Tuesday, July 23, 2013

2013 Emmy nominations post-mortem: Good enough?

     Aaron Paul of "Breaking Bad" and Neil Patrick Harris of "How I Met
     Your Mother" (both Emmy nominated, Paul for "Bad" and Harris for
     producing and hosting the Tonys) announcing the nominations for the
     65th Primetime Emmy Awards last Thursday (July 18) morning.
Emmy nomination day! Everyone loves it! And by "loves", I mean "has incredibly mixed feelings about". Sure, the Emmys are never gonna get everything "right" considering there are no right answers.  And they're never gonna make everyone happy. Like every year, I've found that there are just as many nominations that make me incredibly happy as snubs that have left me feeling pretty annoyed. But credit to the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences that I don't think there are that many obvious nominations this year that piss me off or leave me completely baffled, and I've found that far more than last year the person or show I feel is most deserving is actually likely to win. So let's go category by category as I give you expert analysis and reactions and predictions or something. Like last year, I'll be predicting winners in the major categories that will come back to haunt me the Monday morning after the Emmys when I realize I had a success rate of less than 40%.

Outstanding Comedy Series

30 Rock (NBC)
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Girls (HBO)
Louie (FX)
Modern Family (ABC)
Veep (HBO)

Last year I complained that Emmy voters screwed up by ignoring what are easily the two best comedies on TV in "Louie" and "Parks and Recreation". This year, they managed to at least get "Louie" in for what is apparently the very first Outstanding Comedy Series nomination for a basic cable series. Other obvious snubs to me are "Enlightened" (although I get why that isn't here, since no one has any idea what to make of a show like that in terms of awards that are split by comedy and drama) and "New Girl," which was so completely wrongly shut out of the nominations entirely in a season where everything on the show became so much better than last year. Anyway, nice to see "30 Rock" pick up its lifer (nominated every season) card here. I think it might have a chance at a win given that it would be a sentimental pick for what was a legitimately good season of TV. My feelings have been made clear on "Modern Family" but this year I would actually be pretty surprised if it won again. It's hard for shows to win four in a row and you can feel a slight bit of fatigue settling in with another year void of writing nominations and last year's winner Eric Stonestreet falling completely out of his category (also, as long as the show does not win in this category, we can make it through an entire Emmy telecast without having to listen to a droning, unfunny speech from Steven Levitan). I've also made my feelings clear on "The Big Bang Theory," which just doesn't have the support it needs elsewhere in writing, directing, and acting categories to upset here. Consider its nomination to be a "thanks for keeping multi-cam sitcoms alive" participation medal. I don't think "Girls" or "Veep" stand a chance here. I actually figured "Veep" would fall out of the category even though it had a much improved season. Overall I was a little down on "Girls" season 2, but quality aside, I think the Emmys would have voted for that show last year if there was ever a time they wanted it to win. This will be a tough call - a strong morning for both Tina Fey and Louis C.K. Is there a new king of comedy, or does the queen get one last night on the throne?

Should Win: Louie
Will Win: 30 Rock

Outstanding Drama Series

Breaking Bad (AMC)
Downton Abbey (PBS)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
Homeland (Showtime)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Mad Men (AMC)

