Often times award shows feel like they can be fairly predictable, and in many categories, the 68th annual Emmy Awards are no different. Last year, the Emmys got a lot right, with a cathartic win for Jon Hamm and historic one for Viola Davis. This year, perennial underdog The Americans may finally get its due, while welcome rookies like Aziz Ansari’s Master of None and Lifetime’s UnReal could shake things up at the ceremony. But the question many are asking this year isn’t whether Game of Thrones and The People v O.J. Simpson will take home any statues – but how many. We’ve put together our picks for who we’re predicted will win as well as the nominee that we’d like to see pull off an upset.Don’t forget to follow The Tracking Board on Sunday as we live-tweet the ceremony and announce the winners in real time.
Will Win: Game Of Thrones
After a very, very slow start to season six, Game of Thrones had an epic finish with a cinematic battle unlike any we’ve every seen before on television, and an ‘earth-shattering’ mass murder that completely reset the game.
Should Win: The Americans
This would be a long overdue win for The Americans, the FX series about Soviet KGB officers posing as an American couple in the 1980s. Since its inception in 2013, the show has been tantalizing, gripping, and wonderfully understated. It deserves this high honor, even though it likely won’t win it.
Will Win: Rami Malek
Sam Esmail’s hacker thriller became an instant water cooler hit last summer and a huge party of that was thanks to an unknown lead: Rami Malek. The entire series exists either in the mind or from the perspective of his character placing a huge weight on a character who is emotionally removed from much of what is going on around him.
Should Win: Matthew Rhys
The Americans is only as good as it is because of its lead actors, Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, who masterfully balance their characters’ secret identities and parental obligations. With how great Rami Malek is (and he is great), Rhys likely won’t walk away with a prize at the Emmys, but he’d certainly be deserving if he does.
Will Win: Keri Russell
This is likely the best chance The Americans has for winning a prize – that is, unless, Robin Wright steals it away for her performance in House of Cards. Russell gives a wonderful performance in the series, but our should win pick is ultimately the most deserving.
Should Win: Tatiana Maslany
Much like The Americans, fans have been begging for Tatiana Maslany to win awards attention for years. She plays multiple characters on BBC America’s series Orphan Black, each completely different and just as complex as the next. She’s not likely to win, but at the very least the actor’s abilities are getting some recognition.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA
Will Win: Kit Harrington
Game of Thrones routinely gets a few acting nominations every year, but this would be the first big acting win at an awards show since Peter Dinklage received his statue. Harrington, whose character appeared to die at the end of Season 4, drove plenty of speculation ahead of this season about whether or not he would return. But he was ultimately resurrected, and rightly so, as Harrington turned in a fantastic performance in “Battle of the Bastards” (alongside the awards nomination-absent Sophie Turner).
Should Win: Jonathan Banks
Jonathan Banks has been delivering fantastic work as taciturn tough man Mike Ehrmantraut since his first appearance on Breaking Bad Season 2. But with his more prominent role in Better Call Saul, Banks has taken the character to new heights and is overdue for some Emmy recognition.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA
Will Win/Should Win: Lena Headey / Constance Zimmer
It’s hard to pick between these two women for either “will” or “should.” Headey has been a villain on Game of Thrones and driving force on the show since day one. Zimmer has done the same on UnReal. They both rule over minions they send out to do their physical or emotional abuse for them and have a relentless desire to have all the power. If we can’t choose, how could voters?
Will Win: Veep
If Veep wins the top comedy prize again, which it likely will, it will be the second year in a row the show has won. Don’t get us wrong, the show is by far deserving — it’s one of the sharpest and funniest series on TV right now — but sometimes it can get a little stale when the same shows and people win again and again.
Should Win: black-ish
It’s easy to forget about network television with so many amazing series pushing boundaries on cable and online but black-ish has become a landmark show in its second season showing complicated discussions of race and modern life with humor and heart.
Will Win: Anthony Anderson
black-ish deserved loved for its younger actors and definitely its writing team, but with the behind-the-camera talent being shut out, star and executive producer Anthony Anderson has a good shot at taking home a prize to make up for it. To do so though, he will have to push out previous winner Jeffrey Tambor, whose performance is undeniably transformative.
