THR’s awards analyst Scott Feinberg shares his objective predictions for the top categories, whereas chief TV critic Tim Goodman identifies his personal preferences.
WILL WIN: This Is Us (NBC)
Westworld has more noms, The Handmaid's Tale better captures the zeitgeist and Netflix is pushing Stranger Things hard, but NBC's soapy smash was loved by critics and audiences and became the first broadcast show nominated since 2011. It's a ray of light in a dark category.
SHOULD WIN: The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)
Westworld was the most ambitious, but The Handmaid's Tale cemented Hulu as a TV destination. It's searingly relevant and riveting, with consistently strong writing throughout and excellent performances.
WILL WIN: Veep (HBO)
Atlanta made a major impression in its first season and Master of None only got better in its second, but Veep, the year's most nominated comedy series, will three-peat, not least because laughing about politics has never felt as cathartic.
SHOULD WIN: Veep (HBO)
I believe Atlanta is going to snag this one, and that would make me truly happy. It's personal, poignant, odd, chance-taking, funny. Same goes for the immensely enjoyable and deceptively simple Master of None. But Veep should win again. It killed, up and down and across the board.
WILL WIN: Big Little Lies (HBO)
Genius put Nat Geo on the scripted map. The Night Of had the best reviews. Fargo has won before. Feud garnered the most noms. But Big Little Lies boasts unparalleled star power and became a watercooler show in a way that few have in this era of Peak TV.
SHOULD WIN: Fargo (FX)
Don't even start with me. I know you're going all in on Big Little Lies. Performances, maybe. Series? Nope. This award should go to Fargo. The writing on this third season of Noah Hawley's adaptation of the Coen brothers film was simply masterful. Continued greatness.
WILL WIN: Black Mirror: San Junipero (Netflix)
HBO tends to be a force here, but neither The Wizard of Lies nor The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was especially acclaimed, and Dolly Parton's film decidedly wasn't. Sherlock could win for a second straight year — but Black Mirror has the best reviews and Netflix behind it.
SHOULD WIN: Black Mirror: San Junipero (Netflix)
I would certainly applaud a victory for Sherlock: The Lying Detective. I'm always a supporter of that. But there's no getting around the fact that Black Mirror: San Junipero was an exceptional, spot-on, inventive, emotionally provocative piece of television. It deserves this.
WILL WIN: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
Jimmy Kimmel boosted his chances with his health care monologue, but this feels like a John Oliver-Stephen Colbert face-off, with Sam Bee a possible spoiler. Colbert is the comeback kid. But Oliver won last year and has the most noms, so he retains the edge.
SHOULD WIN: Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
Straight talk: anybody but Maher. Holy hell, that would be a tragedy. So happy to see Stephen Colbert shed that skin and get rewarded for it in the ratings. But the most well-rounded, enjoyable and thoroughly consistent show here is Jimmy Kimmel's. It's overdue.
WILL WIN: Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Lorne Michaels' 42-year-old baby hasn't won since 1993. It'll be a jaw-dropper if it doesn't prevail after its most watched season in 23 years, thanks to its handling of Trump. It's tied for the most noms of any show (22), and its most recent episode aired in May, keeping it fresh in voters' minds.
SHOULD WIN: Portlandia (IFC)
This category has only been around since 2015, so trends are not easy to spot. But this year let's hope for a little well-deserved love for Portlandia, which I'll take over Saturday Night Live every time. Key & Peele deserved its win last year. Let's get it right again.
WILL WIN: Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us (NBC)
Back-to-back wins seem in the cards for Sterling K. Brown, who won in 2016 for People v. O.J. Simpson and would be this category's first black winner since 1998. Caveat: He could lose votes to co-star Milo Ventimiglia. The likeliest beneficiary? Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk.
SHOULD WIN: Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us (NBC)
Every scene that Sterling K. Brown is in on This Is Us looks like an Emmy highlight reel. His empathy and passion make you cry. Like, a lot. He deserves this; that man is a treasure.
WILL WIN: Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)
How to Get Away With Murder's Viola Davis won before. House of Cards' Robin Wright and The Americans' Keri Russell have a few noms. The Crown's SAG and Globe winner Claire Foy is rookie of the year. But Elisabeth Moss' time finally has come.
SHOULD WIN: Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)
My yearly shout-out to Keri Russell will likely go unheard (don't get me started on The Americans), but otherwise this is a slam dunk: Moss is brilliant in The Handmaid's Tale. She's magnetic. She controls the frame. She owns the camera. Easy pick.
WILL WIN: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent (Amazon)
Two star-auteurs have major support — Atlanta's Donald Glover and Master of None's Aziz Ansari — but I suspect voters will make it three in a row for Jeffrey Tambor, a revered vet who, unlike the other two, is playing a character totally removed from his own experience.
SHOULD WIN: Donald Glover, Atlanta (FX)
Every year it's impossible not to think Jeffrey Tambor wins/earns this. But I'm not sure there's any justification for not giving the statue to Donald Glover this year. He's so insanely good, so remarkably nuanced. He's funny, contemplative, real.
