66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards: Who Will Win? (Updated)

Author's Note: I've updated the post to include the winners. Some predictions went well! Some, not so much. I'll be reacting in the comments, so join me there as we complain about everyone who was wronged!

The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards will air this upcoming Monday, August 25, and I’m here to try and figure out who exactly will be leaving the Nokia Theater with some new mantelpiece material.

I feel it’s important to note that I have not seen every television series and miniseries that was nominated. If you feel I’m ignoring a nominee that will win, please direct your scorn to the comments, and I’ll be happy to discuss. As I’m sure my friends will attest, I can talk about this stuff  forever.

So let’s get started.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

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

Who I Want to Win: Robin Wright

Who Will Win: Kerry Washington

Who Won: Julianna Margulies

First things first, The Good Wife might have the single worst title in television history. While the series seems to be well-acted and well-written, the title turns me off more than watching Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey stare at Meechum like vultures eyeing their next meal.

Another interesting area to note regarding these characters is that all but one of them are traditional heroines, with the lone exception being Robin Wright’s Clare Underwood. All of the other actresses play good people, which is almost the complete opposite of the characters portrayed by the Lead Actor nominees.

Claire Danes has won two straight Emmys for her portrayal of Carrie Mathison, but after a weak third season, I don’t think she’ll make it a threepeat. Michelle Dockery has been nominated for the third straight year as well, but I don’t think Downton Abbey has enough pull to win this for her. And Lizzie Caplan has been delightful on Masters of Sex in a role I hope we see her in for years to come. There’s an Emmy in her future; I’m just not sure if it’ll be this soon.

For me, personally, Wright’s icy portrayal of Claire Underwood hit every note perfectly, and while Season 2 of House of Cards was much weaker than its first, it wasn’t because of her. I hope she wins.

But I think that Scandal, easily the most watched show of this group, will be thrown a well-deserved bone, and Kerry Washington will win, securing a big win for Big Cable in the process.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

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

Who I Want to Win: Bryan Cranston

Who Will Win: Bryan Cranston

Who Won: Bryan Cranston

I was ready to argue why Bryan Cranston doesn’t need another trophy to add to, what has to be at this point, his trophy house, but then I looked up his award history and learned that he hasn’t won this award since 2010. James Gandolfini might have made the anti-hero a successful telvision focal point, but Bryan Cranston perfected it. This Emmy would provide the perfect nightcap to the mesmerizing end that was Walter White.

I also need to discuss our two True Detective leading men, who I believe will inevitably cancel each other out. McConaughey’s Rust Cohle was definitely more likable than Harrelson’s Marty Hart, but both actors were so captivating that it’s impossible for me to say one of them deserves it over the other.

And Jon Hamm. Poor Jon Hamm, always the bridesmaid. Mad Men is currently in the middle of its yearlong hiatus between parts one and two of its final season, a la Breaking Bad last year. So that means Jon Hamm has one more year of eligibility before Don Draper retires (or jumps off a building or out of a plane), and it would be a true crime if he never wins an Emmy for this role. He better win next year.

I guess it’s relevant to note that Jeff Daniels won this award last year, somehow. I am not a fan of The Newsroom, or of Aaron Sorkin for that matter, and I have no shame in saying I don’t think he deserved it. He won’t win again. And while I do enjoy Kevin Spacey, like I mentioned before, House of Cards was weak this season. Too weak for him to win.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Nominees: Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey), Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey), Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Christine Baranski (The Good Wife).

Who I Want to Win: Lena Headey

Who Will Win: Christine Baranski

Who Won: Anna Gunn

I love Cersei Lannister. I’ve even gone as far as to defend her. I think Lena Heady’s performance is always spot on. Unfortunately, I don’t think she’ll win this year. But I do think she’ll win next year, but that’s because I’m cheating, and I know what storylines she has upcoming. If she handles them correctly, the award will be guaranteed. That’s all I’ll discuss for now, as to not spoil anything. I hope she wins this year, but you can write down a 2015 win right now, and I’ll sign it. It’s as good as gold.

