The VMA’s may have taken place last night but for me, the Emmys mark the true start of Award season. (No offense to MTV…wait, all offense to MTV). The Emmys are a celebration of America’s favorite pass time, Television. This is an evening to remind us why we keep coming back for more, week-to-week. Performances that keep us up late at night, binge watching full seasons because we can’t get enough. Storytelling that forces a society hung up on technology to put the phone down.
Tonight’s Emmys, as much as any, boast a field of nominees that would kill in any other year. Unfortunately, only one nominee can win from each category. Looking at a few of the major categories, I’ll make my picks to win and trust me…it won’t be easy.
Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series – 2014
– Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison (Homeland)
– Robin Wright as Claire Underwood (House of Cards)
– Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawly (Downton Abbey)
– Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson (Masters of Sex)
– Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope (Scandal)
– Juliana Margulies as Alicia Florrick (The Good Wife)
Winner: Robin Wright
Why: House of Cards is one of the few shows that you don’t have to wait week-to-week for every episode, thanks to Netflix. In season 2, we see the rise of Spacey’s Francis Underwood continue in true anti-hero fashion. Instead of the typical push back for morality that you see in other series, Frank’s persona is fueled by his better half, Claire. Robin Wright’s portrayal of Claire Underwood is Godfather-esque. She is complicated, shrewd, compelling, sexy, and terrifying all at once…and I love it.
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
– Bryan Cranston as Walter White (Breaking Bad)
– Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood (House of Cards)
– Jon Hamm as Don Draper (Mad Men)
– Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy (Newsroom)
– Woody Harrelson as Marty Hart (True Detective)
– Matthew McConaughey as Rust Cohle (True Detective)
Winner: Matthew McConaughey
Why: This is the toughest category of the night, and it’s more than the two-man race that most people are calling it. Jon Hamm RESURRECTED Don Draper and I believe he will get his due next year when Mad Men finally wraps up. Bryan Cranston has an opportunity to tie Dennis Franz for the most Lead Actor wins with 4, and is more than deserving after giving Walter White his much deserved final bow. But the performance McConaughey gave was too good to deny. The True Detective audience felt every emotion possible while following Rust Cohle track down the “Yellow King” and I think his partner, Marty Hart, put it best:
“You are like the Michael Jordan of being a son of a bitch.”
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
– Anna Gunn as Skyler White (Breaking Bad)
– Maggie Smith as Dowager Countess of Grantham/Violet (Downton Abbey)
– Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates (Downton Abbey)
– Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister (Game of Thrones)
– Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris (Mad Men)
– Christine Baranski as Dianne Lockart (The Good Wife)
Winner: Anna Gunn
Why: The final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad were a roller coaster like no other and that was thanks to the raw human emotion we found in its characters, especially Skyler White. Anna Gunn ended Maggie Smith’s reign of terror in the category last year and rightfully so. That level of performance did not waiver in the follow up and that’s why Gunn seems like the clear winner. If there is an upset candidate, it’s Lena Headey who received her first nomination. Cersei is the Queen we love to hate, and she made the most of her appearances this season on Game of Thrones.
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
– Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman (Breaking Bad)
– Jim Carter as Mr. Carson (Downton Abbey)
– Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones)
– Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson (Homeland)
– Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan (Ray Donovan)
– Josh Charles as Will Gardner (The Good Wife)
Winner: Aaron Paul
Why: This is another loaded category for Drama actors and further evidence to how good TV has been in recent years. Game of Thrones fans are going to get firmly behind their champion, Peter Dinklage, and they should. Tyrion Lannister was about as punk rock a character as you could find in the Thrones 4th season. Mandy Patinkin is good in everything. EVERYTHING. Saul Berenson was why I watched Homeland last year. And Jon Voight’s Mickey Donovan is always a party. But when we talk about someone “leaving it all on the field”, that was Aaron Paul in the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad. Jesse Pinkman will forever be one of TV’s great characters and I can say that without hesitation because of the effort Paul gave over the course of the entire series. “Yeah, bitch!”
