Emmy Predictions 2017: Who Should and Will Win?

The Emmys should not hold much significance, but they do. They are sometimes arbitrary and often do not reflect the greatness of a year in television. Despite this, I still love the Emmys. When a television show is advertised it is accompanied by, “Emmy winning drama” or “Four time Emmy winner for best actor.” When we recommend a show to a friend or family member we like to tell them it has been nominated for or won Emmys because it makes it more appealing.

This is not to say the Emmys get it wrong most of the time or always, but the awards show is the best way we view what is acknowledged as great television and it is somewhat of a record for history, like the hall of fame in sports leagues. Steve Carrell’s performance on The Office and The Wire’s five year run won’t be diminished in one’s eyes but they will not be recognized many years from now when historians and television critics are learning about this era of television. Those folks will think Modern Family is a classic it is not) or that Jeff Daniels was a better actor than Jon Hamm and Bryan Cranston for the 2012-2013 Emmy calendar.

Who I think will win and who I think should win are usually the same, which is not a good sign because I will go with the show I love over what will likely win and what will likely win is colored by popular consensus, previous success, and a 2015 rule change that altered the voting procedure so anyone could vote in their respective categories, rather than people who volunteered to be on blue-ribbon panels. The change was made largely became these panels attracted older people who had made conservative choices or choose the same shows every year. Because of this change, voting blocs have become more important.

Game of Thrones and Orphan Black were not eligible for this year’s awards ceremony because of when their respective seasons aired. My choices will be in bold. Here goes the mediocre prognostications…

Outstanding Comedy Series

Atlanta (FX)

Black-ish (ABC)

Master of None (Netflix)

Modern Family (ABC)

Silicon Valley (HBO)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Veep (HBO)

Who will win: The comedy series favorite of the last couple years has been Veep and I do not see that changing this year even with great competition. Veep has done very well since the 2015 rule change because HBO has the largest voting bloc. I would love to see Atlanta or Master of None surprise everybody but they are likely on the outside looking in.

Who should win: Despite most of these shows having great seasons, there is one clear and deserving winner: Atlanta. No thirty minute program was as creative, unpredictable, funny and thought-provoking as the breakout FX hit. Donald Glover’s show is unique and it is the best of this category.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish (ABC)

Aziz Ansari, Master of None (Netflix)

Zach Galifinakis, Baskets (FX)

Donald Glover, Atlanta (FX)

William H. Macy, Shameless (Showtime)

Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent (Amazon)

Who will win: Jeffrey Tambor is the obvious choice here. Even though Transparent’s third season was more uneven than its first two seasons, Tambor put on the same fantastic and moving performance. He is beloved by the voters and I wont be surprised if he takes home the award nearly every year Transparent is on.

Who should win: Despite my admiration for Aziz Ansari, Donald Glover, and Zach Galifinakis, three men who lead shows which are part comedy and part drama like Jeffrey Tambor, there is nobody else quite at his level. He is the Julia Louis-Dreyfus of this category.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Pamela Adlon, Better Things (FX)

Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie (Netflix)

Allison Janney, Mom (CBS)

Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)

Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish (ABC)

Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie (Netflix)

Who will win: One of the two biggest locks of Sunday’s Emmys is Julia Louis-Dreyfus winning her sixth consecutive Emmy. This might be her toughest year of competition yet with Pamela Adlon and six-time winner Allison Janney in the category (she moved from the supporting actress category this year), but her new arc as beleaguered former president Selina Meyer gave her many great moments and showed she is still the best comedic actress we have around. Plus she is beloved by people in the industry.

Who should win: As much fun as I think it would be to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus win every year Veep is on, Pamela Adlon is perfectly playing a thinly veiled version of herself as an actress raising three kids. She is hilarious and honest and charming. Better Things was one of the most enjoyable shows to watch last year and it was largely because of Adlon.

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Louie Anderson, Baskets (FX)

Ty Burrell, Modern Family (ABC)

Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Tony Hale, Veep (HBO)

Matt Walsh, Veep (HBO)

Who will win: In the last year or so, politics and pop culture have melded and it seems nearly everything is a response to what is happening in the White House and what Donald Trump is doing. The most prominent example of this was Saturday Night Live. Although in an election year this is normal for SNL, Trump was a character on SNL for almost every episode last season which is unusual. Why was this the case? Sometimes it was very funny, but also, ratings! According to Nielsen, the 42nd season of SNL was watched by an average of over 11 million viewers each episode — and this does not even factor in DVR numbers — which is the highest viewership sine the 1993-1994 season. The popularity of Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump and his hilarious portrayal will earn him the trophy.

Who should win: Baskets is a woefully underrated show and Louie Anderson is a huge part of its greatness. The humanity and humor he brings makes Christine Baskets so lovable. I affectionately call season two of the series the “Year of Christine” because of the increased role Christine has and it would not be the same without Anderson’s performance.

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Vanessa Bayer, Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live (NBC

Anna Chlumsky, Veep (HBO)

Judith Light, Transparent (Amazon)

Kathryn Hahn, Transparent (Amazon)

Who will win: See the explanation under “who will win” for supporting actor in a comedy series,” except this time insert Kate Mckinnon’s name. She shined every second she was on screen but the episodes she portrayed Secretary Hillary Clinton were most memorable. It was the perfect blend of real yet outlandish. I still get emotional watching her perform Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as Clinton.