I read a really great tweet recently that sums up my feelings on "Game of Thrones" - "1) I find "Game of Thrones" to be an unbearable slog. 2) I enjoy "Game of Thrones" 3) I do not find statements 1+2 to be contradictory #shrugs". I mentioned in my hypothetical ballot that it was the show I enjoyed the least of the six, but I still enjoy watching it each week and I really want it to win this year. The show took a big step up creatively this past season and I think it will force the Emmys to examine some of their more glaring biases against fantasy and science fiction. Which granted are two genres I don't really care for, but it's an all encompassing problem that leads to deserving people like Tatiana Maslany being ignored. And the thing is, I think "Game of Thrones" has a really good shot at winning this category. Nobody thought anyone besides Peter Dinklage had a chance at an acting nomination, but there was Emilia Clarke in one of the most pleasant surprises of the morning. David Benioff and D. B. Weiss got a writing nomination for the Red Wedding episode, which was well-deserved given the strength of the episode and nice to see considering there is a decent enough sample of "Game of Thrones" fans who seem to believe that Benioff and Weiss are just transcribing the books and profiting off author George R. R. Martin. So if that happens, I will be very happy. Elsewhere, the competition seems fairly light actually. I would say "Breaking Bad" once again has no shot - if it's going to win, it will be next year as a lifetime achievement award. The Emmy voters certainly love "Downton Abbey" more than most people, but even with an improved season over 2012 I don't think it has enough support to win. "Homeland" could repeat but that would be an especially complacent move in my opinion. Season 2 had some strong episodes and performances, but overall I can't make the case that it was one of the best dramas of the year in the way I did last year. I won't be surprised if it wins again, but occasionally I do like to think better of the Emmys. Had "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development" really swept through the nominations, I could argue that Netflix streaming and so-called "web television" were the wave of the future and maybe "House of Cards," easily the weakest show in this category, had a chance of winning. But they didn't, and it doesn't (I read on Twitter that Emmy voters were sent all of "House of Cards" on DVD, so we can hold off our theories that the revolution will not be televised, but rather streamed at the time most convenient for us and occasionally binge-experienced). Weird as it is to say, "Mad Men" most likely doesn't have a shot. Try telling that to me from a year ago. I would also like to add how disappointed I am that there was no room for FX's "The Americans" or Sundance Channel's "Rectify" - the latter didn't really have a shot, but they were without a doubt the two best new shows of 2013.

Should Win: Game of Thrones
Will Win: Game of Thrones

Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series

The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC)
Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)
Saturday Night Live (NBC)

I didn't include this category in my ballot because what's the point? "The Daily Show" has won ten years in a row and it will win for the eleventh time. Why? Because it's excellent and it deserves to.

Should Win: The Daily Show
Will Win: The Daily Show

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie

American Horror Story: Asylum (FX)
Behind the Candelabra (HBO)
The Bible (History)
Phil Spector (HBO)
Political Animals (USA)
Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel)

"American Horror Story" cheats again by pretending to be a miniseries, but I complained about that last year. The reception to it was much better than last season, but I don't see it beating very solid competition. Such as "Behind the Candelabra," which is a very good movie and is a near lock to win this category. I hope at least voters take a good hard look at "Top of the Lake" and take it into consideration rather than blindly voting for the flashy HBO project with star power. Which again, is still a good movie and worthy nominee. But the Academy makes people watch the submissions, so I hope voting reflects that fact. "Phil Spector" was a decent movie, but overall kind of a mess and is basically only here because of its star power in Al Pacino, Helen Mirren, and Jeffrey Tambor. I would make a similar argument for "Political Animals" in being carried on the back of Sigourney Weaver. But "The Bible"? I just don't know. I never read a good word about that project and it had basically no buzz. One of the strangest nominations I can ever remember. It will however be pretty ironic when "The Bible" is beaten by the story of a love affair between two gay dudes.

Should Win: Top of the Lake
Will Win: Behind the Candelabra

Outstanding Reality Competition Program

The Amazing Race (CBS)
Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
Project Runway (Lifetime)
So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
Top Chef (Bravo)
The Voice (NBC)

Oh Emmys, you're so freaking boring. I'm 99% sure these are the same six nominees as last year. "The Amazing Race" has won nine out of the ten years this category has existed. On one hand, it's certainly the most ambitious show in the category, but on the other, it is perhaps the reality show that fails the most at the most important part of reality TV: character development. There's just no time for it on "The Amazing Race". There's no time to talk about the tough childhood you had and what drives you to win when you have to run to catch a plane to Indonesia. I checked back in on "Survivor: Philippines" last fall and really enjoyed watching it after spending years of "Survivor" being off my radar entirely. I'm actually legitimately disappointed it didn't get a nomination for a very good season. I don't watch "So You Think You Can Dance" but have heard only the nicest things said about it, so I hope it wins.

