Emmys 2020: Who Will Win, Who Should Win

6:00 AM 9/1/2020

by Scott Feinberg and Daniel Fienberg

The Hollywood Reporter's awards prognosticator Scott Feinberg declares his picks for the shows and actors likeliest to score while chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg weighs in on the contenders he wishes would take home a trophy Sept. 20.

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  • Best Drama Series

    WILL WIN: Succession (HBO) 

    Succession and Netflix’s Ozark both landed 18 noms. Succession (nine acting noms) wrapped pre-pandemic, Ozark (three writing noms) more recently. But Netflix, still seeking its first series win, is also pushing The Crown while Succession has HBO’s undivided attention.  — Scott Feinberg

    SHOULD WIN: Succession (HBO) 

    This category should come down to TV’s best drama of 2019 and one of the best dramas of 2020, with HBO’s Succession edging out AMC’s Better Call Saul for a second season of awkward family dinners, deceitful business maneuverings and ill-fated attempts at hip-hop. — Daniel Fienberg

  • Best Comedy Series

    WILL WIN: Schitt's Creek (Pop TV) 

    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the 2018 winner, has 20 noms, the most of all the comedies. But hot on its heels with 15 is Schitt’s Creek, which was better reviewed and has its previous seasons on Netflix, as did Breaking Bad when it triumphed at the Emmys. Sleeper possibility: Insecure— SF

    SHOULD WIN:  What We Do in the Shadows (FX) 

    From sperm-seeking witches to a literal online troll to an unexpected detour into the world of girls’ high school volleyball, the second season of FX’s What We Do in the Shadows was clever, silly and far more consistent than the first. — DF 

  • Best Limited Series

    WILL WIN: Watchmen (HBO) 

    Mrs. America or Unbelievable would win in most years, but this is the year of the brilliantly made and eerily timely Watchmen, with its depiction of racial tensions, police-citizen clashes, Tulsa, masks and even a (squid) plague. Its 26 noms lead all programs — not just limited series — by far. — SF

    SHOULD WIN: Watchmen (HBO)

    How do you not only live up to the expectations of the most acclaimed comic book brand of all time, but possibly even exceed it? Damon Lindelof achieved the unlikely feat, blending the year’s most timely examination of America’s sordid history of race relations with ample superhero thrills. — DF

  • Best Television Movie

    WILL WIN: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix) 

    It wasn’t in the same league as Breaking Bad, but it’s part of that beloved TV universe and streamed on Netflix, so everyone watched it, which one can’t say for its competitors. Its four noms are twice what Bad Education and the Kimmy Schmidt spinoff received. — SF

    SHOULD WIN: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix) 

    Until a weak last half-hour, Bad Education could have won this anemic, outdated category. Instead, Vince Gilligan deserves some credit for returning to the world of Breaking Bad with a beautifully shot, perfectly acted feature that felt satisfying, if never quite necessary.— DF

  • Best Variety Talk Series

    WILL WIN: The Daily Show With Trevor Noah (Comedy Central) 

    Last Week Tonight, winner in each of the past four years, is vulnerable in a year when people are glued to their TV (a daily show is more appreciated) and racial tensions are high (Trevor Noah brings a unique perspective as this category’s youngest and only nonwhite host). — SF

    SHOULD WIN: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO) 

    Just because it’s boring to say that four-time winner John Oliver does the most consistently funny and thorough comedy show on TV, at a moment when audiences require both funny and thorough, doesn’t mean that it isn’t true. — DF

  • Best Variety Sketch Series

    WILL WIN: Saturday Night Live (NBC) 

    With only three slots in this category and five times as many noms as its competitors (newcomer A Black Lady Sketch Show and just-canceled Drunk History), it’s all but assured that the 45th season of Lorne Michaels’ show, featuring remote episodes, will add to its record 72 Emmys. — SF

    SHOULD WIN: A Black Lady Sketch Show (HBO) 

    Hey, voters: Don’t just complacently check that Saturday Night Live box. Instead, look at the wildly varied characters and tones captured by creator Robin Thede and the superb A Black Lady Sketch Show ensemble. It’s unprecedented and hilarious.  — DF 