Who should win: I am not particularly impressed with this year’s category. I would have preferred the nominations be spread around more instead of SNL hoarding them, but it was an election year so I understand why. Kate McKinnon is the best of this list and the clear winner.

Outstanding Drama Series

Better Call Saul (AMC)

The Crown (Netflix)

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

House of Cards (Netflix)

Stranger Things (Netflix)

This Is Us (NBC)

Westworld (HBO)

Who will win: Despite the rule change previously mentioned, this category could be more wide open than one would assume. Westworld could win thanks to HBO’s huge voting bloc and the fact that it is an expensive, ambitious HBO drama. People love that shit. The Netflix series sans House of Cards have a legit shot as one took the summer by storm and the other is a highly acclaimed prestige period piece about Queen Elizabeth. This is Us might’ve had the most buzz around a network drama’s first season since Lost in part due to the twists and viewership and I would not be surprised if it won. But I think the winner will be The Handmaid’s Tale. It told a harrowing, powerful story in its first season and it feels culturally relevant due to the political climate and the treatment women still endure today.

Who should win: Despite Game of Thrones being ineligible and The Leftovers being snubbed in its final season, there is still some excellent television in this category (and then there is Westworld and House of Cards, which we as viewers should pretend do not exist). Better Call Saul is the cream of the crop here. Saul’s third season was its greatest yet and it deserves recognition for a riveting season of television.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us (NBC)

Anthony Hopkins, Westworld (HBO)

Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul (AMC)

Matthew Rhys, The Americans (FX)

Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan (Showtime)

Kevin Spacey, House of Cards (Netflix)

Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us (NBC)

Who will win: I am assuming Sterling K. Brown is the favorite here. He is coming off a remarkable Emmy winning role last year as Chris Darden in Ryan Murphy’s The People v. O. J. Simpson which gives him momentum going into this year’s standout role on This is Us. It is a decent, but overhyped show and Brown is the primary reason it succeeds. It would not be what it is without his and spellbinding performance.

Who should win: Even though Brown is likely the favorite, I don’t think it as clear as the other acting categories. Here is why: there is no previous winner in the list and the winner from a year ago was not even nominated, which is highly unusual. Bob Odenkirk gave the best performance of the seven men in this category. His range as Jimmy McGill from sweet and charming to ruthless and manipulative continues to amaze viewers and this season might have been his best yet. We are now just patiently awaiting his descent to becoming Saul Goodman.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)

Claire Foy, The Crown (Netflix)

Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

Keri Russell, The Americans (FX)

Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld (HBO)

Robin Wright, House of Cards (Netflix)

Who will win: The other guarantee of Sunday night is Elizabeth Moss’s victory. She was never awarded for her awesome performance as Peggy Olson on Mad Men but now is her chance in a relatively weak category and one of the best performances in the last several years on television.

Who should win: Again my choices for who should and who will align because of how dominant a performance Elizabeth Moss gives. She is the best part of The Handmaid’s Tale and that is saying a lot because there is a ton to admire about the freshman series.

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

John Lithgow, The Crown (Netflix)

Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul (AMC)

Mandy Patinkin, Homeland (Showtime)

Michael Kelly, House of Cards (Netflix)

David Harbour, Stranger Things (Netflix)

Ron Cephas Jones, This Is Us (NBC)

Jeffrey Wright, Westworld (HBO)

Who will win: Even if This is Us does not win best drama, it should fair well in the acting categories. I envision Brown winning and see Ron Cephas Jones winning for a stirring performance as Brown’s father. It is a complicated father-son relationship brought to life by Jones’ touching and gentle showing.

Who should win: I love Jonathan Banks a tremendous amount and he has never been recognized for portraying Mike Ehrmantraut. But this past year was a remarkable stretch of episodes for him and he is the most deserving candidate in this group.

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)

Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things (Netflix)

Chrissy Metz, This Is Us (NBC)

Thandie Newton, Westworld (HBO)

Who will win: A difficult choice but Ann Dowd is the right one here. A supremely talented character actress, Dowd plays a stern but caring instructor of the handmaids and does tremendous things with the material. She somehow never won for The Leftovers, but she will get this one.

Who should win: I don’t think this is a very deep category. Aduba was not even the best supporting actress of her own show but she continues to be nominated because people cling to her memorable season one moments. Wiley and Dowd brought such humanity and compassion to their characters on The Handmaid’s Tale that was much needed in a dark world but I think, despite the show coming out fourteen months ago, Millie Bobby Brown should win. Her charm and radiance shines through in every scene and propels the show to greater heights because of her.

Outstanding Limited Series

Big Little Lies (HBO)

Fargo (FX)

Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)

Genius (National Geographic)

The Night Of (HBO)

Who will win: If you are gambling, put all your money on Big Little Lies. It the HBO factor, and though it could split votes with The Night Of, it is more recent and offered a more satisfying conclusion. It has A-list movie stars and was written by David E. Kelley, who has already won ten Emmys. Last year The People v. O. J. Simpson dominated this category, this year it will be Big Little Lies. 

Who should win: This is a very competitive year for the limited series portion of the Emmys and the category gets tougher every year. These series are all flawed and even Fargo, my favorite limited series, had a down year by its standards. But of the five candidates, Big Little Lies is the most moving and thrilling and enjoyable.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Riz Ahmed, The Night Of (HBO)

Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Lying Detective (PBS)

Robert De Niro, The Wizard of Lies (HBO)

Ewan McGregor, Fargo (FX)

Geoffrey Rush, Genius (National Geographic)

John Turturro, The Night Of (HBO)

Who will win: I do not have a good feel for this category at all. I don’t love anybody in particular. It features three HBO shows/movies that will cancel each other out and I foresee Robert De Niro getting it. Don’t ask me why, likely because he is a legendary movie star.