Should Win: So You Think You Can Dance
Will Win: The Amazing Race

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Alec Baldwin for playing Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock (NBC)
Jason Bateman for playing Michael Bluth on Arrested Development (Netflix)
Louis C.K. for playing Louis C.K. on Louie (FX)
Don Cheadle for playing Marty Kaan on House of Lies (Showtime)
Matt LeBlanc for playing Matt LeBlanc on Episodes (Showtime)
Jim Parsons for playing Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

A chorus is singing, doves are flying free, the Whos down in Whoville are singing around their Christmas tree - not only is Jon Cryer not going to repeat his win this year, he falls completely out of the category! IT'S A NEW DAY IN AMERICA, FOLKS! Now that I don't have to acknowledge the fact that television's most prestigious awards ceremony considers "Two and a Half Men" to contain anything that could be considered television's best, this is a much easier pill of a category for me to swallow. That being said, really Emmys? We're still doing Don Cheadle? Really Emmys? We're still doing Matt LeBlanc? Don't get me wrong, "Episodes" sucks hard and Matt LeBlanc is easily the best thing about it, but you freaking snubbed Jake Johnson so that a movie star and Joey from "Friends" would come to your fancy party? Those are Golden Globe level nominations. THAT'S RIGHT, GOLDEN GLOBES! Cheadle won't win, but I'd say LeBlanc is a possible spoiler. I think Jim Parsons got knocked out of orbit last year and is unlikely to return, unless voters are unaware what a mess that character has become these last couple of years (always a possibility). I believe Jason Bateman got one nomination for "Arrested Development" back in the Fox days, and even though I included him on my hypothetical ballot, it's still weird that he is that show's only significant nomination. Maybe he'll win if they want to acknowledge "Arrested" in some small way? Probably not. I don't want to underestimate how much the Emmys love Louis C.K. - he becomes more and more of a hot commodity with each passing day it seems, and it won't shock me at all if he deservedly wins this category.

Should Win: Louis C.K.
Will Win: Louis C.K.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Laura Dern for playing Amy Jellicoe on Enlightened (HBO)
Lena Dunham for playing Hannah Horvath on Girls (HBO)
Edie Falco for playing Jackie Peyton on Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
Tina Fey for playing Liz Lemon on 30 Rock (NBC)
Julia Louis Dreyfus for playing Selina Meyer on Veep (HBO)
Amy Poehler for playing Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation (NBC)

LAURA DERN! LAURA DERN! Sorry, but that's pretty much my only thought on this category. She's not gonna win, but LAURA DERN! That's awesome. Anyway, here's a tough one. I think it once again comes down to returning champion Julia Louis Dreyfus versus old guard Tina Fey. Emmy fun fact: Julia Louis Dreyfus has won an Emmy in this category for each of the three major shows she has starred in ("Seinfeld," "The New Adventures of Old Christine," "Veep") but she has never won a second Emmy for any of those roles. Will the curse be broken this year? Edie Falco is also an old Emmy guard, but she has her one win for this role and I think that's it for her. Like I mentioned in the Comedy Series category, I'd be surprised if "Girls" suddenly picked up steam this year so I'd say Dunham is also out. Much as I would love Amy Poehler to get an Emmy for this role (and come on, that proposal episode), I'm still not gonna believe it 'til I see it.

Should Win: Laura Dern
Will Win: Tina Fey

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Hugh Bonneville for playing Robert Crawley on Downton Abbey (PBS)
Bryan Cranston for playing Walter White on Breaking Bad (AMC)
Jeff Daniels for playing Will McAvoy on The Newsroom (HBO)
Jon Hamm for playing Don Draper on Mad Men (AMC)
Damian Lewis for playing Nicholas Brody on Homeland (Showtime)
Kevin Spacey for playing Frank Underwood on House of Cards (Netflix)

Going through the nominees on Wikipedia, I see that Damian Lewis is submitting "Q&A". Perhaps someone just edited the page in speculation, because why would he submit any episode other than the one where both he and co-star Claire Danes are powerhouses? In any case, I think this race is over and Lewis is a repeat winner. Which is great - "Q&A" is a phenomenal hour of television. But how in the hell has Jon Hamm never won an Emmy for playing Don Draper? If ever there was a year where he should win, it's this one, even considering the fact that he had "The Suitcase" two years ago. I really don't think anyone else has a chance. Cranston is always great but I don't think he did anything specifically great last summer for his loss last year to become just a weird blip. No surprise seeing Jeff Daniels here, giving a decent performance with Aaron Sorkin's dialogue providing him lengthy monologues about Great Men(TM) and their whereabouts. Neither he nor Hugh Bonneville is winning this category. Kevin Spacey is a possible dark horse option, as he's a movie star who got to play a charming Southern con man. But realistically? I suspect his biggest moment on Emmy night will likely be a confusing interview with Giuliana Rancic.

