The Daily Californian Arts guide to what will, should and could win the 70th annual Emmy Awards

Frances Yang/Staff

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We are presently in a golden age of television. It seems that no matter what channel we flip to or which streaming service we are logged into, there is a plethora of captivating and magnetic TV shows at our fingertips. It would be nearly impossible for one person to sort through all of that television and decide what is or isn’t the best. This is where the Emmy Awards come in. With so much variety and 95 categories shared between the Primetime and Creative Arts Emmys, predicting which shows will take home awards is all the more interesting.

– Maisy Menzies

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • “Atlanta” (FX)
  • “Barry” (HBO)
  • “Black-ish” (ABC)
  • “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO)
  • “GLOW” (Netflix)
  • “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
  • “Silicon Valley” (HBO)
  • “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)

Without the current titleholder “Veep” in contention, the race is between FX’s “Atlanta,” Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and HBO’s “Barry,” with all three racking up an impressive number of nominations. The dark horse here is Bill Hader’s dark comedy “Barry,” which debuted to rave reviews but isn’t coming into the Emmys with Golden Globe awards under its belt like the other two. While “Atlanta” is more politically relevant than the three and is already an Emmy darling with wins for lead actor and outstanding directing from its first season, the edge may go to Amy Sherman-Palladino’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Awarding the female-driven comedy may be the Emmys’ response to the #MeToo movement that continues to sweep Hollywood.

– Julie Lim

Will win: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Should win: “Atlanta”

Could win: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”


Outstanding Drama Series

  • “The Americans” (FX)
  • “The Crown” (Netflix)
  • “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
  • “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
  • “Stranger Things” (Netflix)
  • “This Is Us” (NBC)
  • “Westworld” (HBO)

Despite many critics calling it one of the greatest television dramas, the period spy thriller “The Americans” has been consistently snubbed in this category for five of its seven seasons. Even though it is ending on a critically acclaimed final season, it seems like the Emmys are only going to recognize the show through its nomination. Although many of the sophomore shows nominated failed to receive the same praise as in their first seasons, this category’s current titleholder “The Handmaid’s Tale” is unlikely to lose. “Game of Thrones” is back in contention, however, and has the potential to steal back the category it won twice in a row before its one-year hiatus.

– Julie Lim

Will win: “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Should win: “The Americans”

Could win: “Game of Thrones”


Outstanding Limited Series

  • “The Alienist” (TNT)
  • “Genius: Picasso” (National Geographic)
  • “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
  • “Godless” (Netflix)
  • “Patrick Melrose” (Showtime)

The undeniable frontrunner for outstanding limited series is FX’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” –– and rightfully so. Following the first installment of “American Crime Story” –– the critically acclaimed “The People v. O.J.” — “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” is a twisted and mysteriously captivating limited narrative wrapped in the delicious designs of Versace. The series proves that creator Ryan Murphy has struck gold by investing in the production of these American crime stories. Showtime’s “Patrick Melrose” follows right behind, with a star-studded cast and a quirky, heartbreaking tale of substance abuse and grief, but most likely isn’t a real threat.

– Maisy Menzies

Will win: “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”

Should win: “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”

Could win: “Patrick Melrose”


Outstanding Variety Talk Series

  • “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS)
  • “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (ABC)
  • “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)
  • “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central)
  • “The Late Late Show with James Corden” (CBS)
  • “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (CBS)

HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” has reigned queen in the outstanding variety talk series category for some time now. While the hilarious political talk show strives to make frustrating news accessible, “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” on Comedy Central is similarly working to expand audiences’ awareness of global politics, with relevant jokes and the charismatic host Trevor Noah. Other more traditional, but still well-composed, talk shows such as “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” are still in the running, but will most likely not take an award home.