Who should win: It would be great to see either of the leading men from The Night Of win since I always thought the acting was better than the storytelling. The whole cast was good but these two especially kept me engaged as the show got a little uneven throughout. Riz Ahmed is my pick here because of the riveting Walter White style transformation he went through in a span of just eight episodes.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Carrie Coon, Fargo (FX)

Felicity Huffman, American Crime (ABC)

Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies (HBO)

Jessica Lange, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)

Susan Sarandon, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)

Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies (HBO)

Who will win: Due to Big Little Lies’ popularity and the range of emotions it elicited, it will come down to the two stars from it. Both are deserving but Nicole Kidman’s work down the stretch as her character tried to break away from an abusive marriage was extraordinarily moving and heartbreaking.

Who should win: This is one of the most competitive categories of the night and has the biggest star power. Funny enough, Carrie Coon’s role was good on Fargo, but it was not as impressive as her job on the final season of The Leftovers, which was again snubbed from major awards. This was honestly Felicity Huffman’s worst season on American Crime so this award should come down to the two duos from Feud: Bette and Joan and Big Little Lies. The women on Feud were great but this is the year of Big Little Lies and Nicole Kidman should walk away winning due to her memorable work. I think years from now when people discuss the miniseries, Kidman will be the thing most remembered from it.

Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Bill Camp, The Night Of (HBO)

Alfred Molina, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)

Alexander Skarsgård, Big Little Lies (HBO)

David Thewlis, Fargo (FX)

Stanley Tucci, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)

Michael K. Williams, The Night Of (HBO)

Who will win: Wow, a category filled of only HBO and FX people. Lots of vote splitting, for sure. I envision one of the HBO actors winning even though the three FX men bring a challenge to the category. Big Little Lies will just about sweep the limited series category and the vote splitting of The Night Of will partially lead to Alexander Skarsgård winning. Also he was just really good.

Who should win: Another competitive limited series category. I loved the two men from The Night Of but Alexander Skarsgård is the deserving person here. His terrifying portrayal of a manipulative and abusive husband who promised he would stop but never did was one of the most intense and well-acted things I have seen all year.

Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Judy Davis, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)

Laura Dern, Big Little Lies (HBO)

Jackie Hoffman, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)

Regina King, American Crime (ABC)

Michelle Pfeiffer, The Wizard of Lies (HBO)

Shailene Woodley, Big Little Lies (HBO)

Who will win: This could go any number of ways. Regina King has won the last two years for American Crime though I don’t see it happening a third consecutive time. The two ladies from Big Little Lies were good, even though I would have nominated Zoe Kravitz over Laura Dern. Despite the assumption that Big Little Lies will win nearly every limited series category it is nominated for, Michelle Pfeiffer wins this due to the high profile role and her performance.

Who should win: Shailene Woodley impressed me the most in this category. The range of emotions she played and her vulnerability was fantastic. In a tough category, she stands out.

Variety Sketch Series

Billy On The Street (truTV)

Documentary Now! (IFC)

Drunk History (Comedy Central)

Portlandia (IFC)

Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Tracey Ullman’s Show (HBO)

Who will win: In the year of Donald Trump and insane political moments, I doubt will anything beat SNL in the categories it is nominated for. An election year, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and huge ratings are all a recipe for Saturday Night Live to win best Variety Sketch Series in what is the categories’ third year (it was added as a category to the Emmys in 2015).

Who should win: If you know me, you know my love for Billy Eichner and his show Billy On The Street knows no bounds. The irreverent and hilarious show has grown in popularity and reach since it started as merely a web series a few years ago. Now Eichner attracts big celebrities like Chris Pratt, Julianne Moore, Seth Rogen, and Stephen Colbert for fun segments. From laugh-out-loud, silly moments to poignant and thought provoking segments like this one with Keegan-Michael Key about the prevalence of guns in America, Billy On The Street is a very entertaining and fun watch.

Variety Talk Series

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee (TBS)

Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)

The Late Late Show With James Corden (CBS)

Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO)

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)

Who will win: I envision it being a close race and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert winning over what people may perceive to be the favorite in Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. Colbert’s show improved a lot over its first year on the air and his political commentary during the campaign and since the election has been precise and very funny.

Who should win: This is a very challenging category to pick but I would love to see Last Week Tonight With John Oliver win for the second straight year. The balance he strikes between explaining an important news story and peppering in jokes is a great skill. Plus he is so charming. His show deserves the win for putting together an informative yet hilarious program. P.S. John Oliver is not a journalist!

Thanks everybody for reading my wholly inaccurate predictions about the 2017 Emmys. It airs Sunday at 8E/5P. It is on CBS and is hosted by Stephen Colbert. If anybody has a question or comment, leave it in the comment section below the post or message me on Facebook. Enjoy the Emmys!

My Ideal 2017 Emmy Ballot

The 2017 Emmy nominations will be announced tomorrow morning on July 13th, here are who I would choose for the major categories if I had a vote. To be a voter, you have to work in the TV industry. It’s voted on by peers. This is good and bad. It is good because a fellow director or actor may recognize and appreciate high quality work worthy of an award more than somebody not in the industry. It is not so good because these people working in the television industry do not have enough time to watch dozens and dozens of shows up for nomination and worthy of awards, therefore sometimes shows and people that don’t deserve to win do and at times, shows or people that deserve to win never have a chance.