Should Win: Aziz Ansari
The amazing thing about Netflix is that you get all the episodes of a show in one sitting. The downside is that shows that premiere early in the voter year and don’t have “Marvel” attached to their title quickly drop out of conversations. It would be a triumph if Ansari’s well-earned nomination earned him the trophy but it has an uphill battle to climb.
Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
This is a safe bet, right? Louis-Dreyfuss has won several times before and continues to deserve every statue she receives for her performance on Veep. The downside is that it shuts out other amazing performances, but how could you ever vote against her?
Should Win: Ellie Kemper
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Ellie Kemper has won great praise for her performance as the the title character. As crazy as it may sound though, what may hold her back from a win is how believable she is. Kemper routinely plays naive-nice-girls as we’ve seen in Bridesmaids and The Office, and it causes brilliant turns like in Kimmy Schmidt to not stand out as much as the self-absorbed Selina Meyer.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY
Will Win: Tony Hale
Similar to Louis-Dreyfuss, Hale is deserving of his probable win. Since Arrested Development, the actor has proven his comedy chops time and time again. It’s hard not to root for him.
Should Win: Louie Anderson
Baskets is a very odd show that struggled to find an audience on FX this year, but if there was one stand out role on the series it was Louie Anderson as Christine, the Costco-obsessed biological twins Chip and Dale, and adopted twins. She doesn’t hide her favoritism for the latter pair, and viewers love her all the more for it.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY
Will Win: Allison Janney or Kate McKinnon
Allison Janney has won in the past for her role on Mom but Kate McKinnon has a very strong shot as she appears to be following a similar that favored Melissa McCarthy a few years ago when she won an Emmy for Mike & Molly the year Bridesmaids premiered. SNL acting nominations usually get buried, but McKinnon’s scene-stealing turn in Ghostbusters and the fact that she impersonates none other than Hillary Clinton may have netted her the extra attention she needed to clinch the trophy.
Should Win: Anna Chlumsky
It’s a tough category this year, which will, unfortunately, mean that Anna Chlumsky on Veep will continue to be ignored. Maybe it’s because she wasn’t known for comedy roles to mainstream audiences before joining the HBO show the way much of the rest of the cast is, but Chlumsky deserves an award as much as her character deserves a raise.
Will Win: The People v. O.J. Simpson
There’s really no competition here. People v. O.J. took the country and television world by storm and blew everyone away. This series is greatly helped by how recent its events were, making everything fresh in viewers’ minds (even younger ones who have grown up with stories about O.J. Simpson). When this wins, it won’t be too upsetting, as it really was an incredible piece of television.
Should Win: The Night Manager
It’s not that People v. O.J. shouldn’t win (frankly, there are so many reasons why it does deserve the win), but it is somewhat of a shame that the other limited series which were equally as great will get shut-out. Specifically, the adaptation of the John le Carré novel The Night Manager was absolutely fantastic and deserves some love.
Will Win: Courtney B. Vance
This is one of those locked-in categories. Surely most voters won’t even look at or consider the other nominees with the way Vance stole the show in People v. O.J. as legendary Simpson attorney Johnnie Cochran (alongside Sarah Paulson, of course).
Should Win: Idris Elba
Vance deserves his win, there’s no doubt about it, but when will Idris Elba get his overdue recognition for Luther? That’s all we want to know.
Will Win: Sarah Paulson
This is one of the few sure-things in Sunday night’s show. Paulson has been on a scooping up praise and statues for her performance all year and rightfully so.
Should Win: Kirsten Dunst
Paulson will win, and she totally should win. Still, if anyone were to usurp her in a massive surprise, our money would be on Kirsten Dunst and her fantastic performance as a desperate housewife who, along with her husband (Jesse Plemons) gets mixed up with the people in Fargo.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, LIMITED
Will Win: David Schwimmer
One of the best surprises of The People v. OJ Simpson was David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, even if the show occasionally got stuck on meta references to his now-famous family. Schwimmer’s performance did double duty of humanizing a lawyer whose persona is overshadowed by reality TV and also reminded us that Schwimmer can play people other than Ross Gellar.