– Maisy Menzies

Will win: “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”

Should win: “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”

Could win: “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah”


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”
  • Ted Danson, “The Good Place”
  • Donald Glover, “Atlanta”
  • Bill Hader, “Barry”
  • William H. Macy, “Shameless”

The two main contenders here have both been recognized for writing and starring in their respective shows. While Bill Hader’s debut as hitman-turned-actor Barry Berkman in “Barry” has earned him rave reviews and reminds the voters that this man is long due for an Emmy, Donald Glover’s surreal performance in “Atlanta” continues to live up to the critical acclaim that won him this category last year, making him the one to beat.

– Julie Lim

Will win: Donald Glover, “Atlanta”

Should win: Donald Glover, “Atlanta”

Could win: Bill Hader, “Barry”


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  • Jason Bateman, “Ozark”
  • Matthew Rhys, “The Americans”
  • Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
  • Milo Ventimiglia, “This Is Us”
  • Ed Harris, “Westworld”
  • Jeffrey Wright, “Westworld”

Titleholder Sterling K. Brown performed a heartbreaking performance as perfect-to-a-fault Randall Pearson in “This Is Us.” And with his character exploring the ups and downs of being a foster parent, there was plenty of material to showcase Brown’s impressive emotional range. While he is almost a guarantee for a second consecutive win in this category (and third consecutive win for an outstanding performance Emmy), Matthew Rhys may take a page out of Jon Hamm’s “Mad Men” run and finally be recognized for his role as a Soviet mole in suburban America in his final season of “The Americans.”

– Julie Lim

Will win: Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”

Should win: Matthew Rhys, “The Americans”

Could win: Matthew Rhys, “The Americans”


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

  • Antonio Banderas, “Genius: Picasso”
  • Darren Criss, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, “Patrick Melrose”
  • Jeff Daniels, “The Looming Tower”
  • John Legend, “Jesus Christ Superstar”
  • Jesse Plemons, “Black Mirror: USS Callister”

Despite the steady competition and the possibility of some votes being split for Benedict Cumberbatch’s role as a drug addict slipping in and out of withdrawal, Darren Criss will take the win for this category. With his haunting and flirty characterization of killer Andrew Cunanan, Criss has proved himself far beyond his upbeat character on “Glee.” John Legend comes behind with a more mainstream following for his role in “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

– Maisy Menzies

Will win: Darren Criss, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”

Should win: Benedict Cumberbatch, “Patrick Melrose”

Could win: John Legend, “Jesus Christ Superstar”


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Brian Tyree Henry, “Atlanta”
  • Henry Winkler, “Barry”
  • Louie Anderson, “Baskets”
  • Alec Baldwin, “Saturday Night Live”
  • Kenan Thompson, “Saturday Night Live”
  • Tony Shalhoub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
  • Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

Most of the actors nominated for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series are veterans of the category. Alec Baldwin took home the award last year for his role as Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.” And this is Tituss Burgess’ fourth nomination for his role as Titus Andromedon on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” But this year, the Emmy will most likely go to an actor who has taken on a new character –– Henry Winkler. His role as the narcissistic, uncomfortably sexual acting coach Gene Cousineau on “Barry” is addictive and hysterical and will surely win him the award.

– Maisy Menzies

Will win: Henry Winkler, “Barry”

Should win: Henry Winkler, “Barry”

Could win: Titus Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

  • Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, “Game of Thrones”
  • Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”
  • Mandy Patinkin, “Homeland”
  • David Harbour, “Stranger Things”
  • Matt Smith, “The Crown”
  • Joseph Fiennes, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Mandy Patinkin, David Harbour — none of these names are new to this category of the Emmys. While these seasoned actors are deserving of nominations, Joseph Fiennes for his role of Commander Fred Waterford on “The Handmaid’s Tale” is deserving of the win. His haunting portrayal of the sinister and controlling head of house is quietly tormenting, sending chills down our spines with every line he whispers.

– Maisy Menzies

Will win: David Harbour, “Stranger Things”

Should win: Joseph Fiennes, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Could win: Matt Smith, “The Crown”


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Pamela Adlon, “Better Things”
  • Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
  • Allison Janney, “Mom”
  • Issa Rae, “Insecure”
  • Tracee Ellis Ross, “Black-ish”
  • Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”

With Rachel Brosnahan coming hot off of a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Television Award for her role as the effervescent, charismatic Mrs. Maisel and without incumbent Julia Louis-Dreyfus in contention to win her eighth consecutive Emmy for “Veep,” Brosnahan is a lock to win this category. That said, Issa Rae finally being recognized for “Insecure” may indicate that she is in favor with the voters.

