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This story first appeared in the July 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
It’s all guesswork and wishful thinking at this point in the Emmy nomination process, so The Hollywood Reporter chief TV critic Tim Goodman polled some of his fellow reviewers to pick their favorite would-be finalists and lend a last-minute boost to the actors and shows they feel deserve one before voting ends June 26.
GOODMAN AMC’s Mad Men is my slam-dunk pick, but the dark horse I’d slide in is HBO’s The Leftovers. Absolutely compelling, utterly different than expected. I couldn’t wait to watch every week.
ROUSH Isn’t it time for FX’s The Americans to be invited to the party?
SARAIYA Showtime’s Penny Dreadful is richly detailed, unafraid of cheap thrills, both subtle and over-the-top.
GOODMAN FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. What if the miracle happened and voters realized what a scandalous oversight they’ve made all these years? I can dream.
SEPINWALL After largely ignoring what turned out to be one of TV’s all-time greatest comedies, the least the TV Academy could do would be to shower love on NBC’s Parks and Recreation for its hilarious and moving final season.
BIANCO ABC’s Modern Family. Do I think it should win again? No. Do I think it should be nominated? Yes. And am I tired of lazy critics using Modern‘s well-deserved Emmy success as a club to beat Emmy voters for their own laziness? God, yes.
GRAY Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or The CW’s Jane the Virgin. Two open-hearted survivors found the funny where no one ever thought to look for it before.
Lead Drama Actor
GOODMAN Jon Hamm. If ever there was a time, this is that time.
ROUSH Bob Odenkirk in AMC’s Better Call Saul. He invested a pathetic antihero with poignant dimensions we never could have imagined.
BIANCO Matthew Rhys in The Americans for his superb performance.
GRAY Timothy Olyphant in Justified and Hamm in Mad Men. Their performances drew on so much more than their looks that I hope voters don’t hate them because they’re handsome.
Lead Drama Actress
GOODMAN Eva Green was absolutely devastating in Penny Dreadful. Fearless.
SEPINWALL Empire‘s Taraji P. Henson was so compelling that I’m almost afraid to pick anyone else in the category.
ROUSH Eva Green. I’m hoping for a Viola Davis-Taraji P. Henson showdown to reflect last season’s diversity gains, but I’d hate for Green’s embattled Victorian-era sorceress to be passed over because of the neglected horror genre.
SARAIYA Henson. Don’t mess with the Cookie Monster.
Lead Comedy Actor
GOODMAN The favorite is Jeffrey Tambor in Amazon’s Transparent, but Louis C.K. in FX’s Louie was absolutely amazing this season.
ROUSH Thomas Middleditch on HBO’s Silicon Valley. A gem of hilarious anxiety.
BIANCO Gael Garcia Bernal, in Mozart in the Jungle. Wonderfully funny and sexy as Amazon’s underappreciated Mozart.
GRAY Adam Scott in Parks and Recreation is overdue for making sitcom-normal fresh, funny and romantic.
Lead Comedy Actress
GOODMAN Julia Louis-Dreyfus in HBO’s Veep. It’s not a reflection on anyone else’s work how magnificent she is in every scene.
ROUSH Lisa Kudrow in HBO’s The Comeback. As the awesomely delusional Valerie Cherish, Kudrow makes you laugh till you cry — and, amazingly, vice versa.
BIANCO Under old rules, Inside Amy Schumer‘s Amy Schumer would have entered as supporting. Under new rules, she entered as lead. Under any set of rules, she needs to be nominated.
GRAY Constance Wu on ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat. She’s a long shot but floored me every week. This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be happy if Ellie Kemper won for Kimmy Schmidt or Gina Rodriguez for Jane the Virgin.
SARAIYA No discovery this year seems as crucial as Wu’s incredible comedic talent.
Supporting Drama Actor
GOODMAN Walton Goggins, Justified. This is the time.
SEPINWALL Please go watch the gut-wrenching “I broke my boy” scene from Better Call Saul and tell me anyone but Jonathan Banks should win this award. I’ll wait.
BIANCO Alan Cumming for The Good Wife and Goggins. Both are on the ballot again. Both must make the cut.
SARAIYA Tobias Menzies from Starz’s Outlander. Creepy and brilliant.
Supporting Drama Actress
GOODMAN Carrie Coon in The Leftovers. At the beginning, I thought, “Who is this amazing actress?” Then it became, “I’ll watch anything she’s in after this.”
BIANCO Christina Hendricks in Mad Men. The shift of Orange Is the New Black to drama may swamp this category. Don’t let Hendricks get lost in the tide.
SARAIYA I hated Leftovers, but Coon made me like it. She’s phenomenal.
Supporting Comedy Actor
GOODMAN Jaime Camil owns every scene on Jane.
SEPINWALL Voters are months away from never awarding Parks and Recreation‘s Nick Offerman for mining so much laughter and heartstring tugs and from the slightest twitch of Ron Swanson’s mustache.
GRAY Camil in Jane the Virgin and Sam Waterston for Netflix’s Grace and Frankie. Both made broad characters specific enough to avoid caricature.
SARAIYA Dermot Mulroney was fantastic in Showtime’s Shameless, though the show isn’t very “comedic.” Look, I don’t make the rules.
Supporting Actress in a Comedy
GOODMAN Everyone on Veep should get something, but how can Anna Chlumsky not get another nomination? Her flame-out quitting speech seals it.
ROUSH Eden Sher on ABC’s The Middle has long been the linchpin of this chronically underappreciated comedy.
BIANCO For heaven’s sakes, watch The Middle‘s season finale and then explain Sher’s continued Emmy absence.
GRAY Judith Light in Transparent and Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live. You have to love a category that includes a sitcom veteran in a buzz-worthy new show and a franchise player on TV’s oldest sketch show.
SARAIYA Melanie Lynskey in HBO’s Togetherness. What a joy watching this oft-typecast actress fully inhabit her role (even if charter schools are totally awful).
GOODMAN Starz’s The Missing. Exceptional, heartbreaking work.
SEPINWALL SundanceTV’s The Honorable Woman was engrossing as a thriller and character study.
BIANCO ABC’s American Crime. Take note of this excellent, disturbing look at life in modern America.
GRAY Crime and PBS’ Wolf Hall. You didn’t need cable to see extraordinary, adult drama this season.
Variety Sketch Series
GOODMAN Key & Peele is the industry standard.
BIANCO Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer and Key & Peele. After that, feel free to improvise.
SARAIYA Schumer’s “12 Angry Men” sketch is legend.
Variety Talk Show Series
GOODMAN You may think it’s a sentimental vote, and I don’t care what you think. The last weeks of Late Show With David Letterman were the epitome of what this category is all about.
ROUSH A nomination, beyond the sentimental value (as if Dave would care), would reflect the memorable last weeks of his legendary run.
GRAY HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. That Oliver also conducted probably the best interview to date with NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden is reason enough for him to win.
SARAIYA Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore. Because a show that will throw a tea bag at Newark mayor Cory Booker is award-worthy in my book.
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