2017 Emmy Awards Predictions


The 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be doled out this evening, honoring the best television had to offer in the 2016-2017 season. With "Game of Thrones" sitting this year out (it's most recent season will be Emmy eligible at next year's awards), there's a lot of new blood in the Drama categories - and Best Drama Series is possibly the most competitive and unpredictable it has ever been! That said, the Emmys also like to turn on the autopilot, so there should be a handful of repeat winners to counteract all the newness.

I've watched more scripted TV in the past year than any other (36 complete seasons of eligible shows - yikes), but that won't help me one bit with my predictions! Below are my picks for who and what might take home a golden trophy tonight in the rumored order the 27 categories are to be presented in. Stephen Colbert hosts this year's soiree, which will air live on CBS beginning at 8pm ET, and don't forget to mix a few cocktails and follow along with our commentary on Twitter all evening @CineMunch.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks, "Better Call Saul"
David Harbour, "Stranger Things"
Ron Cephas Jones, "This Is Us"
Michael Kelly, "House of Cards"
√ John Lithgow, "The Crown"
Mandy Patinkin, "Homeland"
Jeffrey Wright, "Westworld"

     Lithgow is a well-loved veteran (he has five previous Emmys) who plays Winston Churchill in an expensive and admired series. That should be enough to add up to a win, but Ron Cephas Jones's touching performance on tearjerker "This Is Us" could spoil. The Emmys don't always award worthy performers in the correct year though, so perhaps Jonathan Banks or Mandy Patinkin finally win for their respective roles.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Vanessa Bayer, "Saturday Night Live"
Anna Chlumsky, "Veep"
Kathryn Hahn, "Transparent"
Leslie Jones, "Saturday Night Live"
Judith Light, "Transparent"
√ Kate McKinnon, "Saturday Night Live"

     If voters have seen the third season of "Transparent" (and it's possible not enough of them did, as the series missed out on a Best Comedy Series nomination), then it'd be hard to deny Judith Light's season-ending performance of Alanis Morissette's "Hand in My Pocket" any and all awards. Alas, McKinnon likely wins again, though vote-splitting among the "SNL" and "Transparent" ladies might pave the way for five-time nominee Chlumsky.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Judy Davis, "Feud: Bette and Joan"
√ Laura Dern, "Big Little Lies"
Jackie Hoffman, "Feud: Bette and Joan"
Regina King, "American Crime"
Michelle Pfeiffer, "The Wizard of Lies"
Shailene Woodley, "Big Little Lies"

     It'd be unwise to ignore Regina King, who has won this award the previous two years, but this has to be Laura Dern's year, right? All of the hats Judy Davis wore in "Feud" might be Emmy-worthy, but Dern should finally prevail on her sixth nomination.

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
√ "Atlanta" -- "B.A.N." (Donald Glover)
"Silicon Valley" -- "Intellectual Property" (Jamie Babbit)
"Silicon Valley" -- "Server Error" (Mike Judge)
"Veep" -- "Blurb" (Morgan Sackett)
"Veep" -- "Justice" (Dale Stern)
"Veep" -- "Groundbreaking" (David Mandel)

     Lots of strong work, but I'm guessing vote-splitting pushes "Atlanta"'s best episode to the top.

Outstanding 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)

     "SNL" had a strong and successful election season that should be rewarded here - it would be its first Variety Series win since 1993.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
"The Americans" -- "The Soviet Division" (Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg)
"Better Call Saul" -- "Chicanery" (Gordon Smith)
"The Crown" -- "Assassins" (Peter Morgan)
√ "The Handmaid's Tale" -- "Offred" (Bruce Miller)
"Stranger Things" -- "Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers" (The Duffer Brothers)
"Westworld" -- "The Bicameral Mind" (Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan)

     "The Americans" is happiest just to be nominated, but any of the others could win.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Louie Anderson, "Baskets"
√ Alec Baldwin, "Saturday Night Live"
Tituss Burgess, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"
Ty Burrell, "Modern Family"
Tony Hale, "Veep"
Matt Walsh, "Veep"

     It's possible voters might feel inclined not to vote for an actor who isn't even cast member of his nominated series (Baldwin appeared in too many episodes of "SNL" last season to contend in the Guest Actor category, hence his placement here), but Baldwin's Trump is probably too big a cultural touchstone to lose. Otherwise, look for a Hale or Anderson repeat, or possibly a surprise overdue victory for Tituss Burgess.