– Julie Lim

Will win: Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Miss Maisel”

Should win: Issa Rae, “Insecure”

Could win: Issa Rae, “Insecure”


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  • Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”
  • Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black”
  • Keri Russell, “The Americans”
  • Claire Foy, “The Crown”
  • Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
  • Evan Rachel Wood, “Westworld”

Sandra Oh made Emmy history for being the first Asian woman to be nominated in this category for her role as MI6 agent Eve Polastri. As this is her sixth Emmy nomination, voters may be inclined to recognize her long-standing career in the television industry, but a lack of nominations for “Killing Eve” in other categories may hinder her chances. Even though Keri Russell finally being recognized in this category would be a proper send-off for her performance in “The Americans,” Elisabeth Moss’s performance as the long-suffering June Osborne in “The Handmaid’s Tale” continues to be praised in critiques of the show’s second season, making this Moss’s category to lose.

– Julie Lim

Will win: Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Should win: Keri Russell, “The Americans”

Could win: Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

  • Jessica Biel, “The Sinner”
  • Laura Dern, “The Tale”
  • Michelle Dockery, “Godless”
  • Edie Falco, “Law and Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders”
  • Regina King, “Seven Seconds”
  • Sarah Paulson, “American Horror Story: Cult”

Laura Dern has had a presence at the Emmys since 1992, and she finally won for her role as the overprotective Renata in “Big Little Lies” last year. She is likely to snag a second consecutive Emmy for her role as child sexual abuse survivor Jennifer Fox in “The Tale.” Jessica Biel’s performance as the distraught, amnesiac Cora in “The Sinner” highlighted the formerly comedic actress’s dark, dramatic acting chops, but Dern’s stellar performance, her cemented status as an Emmy darling and her take on a topically relevant film during the #MeToo movement make her a triple threat in this category.

– Julie Lim

Will win: Laura Dern, “The Tale

Should win: Laura Dern, “The Tale”

Could win: Jessica Biel, “The Sinner”


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Zazie Beetz, “Atlanta”
  • Laurie Metcalf, “Roseanne”
  • Betty Gilpin, “GLOW”
  • Aidy Bryant, “Saturday Night Live”
  • Leslie Jones, “Saturday Night Live”
  • Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”
  • Alex Borstein, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
  • Megan Mullally, “Will and Grace”

It’s a close call between newcomer Alex Borstein’s gruff but loyal portrayal of Susie Myerson and Kate McKinnon’s impressive portfolio of impressions, but voters with political satire fatigue may want to recognize longtime television fixture Borstein for a performance with more than just vocal chops. The real underdog here is Aidy Bryant, whose excellent comedic impressions are constantly overshadowed by her “Saturday Night Live” cohort.

– Julie Lim

Will win: Alex Borstein, “The Marvelous Miss Maisel”

Should win: Aidy Bryant, “Saturday Night Live”

Could win: Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

  • Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones”
  • Millie Bobby Brown, “Stranger Things”
  • Vanessa Kirby, “The Crown”
  • Ann Dowd, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
  • Yvonne Strahovski, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
  • Alexis Bledel, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
  • Thandie Newton, “Westworld”

“The Handmaid’s Tale” and its plethora of incredibly talented actresses dominate this category of nominations. Alexis Bledel received a win for her role on the show last year, but this year, she may be outshined by her co-star Yvonne Strahovski, whose role as dutiful housewife and closet intellectual Serena Waterford underwent captivating development this past season.

– Maisy Menzies

Will win: Yvonne Strahovski, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Should win: Yvonne Strahovski, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Could win: Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones”

Julie Lim covers television. Contact her at [email protected].
Maisy Menzies is the assistant arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected].