposito's work as a ruthless villain on Breaking Bad's fourth season garnered him praise from every TV critic everywhere. He is the definite front-runner in this category.
Should Win: Last year, I said Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage "should win" this category and he ended up taking the trophy home. Dinklage's character is extremely popular on the fan hit (so much so, fans wanted him to submit in the Lead Actor category!). It is possible that fan love can bring the well-liked character actor a second Emmy win.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Christine Baranski, The Good Wife (CBS); Joanne Froggat, Downton Abbey (PBS); Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad (AMC); Christina Hendricks, Mad Men (AMC); Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife (CBS); Dame Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PBS)
Will Win: No actor from Mad Men has yet to claim an acting win (isn't that shocking?!?). But Christina Hendricks' Joan Harris did some amazing (and surprising!) things to make partner at the Sterling-Cooper Ad Agency this season and Hendricks played each moment with a much-lauded steely cool demeanor. If one actor from Mad Men can win an Emmy this year, my money is on this beauty.
Should Win: There really is nothing like a Dame! Maggie Smith is utterly brilliant as Downton Abbey's Dowager Countess (she won an Emmy last year!) and there is truly no one like her.
Dark Horse: Breaking Bad garnered more praise and more Emmy nominations for its fourth season and Anna Gunn was a big part of all that praise. With Cranston and Esposito locks in their categories, Emmy voters may want to reward Gunn and let the show pull off a "threesome."
BEST COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: The Big Bang Theory (CBS), Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO), Girls (HBO), Modern Family (ABC), 30 Rock (NBC), Veep (HBO)
Will Win: Though I am of the opinion the show has lost some of its edge (and I may be the only one!), ABC's Modern Family will pull off a third win this Sunday.
Should Win: The Sitcom I believed this season really deserved to win this category is not even nominated (NBC's Parks & Recreation). Therefore, I have to shift all my support to the other show I think has earned this award (though this last season was not its best!) and that is CBS' hilarious The Big Bang Theory.
BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock (NBC); Don Cheadle, House of Lies (Showtime); Louis C. K., Louie (F/X); Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men (CBS); Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO); Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Will Win: Louis C. K. has become more popular (and more lauded) thanks to his work on his self-titled F/X series. Even though he plays himself (or a version of himself!), his episode submission ("Duckling") is an hour-long giving voters more of him to see than his fellow nominees. Plus he goes to the Mid-East on a USO tour in the episode, politics is in this election year!
Should Win: If any actor deserves a win for playing himself on a show, it is Larry David. He's been nominated for Curb Your Enthusiasm several times now and still has no award to show for it. Maybe that's why the real George Costanza is so irascible!
Don't Count Him Out: Jim Parsons is the reigning champ in this category (having won the last two years in a row!) and his episode submission is a good one. Next to Alec Baldwin, he is the most recognizable nominee (which, for some Emmy voters, means most deserving!).
BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Zooey Deschanel, New Girl (FOX); Lena Dunham, Girls (HBO); Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie (Showtime); Tina Fey, 30 Rock (NBC); Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO); Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly (CBS); Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation (NBC)
Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is beloved by the Emmys. She has won Supporting Actress (for Seinfeld) and Lead Actress (for The New Adventures of Old Christine). And this nomination (her 13th!) ties her with TV Comedy legend Lucille Ball. Plus, Veep is nominated for Best Comedy Series and that is always a plus (it worked for Edie Falco two years ago!).
Should Win: TV's new "It Girl" of last season was really the New Girl. Zooey Deschanel brought her adorkable self into audiences hearts and helped FOX rebuild their Sitcom status (Tuesdays this Fall on FOX is centered around New Girl instead of Glee!).
Don't Count Her Out: Even though her series is shy of Best Comedy Series nod (shame on you Emmy voters!), Amy Poehler is a heavy favorite going into Sunday night. She had a great year on her show (her character Leslie Knope ran for a higher office) and fans of her (dating back to her SNL days!) feel she is truly deserving of her first acting Emmy.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Ty Burrell, Modern Family (ABC); Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family (ABC); Max Greenfield, New Girl (FOX); Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live (NBC); Ed O'Neill, Modern Family (ABC); Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family (ABC)
Will Win: Does it really matter? It's going to be one of the guys from Modern Family! Pick one! If the Emmys are in a rut, they'll reward Burrell or Stonestreet for a second time. If not, Ferguson or O'Neill could reap the benefits. If I had to choose (which I guess I do!), Burrell's role is showier while O'Neill is the most deserving (thanks to his years in the business!). I guess I'd give the edge to Burrell.
Should Win: Without Parks & Rec's Nick Offerman or Community's Danny Pudi or even Glee's Chris Colfer, my hopes for beating the Modern Family juggernaut lie with New Girl's Max Greenfield who has delighted many critics with his slutty-yet-nerdy-and-even-lovable Schmidt.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory (CBS); Julie Bowen, Modern Family (ABC); Kathryn Joosten, Desperate Housewives (ABC); Sofia Vergara, Modern Family (ABC); Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie (Showtime); Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Will Win: With her final season on the late-night Variety series, Kristen Wiig earned her fourth (and possibly final) acting Emmy nomination. She has been an integral part of the SNL cast over most of the last decade and now embarking on a film career (which earned her an Oscar nod for co-writing Bridesmaids earlier this year!). An Emmy would be the cherry on the sundae, so-to-speak.
Should Win: Mayim Bialik has been a welcomed and brilliant addition to The Big Bang Theory cast. Her Amy Farrah-Fowler is hilarious in her need for affection from Sheldon or her "slight" stalking of BFF Penny. It would be nice to see Blossom reap an Emmy.
Dark Horse: While Wiig left SNL, Kathryn Joosten left this earth. Joosten, who had won two Guest Actress Emmys for playing crotchety neighbor Mrs. McCluskey, submitted the Desperate Housewives finale in which her character passed away from cancer. Less than a month after the finale aired, Joosten herself lost her battle with the disease. Joosten was a beloved member of the Hollywood community and a posthumous Emmy could show just how much.