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special
√ "Big Little Lies" (Jean-Marc Vallée)
"Fargo" -- "The Law of Vacant Places" (Noah Hawley)
"Feud: Bette and Joan" -- "And the Winner Is...(The Oscars of 1963)" (Ryan Murphy)
"Genius" -- "Einstein: Chapter One" (Ron Howard)
"The Night Of" -- "The Art of War" (James Marsh)
"The Night Of" -- "The Beach" (Steve Zaillian)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Bill Camp, "The Night Of"
Alfred Molina, "Feud: Bette and Joan"
√ Alexander Skarsgård, "Big Little Lies"
David Thewlis, "Fargo"
Stanley Tucci, "Feud: Bette and Joan"
Michael K. Williams, "The Night Of"

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series
"Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" (TBS)
√ "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" (HBO)
"Late Night with Seth Meyers" (NBC)
"The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" (CBS)
"Saturday Night Live" (NBC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Uzo Aduba, "Orange is the New Black"
Millie Bobby Brown, "Stranger Things"
Ann Dowd, "The Handmaid's Tale"
√ Chrissy Metz, "This Is Us"
Thandie Newton, "Westworld"
Samira Wiley, "The Handmaid's Tale"

     Thandie Newton deserves this award, full stop, and she's considered the frontrunner by most, but I have a feeling the sentimental pull of "This Is Us" earns Metz a narrow victory. Watch out for Millie Bobby Brown, though.

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
"Atlanta" -- "B.A.N." (Donald Glover)
"Atlanta" -- "Streets on Lock" (Stephen Glover)
√ "Master of None" -- "Thanksgiving" (Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe)
"Silicon Valley" -- "Success Failure" (Alec Berg)
"Veep" -- "Georgia" (Billy Kimball)
"Veep" -- "Groundbreaking" (David Mandel)

     "Master of None" won this category for a much buzzed about episode last year, and I'd expect Ansari to repeat this year (especially if the "Veep" and "Atlanta" episodes pull votes from each other). If not, I'd say Donald Glover takes this one.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
"The Amazing Race" (CBS)
"American Ninja Warrior" (NBC)
"Project Runway" (Lifetime)
√ "RuPaul's Drag Race" (VH1)
"Top Chef" (Bravo)
"The Voice" (NBC)

     Most likely "The Voice" repeats (or even ten-time winner "The Amazing Race"), but I'm pulling for "Drag Race" to take it on its first (overdue) nomination.

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
"Better Call Saul" -- "Witness" (Vince Gilligan)
√ "The Crown" -- "Hyde Park Corner" (Stephen Daldry)
"The Handmaid's Tale" -- "Offred" (Reed Morano)
"The Handmaid's Tale" -- "The Bridge" (Kate Dennis)
"Homeland" -- "America First" (Lesli Linka Glatter)
"Stranger Things" -- "Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers" (The Duffer Brothers)
"Westworld" -- "The Bicameral Mind" (Jonathan Nolan)

     Throw a dart blindfolded to determine a winner here as I could see any of these seven winning. "Offred" or the "Stranger Things" episode seem to be out front with most prognosticators (and for good reason), but I have a suspicion "The Crown" takes either Writing or Directing, so I'll predict it here.

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special
√ "Big Little Lies" (David E. Kelley)
"Black Mirror" -- "San Junipero" (Charlie Brooker)
"Fargo" -- "The Law of Vacant Places" (Noah Hawley)
"Feud: Bette and Joan" -- "And the Winner Is...(The Oscars of 1963)" (Ryan Murphy)
"Feud: Bette and Joan" -- "Pilot" (Jaffe Cohen, Michael Zam, and Ryan Murphy)
"The Night Of" -- "The Call of the Wild" (Richard Price and Steve Zaillian)

Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series
"Drunk History" (Jeremy Konner and Derek Waters)
"Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (Andy Fisher)
"Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" (Paul Pennolino)
"The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" (Jim Hoskinson)
√ "Saturday Night Live" (Don Roy King)

Outstanding Variety Talk Series
"Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" (TBS)
"Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (ABC)
√ "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" (HBO)
"The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" (CBS)
"Late Late Show with James Corden" (CBS)
"Real Time with Bill Maher" (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson, "black-ish"
Aziz Ansari, "Master of None"
Zach Galifianakis, "Baskets"
Donald Glover, "Atlanta"
William H. Macy, "Shameless"
√ Jeffrey Tambor, "Transparent"

     This should be a Glover vs. Tambor showdown, and I suspect it will be close. I had been predicting Glover for months (as have most others), but I'm making a last-minute switch to say Tambor three-peats.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Pamela Adlon, "Better Things"
Jane Fonda, "Grace and Frankie"
Allison Janney, "Mom"
Ellie Kemper, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"
√ Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"
Tracee Ellis Ross, "black-ish"
Lily Tomlin, "Grace & Frankie"

     Will Louis-Dreyfus win her sixth-in-a-row Emmy for "Veep"? I don't see why not - she is an actual comedic genius who somehow, despite heavy competition, continues to deserve this award every single year. Ross and Tomlin have paths to victory, but if there's a Louis-Dreyfus upset, I'd bet it's Emmy favorite Allison Janney, competing in Lead Actress for the first time after having won Supporting Actress twice for this same role.