One rule I lived by: I did not nominate something I did not see some or all of. Everything chosen here are things I have watched at least part of. Apologies to The Leftovers, The Crown, BoJack Horseman, and Catastrophe. I am sure they are all worthy but I haven’t gotten to them yet. Never enough time now that we are in Peak TV…

Here are who I chose for twenty-one big categories:

Outstanding Drama Series

The Americans (FX)

Better Call Saul (AMC)

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

Mr. Robot (USA Network)

Stranger Things (Netflix)

Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

Legion (FX)

With Game of Thrones ineligible this year, who will sit on the throne in the drama category this year? There does not seem to be a clear winner this time around. The Americans and Mr. Robot had weaker seasons than usual but at its best they are very strong. Better Call Saul just finished its most riveting season as we now know this spinoff was not a mistake. I wonder if The Handmaid’s Tale be this year’s Mr. Robot. Last year Mr. Robot stunned most people by taking home best drama in its first season by a network that has never won a major award. Can The Handmaid’s Tale do the same thing for Hulu?

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill in Better Call Saul

Matthew Rhys as Phillip Jennings in The Americans

Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson in Mr. Robot

Dan Stevens as David Haller in Legion

Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson in This Is Us

Mike Colter as Luke Cage in Luke Cage

Brown went from a magnificent performance last year on The People v. O.J. Simpson to a great lead role and he would surely be deserving of another nomination. Some familiar faces and new ones. The storyline to watch for in this category is will Rami Malek repeat or will it go to somebody new, maybe Odenkirk or Rhys?

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Elizabeth Moss as Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale

Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings in The Americans 

Viola Davis as Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder

Robin Wright as First Lady Claire Underwood in House of Cards

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy in Westworld 

Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman in Orange Is the New Black 

Though this list will likely look nothing like the actual nominations for this category, in either scenario this seems to be one of the weaker categories, not in terms of the names, but the performances. Despite that, it is not so wide open. Two women have a realistic chance, even though voters may be tempted to pick a mainstay of the category.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Costa Ronin as Oleg Burov in The Americans 

Mahershala Ali as Cornell Stokes in Luke Cage

Joseph Fiennes as The Commander in The Handmaid’s Tale 

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut in Better Call Saul

Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo Fring in Better Call Saul

Michael McKean as Chuck McGill in Better Call Saul

Again, with Game of Thrones ineligible, this and supporting actress are very competitive categories this year. Costa Ronin is criminally underrated but with a bigger spotlight this season, he is finally worthy of recognition. Mahershala Ali had a hell of a year last year from Moonlight to Hidden Figures, yet Luke Cage, to many, is an afterthought when thinking of Ali. It was not for me. I was wavering on whether to actually go ahead and choose the three best supporting performances (there are more than three) from Better Call Saul, as Saul would be hogging the category like Modern Family did for Comedy in the first half of this decade, but it is valid because the three men turned in remarkable performances. It is also insane McKean has not been nominated for the first two seasons of Saul.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series 

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler in Better Call Saul

Samira Wiley as Poussey Washington in Orange Is the New Black

Holly Taylor as Paige Jennings in The Americans 

Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers in Stranger Things 

Millie Bobbie Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things 

Maura Tierney as Helen Solloway in The Affair 

Rhea Seehorn keeps proving herself to be in elite company as she continues to be the moral center of Saul and executes a very engaging performance. Taylor has improved year after year and had a couple very strong episodes this year. Brown is the best part of Stranger Things, the show would not be what it is without her charm and personality. There are other solid performances, especially Wiley’s, but no matter the nominees this should be a good race.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series 

The Americans (Episode: “Amber Waves”), written by Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg

Better Call Saul (Episode: “Chicanery”), written by Gordon Smith

Better Call Saul (Episode: “Lantern”), written by Gennifer Hutchison

Mr. Robot (Episode: “eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme”), written by Sam Esmail

The Handmaid’s Tale (Episode: “Night”), written by Bruce Miller

Better Call Saul (Episode: “Fall”), written by Gordon Smith

It does not get much better than this. This is some of the finest writing you will see on television today. These were riveting hours of television and all worthy of awards. It was difficult to narrow this list down since there is so much more I could have chosen.

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series

Better Call Saul (Episode: “Chicanery”), directed by Daniel Sackheim

Better Call Saul (Episode: “Lantern”), directed by Peter Gould

Stranger Things (Episode: “Chapter Eight: The Upside Down”), directed by The Duffer Brothers

The Americans (Episode: “The Soviet Division”), directed by Chris Long

Westworld (Episode: “The Original”), directed by Jonathan Nolan

The Handmaid’s Tale (Episode: “Night”), directed by Kari Skogland

Game of Thrones has usually dominated this category but since it cannot be nominated, another show will have to fill its spot until next year. There are several great options as Saul and The Americans did some interesting stylistic choices. Westworld’s pilot was beautiful and established that universe so well. It’s a wide open category this year.