I don’t know how Anna Gunn will be handled. Will Breaking Bad receive a complete sendoff where it wins everything it possibly could? I wouldn’t be surprised or too mad. But I think the eight-episode series finale of Breaking Bad that we’re judging from was all about Walter White, and as a result, the other characters were pushed to the side, Skyler White included. She deservedly won last year, but I think they’ll spread the wealth this year.

Maggie Smith has won this award twice for Downton Abbey, so I think she’s all set and not likely to win again. And as for Joanne Froggatt, I don’t think she’s a big enough name to win, plus Maggie Smith will take away most of the votes that Downton is likely to receive.

Christina Hendricks has been a mainstay on Mad Men, but this past season was not her strongest. That, combined with the fact that no Mad Men actor or actress has ever won an Emmy for their work on the show, makes me doubt Hendricks’s chances. (This is just plain wrong, by the way, and better be fixed next year.)

So that leaves Christine Baranski, and while I don’t watch The Good Wife, I do read up on it, and from all accounts, Baranski has been amazing. With one Emmy already under her belt, way back in 1995 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Cybill, as well as 11 other nominations, including five in a row for The Good Wife, I think it’s Baranski’s time.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nominees: Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), Jon Voight (Ray Donovan), Josh Charles (The Good Wife)

Who I Want to Win: Peter Dinklage

Who Will Win: Peter Dinklage

Who Won: Aaron Paul

If you watched Season 4 of Game of Thrones, then you know how amazing Peter Dinklage was as Tyrion Lannister. Already an Emmy winner from Season 1, this marks Dinklage’s fourth straight nomination, and hopefully his second win. Between the scene at Tyrion’s trial and his scenes in the black cells beneath King's Landing, Peter Dinklage owned this season, and he’ll be justly rewarded for it with another Emmy.

Aaron Paul is a tantalizing choice here, especially with Breaking Bad ending, but like I mentioned with Anna Gunn, this past season was all about Walter White. There just wasn’t too much Jesse. Here’s hoping something more substantial than Xbox commercials and racing movies are in Aaron Paul’s future, because he really was a treat to watch in Breaking Bad.

Jon Voight is an interesting choice here as well, especially after he surprised everyone in winning the 2013 Golden Globe for this very role. This marks the only nomination for Ray Donovan, and while I don’t think Voight will win, this wouldn’t particularly surprise me.

But if any of the remaining nominees win, I would be surprised. Mandy Patinkin was okay, just like this season of Homeland was just okay. Patinkin will be front and center in the next season, so we’ll see how that goes. As for Jim Carter and Josh Charles, while I cannot comment extensively on their roles, I still don’t think they will win, as Downton Abbey and The Good Wife seem to be notoriously good at earning nominations but rather bad at winning the award.

Outstanding Drama Series

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

Who I Want to Win: Game of Thrones

Who Will Win: Breaking Bad

Who Won: Breaking Bad

The only thing that can go against Breaking Bad here is that its season finale occurred so long ago, it might have well been out of mind by the time judging occurred. However, failure to reward this past season would be unacceptable. The way that the last eight episodes completely dominated the public spectrum is a testament to how great the series was. It’s rare that a series as respected and acclaimed as Breaking Bad can wrap itself up without irking some people. It’s a testament to Vince Gilligan’s writing that this never happened. Every week there were new predictions as to what would happen, and every week something completely unexpected occurred. I don’t know when we’ll be able to enjoy another run like Breaking Bad displayed this past season, but it’s not lost on me that we were able to experience greatness firsthand.

Mad Men was good this past year, continuing its run of greatness, but it’s won this award before in each of its first four seasons, and I don’t think it’s in the cards again right now.

My fandom gets in the way here with Game of Thrones. I also know that this past season is pretty much as good as it gets in terms of its storylines. That’s not to say the next few seasons will be worse, but they will certainly lack the suspenseful moments we experienced this season: the Purple Wedding, Oberyn vs. The Mountain, Tyrion’s Trial, Lysa Arryn’s fall, Battle of Castle Black, Brienne vs. the Hound, and everything else. I think Game of Thrones is too genre-specific to win this award, especially since its adult content keeps many viewers away, but dammit if it wasn’t fantastic this season.

