Emmys 2014 predictions: who should win?

Likely to win outstanding drama Emmy ... <i>Breaking Bad</i>.
Likely to win outstanding drama Emmy ... Breaking Bad.
A marriage in outstanding lead categories? Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are both likely winners for <i>House of Cards</i>.

A marriage in outstanding lead categories? Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are both likely winners for House of Cards.

Outstanding miniseries has to go to <i>Fargo</i>.

Outstanding miniseries has to go to Fargo.

Television's night of nights, the honour roll of the very best television has to offer, or simply a crapshoot that the studios, this year in particular, have started to cynically "game"? Depending on your perspective, the 66th annual Emmy Awards could be one of those, or all three.

With the lion's share of the awards shovelled into the grasping hands of Hollywood's best and brightest last week at the Creative Arts Emmys - a motherlode of almost 80 statuettes were handed out in four hours - all that remains are the 26 most hotly contested categories.

The leaner load means there's more room for commercial breaks, musical performances and the ubiquitous in memoriam segment, which, in a year marked by the loss of Robin Williams, James Garner, Casey Kasem and Ann B. Davis, among others, will be required viewing.

At the pointy end of the competition, studios, networks and newly minted streaming platforms are slugging it out to win.

But this year's Emmys come with a lot of baggage, chiefly an attempt by the studios to "game" the system by exploiting loopholes to give shows that wouldn't normally make the cut a shot at a win. The industry even found a buzz word for it - "category fraud".

Shameless and Orange is the New Black, both dramas, were submitted this year as comedies. The miniseries True Detective was submitted as a drama series. And the drama series Treme and Luther were submitted as miniseries.

Worse, the vice-like grip some older shows have on key categories has effectively blocked the entry of younger shows that have delivered series-best seasons, such as The Good Wife and Sons of Anarchy.

Other shows, such as Ray Donovan and The Walking Dead, have failed to place at all, leaving many scratching their heads in disbelief.

The reaction to the nominee list earlier this year was revealing: media analysis focused almost wholly on category fraud and the long list of brilliant TV shows that were overlooked.

It's all very well to say it's a matter of opinion, but when shows such as Ray Donovan and The Good Wife are overlooked in favour of Downton Abbey, something does not sit right.

"This isn't a new issue for the academy to face," the chief executive of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Bruce Rosenblum said. "Should we look and maybe define the rules more carefully? It's probably something we should take a look at."

"We need to be responsive to the way that the industry is evolving, to be reflective of the kinds of shows that are being produced ... not to respond to criticism, but respond to the evolution that's taking place in our business."


Outstanding Drama

Nominees: Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Mad Men, True Detective.

Last year's winner: Breaking Bad.

Who should win: The Good Wife, but of course, due to "category congestion" and bad judgment, it was not nominated.

Who should not win: House of Cards, because, frankly, season two just wasn't that good.

Who will probably win: Breaking Bad, which is OK, because it was pretty awesome.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Nominees: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Woody Harrelson (True Detective), Matthew McConaughey (True Detective), Kevin Spacey (House of Cards).

Last year's winner: Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom.

Who should win: Matthew McConaughey, so long as he doesn't make his speech in the third person.

Who should not win: Jeff Daniels. Seriously, what were they thinking?

Who will probably win: Kevin Spacey, because Emmy voters are still drinking the Netflix kool-aid.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Nominees: Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Claire Danes (Homeland), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Kerry Washington (Scandal), Robin Wright (House of Cards).

Last year's winner: Claire Danes, Homeland.

Who should win: Julianna Margulies, hands down, coming off her best year ever.

Who should not win: Claire Danes, coming off a choppy year for Homeland.

Who will probably win: Robin Wright, because she's probably the best thing in House of Cards.

Outstanding Comedy Series

Nominees: The Big Bang Theory, Louie, Modern Family, Orange is the New Black, Silicon Valley, Veep.

Last year's winner: Modern Family.

Who should win: Veep, easily the sharpest, most ruthless comedy on television.

Who should not win: Orange is the New Black; it's not a comedy, and no one should be rewarded for trying to game the Emmys.

Who will probably win: Orange is the New Black, because Netflix.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Louis C.K. (Louie), Don Cheadle (House of Lies), Ricky Gervais (Derek), Matt LeBlanc (Episodes), William H. Macy (Shameless), Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory).

Last year's winner: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory.

Who should win: Louis C.K., for delivering the most nuanced, fundamentally comic-tragic character on television.

Who should not win: William H. Macy. Shameless, a comedy? Please.

Who will probably win: Jim Parsons, because The Big Bang Theory has Emmy voters in its thrall.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Lena Dunham (Girls), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black).

Last year's winner: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep.

Who should win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, hands down. She's brilliant in Veep.

Who should not win: Taylor Schilling or Melissa McCarthy; neither is in the same league as the other nominees.

Who will probably win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for a third consecutive win.

Outstanding Miniseries

Nominees: American Horror Story: Coven, Bonnie & Clyde, Fargo, Luther, Treme, The White Queen.

Last year's winner: Behind The Candelabra*.

Who should win: Fargo, which was unequivocally the best new US drama of the year.

Who should not win: Anyone but Fargo. (Side note: Luther and Treme? Making a play for miniseries? After all these years?)

Who will win: Fargo, and deservedly so.

Outstanding Television Movie

Nominees: Killing Kennedy, Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, The Normal Heart, Sherlock: His Last Vow, The Trip to Bountiful.

Last year's winner:  Behind The Candelabra*.

Who should win: It's a fine line, but The Normal Heart, with emotional wallop, edges into the lead.

Who should not win: Sherlock. It's brilliant, but it's a great example of Emmy category creep.

Who will win: The Normal Heart, not because it's brilliant, but because Emmy voters are suckers for movie stars.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie

Nominees: Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dancing on the Edge), Martin Freeman (Fargo), Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo), Idris Elba (Luther), Mark Ruffalo (The Normal Heart), Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock).

Last year's winner: Michael Douglas, Behind The Candelabra.

Who should win: Martin Freeman or Billy Bob Thornton, or both; Fargo has already won the Emmy for casting in a miniseries.

Who should not win: Idris Elba or Benedict Cumberbatch; both programs are mis-categorised in an attempt to game the system.

Who will probably win: Too hard to split, Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton and Mark Ruffalo go in as equals.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie

Nominees: Jessica Lange (American Horror Story), Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story), Helena Bonham Carter (Burton and Taylor), Minnie Driver (Return to Zero), Kristen Wiig (The Spoils of Babylon), Cicely Tyson (The Trip To Bountiful).

Last year's winner: Laura Linney, The Big C.

Who should win: Fargo's Allison Tolman, who was so much more than a "supporting actress", a category she will almost certainly win.

Who should not win: Impossible to call; this is the most evenly spread category on the call sheet.

Who will probably win: Jessica Lange, because when they're bamboozled, Emmy voters lean towards old school star power.

*at last year's Emmys "outstanding miniseries or television movie" was a single category won by the television movie Behind The Candelabra.


Most nominated shows:

19 nominations: Game of Thrones

18 nominations: Fargo

17 nominations: American Horror Story: Coven

16 nominations: Breaking Bad, The Normal Heart

14 nominations: Saturday Night Live

13 nominations: House of Cards

12 nominations: Cosmos, DowntonAbbey, OrangeIs the New Black, Sherlock, TrueDetective

10 nominations: ModernFamily, TheVoice

Most nominated network/platform:

HBO: 99

CBS: 47

NBC: 46

FX Networks: 45

ABC: 37

PBS: 34

Netflix: 31

Fox: 30

This story Emmys 2014 predictions: who should win? first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.