Outstanding Comedy Series

Atlanta (FX)

Veep (HBO)

Transparent (Amazon)

Master of None (Netflix)

Baskets (FX)

Girls (HBO)

Better Things (FX)

This was the toughest category for me because there are so many terrific choices and only seven spots. I am leaving a couple off that I truly enjoyed but that is what happens when we are in the age of Peak TV, and comedy, or the thirty minute format has never been better. FX and HBO fill up the category as we are left to wonder, will Veep win for the third straight year? Any number of these are deserving. Watch out for Atlanta and Master of None, which aired in some terrific episodes including Atlanta’s “Streets on Lock” and Master of None’s “New York, I love you.” If there is anything we’ve learned about comedy and/or the thirty minute format in the last few years, it’s that the days of the traditional sitcom are fading, and the age of auteur television is here.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series 

Ted Danson as Michael in The Good Place

Donald Glover as Earnest Marks in Atlanta 

Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman in Transparent 

Aziz Ansari as Dev in Master of None 

Anthony Anderson as Andre ‘Dre’ Johnson in Black-ish

Zach Galifinakis as Chip Baskets in Baskets 

It is not called “funniest actor” or “most entertaining actor,” it is called “best actor.” Which is why Jeffrey Tambor has won the last two years in a very serious role, and why most of the men here do not have strictly comedic characters and performances. Just two of the actors here have predominately comedic parts, and it is no coincidence they happen to be on network television where you’ll still find more traditional comedy, through The Good Place is far from traditional. Regardless, this is a category filled with immense talent and anybody would be deserving of the win, but don’t be surprised if Tambor takes home the award again.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer in Veep

Issa Rae as Issa Dee in Insecure

Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath in Girls

Pamela Adlon as Sam Fox in Better Things

Emmy Rossum as Fiona Gallagher in Shameless 

Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow ’Bow’ Johnson in Black-ish

There is not much to say here. This is the least competitive acting category ever as Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won five consecutive Emmys for her role as the irascible and ambitious Selina Meyer on Veep. All well deserved, no doubt, but will anybody beat her as long as Veep is on television? I actually do not think so. We will find out again this year.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a comedy Series

Tony Hale as Gary Walsh in Veep

Louie Anderson as Christine Baskets in Baskets 

Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred ‘Paper Boi’ Miles in Atlanta 

Timothy Simons as Jonah Ryan in Veep

Zach Woods as Jared in Silicon Valley

Andrew Rannells as Elijah Krantz in Girls

This remains one of the best, most competitive categories. Reigning winner Louie Anderson gave an even better performance and had a richer story to work with this season, and I fully expect him to win again. Newcomer Brian Tyree Henry was so interesting in Atlanta, particularly in “B.A.N.” I could not resist including Andrew Rannells for the final season of Girls, I enjoy him every moment he is on screen. Each season his role expanded and he brought something special to the show. And, of course, you have the Veep stalwarts to round out the category.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Gaby Hoffman as Ali Pfefferman in Transparent 

Judith Light as Shelley Pfefferman in Transparent 

Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer in Veep

Kate McKinnon as Various Characters in Saturday Night Live

Yvonne Orji as Molly Carter in Insecure 

Martha Kelly as Martha in Baskets 

Kate McKinnon is a shoo-in to be nominated, especially during an election year when she played Hillary Clinton. Martha Kelly’s dry tone is perfect for Baskets. The whole cast of Transparent is awesome but Hoffman and Light standout. Chlumsky didn’t seem to be featured as heavily last season but was hilarious yet again. This category is up for grabs.

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

Veep (Episode: “Georgia”), written by Billy Kimball

Atlanta (Episode: “Streets on Lock”), written by Stephen Glover

Transparent (Episode: “Exciting and New”), written by Faith & Jill Soloway

Baskets (Episode: “Ronald Reagan Library”), written by Samuel D. Hunter

Master of None (Episode: “New York, I love You”), written by Aziz Ansari & Alan Yang

Master of None (Episode: “Thanksgiving”), written by Aziz Ansari & Lena Waithe

All of these were masterfully written and these six episodes highlight how excellent TV writing currently is in the thirty minute format. I am leaving out some terrific episodes and wonderful shows but that is because the comedy category is loaded.

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series 

Master of None (Episode: “Thanksgiving”), directed by Melina Matsoukas

Baskets (Episode: “Fight”), directed by Jonathan Krisel

Transparent (Episode: “Elizah”), directed by Jill Soloway

Veep (Episode: “Groundbreaking”), directed by David Mandel

Silicon Valley (Episode: “Hooli-Con”), directed by Mike Judge

Dear White People (Episode: “Chapter V”), directed by Barry Jenkins

All very different types of episodes and all visually interesting. Transparent won this award, can it again this year? There is stiff competition, as usual.

Outstanding Limited Series 

Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)

Big Little Lies (HBO)

The Night Of (HBO)

Fargo (FX)

When We Rise (ABC)

This  may be the best year ever for the limited series category, and that is saying something. Ever since the start of this decade it has proven itself to be just as good, if not better than the drama category with its level of storytelling and acting. All five of these series were excellent and thrilling and any of them would be plenty deserving to win.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Timothy Hutton as Nicholas Coates in American Crime 

Ewan McGregor as Emmit Stussy and Ray Stussy in Fargo

Guy Pearce as Cleve Jones in When We Rise

John Turturro as John Stone in The Night Of

Riz Ahmed as Nasir Khan in The Night Of

Robert De Niro as Bernie Madoff in The Wizard of Lies

It is quite an interesting category this year. There are two great performances from one show, a famous actor playing brothers, and Robert De Niro for portraying Bernie Madoff. All are powerful, thought-provoking performances.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie 

Carrie Coon as Gloria Burgle in Fargo

Reese Witherspoon as Madeline MacKenzie in Big Little Lies

Nicole Kidman as Celeste Wright in Big Little Lies

Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford in Feud: Bette and Joan

Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis in Feud: Bette and Joan

Oprah Winfrey as Deborah Lacks in The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks

A big reason the limited series category is rivaling drama in terms of intrigue and more buzz is due to there being higher profile names attached and elite talent involved. This is the case because A list actors and movie stars are willing to do a seven to ten episode project that ends in one season and leave to do other things knowing there is no time commitment. Same thing with directors and writers involved with these type of series. Because of this, this year’s category should bring us Lange, Sarandon, Witherspoon, Kidman, and Oprah. and there were several big names that missed the cut! This involves perhaps the biggest names in one category in a while and it will be interesting to see who takes the award home.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

David Thewlis as V.M. Varga in Fargo

Michael K. Williams as Ken Jones in When We Rise

Alfred Molina as Robert Aldrich in Feud: Bette and Joan

Michael Stuhlbarg as Sy Feltz in Fargo

Bill Camp as Detective Dennis Box in The Night Od

Alexander Skarsgard as Perry Wright in Big Little Lies

A very eclectic number of roles this year for the category. Molina and Stuhlbarg are fun as characters in over their head, Thewlis and Skarsgard play “villains,” but every person has shades of grey and different sides to them. Varga and Perry are certainly quite evil yet also very damaged and manipulative individuals. And we get a powerful, heartbreaking performance from Michael K. Williams in When We Rise. He was excellent in The Night Of last year as well but this one stood out a bit more.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Regina King as Kimara Walters in American Crime

Sarah Paulson as Shelby Miller in American Horror Story: Roanoke

Shailene Woodley as Jane Chapman in Big Little Lies

Zoe Kravitz as Bonnie Carlson in Big Little Lies

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Nikki Swango in Fargo

Michelle Pfeiffer as Ruth Madoff in The Wizard of Lies

Regina King shines again in the final season of American Crime. Paulson is an automatic nominee every year for her solid work. Winstead was the breakout player from last season of Fargo, and two more very women from Big Little Lies deserve nominations for giving compelling work.

Outstanding Writing or a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special 

When We Rise (Episode: “Part I”), written by Dustin Lance Black

Big Little Lies (Episode: “You Get What You Need”), written by David E. Kelley

The Night Of (Episode: “The Season of the Witch”), written by Richard Price & Seven Zaillian

Fargo (Episode: “The Law of Non-contradiction”), written by Matt Wolpert & Ben Nedivi

Feud (Episode: “You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends?”), written by Gina Welch

Fargo (Episode: “Aporia”), written by Noah Hawley & Bob DeLaurentis

The pair of Fargo episodes here are thrilling, and as fun as it has ever been. The chapter I have here of When We Rise is powerful and beautiful and a great start to the saga. The riveting conclusion of Big Little Lies is as satisfying as any single hour of television in the last year, and acclaimed novelist Richard Price pens a great fifth episode of The Night Of. And the finale of  Feud: Bette and Joan was tragic but wonderful. The level of storytelling in this category cannot be matched.

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special 

When We Rise (Episode: “Part II”), directed by Gus Van Sant

Big Little Lies (Episode: “You Get What You Need”), directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

Fargo (Episode: “Who Rules the Land of Denial?”), directed by Mike Barker

Big Little Lies (Episode: “Somebody’s Dead”), directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

The Night Of (Episode: “The Beach”), directed by Steven Zaillian

When We Rise (Episode: “Part V”), directed by Thomas Schlamme

There is an episode of intense action in this category, a couple of epic tragedy, and a few that are visually very interesting in the choices the directors make, particularly with the premiere of The Night Of and the episode of Fargo. These all look like short films and that’s a testament to the quality of the directing here.

Academy Awards Predictions

The Academy Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars, is this Sunday at 8:30E/5:30P on ABC and will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. I love the Oscars and for the past several years I have tried to see as many Oscar nominated films as possible before the show. This year is no different. Since I am a world-renowned film expert, I will make predictions for what I think are the ten most interesting categories, of which I think I know the most about. Without further ado, here are my unassailable picks for the 2017 Academy Awards.

Actor In a Leading Role

In my opinion, this is one of the most boring races. I would be shocked if Andrew Garfield or Viggo Mortensen won and though there’s a ton of hype surrounding La La Land given its fourteen nominations and critical praise, Ryan Gosling winning would be crazy. He was fine, but it was nowhere near an Oscar-worthy performance. It’s really between two people: Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea, and Denzel Washington for Fences. Both performances were outstanding but I was more riveted by Denzel and felt more emotion watching him. Ultimately I think voters go with Denzel because he immersed himself in the role — it was a passion project of his, he directed it too — and because people love Denzel. In fact, Billy Eichner loves him so much he spent three minutes arguing with a woman on the street about him.

Who I think should win: Denzel Washington

Who I think will win: Denzel Washington

Actress In a Leading Role

I don’t have a clear idea on who will win this category. It does not feel as cut and dry as last year when seemingly everybody and their mother knew Brie Larson was going to win the Lead Actress award for Room weeks before the Oscars even happened. As the constitution stipulates, though I didn’t realize we are still following the constitution, Meryl Streep must be nominated so here she is. If Emma Stone wins I will bang my head against a wall in frustration, but I fully expect her too. I’d love to see Isabelle Huppert win for her performance in Elle. I haven’t been able to see it yet but according to a consensus from critics, she was terrific, plus it would be great to see an actress who is lesser known in America get recognized.

