Emmys: Who Will Win, Who Should Win
THR awards analyst Scott Feinberg calls the victors, while chief TV critic Tim Goodman decrees who's worthy
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Make your own picks at THR's Emmys Ballot.
What will win: Breaking Bad (AMC)
Newbie True Detective and old hand Game of Thrones are formidable contenders, but the final eight episodes of Vince Gilligan's masterpiece are in a league of their own.
What should win: Breaking Bad
Not to reward Breaking Bad for its achievement would be unforgivable, and its biggest rival in terms of quality, The Americans, wasn't even nominated.
What will win: Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
Modern Family, which has won this prize in each of the last four years, would set a category record with a fifth win, but it no longer is must-watch TV the way Jenji Kohan's similarly groundbreaking show is.
What should win: Veep (HBO)
I'm a huge fan of Louie's most recent season, with its forays into emotionally dark areas, but it is impossible to deny how consistently great and funny Veep was this past season.
What will win: Fargo (FX)
Noah Hawley's audacious drama, which was met with great reviews, ratings and 18 Emmy noms — more than any show this year except Game of Thrones — easily should top its competition.
What should win: Fargo
This is another category with more clarity than one might expect. Fargo was on a completely other level — even with strong competition from the other five nominees, it's not close.
What will win: The Normal Heart (HBO)
Ryan Murphy's production will win this in a walk thanks to its subject matter, rave reviews, high ratings, a Critics' Choice win, a category-high 16 noms and the backing of HBO, which seems to win this category every year.
What should win: Sherlock: His Last Vow (BBC America)
Based on its writing and acting alone, Sherlock: His Last Vow is the best of the bunch. The consistent quality now is a defining part of its legacy.
Lead Actor, Drama
Who will win: Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)
It's hard to bet against Breaking Bad's three-time winner Bryan Cranston, but I expect the McConaissance to continue, despite the fact that the recent Oscar winner is competing for votes with co-star Woody Harrelson.
Who should win: Matthew McConaughey
We're unlikely to see another character like Rust Cohle on TV anytime soon, and McConaughey nailed it the whole way.
Lead Actress, Drama
Who will win: Robin Wright (House of Cards)
This wide-open race includes two-time defending champ Claire Danes, trailblazer Kerry Washington and rookie Lizzy Caplan, but unlike them, vet Wright is up for a buzzy, nominated series, which gives her a slight edge.
Who should win: Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex)
This should be Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany (the Emmys' worst oversight continues). In her absence, it should be Caplan, whose nuanced, resonant performance makes the show work.
Supporting Actor, Drama
Who will win: Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Look for this immensely liked and respected young actor to snag an unprecedented third win in this category, especially because — unlike last year, when he lost to Boardwalk Empire's Bobby Cannavale — he's not competing against a co-star.
Who should win: Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Because there is no way to split this among Peter Dinklage, Aaron Paul and Mandy Patinkin, Dinklage's performance is due.
Supporting Actress, Drama
Who will win: Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)
Everyone in this category has been nominated before for the same role except Lena Headey — but, like last year, it's probably between Downton's legendary Maggie Smith and last year's winner Gunn, Bad's female standout.
Who should win: Anna Gunn
The final season let Skyler White move through the necessary stages of survival, with husband Walt having gone off the rails, and offered Gunn a superb exit.
Lead Actor, Comedy
Who will win: Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
The three-time Emmy winner and 2014 Critics' Choice Award honoree is his category's sole nominee from a broadcast network show, which happens to be the most widely watched series on TV.
Who should win: Don Cheadle (House of Lies)
The show might have fallen off some voters' radar, but Cheadle's performance never has wavered from the great heights where it began.
Lead Actress, Comedy
Who will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Don't rule out five-time category nominee Amy Poehler or first-timer Taylor Schilling — both have ardent bacers — but the smart money's on the most nominated actress in Emmy history, who has won the past two years.
Who should win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
This is another incredibly talented field, but Louis-Dreyfus was spot-on as usual.
Supporting Actor, Comedy
Who will win: Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
This category is a total crapshoot, but the nominee with the clearest path to victory seems to me to be the one who's up for a fresh show — and happens to have two Emmys already on his shelf.
Who should win: Andre Braugher
Braugher might well be the funniest straight man on any sitcom airing right now — playing a gay man, no less. Emmy voters should take notice.
Supporting Actress, Comedy
Who will win: Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is The New Black)
Most think that TV Academy favorite Allison Janney will pull this one out, and she might, but I'd keep an eye on the Star Trek veteran, whose transformation is one of the highlights of her nominated show.
Who should win: Anna Chlumsky (Veep)
Veep's supporting cast often is overlooked; a Chlumsky win would be welcome.
Lead Actor, Miniseries or Movie
Who will win: Mark Ruffalo (The Normal Heart)
Fargo's Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton were both so good that I have to assume they'll cancel each other out, paving the way for the very popular actor who anchors HBO's pet project.
Who should win: Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo)
It's unfair that Freeman must go up against the stellar Thornton, who embodied one of the great characters on TV this past season and should be rewarded.
Lead Actress, Miniseries or Movie
Who will win: Cicely Tyson (The Trip to Bountiful)
In a category with nothing but great options, I'd look for the venerated 80-year-old veteran to pull ahead for her poignant performance in a role for which she won a Tony Award in 2013.
Who should win: Cicely Tyson
Because the whole The Trip to Bountiful experience was so unexpected, I'd pick Tyson. She won a Tony for the Broadway staging and clearly has mastered the role.
Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie
Who will win: Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart)
It's not easy to prevail in a race in which one is pitted against three co-stars, which is why Sherlock's Martin Freeman and Fargo's Colin Hanks can't be ruled out, but Bomer's literally transformative turn clearly is the standout.
Who should win: Colin Hanks (Fargo)
In a wonderful role, Hanks perfectly embodied one man's terrified reaction to evil.
Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie
Who will win: Allison Tolman (Fargo)
Sure, it's category fraud — the newcomer appeared in more scenes than anyone else from her show — but she's not the first to get away with it and she'll benefit from it ... unless perennial sleeper Ellen Burstyn strikes again!
Who should win: Allison Tolman
This is easy: Tolman was the brightest light of the most recent TV season. Make it happen.
Outstanding Variety Series
What will win: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC)
The Daily Show won this for 10 years straight before being dethroned by The Colbert Report last year. Those two will be tough to beat, but Fallon's first season in Jay Leno's old chair exceeded all expectations.
What will win: The Voice (NBC)
Last year's winner — the first singing competition ever to claim this prize — stands a strong shot of repeating thanks to high ratings and a category-leading 10 noms, even if host Carson Daly was snubbed.