  • Best Actor in a Drama Series

    WILL WIN: Jason Bateman, Ozark (Netflix) 

    The moment has passed for recent winners Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us) and Billy Porter (Pose). Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong will split the Succession vote. So look for the popular performer with the best reviewed and most recently released season to snag his first acting win. — SF

    SHOULD WIN: Jeremy Strong, Succession (HBO) 

    Somehow Jeremy Strong didn’t submit the episode where Kendall contemplated suicide or the notorious "L to the OG" rap, as his character hits rock bottom over and over and over again. His work in the enigmatic finale capped a spectacular season.  — DF

  • Best Actress in a Drama Series

    WILL WIN: Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show (Apple TV+) 

    Could Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer repeat, The Crown’s Olivia Colman become the second QEII to win or Ozark’s Laura Linney bag a fifth prize? Sure. But actors solely pick acting winners, so — based on her SAG victory and her show’s five acting noms — they’ll reward an old friend. — SF

    SHOULD WIN: Laura Linney, Ozark (Netflix) 

    I’ve never been the biggest fan of Ozark, but Laura Linney’s raw, unraveling work in the second half of the season, as her character’s emotionally damaged brother put her family and business at risk, helped anchor a major comeback for the Netflix drama. — DF

  • Best Actor in a Comedy Series

    WILL WIN: Eugene Levy, Schitt's Creek (Pop TV) 

    Veteran Ted Danson (for The Good Place’s final season) and rising star Ramy Youssef (for his show’s second) have passionate supporters. But it feels like the wave of love for departing Schitt’s Creek will carry this bushy-eyebrowed comedy legend to his first acting win. — SF

    SHOULD WIN: Ramy Youssef, Ramy (Hulu) 

    The second season of Hulu’s Ramy takes the show’s main character into a spiritually and personally dark space, with multihyphenate star Ramy Youssef never pandering for audience approval. Emmy approval, though, might be nice. — DF

  • Best Actress in a Comedy Series

    WILL WIN: Catherine O'Hara, Schitt's Creek (Pop TV) 

    An even better bet than her co-star Levy is this revered comedy goddess, who seems poised to fend off past winner Rachel Brosnahan of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — though Insecure’s Issa Rae cannot be counted out for the strongest season yet of a show she co-created.  — SF

    SHOULD WIN: Linda Cardellini, Dead to Me (Netflix) 

    The great challenge of Dead to Me is remaining invested in its heroines regardless of the crimes they commit. This season, Linda Cardellini’s Judy became the emotional centerpiece, making the most of scenes with both Christina Applegate and Natalie Morales.  — DF

  • Best Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

    WILL WIN: Paul Mescal, Normal People (Hulu) 

    Watchmen’s Jeremy Irons, Bad Education’s Hugh Jackman and I Know This Much Is True’s Mark Ruffalo have all won before — and been better — so I think voters will gravitate to this 24-year-old Irish breakout, whose passionate turn (opposite snubbed Daisy Edgar-Jones) enchanted many.  — SF

    SHOULD WIN: Jeremy Pope, Hollywood (Netflix) 

    I Know This Much Is True doesn’t work without Mark Ruffalo, but at least he has what is, on the page, an Emmy-winning role. Jeremy Pope takes a thin part and makes it dynamic and emotionally rich without getting upstaged by the Hollywood costumes or production design. — DF

  • Best Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

    WILL WIN: Regina King, Watchmen (HBO) 

    Shira Haas was a revelation on Unorthodox and Cate Blanchett was extraordinary, as usual, on Mrs. America, so neither can be counted out. But Emmy voters adore the actors’ actor who played Sister Night and is now poised to win her fourth Emmy in five years. — SF

    SHOULD WIN: Shira Haas, Unorthodox (Netflix)

    There’s no wrong choice in this field, but to me it comes down to Cate Blanchett, Regina King and Shira Haas. My vote goes to Haas, who has fewer esteemed co-stars to lean on, as she carries every step of her religiously complex Netflix miniseries. — DF 

  • Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

    WILL WIN: Kieran Culkin, Succession (HBO) 

    With three actors from Succession and two from Morning Show, it’s a competitive field. Handmaid’s Bradley Whitford has three prior wins and Better Call Saul’s Giancarlo Esposito is overdue, but I suspect Morning Show’s Billy Crudup or Succession’s Kieran Culkin will prevail. — SF

    SHOULD WIN: Matthew Macfadyen, Succession (HBO)

    This has to go to one of the three Succession men, who all give performances that act as both comic relief and are fueled by deep insecurity and pain. Advantage, then, to Matthew Macfadyen, for the sad understanding Tom Wambsgans reaches in the finale. — DF

  • Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

    WILL WIN: Julia Garner, Ozark (Netflix) 

    Despite facing tough competition, especially from The Crown’s Helena Bonham Carter and Succession’s Sarah Snook, I’d be surprised if the category’s youngest nominee, at just 26, doesn’t win for the second year in a row for playing the deliciously twisted Ruth. — SF

    SHOULD WIN: Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown (Netflix) 

    Princess Margaret is good for only one or two showcase episodes per season on The Crown, and the third finale gave newcomer Helena Bonham Carter a heartbreaking journey of depression and rekindled romance. Sarah Snook and Julia Garner are worthy runners-up. — DF 

  • Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

    WILL WIN: Dan Levy, Schitt's Creek (Pop TV) 

    There are eight nominees but three plausible winners: Ramy’s Mahershala Ali, Maisel’s Tony Shalhoub (who has four previous wins) and Schitt’s Creek’s Dan Levy, who’s also nominated for producing, directing and writing. My hunch is Levy and his dad both leave with statuettes. — SF

    SHOULD WIN: Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC) 

    Schitt’s Creek’s Dan Levy deserves honors, but he’s not really "supporting" in the last season. So, let’s go with Andre Braugher, centerpiece of the season’s best episode, for making each lamentation about his kidnapped "fluffy boy" funnier than the one before. — DF 

  • Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

    WILL WIN: Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon) 

    Schitt’s coattails could propel Annie Murphy to a win. Insecure’s Yvonne Orji, this category’s sole nominee of color, is a possibility. And never count out SNL two-time winner Kate McKinnon. But it’s likeliest that Borstein, the consummate scene-stealer, will three-peat. — SF

    SHOULD WIN: D'Arcy Carden, The Good Place (NBC) 

    Maisel’s Alex Borstein has the best submission episode, but she’s won twice. So let’s go with first-time nominee D’Arcy Carden for The Good Place’s final season — playing Bad Janet, Neutral Janet and Disco Janet remains awards-worthy. — DF

  • Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

    WILL WIN: Jim Parsons, Hollywood (Netflix) 

    It’s virtually impossible to pick between Watchmen’s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jovan Adepo and Louis Gossett Jr. If voters look elsewhere, it’ll probably be to Jim Parsons, the standout in Hollywood, which received more noms than any limited series except Watchmen— SF

    SHOULD WIN: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Watchmen (HBO) 

    From playing a character with a secret he didn’t know to playing a character mentally unglued to playing an all-powerful and dispassionate naked being, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II faced remarkable degrees of difficulty at every turn. — DF 

  • Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

    WILL WIN: Toni Collette, Unbelievable (Netflix)

    The Mrs. America trio (Uzo Aduba, Margo Martindale, Tracey Ullman) will sideline one another, leaving Watchmen’s Jean Smart, Hollywood’s Holland Taylor and Unbelievable’s Toni Collette. I suspect it will go to one of the year’s most socially relevant shows not named Watchmen. — SF

    SHOULD WIN: Toni Collette, Unbelievable (Netflix)

    Categorization blunders left Unbelievable’s Merritt Wever and Kaitlyn Dever sadly without nominations, so Toni Collette has to represent the tremendous ensemble from the Netflix series in this year’s powerhouse limited actress category.  — DF 

    This story first appeared in the Aug. 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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