Who I think should win: Isabelle Huppert

Who I think will win: Emma Stone

Actor In a Supporting Role

I think this is between a couple people. I didn’t see Hell or High Water but Jeff Bridges is obviously wonderful in everything so he’s very deserving here. I like Dev Patel but he was not even the best version of the character he played. I loved Lucas Hedges, who was the young nephew of Casey Affleck’s character in Manchester by the Sea. Hedges is the best dark horse candidate in the group. The best performance was clearly Mahershala Ali from Moonlight, he was so dynamic and interesting every moment he was on screen. Ali gave an powerful acceptance speech at the SAG awards in January about the feeling of being persecuted and the necessity for inclusion and love. Expect something similar if he also  wins the Academy Award.

Who I think should win: Mahershala Ali

Who I think will win:  Mahershala Ali

Actress In a Supporting Role

This category has the most talent and the best performances. I loved them all. But one woman stands above the rest. That woman is Viola Davis. She should be in the Lead Actress category because her role in Fences was so prominent and she was on screen just as much as Denzel, if not more. But she and her team did some maneuvering to place her in the supporting category so she would have the best chance to win. There is a zero percent chance she loses. If she does, I will retire… from whatever this is.

Who I think should win: Viola Davis

Who I think will win: Viola Davis

Writing (Original Screenplay)

Admittedly I have not seen every movie nominated here, but I think I can say with a high amount of certainty that La La Land will win this one too, despite Manchester by the Sea being a more interesting and well executed story. Kenneth Lonergan’s script was great, but Hollywood is in love with La La Land, so it will probably win most categories it is up for.

Who I think should win: Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea

Who I think will win: Damien Chazelle for La La Land

Writing (Adapted Screenplay) 

Every movie in this category has a shot at winning and all are deserving except Arrival, I didn’t think the script was that sharp. The other four films’ stories were riveting, with complex and fun characters. But the best written film here is Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight. It is such a well told story about one person’s self-discovery and maturation from child to adult.

Who I think should win: Barry Jenkins for Moonlight

Who I think will win: Damien Chazelle for La La Land

Documentary Feature

It is one of the more interesting years for the documentary feature category, in my opinion, but only one is truly deserving. Fire at Sea is about the struggle of migrants fleeing their home, Life, Animated is about a kid with autism who uses Disney animated movies to develop crucial life skills, and the other three examine racial inequality in different ways. 13th, by Ava DuVernay, is fascinating look at how slavery and the Jim Crow era laid the groundwork for mass incarceration in the United States and how it overwhelmingly hurts people of color more. I Am Not Your Negro is a look at prejudice against African Americans in America, how black people have been and are viewed, and a lot of it comes from the mind and writing of James Baldwin. It was a thought-provoking film. O.J.: Made In America, the obvious and deserving winner, may be titled after O.J. Simpson, but it encompasses a lot more. It examines race relations in Los Angeles from the time Simpson was at USC in the 1960’s till the 2000s, sports, what it means to be a celebrity in America, the criminal justice system, and much more. It is, in many ways, what America is about, just through the lens of O.J. Simpson.

What I think should win: O.J. Made In America

What I think will win: O.J. Made In America

Cinematography

One word: Moonlight. James Laxton did a phenomenal job shooting the movie and presenting us with a visually stunning story. I enjoyed watching several of these films, but from a purely visual standpoint, Moonlight was such a treat.

Who I think should win: James Laxton for Moonlight

Who I think will win: James Laxton for Moonlight

Directing 

Let’s do a quick run down of the nominees. Arrival was a fine film, but it is not good enough to win for directing. Manchester by the Sea was a great film, but the directing was not its strength. I didn’t see Hacksaw Ridge, but I understand it was very well done. Moonlight was beautifully done and had such a sharp vision by Barry Jenkins, I’d love to him win this. But Damien Chazelle will likely win for La La Land, which I would be fine with. Chazelle, 32, coming off his Oscar winning film Whiplash and now the popular La La Land is a very talented writer/director and though I didn’t love La La Land, he did a great job executing it from start to finish.

Who I think should win: Barry Jenkins for Moonlight

Who I think will win: Damien Chazelle for La La Land

Best Picture
I saw seven of the nine best picture nominees. Though I think one will very likely win, a few have a decent shot at it. La La Land, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, and Fences are deserving. Not sure the others are worthy of best picture. I think Moonlight is as close to a perfect movie as I’ve seen in a while. The story is incredible, the acting from everybody, especially the three people who played Chiron. But Hollywood and the voters are vain people who love things about themselves so La La Land will win best picture.

What I think would win: Moonlight

What I think will win: La La Land

“The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story” Was a Masterpiece

