VANITY FAIR - 2017 Emmy Nomination Predictions: Who Will Get a Nod This Year?
2017 Emmy Nomination Predictions: Who Will Get a Nod This Year?
Our best guesses before the nominations are announced Thursday.
This year’s Emmy race brings something we haven’t seen since 2010: a competition without Game of Thrones. Because the HBO juggernaut is premiering later than usual this year, its newest season will be ineligible for the TV industry’s greatest accolades until 2018—leaving a gaping vacuum in the drama categories that a horde of accomplished upstarts are ready to fill.
The drama category isn’t the only one with a fascinating Emmy future: a wider swath of fresh comedic voices could unseat one of network TV’s most venerable contenders. A gaggle of Oscar-winning heavyweights are all vying for the same coveted slots in the limited series or movie categories. And after a year that reignited the fire under late-night television, the variety talk category is overflowing with voices that deserve recognition.
Below, you’ll find our best guesses for who will get a coveted Emmy nod when the nominations are announced July 13. Game of Thrones may be out—but the race to rule awards season is very much on.
With the White Walkers and dragons of Game of Thrones ineligible this year, the most likely contender in this category does involve a throne. The Crown, Netflix’s lavish series about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, is the show to beat—but HBO likely won’t be left out of the competition. Either Westworld will earn a nomination for making such a splashy debut, or The Leftovers will for bowing out so gracefully. The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu’s so-relevant-it-hurts adaptation, feels like a sure thing alongside NBC’s new critically acclaimed and highly rated emotional family drama This Is Us.
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Justin Theroux, The Leftovers
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
If anything feels like a safe bet here, it’s Sterling K. Brown—who came out of thin air last year to make an unforgettable impression in The People vs. O.J. Simpson. Brown’s 2016 Emmy statue is probably about to get a matching 2017 one, thanks to his work holding down the most arresting and intense story line on the weepy NBC drama. But he’ll have some stiff competition from Justin Theroux—who did plenty of weeping himself on The Leftovers—and perennial Emmy fave Bob Odenkirk, who keeps inching closer to sticky moral compromise on Better Call Saul. While it seems unlikely that The Americans will make much of a showing in 2017, Rhys is the likeliest candidate to get the FX spy series some much-deserved recognition. And though Mr. Robot’s sophomore season was received with more of a whimper, it would be foolish to count out last year’s champ, Rami Malek. Sixth place dark horse contender? Liev Schreiber whose performance in Ray Donovan keeps getting the Television Academy’s attention.
The Crown is nothing without the head it rests upon—which, in this case, belongs to 2016 Golden Globe winner and easy Emmy favorite Claire Foy. But Foy may want to look out for Moss, who, despite seven nominations for her work on Mad Men and Top of the Lake, has never won an Emmy. Her simmering Handmaid’s rage may finally seal the deal. And both women should be wary of Carrie Coon, who might be nominated here as a nod to her work on both The Leftovers and Fargo. (She has less of a chance in the latter’s crowded limited-series category.) Evan Rachel Wood’s arresting debut as a murderous, vulnerable robot should earn her a nomination this year and, potentially, a win in the future. But if Davis wins, she’ll walk home with the on-screen acting triple crown for 2017: Golden Globe, Oscar, and Emmy.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA
John Lithgow, The Crown
Jared Harris, The Crown
Jeffrey Wright, Westworld
Michael McKean, Better Call Saul
Ron Cephas Jones, This Is Us
John Lithgow’s gruff, jowly, and ultimately tragic transformation into Winston Churchill makes him the leader in this race. But another Crown actor—poor, doomed Jared Harris—also made an indelible impression with far less screen time. Sterling K. Brown’s frequent scene partner Ron Cephas Jones makes for another strong contender, with Jeffrey Wright, the star of Westworld’s most shocking and existentially fraught plot twist, a favorite as well. And though it’s usually the great Jonathan Banks representing for Better Call Saul in this category, McKean’s scenery-chewing rise and fall in Season 3 is the performance most likely to be nominated.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
Winona Ryder, Stranger Things
Thandie Newton, Westworld
Vanessa Kirby, The Crown
Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale
This is another actress category that’s quite stacked—and if any of these talented women doesn’t land a nomination, there are several more candidates from each of their shows lined up to take a slot. Vanessa Kirby as the impetuous foil to Foy’s restrained monarch feels like a very solid option, with another newcomer, the very popular Chrissy Metz, well-positioned to take up slot number two. But the Television Academy isn’t as enamored with the new as the Golden Globes are, and loves rewarding actors who have been working a long time. Whether it’s Ryder with her Stranger Things comeback, Newton with her scene-stealing nudity, Dowd—a character actress who is long overdue—or all three, we’ll have to wait and see.