Should Win: Jon Hamm
Will Win: Damian Lewis

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Connie Britton for playing Rayna James on Nashville (ABC)
Claire Danes for playing Claire Danes on Homeland (Showtime)
Michelle Dockery for playing Mary Crawley on Downton Abbey (PBS)
Vera Farmiga for playing Norma Bates on Bates Motel (A&E)
Elisabeth Moss for playing Peggy Olson on Mad Men (AMC)
Kerry Washington for playing Olivia Pope on Scandal (ABC)
Robin Wright for playing Claire Underwood on House of Cards (Netflix)

Gee Emmys, where was the Mrs. Coach love in the first three seasons of "Friday Night Lights"? Oh well, that's the extent of my complaining. Better "Nashville" than "American Horror Story". Because of a tie, we have seven nominees here and a good deal of new blood. Very happy to see Kerry Washington, who for some insane reason is the first African American actress to be nominated in this category in far too long. Sometimes on "Scandal" it feels like the characters, and especially Olivia Pope, are playing dress-up, considering how zany the writing can get at times. But at other times, and especially in this past season, Washington's performance was able to elevate the occasional moment here and there when the dialogue just wasn't quite up to par, so this was a very pleasant surprise (even if she won't win). Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga joins the fold, which I think surprised a lot of people. Given that fact, I think the odds of her winning are a long shot. Less surprisingly welcomed in was Robin Wright, whose character is strangely enough creating the illusion that the performance is much better than it actually is. Where do you draw the line between "quietly mysterious" and "growing disinterested"? Wright is also not the winner though, and neither is 2012 holdover Dockery (which remains an odd nomination, but I understand it considering the general Emmy affection for "Downton Abbey"). Much like the drama lead actor category, I can only assume Claire Danes submits "Q&A" and wins in another walk. Also, seriously Emmys? You have seven slots in this category and still couldn't pick up on Tatiana Maslany?

Should Win: Claire Danes
Will Win: Claire Danes

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

Benedict Cumberbatch for playing Christopher Tietjens in Parade's End (HBO)
Matt Damon for playing Scott Thorson in Behind the Candelabra (HBO)
Michael Douglas for playing Liberace in Behind the Candelabra (HBO)
Toby Jones for playing Alfred Hitchcock in The Girl (HBO)
Al Pacino for playing Phil Spector in Phil Spector (HBO)

And so the 2013-14 Michael Douglas Award Show World Tour kicks off this September with an inevitable Emmy win. Seriously, should I pretend the other four have a shot? Matt Damon is just fine in "Behind the Candelabra" but obviously his co-star is in the way. Al Pacino is one of few good things in "Phil Spector" but it's just not as good as Douglas. And I think in the miniseries and movie categories, you can make more of an argument that quality will honestly win out because voters see more of a representative (i.e. all) body of work. Toby Jones is actually not all that good in "The Girl," another HBO movie that is kind of a mess. Even leaving aside everyone who ever knew Hitchcock complaining about him being portrayed as a sexual predator, that is by design not a showy performance. Go ahead and nominate the movie for its prosthetic work, but I think this was one of a few nominations that raised my eyebrow, and not in a good way. Wait a minute, am I still talking about this category? Michael Douglas.

Should Win: Michael Douglas
Will Win: Michael Douglas

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Jessica Lange fo playing Sister Jude Martin on American Horror Story: Asylum (FX)
Laura Linney for playing Cathy Jamison on The Big C: Hereafter (Showtime)
Helen Mirren for playing Linda Kenney Baden in Phil Spector (HBO)
Elisabeth Moss for playing Robin Griffin in Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel)
Sigourney Weaver for playing Elaine Barrish Hammond in Political Animals (USA)

Damn. Damn, damn damn. This was supposed to be a cake walk for Elisabeth Moss. She was finally going to get the Emmy she has deserved for five years. And then national treasure Jessica Lange decides to promote herself into the lead actress category and you can literally pinpoint the second when my heart rips in half. Maybe Moss will be just so impressive to the television academy? But I don't even see that happening because stupid annoying Jessica Lange only got better in the second season of her "miniseries". When Moss loses, I will probably spend the following day trying to mobilize my "Stop FX from cheating at the Emmys" movement, to no avail.