1. The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story was the most compelling series on television in 2016. It is the first season of the FX true crime anthology television series American Crime Story, brought to us by Ryan Murphy. The season revolves around the infamous O. J. Simpson murder case and is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book, “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson.” The first season was nominated for twenty-two Emmys and won nine—both overwhelmingly led FX. It featured three unforgettable performances by key players: Sarah Paulson, who won an Emmy for this, portrayed Marcia Clark and humanized her in a way many haven’t seen before, she was especially wonderful in “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” Sterling K. Brown—who was relatively unknown prior to this—was spectacular as Chris Darden. Finally, Courtney B. Vance, who also took home an Emmy, was astonishing as Johnnie Cochran, particularly in “The Race Card” and “The Verdict.” From the look, to the voice, to the theatrics which he employed in court, he was so great, you’d think it was the real Cochran. I wasn’t alive for the notorious Bronco chase and too young to witness the criminal trial so I was naturally enthralled with the show, but even my father was riveted from the beginning. Similarly to what Alan Sepinwall at Uproxx said, he told me, “I didn’t want to like it, but I ended up loving it. It was incredible.” Even as the jury deliberated in the finale, my father said he was on the edge of his seat, which says a lot about the suspense the show created and the execution of its writing and acting. Sometimes there are television series or movies, like other things in life, that are excellent and riveting to watch but it is difficult to explain why in words. It’s an intangible thing or something you feel when watching it. To understand why The People vs. OJ Simpson was the most captivating thing on television last year, it’s not enough to read reviews or watch clips. It’s worth watching it from start to finish. The American Crime Story franchise will return to FX in 2018 and season two will be centered around Hurricane Katrina; Annette Bening has been cast as Louisiana’s governor. 

The Most Overlooked Show on Television, “The Americans”

2. The Americans (FX)

Warning: If you are behind on The Americans or plan on starting it, there are major spoilers here. 

FX had an excellent year of programming in 2016 but not many shows on television were more satisfying from start to finish than The Americans. The Americans is a family drama set in Washington DC during the 1980s at the height of The Cold War. It follows Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings—masterfully portrayed by Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell—who are Russian agents embedded in the US, who have two children, Henry and Paige. Also, their neighbor Stan happens to be an FBI agent. Paige discovered her parents’s affiliation to Russia towards the end of season three and since then there’s been a rift in their relationship. She also told her pastor this information, despite being told not to because it could put the family in danger. Season four was about the Jennings’ delicate balance of keeping Pastor Tim and his wife close coupled their need to continue with their missions and Martha’s, FBI Agent Gadd’s secretary and Phillip’s informant, fate after her status as an informant is uncovered by the FBI. With just two seasons and twenty-three episodes left, it’s only a matter of time until Stan realizes his neighbors are Russian agents and there is an epic confrontation towards the end of the series. Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell’s chemistry is the best on television, which makes sense because they are actually married in real life. Holly Taylor has become one the best young actors out there, which is lucky because so much of the show’s important character developments and plot involves her. Noah Emmerich is criminally underrated and is consistently awesome as Stan. The show, Rhys, and Russell also finally received Emmy nominations in 2016 after being shutout of major categories the first three seasons. It is the best written show on television—there is never extraneous material or unnecessary filler. It is also one of the least watched and least talked about shows in modern times despite its greatness—and it could be this decade’s The Wire in that regard. The level of storytelling, acting, and ambition The Americans has is unparalleled. Season five of The Americans will return to FX on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017.

VEEP, The Funniest Show on Television

3. VEEP (HBO) 

HBO’s Veep has completed its fifth season and it was, without a doubt, the funniest show on television in 2016. Selina Meyer and her staff is starting to feel too real given the current political climate. One of the best things from last season was Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ performance in “Mother”, in which Selina’s mother passes away and while at the funeral she still tries to talk to her staff and understand what is happening with the Nevada recount. Selina bringing in respected Washington fixture Bob Bradley— A.K.A. “The Eagle”— to help with strategy for the Nevada recount, without realizing that he’s losing his mind, was hysterical. And Jonah Ryan running for an opening congressional seat, just so Selina can win the electoral college in New Hampshire, but actually winning the seat was comically perfect. There are a few very funny shows on TV but none will make you laugh out loud and for all thirty minutes. Even with Armando Iannucci—the show’s creator— departing after season four, Veep didn’t skip a beat, in fact I think it actually improved. Everybody knows about Dreyfus’s star power and truly masterful acting. I believe she is the greatest comedic actress in the last fifty years. And I am sure she will always win the Emmy for best lead actress in a comedy every year until Veep ends. But the rest of the cast from Emmy winner Tony Hale, Emmy nominee Anna Chlumsky, Gary Cole, Timothy Simons, and Kevin Dunn, it is the best, most talented cast on television. Veep did a bit of a reset at the end of season five when Selina lost reelection and many key characters lost jobs, but I am confident that whatever the team at Veep comes up with next season will be just as great as ever. Veep will return to HBO for a sixth season this summer on Sunday nights along with Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley.

Atlanta’s Sensational Freshman Season

4. Atlanta (FX) 

Atlanta was FX’s best half-hour show of 2016. It was created by Donald Glover and he stars as Earn, who wants to be the manager of his cousin Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry), an up-and-coming rapper in Atlanta. It is smart, eccentric, funny, and unique. In the second episode while spending the night in jail, the dangers of treating mental illness as a criminal justice problem as well as police brutality are on display—yet not in a way where they are shoving it in our face as if to say, “look at us being socially conscious.” Paper Boi’s right hand man Darius is so weird but so amusing, and Brian Tyree Henry is one of 2016’s breakout stars. The show can be so grounded in reality like when Earn took his on-again-off-again girlfriend out for dinner and stressed out when he realized he doesn’t think he has enough money to pay for the dinner. It can also be creative and different like when Paper Boi went on a fictionalized talk show called Montague to discuss black culture, its relationship with transgender folk, and identity. On nearly any other network, Atlanta would be that network’s best show, but in my opinion, it was just FX’s third best series of 2016. But this says more about the success of FX and the quality of shows it airs than AtlantaAtlanta can be laugh out loud funny, poignant, and weird, but it is always thought-provoking and excellent. Atlanta was renewed for season two by FX which will air in 2018.