Outstanding Comedy Series
"Atlanta" (FX)
"black-ish" (ABC)
"Master of None" (Netflix)
"Modern Family" (ABC)
"Silicon Valley" (HBO)
"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (Netflix)
√ "Veep" (HBO)

     Despite a weaker than usual season (though the bar has been set quite high), this is still "Veep"'s to lose.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Riz Ahmed, "The Night Of"
Benedict Cumberbatch, "Sherlock: The Lying Detective"
√ Robert De Niro, "The Wizard of Lies"
Ewan McGregor, "Fargo"
Geoffrey Rush, "Genius"
John Turturro, "The Night Of"

     Riz Ahmed and John Turturro are giving widely acclaimed performances in a better respected show than some of their fellow nominees, but I suspect they might eat into the other's vote total and allow another contender to come up the middle. "The Wizard of Lies" was not quite the slam dunk HBO hoped for, but De Niro (with his first Emmy nomination) is an acting legend who may benefit from lazy voting.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Carrie Coon, "Fargo"
Felicity Huffman, "American Crime"
√ Nicole Kidman, "Big Little Lies"
Jessica Lange, "Feud: Bette and Joan"
Susan Sarandon, "Feud: Bette and Joan"
Reese Witherspoon, "Big Little Lies"

     This year's most stacked category - four Best Actress Oscar winners and not even Oprah could secure a nomination! Lange would be an uninspired choice, in my opinion, and more vote splitting could see a surprise win for the incredible Carrie Coon, but this should rightfully be Kidman's first Emmy triumph.

Outstanding Television Movie
"Black Mirror: San Junipero" (Netflix)
"Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love" (NBC)
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" (HBO)
"Sherlock: The Lying Detective" (PBS)
√ "The Wizard of Lies" (HBO)

     "Sherlock" could win again, while "Black Mirror" seems to have the edge in this race, but with both actually being single episodes of a larger series submitted as one TV movie, I think enough voters might opt for the more traditional "Wizard of Lies".

Outstanding Limited Series
√ "Big Little Lies" (HBO)
"Fargo" (FX)
"Feud: Bette and Joan" (FX)
"Genius" (Nat Geo)
"The Night Of" (HBO)

     As you can see, I'm forecasting a "Big Little Lies" sweep - an unlikely scenario, though even if it misses out in most of the other Limited Series categories, it should nab this one. It faces some tough competitors though, namely "The Night Of" and "Feud".

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
√ Sterling K. Brown, "This Is Us"
Anthony Hopkins, "Westworld"
Bob Odenkirk, "Better Call Saul"
Matthew Rhys, "The Americans"
Liev Schreiber, "Ray Donovan"
Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards"
Milo Ventimiglia, "This Is Us"

     Brown burst onto the scene last year in his Emmy winning role in "The People v OJ Simpson" and was able to immediately follow that up with a leading role on one of the year's buzziest new shows. He's not a lock, but I also don't see him losing. Bob Odenkirk is the next most likely, I'd guess.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Viola Davis, "How to Get Away With Murder"
Claire Foy, "The Crown"
√ Elisabeth Moss, "The Handmaid's Tale"
Keri Russell, "The Americans"
Evan Rachel Wood, "Westworld"
Robin Wright, "House of Cards"

     I'm rooting loudly for Wood (followed by Russell and Wright), but this comes down to Moss or Foy. Foy won the Golden Globe and the SAG earlier this year, but that was before "Handmaid's Tale" with seven-time Emmy nominee Moss debuted. After six losses for "Mad Men", Moss is poised to finally take an Emmy home.

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)

     The biggest award of the night is excitingly also the most unpredictable. The only two programs in this race that have been nominated previously ("House of Cards" and "Better Call Saul") are just happy with the nomination this time around. "Westworld" and "The Crown" have passionate fan bases, but not likely enough to topple one of the remaining three first-year series. Most see this as a battle between "Stranger Things" and "The Handmaid's Tale", but the fact that no series (Drama, Comedy, or otherwise) from a streaming network has won a Best Series Emmy gives me pause. The television academy has proven slow to embrace change in the past (especially as the TV landscape continues to evolve), so it might be hard to overlook such a critically, commercially, and culturally successful broadcast network show as the emotional "This Is Us" when it's right there in front of you.