Should Win: Elisabeth Moss
Will Win: Jessica Lange

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Ty Burrell for playing Phil Dunphy on Modern Family (ABC)
Adam Driver for playing Adam Sackler on Girls (HBO)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson for playing Mitchell Pritchett on Modern Family (ABC)
Bill Hader for playing various characters on Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Tony Hale for playing Gary Walsh on Veep (HBO)
Ed O'Neill for playing Jay Pritchett on Modern Family (ABC)

Of all the "Modern Family" men to fall out of this category, Eric Stonestreet would have probably been my last guess. I haven't liked Cam in many years, but the eternal love for Ferguson and O'Neill has always confused me and I figured Ferguson would definitely get the first boot. So we have another category without a defending champion. Bill Hader returns, and boy would I like to see him win. To watch him grow over eight seasons from "new guy who does impressions" to "Phil Hartman-esque utility" was pretty phenomenal, and I think he's a great candidate for a lifetime achievement nod. Do I think that will happen? Not really. The "Modern Family" love didn't wane enough this year for me to think that Burrell won't win this award again provided he submits the right episode (shouldn't be a problem). Much as I like Tony Hale and really, really like Adam Driver (again, one of the most pleasant surprises of Thursday morning), I don't think either of them present formidable competition. My eternal struggle with a surprisingly good nomination like Driver is determining the difference between what just managed to sneak in and what might have legitimate, under the radar buzz. In this case, I'm going to bet on the former and be very pleasantly surprised if I'm wrong.

Should Win: Bill Hader
Will Win: Ty Burrell

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Mayim Bialik for playing Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Julie Bowen for playing Claire Dunphy on Modern Family (ABC)
Anna Chlumsky for playing Amy Brookheimer on Veep (HBO)
Jane Krakowski for playing Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock (NBC)
Jane Lynch for playing Sue Sylvester on Glee (Fox)
Sofia Vergara for playing Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on Modern Family (ABC)
Merritt Wever for playing Zoey Barkow on Nurse Jackie (Showtime)

Another seven nominee category and we are all over the place. Old favourites return, a new face here and there, and lots of holdovers. Krakowski and Lynch are both back after a year away from the field. The Lynch nomination I'm more confused about - I don't watch "Glee" anymore but maybe she had a really good episode that voters saw? Krakowski was almost always great on "30 Rock" and her return only gives me more confidence that the show will take home one last Comedy Series trophy. But I think like the last couple of years, it comes down to Bowen and Vergara. Last year I picked Vergara to win because it was easy to suspect that voters were doing the "West Wing" thing where ever year a different supporting actor gets a win. This year, I'm going to pick Vergara to win again just because I don't even want to pretend that Julie Bowen is worthy of this award anymore. If they couldn't win last year, Wever and Bialik (tragically tiara-less this season) won't come out on top now. Chlumsky isn't bad on "Veep," but her nomination is somewhat puzzling. Honestly, her and Tony Hale are probably the last of the supporting cast I would have nominated. Where's the love for Timothy Simons or Matt Walsh? Gaining nominations is always good for a show's chances, but I just don't see it happening for Chlumsky.

Should Win: Jane Krakowski
Will Win: Sofia Vergara

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Jonathan Banks for playing Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad (AMC)
Bobby Canavale for playing Gyp Rosetti on Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Jim Carter for playing Charles Carson on Downton Abbey (PBS)
Peter Dinklage for playing Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones (HBO)
Aaron Paul for playing Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad (AMC)
Mandy Patinkin for playing Saul Berenson on Homeland (Showtime)

JONATHAN BANKS! In my hypothetical ballot, I said it only made sense for him to take the slot vacated by Giancarlo Esposito and it happened. Phew. Okay, so now I go out on a semi-limb: Banks is gonna win. Clearly Emmy voters watch and love "Breaking Bad" and I think they will have appreciated Mike's arc and untimely death as much as the rest of us. Add in the fact that Aaron Paul had a fairly light half season - it didn't mean he was bad in it, but I think these last eight episodes will give him a lot more to do. Much as I wanted Esposito to win last year, I couldn't begrudge Paul winning for a very good performance in the fourth season. This year, I think I would be slightly less forgiving, even if he does have "Yeah bitch, magnets!" The other newbie is Patinkin, who was sadly missed last year. I'd say he earned the nomination but not a win. Dinklage is one of the best things about "Game of Thrones" but he got a lot less to do this season and I don't see him winning again. Carter holding over is slightly annoying but "Downton Abbey" Emmy voters blah blah blah.