Could this be the year that stale old saw Modern Family, currently going into its ninth season, finally falls off the Emmys radar? Probably not—but let’s blue-sky this and assume that the Academy, overwhelmed with the riches of Peak TV, will show an appetite for a few slightly more exciting entries in 2017. There probably still won’t be enough support to get contenders like Fleabag, Dear White People, or The Good Place onto the shortlist, and the third season of Transparent—still transcendent, but slightly less zeitgeisty than the show’s first two outings—may be a casualty as well. But buzzy, topical Atlanta and Insecure should find themselves first-time nominees among a sea of repeat favorites, all of which will eventually be beaten by Veep.
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Aziz Ansari, Master of None
Hank Azaria, Brockmire
Donald Glover, Atlanta
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Expect a category that largely resembles last year’s, with two slight changes: Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch and The Last Man on Earth’s Will Forte, worthy but more under-the-radar this season than they were in 2016, will make way for Atlanta wunderkind Donald Glover, fresh off his Golden Globe win, and Hank Azaria, honorary winner of the Matt LeBlanc Award for Comedy Guy We Like in a Cable Show Nobody’s Really Watching, But We’ve Heard He’s Good in It.
Allison Janney, Mom
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Issa Rae, Insecure
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie
If there’s any justice, Phoebe Waller-Bridge will earn a much-deserved nod for Amazon’s Fleabag, the deliciously dark comedy she also created and wrote. It seems more likely, though, that only one multi-hyphenate will be given a nod in this crowded field—and that multi-hyphenate is probably the equally worthy Issa Rae, who seems like a lock for a nomination here even if Insecure fails to break into the comedy category itself. It’s a shame that the Emmy tendency toward repeat nominees will likely prevent other deserving candidates, like I Love Dick’s Kathryn Hahn and Better Things’ Pamela Adlon, from scoring come nomination day—but them’s the breaks.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY
Louie Anderson, Baskets
Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Tony Hale, Veep
Brian Tyree Henry, Atlanta
Here’s where things get interesting. Alec Baldwin is not technically a Saturday Night Live cast member—but he’s appeared as Donald Trump so many times this season that he’s ineligible for a guest actor Emmy. So if the TV Academy wants to award him for his Trump impression—and you know it does—it’ll have to slip the erstwhile 30 Rock star into supporting. He’ll be surrounded by repeat nominees plus, provided Atlanta hits with the TV Academy as well as we think it will, Brian Tyree Henry, who made a big impression as rising rapper Paper Boi. Timothy Simons from Veep could also sneak in if voters somehow decide they’re really and truly over Modern Family. (Could lingering Girls affection lead to a surprise nod for Andrew Rannells? Probably not, but it would be swell if it did.)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Gaby Hoffmann, Transparent
Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Judith Light, Transparent
Andrea Martin, Great News
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Rita Moreno, One Day at a Time
Thanks to Allison Janney moving into the lead category for this year’s awards and the demise of Getting On (sorry, Niecy Nash!), the field here is slightly more open than it has been in previous years—and a plethora of great performances could lead to another year with more nominees than usual, like 2013 (when there were seven actresses selected) or 2015 (when there were a whopping eight). That’s good news for Krakowski, Moreno, and especially Martin, the darkest horse on this list—though decades’ worth of goodwill should boost her even if her show isn’t as widely watched as those of her competitors. The Janney vacuum could also allow Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik to sneak back in, or even Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz—but as Moreno would say, let’s take things one day at a time.
The Wizard of Lies
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Black Mirror: San Junipero
Sherlock: The Lying Detective
An HBO movie directed by Barry Levinson and starring Robert De Niro andMichelle Pfeiffer is pretty much a lock for an Emmy nomination, so expect to see the Bernie Madoff tale Wizard of Lies in there, even if the film was tepidly received in May. Ditto for Henrietta Lacks, an HBO movie starring Oprah Winfrey. After that, things get a bit murkier—though it’s probably a safe bet that the standout installment of the third season of anthology series Black Mirror will get in there, as poignant and imaginative as it was. Provided voters view it as a standalone movie, and not just a mere episode, at least. Rounding out the likely five nominations are yet another Sherlock, and a tony PBS thing about British history. That’s all pretty typical Emmys fare these days.