WILL WIN: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)
For her inimitable Selina Meyer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won this prize five years in a row. A sixth win — in a season in which she has already won a SAG Award and landed Golden Globe and Critics' Choice noms — would tie Cloris Leachman's record for most overall acting wins: eight.
SHOULD WIN: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)
I'm a fan of Pamela Adlon's work on Better Things. On the other hand, nobody snatches this out of the hands of Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Every win of hers — every single one — has been deserved. Same for this year.
WILL WIN: Ewan McGregor, Fargo (FX)
The Night Of's Riz Ahmed and John Turturro could cancel each other out. Genius' Geoffrey Rush and The Wizard of Lies' Robert De Niro might, too. Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch previously won. I think voters will celebrate the man who played two parts.
SHOULD WIN: John Turturro, The Night Of (HBO)
You sleep on Robert De Niro at your own peril. But in a wonderful field, I'm going with John Turturro. It feels like The Night Of aired two years ago, but his was a virtuoso performance. He did so much more than the scratching that everybody viscerally remembers. So much more.
WILL WIN: Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Four Oscar winners (Feud's Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon and Big Little Lies' Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon) are in this race, plus TCA winner Carrie Coon. Because of the nature of Kidman's role, I suspect she will bag her first Emmy.
SHOULD WIN: Carrie Coon, Fargo (FX)
It's going to be Kidman or Witherspoon, which is fine. But Carrie Coon in Fargo, emotionally unmoored as a person but dead-on focused as a cop, is a wonder to behold in a performance composed of tiny, great moments.
WILL WIN: John Lithgow, The Crown (Netflix)
The race appears to be between two Emmy-winning vets: Jeffrey Wright, from the most nominated drama series (Westworld), and The Crown's John Lithgow, who already won Critics' Choice and SAG awards. Either would be the sole major winner for his series-nominated show.
SHOULD WIN: Mandy Patinkin, Homeland (Showtime)
Are you kidding me that Mandy Patinkin hasn't won for playing Saul Berenson on Homeland? That's criminal. It really is. He was great when the show was great. But he has remained extraordinary and essential ever since. It's time.
WILL WIN: Chrissy Metz, This Is Us (NBC)
Never count out Uzo Aduba, who has two Emmys for Orange Is the New Black. But this is likely a contest among Stranger Things' Millie Bobby Brown, Westworld's Thandie Newton and This Is Us' Chrissy Metz, whose underdog character and personal narrative might prove irresistible.
SHOULD WIN: Thandie Newton, Westworld (HBO)
Be stunned if you want, but this is one of the easiest picks of this year and, honestly, it's not that close: Thandie Newton in Westworld. Hers was a full arc — first as a convincing machine, then as a thinking, feeling, plotting machine.
WILL WIN: Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Three people here already won for their nominated part: Veep's Tony Hale, Modern Family's Ty Burrell and incumbent Louie Anderson of Baskets — but it seems inconceivable that Alec Baldwin won't take the prize for his Donald Trump impersonation, a highlight of a hit season.
SHOULD WIN: Louie Anderson, Baskets (FX)
Louie Anderson — from last year's stunner to this year's … stunner? I'm always big on the Veep cast, and there's a very good argument for Tituss Burgess in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but I went back and looked again and, yep, it's Anderson.
WILL WIN: Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
I'm so tempted to pick Veep's overdue Anna Chlumsky over Transparent's Kathryn Hahn and Judith Light and SNL's Vanessa Bayer, Leslie Jones and defending champ Kate McKinnon — but McKinnon is SNL's beating heart, and the show is soaring.
SHOULD WIN: Anna Chlumsky, Veep (HBO)
I predicted Kate McKinnon last year because she deserved it, and that still holds true. But I've also touted and waited patiently for Emmy voters to understand and appreciate what one woman in one role, year after year, has been doing. So, again: Anna Chlumsky.
WILL WIN: Alexander Skarsgard, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Feud's Stanley Tucci and Alfred Molina and The Night Of's Bill Camp and Michael Kenneth Williams seem likely to stunt one another's prospects. That could benefit Fargo's David Thewlis, but Alexander Skarsgard is the biggest name and delivered a bravely unflattering performance.
SHOULD WIN: David Thewlis, Fargo (FX)
OK, watch The Night Of and tell me Bill Camp and Michael Kenneth Williams are not outstanding. So much, so quiet. But in a role meant to be impossibly large, David Thewlis nailed it in Fargo. His is one of my favorite performances in years, with impeccable delivery and facial everything.
WILL WIN: Regina King, American Crime (ABC)
Big Little Lies' Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley and Feud's Judy Davis and Jackie Hoffman seem likely to cancel out one another. That leaves The Wizard of Lies' Michelle Pfeiffer and Regina King, who won the last two years for prior installments of American Crime. A third seems doable.
SHOULD WIN: Regina King, American Crime (ABC)
For three seasons in three different roles, King has conveyed a combination of compassion, rage, faith and hope. And this last season might have been her strongest, most nuanced work yet.