Should Win: Jonathan Banks
Will Win: Jonathan Banks

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Christine Baranski for playing Diane Lockhart on The Good Wife (CBS)
Morena Baccarin for playing Jessica Brody on Homeland (Showtime)
Emilia Clarke for playing Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones (HBO)
Anna Gunn for playing Skyler White on Breaking Bad (AMC)
Christina Hendricks for playing Joan Holloway on Mad Men (AMC)
Maggie Smith for playing Violet Crawley on Downton Abbey (PBS)

Hmm. This is awkward. Nobody told Christine Baranski to just get out already. Oh well. A number of usual suspects here, with the awesome addition of Emilia Clarke and less awesome addition of Morena Baccarin. I probably would have voted for her in the first season, but she was fairly weak last year save for a few moments at the end when the Brody marriage finally came to an end (one Nick/Jess had to die so another could live). Hendricks and Smith are both great, though they both had better showcases last year. Inversely, Skyler White had her first really great season last year, but only got better in the "Breaking Bad" episodes that aired last summer. Her walking into the pool? Her waiting...for the cancer to come back? Clarke is a very close second, but I think it's finally time to pull the trigger on Anna Gunn.

Should Win: Anna Gunn
Will Win: Maggie Smith

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

Scott Bakula for playing Bob Black in Behind the Candelabra (HBO)
James Cromwell for playing Dr. Arthur Arden/Hans Gruper on American Horror Story: Asylum (FX)
John Benjamin Hickey for playing Sean Tolke on The Big C: Hereafter (Showtime)
Peter Mullan for playing Matt Mitcham on Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel)
Zachary Quinto for playing Dr. Oliver Thredson on American Horror Story: Asylum (FX)

Okay Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, we need to have a little talk. So we have this HBO movie called "Behind the Candelabra". Really good. Great performances. Well written and directed. So it comes time to nominate supporting performances in the movie. The number one obvious choice? Rob Lowe. Wait a minute...you didn't nominate him? Well, that's stupid, but surely you were just a little bit more taken with Dan Aykroyd, so you nominated him instead. That's fine, sometimes it's nice to spread the love to an underdog. Wait, no Aykroyd either? You snubbed both of them for Scott Bakula? Again, this is a Golden Globe nomination. What are you guys doing? Regardless of that craziness, Peter Mullan is excellent in "Top of the Lake" and it won't shock me at all when he loses to industry veteran James Cromwell.

Should Win: Peter Mullan
Will Win: James Cromwell

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Ellen Burstyn for playing Margaret Barrish Worthington on Political Animals (USA)
Sarah Paulson for playing Lana Winters on American Horror Story: Asylum (FX)
Charlotte Rampling for playing Eva Delectorskaya on Restless (Sundance Channel)
Imelda Staunton for playing Alma Hitchcock in The Girl (HBO)
Alfre Woodard for playing Louisa "Ouiser" Boudreaux in Steel Magnolias (Lifetime)

Not a lot to say here. I thought Imelda Staunton was easily the best part of "The Girl" and I'd love to see her win. I don't really foresee that happening though. The departure of Jessica Lange makes this one of the more toss-up categories come Emmy night. Does Paulson just absorb all the "AHS" love? Does Burstyn claim victory based on name recognition? Seriously, I'm asking. Who the hell knows. You know what else I'm asking? Where the hell is Holly Hunter?

Should Win: Imelda Staunton
Will Win: Sarah Paulson

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series

Paris Barclay for the "Diva" episode of Glee (Fox)
Louis C.K. for the "New Year's Eve" episode of Louie (FX)
Lena Dunham for the "On All Fours" episode of Girls (HBO)
Gail Mancuso for the "Arrested" episode of Modern Family (ABC)
Beth McCarthy for the "Hogcock! / Last Lunch" episode of 30 Rock (NBC)

If Louis C.K. doesn't win in this category, I will be really, really angry. "New Year's Eve" is one of the most transcendent and moving episodes of television I've ever seen, and if it loses to some fucking wacky episode of "Modern Family," then what the hell are we even doing here, guys? I will be slightly less angry if Dunham or McCarthy win. But I think the groundswell of support for C.K. is going to payoff here.

Should Win: Louis C.K.
Will Win: Louis C.K.