The Night Of
Big Little Lies
Feud: Bette and Joan
Though there are five nominees listed here, this is likely only a two-series race. Will Emmy voters pick the critically beloved, highly watched miniseries about women going to war under a cruel patriarchy in the 1960s, or the critically beloved, highly watched miniseries about women going to war under a cruel patriarchy in the present day? No matter how the voting ultimately shakes out, both Feud and Big Little Lies will almost certainly be in contention, with the other three nominees essentially just there as filler.
ACTRESS, TV MOVIE/LIMITED SERIES
Jessica Lange, Feud: Bette and Joan
Susan Sarandon, Feud: Bette and Joan
Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies
Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies
Oprah Winfrey, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
In any other year, Oprah Winfrey would probably have a win already nailed down. But this is the year of Big Little Bette and Joan, so we’ve instead likely got a heated four-woman race to the Emmys stage—with Oprah left on the outside. We’ll mull over who will probably win later in the season, but for now we can be sure that all four leads of those lauded series will find themselves in heated contention.
ACTOR, TV MOVIE/LIMITED SERIES
Ewan McGregor, Fargo
Robert De Niro, The Wizard of Lies
Riz Ahmed, The Night Of
John Turturro, The Night Of
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Lying Detective
Geoffrey Rush, Genius
Ahmed, Turturro, and De Niro are veritable shoo-ins for their work in HBO projects, with Turturro positioned as something of a front-runner. Beyond that, things get a bit trickier. We have Cumberbatch in here because voting bodies have long been fans of the Sherlock series. But Jude Law, so commanding in HBO’s surreal religious drama The Young Pope, could sneak in there instead. He could also take Rush’s place, as Genius was not exactly the most-watched TV event of the year.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, TV MOVIE/LIMITED SERIES
Michelle Pfeiffer, The Wizard of Lies
Laura Dern, Big Little Lies
Judy Davis, Feud: Bette and Joan
Regina King, American Crime
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Roanoke
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Fargo
The Emmys are not without their surprises, and this year, one such pleasant twist could be Winstead scoring a nomination for her slow-build work on Fargo. If she’s overlooked, Kathy Bates could get in the mix for American Horror Story, or Shailene Woodley could for Big Little Lies. Though Woodley was a crucial part of that ensemble, she feels like less of a safe bet than her co-stars, because she’s younger and less familiar to the Academy. In the end, this is probably Dern’s to lose.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, TV MOVIE/LIMITED SERIES
Hank Azaria, The Wizard of Lies
Stanley Tucci, Feud: Bette and Joan
Alexander Skarsgård, Big Little Lies
Alfred Molina, Feud: Bette and Joan
Martin Freeman, Sherlock: The Lying Detective
Michael Stuhlbarg, Fargo
We’re thinking that the Academy is going to go big on The Wizard of Lies, a comfortingly traditional television movie in a sea of hard-to-define limited and anthology series. (Azaria has also been working in television for years and seems well-liked enough for the double nomination we’re predicting.) Tucci and Molina are beloved actors, so they’ll likely get nods as well. Skarsgård could be the dark horse here, for managing to find some find some humanity (albeit deeply troubling humanity) in a monstrous character.
Billy on the Street
Saturday Night Live
After its most vital year since the Sarah Palin era, this category may as well begin and end with Saturday Night Live—but with Amy Schumer and Key & Peele both out of the running, there’s a vacuum that could maybe, possibly propel Billy Eichner’s perpetually viral series into the big leagues. (The show got one previous nod in its earlier incarnation as a Funny or Die original.) That same spot could easily go to longtime Emmy darling Tracey Ullman for Tracey Ullman’s Show—but we’re rooting for Eichner, if only because his red-carpet interviews would be a sight.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
The Late Late Show with James Corden
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
There are more late-night shows now than ever before, which gives a jolt of energy to this traditionally snoozy category. (It wasn’t so long ago that Jon Stewart was in the midst of a 10-year winning streak.) Bill Maher’s Real Time or Jerry Seinfeld’sComedians in Cars Getting Coffee could sneak in somehow—the Emmys do love their 60-something white guys—but the six shows listed above are a nearly ideal Emmy mixture of biting commentary and silly escapism. If only there were one slot left for Seth Meyers.