House of Cards was mediocre in Season 2, and while I enjoy Kevin Spacey hamming it up just as much as the next guy, I don’t even think it deserved a nomination. Boardwalk Empire was much better this year. And from what I’ve heard, Hannibal and The Americans were both fantastic as well. House of Cards wasn’t even the best show on Netflix. (You'll read about my Orange Is the New Black love below.)

Regarding Downton Abbey, the idea of it winning is so preposterous that I don’t even know how to explain to you why it won’t. It just won’t.

That leaves True Detective, a show that in one fell swoop captured everyone’s attention and had them asking things like: Who is the green-haired spaghetti monster? What’s the deal with Marty’s daughter? And is Matthew McConaughey single? HBO boldly chose to enter True Detective as a Drama rather than a Miniseries, despite the fact that it will feature a completely new cast in Season 2. Had it been nominated as a Miniseries, True Detective would have won the Emmy walking away. Even though I think Breaking Bad will win this year, True Detective has the best chance of usurping the king. We’ll just have to wait and see if it imitates Robb Stark or Robert Baratheon.

Outstanding Comedy Series

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

Who I Want to Win: Orange is the New Black

Who Will Win: Veep

Who Won: Modern Family

As long as it’s not Modern Family again, I’ll be happy. It’s time to spread the wealth.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

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

Who I Want to Win: Taylor Schilling

Who Will Win: Taylor Schilling

Who Won: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

All of Orange Is the New Black’s nominations this year are for its first season, which centered heavily on Schilling’s character, Piper Chapman. This is her shot to win, and I think she gets it done.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

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

Who I Want to Win: Louis C.K.

Who Will Win: Louis C.K.

Who Won: Jim Parsons

Weirdly enough, I don’t watch any of these shows, so I’m not sure where this will go. I know Jim Parsons has won this award three out of the last four years, but I think it’ll go elsewhere this year. I’m between Louis C.K. and Don Cheadle, both of whom have been mainstays in this category for a few years now. It’s a coin flip for me, but I go with Louis C.K. for the sole fact that he writes, directs, produces, and edits his show, which is just impressive.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Allison Janney (Mom), Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is the New Black), Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), Anna Chlumsky (Veep)

Who I Want to Win: Kate Mulgrew

Who Will Win: Kate Mulgrew

Who Won: Allison Janney

In case you haven’t caught on by now, I’m all aboard the Orange Is the New Black train. It’s one of the best shows on television Netflix.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Adam Driver (Girls), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Ty Burrell (Modern Family), Fred Armisen (Portlandia), Tony Hale (Veep)

Who I Want to Win: Adam Driver

Who Will Win: Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Who Won: Ty Burrell

Jesse Tyler Ferguson must be the only member of Modern Family who hasn’t won an Emmy yet, so it’s time he gets one. He deserves it; the show is funny and his quirky humor stands out. But Adam Driver brings more to Girls than Ferguson does to his show. Driver is on the verge of a breakout, with a major villainous role in the upcoming Star Wars film set. I love Tony Hale, too, but he won last year, and I think these supporting actor awards are usually spread around amongst nominees.

Outstanding Miniseries

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

Who I Want to Win: Fargo

Who Will Win: Fargo

Who Won: Fargo

If you want reasons as to why Fargo will win, read this, where I’ve listed nine reasons why you should start watching Fargo immediately.