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series

David Fincher for the "Chapter 1" episode of House of Cards (Netflix)
Lesli Linka Glatter for the "Q&A" episode of Homeland (Showtime)
Michelle MacLaren for the "Gliding Over All" episode of Breaking Bad (AMC)
Tim Van Patten for the "Margate Sands" episode of Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Jeremy Webb for "Episode 4" of Downton Abbey (PBS)

Shameful secret time: I pirate "Downton Abbey" from the ITV broadcasts in the UK, so I have no idea what the PBS edits are or what content "Episode 4" refers to. Not that I need to know for when Webb wins, because he won't. But overall, a really strong category that's juggling about four balls in the air. In two hands, you have "Q&A" and "Gliding Over All" which would blow the competition out of the water if nominated separately in weaker years. In another, you have last year's winner Tim Van Patten (who sort of came out of nowhere) making a possible return. And then you have Oscar nominee and film legend David Fincher in the fourth. As we saw last year with Van Patten's win, directing and writing categories tend to be the most interesting races and this year is no exception.

Should Win: Michelle MacLaren
Will Win: David Fincher

Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries or Movie

Allison Anders for Ring of Fire (Lifetime)
Jane Campion and Garth Davis for "Part 5" of Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel)
Julian Jarrold for The Girl (HBO)
David Mamet for Phil Spector (HBO)
Steven Soderbergh for Behind the Candelabra (HBO)

Last year, Claire Danes was my definitive "the other nominees should just stay home" pick. This year, that distinction goes to Steven Soderbergh. Sorry, other nominees. Much as I would love to see Jane Campion win something for "Top of the Lake," it's just not gonna happen here.

Should Win: Jane Campion and Garth Davis
Will Win: Steven Soderbergh

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

Pamela Adlon and Louis C.K. for the "Daddy's Girlfriend - Part 1" episode of Louie (FX)
Jack Burditt and Robert Carlock for the "Hogcock!" episode of 30 Rock (NBC)
David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik for "Episode Nine" of Episodes (Showtime)
Greg Daniels for the "Finale" episode of The Office (NBC)
Tina Fey and Tracy Wigfield for the "Last Lunch" episode of 30 Rock (NBC)

A very solid category, give or take an "Episodes" episode. Interesting to note that the "30 Rock" finale, which ran in a one hour timeslot comprising the show's final two episodes ("Hogcock!" and "Last Lunch"), is considered a single episode in the directing category but separate episodes in the comedy category. Written by different writing teams, it makes to split them up here. But it almost seems like cheating that McCarthy gets two submission episodes in the directing category. So who wins here? I could potentially see one last showing of love to Greg Daniels for a very good sendoff to "The Office," but I think "30 Rock" will collect most of the "happy trails" wins. Expect Tina Fey to pick up one more trophy.

Should Win: Tina Fey and Tracy Wigfield
Will Win: Tina Fey and Tracy Wigfield

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

David Benioff and D. B. Weiss for "The Rains of Castamere" episode of Game of Thrones (HBO)
Henry Bromell for the "Q&A" episode of Homeland (Showtime)
Julian Fellowes for "Episode 4" of Downton Abbey (PBS)
George Mastras for the "Dead Freight" episode of Breaking Bad (AMC)
Thomas Schnauz for the "Say My Name" episode of Breaking Bad (AMC)

About damn time. "Breaking Bad" finally gets its first two writing nominations ever, for a pair of outstanding episodes. As I mentioned earlier, also thrilled to see Benioff and Weiss recognized for a tremendous episode. But like I wrote in my hypothetical ballot: it would be heartbreaking if the late Henry Bromell didn't win this award for one of the best episodes of television this season, if not the decade so far.

Should Win: Henry Bromell
Will Win: Henry Bromell

Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or Movie

Jane Campion and Gerard Lee for Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel)
Richard LaGravenese for Behind the Candelabra (HBO)
David Mamet for Phil Spector (HBO)
Abi Morgan for The Hour (BBC America)
Tom Stoppard for Parade's End (HBO)

Not that it's impressive in any way considering the miniseries and movie categories are fairly light, but I believe this is only category where my fake picks entirely matched the real nominees. Second verse, same as the first: I hope this is where Campion gets her recognition, but won't be that disappointed when LaGravenese ultimately wins.

Should Win: Jane Campion and Gerard Lee
Will Win: Richard LaGravenese

As is tradition, The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards will make me look really, really stupid in a live CBS telecast on Sunday, September 22.