Should Win: Hugh Laurie
Who doesn’t love Hugh Laurie? The actor can do both comedy and drama like no other and he proved it far and away in The Night Manager. Playing an absolute monster, he did an astounding job when it came to layering the character and giving him an almost sympathetic charm during the first half of the series. Not to mention his tension with fellow lead Tom Hiddleston was too much fun to watch.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, LIMITED
Will Win: Jean Smart
Jean Smart’s turn as the matriarch of the Gerhardt crime family in Fargo’s brilliant second season was masterful as she navigated the tricky waters of grieving her dying husband yet projecting strength – all while dealing with her three sons, each of whom wants to unseat her from the Gerhardt family throne.
Should Win: Olivia Colman
Colman was the backbone and heart of The Night Manager. She was badass, funny, full of integrity, and an absolute joy to watch. She has also never delivered anything less than great in all her performances — it’s about time she gets recognized.
Will/Should Win: Michael Sapochnik, Game Of Thrones “Battle of the Bastards”
It will be the biggest upset of the year if Game of Thrones insane “Battle of the Bastards” doesn’t win for directing.
Will Win: Dave Mandel, Veep “Kissing Your Sister”
A running storyline in this season of Veep was Catherine Meyer’s documentary about the election and Kissing Your Sister, we were finally treated to the end result as she dealt with her blossoming relationship. It also gave us one of the greatest moments of the series thus far, with Catherine trapped in a closet as her mother has sex plain view.
Should Win: Aziz Ansari, Master of None “Parents”
Each episode of Master of None dealt with different topics like sexism and race. “Parents” delivered an emotional episode of Ansari’s freshman series, depicting the complexities of both parents and kids who struggle with their feelings.
Should Win: Ryan Murphy, The People v. O.J. Simpson
The debut of Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story anthology quickly became the water cooler show of the year – in a world where water cooler shows are increasingly rare. It took those who lived through the events back to the early 1990s to see things from another perspective while grounding the events in a reality for those who only knew it as mythos.
Should Win: Susanne Bier, The Night Manager
Since its premiere, The Night Manager has won raves for its directing with Susanne Bier quickly landing on dream lists for many big name projects. People v O.J. may have had a large impact on American audiences, but Night Manager won raves from all over the world and deserves some Emmy recognition for it.
Will Win: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, Game of Thrones “Battle of the Bastards”
After losing previous show villains Joffrey Baratheon and Tywin Lannister, Game of Thrones was left with one current “big bad” the past two years: Ramsey Bolton. The ninth episode of each season always brings epic storytelling and the “Battle of the Bastards” didn’t let its audience down.
Should Win: Marti Noxon & Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, UnReal
Last summer, Lifetime took viewers by storm with their dark dramedy UnReal. It tackled mental illness, sexuality, and relationships in the behind-the-scenes world of a fictional reality show. The show was undeservedly limited to a couple of nominations for its freshman year, which is too bad because its second year definitely lost sum of its steam and will not likely arrive on the awards season at all next year.
Will Win: Alex Gregory & Peter Huyck, Veep
Smart comedies that go dark tend to have fantastic moments and such was the case in “Mother” where Selina Meyer had to “struggle” with the death of her mother while her team starts a protest on the ground.
Should Win: Alec Berg, Silicon Valley
For a while, it looked as though the third season of Silicon Valley would prove to be the downfall for Pied Piper. While previous years the group struggled, they always seemingly came out on top. Team leader went down a dark path in the episode “The Uptick” and finally had to face the fact that his stubborn ego may ultimately be his downfall.
Will Win: Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, The People v. O.J. Simpson “From the Ashes of Tragedy”
If this pair of writers doesn’t win for the pilot of The People v. O.J. Simpson then surely it will go to the scribes of one of the other two People v O.J. episodes nominated in this category, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” or “The Race Card.” The show has consistently ruled awards season in its categories and it’s not likely to change here.
Should Win: Noah Hawley, Fargo “Palindrome”
Fargo’s throwback second season was a hit with critics and nowhere is this more apparent that in the finale. Noah Hawley, once again, tapped into his well of Coen Brothers references to craft an emotionally satisfying ending with some truly riveting scenes, including Ed’s last moments in the superstore freezer.
What did you think of our choices? What were yours? Tell us in the comments below! And don’t forget to look for our Emmy coverage live this Sunday!