Outstanding Drama Series
– Breaking Bad (AMC)
– Downton Abbey (PBS)
– Game Of Thrones (HBO)
– House of Cards (Netflix)
– Mad Men (AMC)
– True Detective (HBO)
Winner: Breaking Bad
Why: You’ve heard it for months now. Breaking Bad or True Detective? While I do think that will be the case tonight, I think credit is due for Mad Men. By giving it the Breaking Bad treatment, splitting the final season into two separate 8-episode runs, I get the feeling Don Draper and his colleagues will be popping a lot of champagne next year. True Detective really is a mini-series, an open-and-closed case that heightened our senses for each one of its 8 episodes. That won’t take away from the show and it shouldn’t. The acting was flawless. But try and remember those feelings you had watching the end of Breaking.
Some may call it a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for Vince Gillian, but it’s much more than that. You were sucked into the story, hanging onto its every word and genuinely scared of how it will end. True Detective vs. Breaking Bad is really “Good Guys vs. Bad Guys”…and this time, it’s good to be Bad.
Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
– Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath (Girls)
– Melissa McCarthy as Molly Flynn (Mike & Molly)
– Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton (Nurse Jackie)
– Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman (Orange is the New Black)
– Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope (Parks and Recreation)
– Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice President Selina Meyer (Veep)
Winner: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Why: I won’t deny it, I am actually rooting for Amy Poehler here. 12 nominations and nothing to show for it? That’s not right. Being the central character for one of TVs true comedies needs to be awarded before its end. Critics LOVE Julia Louis-Dreyfus though and why not? Veep is sharp as hell and Louis-Dreyfus fits her role as well as anybody could. However, I’ve learned to not count anyone out ever again after the Jeff Daniels upset of 2013. That was awesome.
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
– Ricky Gervais as Derek (Derek)
– Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc (Episodes)
– Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan (House of Lies)
– Louis C.K. as Louie (Louie)
– William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher (Shameless)
– Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory)
Winner: Ricky Gervais
Why? I think most people assume Jim Parsons is taking home his 4th Emmys win. I’d vote for him too…if I hadn’t seen Derek. Derek is a show that will make you laugh, cry, laugh again, then repeat every episode. Ricky Gervais’ title character is the sole reason for that, and that could be enough to dethrone Sheldon Cooper.
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
– Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy (Modern Family)
– Allison Janney as Bonnie (Mom)
– Kate Mulgrew as Red (Orange Is The New Black)
– Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
– Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler (The Big Bang Theory)
– Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer (Veep)
Winner: Kate Mulgrew
Why: Critics love Allison Janney. I don’t. If I can’t watch you show (because I didn’t like it), then I can’t pick you. Kate Mulgrew may be getting discounted because of how “new” OINTB is, but I don’t think that will be the case tonight. Red is a character that owns the room every scene she is in. I have trouble saying that about the other characters in this category (and Kate McKinnon in general).
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
– Andre Braugher as Captain Ray Holt (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
– Adam Driver as Adam Sackler (Girls)
– Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy (Modern Family)
– Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitch Pritchett (Modern Family)
– Fred Armisen (Portlandia)
– Tony Hale as Gary Walsh (Veep)
Winner: Ty Burrell
Why: Phil Dunphy. That is all.
Outstanding Comedy Series
– Louie (FX)
– Modern Family (ABC)
– Orange Is The New Black (Netflix)
– Silicon Valley (HBO)
– The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
– Veep (HBO)
Winner: Modern Family
This category can go in many directions. Orange Is The New Black and Veep have a ton of momentum going into the night with boatloads of nominations. Big Bang Theory is still getting the best ratings of any comedy on TV. Louie feels like it’s on the cusp of winning and Silicon Valley is a show that should put everyone on upset alert. But Modern Family continues to be the comedy I can’t wait for week-to-week, with a guaranteed belly laugh every episode. If Modern Family wins tonight, the show will tie Frasier for winning 5 straight “Best Comedy” Emmys in its first 5 years.
If you’re keeping score, follow along tonight on Twitter @Mike_Piff03 and we can have some fun at Hollywood’s expense.