Outstanding Television Movie

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

Who I Want to Win: Sherlock: His Last Vow

Who Will Win: The Normal Heart

Who Won: The Normal Heart

The Normal Heart was a great film, and I wouldn’t be upset if it won, but it doesn’t compare to the enjoyment I get from watching Sherlock.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Television 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)

Who I Want to Win: Kristen Wiig

Who Will Win: Helena Bonham Carter

Who Won: Jessica Lange

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries of Television Movie

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

Who I Want to Win: All of them

Who Will Win: Benedict Cumberbatch

Who Won: Benedict Cumberbatch

Wow. This is a ridiculously talented group here. Both Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton were amazing in Fargo. Mark Ruffalo was powerful in The Normal Heart. I haven’t seen Luther or Dancing on the Edge, but I don’t need to watch those to know that Idris Elba and Chiwetel Ejiofor are talented actors.

But we’re in the middle of Cumberbatch-mania and he’s absolutely mesmerizing as Sherlock Holmes. But seriously, I’m happy wherever this goes.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Television Movie

Nominees: Frances Conroy (American Horror Story), Kathy Bates (American Horror Story), Angela Bassett (American Horror Story), Allison Tolman (Fargo), Ellen Burstyn (Flowers in the Attic), Julia Roberts (The Normal Heart)

Who I Want to Win: Allison Tolman

Who Will Win: Allison Tolman

Who Won: Kathy Bates

Allison Tolman was as much a lead character on Fargo as were Billy Bob Thornton or Martin Freeman. We saw a star break out and I hope she's rewarded with an Emmy. It's a shame we won't be seeing her next season, as Fargo will be traveling back to 1979.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie

Nominees: Colin Hanks (Fargo), Martin Freeman (Sherlock), Joe Mantello (The Normal Heart), Alfred Molina (The Normal Heart), Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart), Jim Parsons (The Normal Heart)

Who I Want to Win: Matt Bomer

Who Will Win: Matt Bomer

Who Won: Martin Freeman

Matt Bomer’s portrayal of Felix Turner in The Normal Heart called for more than just acting. He transformed his body as his character slowly fell victim to the AIDS virus. While he didn't dress in drag, Bomer's acting was very similar to Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club, and he won an Oscar for that.

It’s tough to immediately disqualify Colin Hanks and Martin Freeman, but I don’t think they can beat the actors from The Normal Heart, who I happen to rank in this order: Matt Bomer, Joe Mantello, Jim Parsons, Alfred Molina. Taylor Kitsch should have been nominated over Molina.


So that’s all the major categories. I decided not to discuss directing and writing categories because this article would have been double the length, and I’m sure you’re already tiring of my ramblings. However, if you would like to discuss the other categories, or tell me why I’m wrong regarding any of the categories above, please take to the comments. Let's also discuss who was the biggest snub, and why it was Pedro Pascal. I look forward to discussing this with you. Now maybe I’ll go start watching The Good Wife.

And here's one last thing. If you're a fan of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bryan Cranston, and Aaron Paul (Which if you're reading this, of course you are!), here's a video the three of them made parodying today's obsession with pawn shows, as well as the Emmys. Enjoy!


Joe Brosnan is an editor and writer for Criminal Element who graduated from Marist College. He spends his time obsessing equally over the Game of Thrones series and the New York Giants, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.


  1. Leslie Gilbert Elman

    Biggest snub = Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black for Oustanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

  2. Joe Brosnan

    Leslie, yes! I haven’t watched all of Orphan Black, but I’ve seen enough to know she’s amazing in it. All those roles!

  3. Clare 2e

    I like a lot of your picks, and a lot of what I’ve seen, but I have to salute Jessica Lange’s performance in the last season of American Horror Story– she took that character to some brutal places. She was vulnerable, awful, degraded, and still dangerous.

  4. Clare 2e

    In the Aftermath: Surprising wins for Skyler and Jesse! Though it was very good, I was a bit surprised Sherlock’s “His Last Vow” won, too (for writing, I should note) and the Cumberbatch and Freeman love there.

    I was happy, obviously, about Jessica Lange, because in a show that had its silly and infuriating aspects (I say, after having had to binge it anyway), she was so awful and awfully good.

    And score one, Joe, for another female character who was NO traditional heroine. The Supreme was eeeeeevil, and compelling and sympathetic nonetheless. I cared, even as I wished her dead.

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