In forty-eight hours or so, twelve months of programming and several more of campaigning come to a head, as Mindy Kaling and Carson Daly (for some reason) will announce the 2014 Emmy nominees from the Leonard H. Goldstone Theater at about 8:40 AM EST. The biggest back-slapping event in the TV calendar hasn't quite inspired the same kind of cottage industry as the Academy Awards, but at a point where television shows dominate the pop culture almost as much as movies (if not more so), the Emmys certainly become more and more important.
Which is not to say that they're necessarily a glorious occasion. The Television Academy can be surprisingly bold (they were giving awards to "Breaking Bad" from its first season, long before most of you got on board with the show), but they're also prone to giving awards to movie stars for turning up, partial to stodgy costume drama (*cough* "Downton Abbey"), and set in their ways. Quite often, voters seem to simply replicate their ballot from the year before, except where a show has come off the air or an actor has left a series.
Still, it's undoubtedly a huge and prestigious event, and ahead of the nominations on Thursday, and having already named a dozen performers we want nominated, we've put on our prognostication hats in an attempt to discover who'll be nominees, and who'll be out in the cold. Check back on Thursday morning to discover how we did, let us know your own predictions below, and you can watch the winners when the ceremony takes place on Monday, August 25th.
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or Movie
Matt Bomer - "The Normal Heart"
Martin Freeman - "Sherlock: His Last Vow"
John Goodman - "Dancing On The Edge"
Jim Parsons - "The Normal Heart"
Blair Underwood - The Trip To Bountiful
"Magic Mike" star Matt Bomer's drastic weight loss in "The Normal Heart" makes him the obvious frontrunner to win here, and if any of his co-stars join him (and Alfred Molina, Taylor Kitsch and Joe Mantello are both strong possibilities, with Molina also viable for "Return To Zero"), it'll be Emmy darling Jim Parsons: despite the brevity of his role, he got to show a dramatic side to his persona, and that's always worth something. Beyond that, Martin Freeman could be a nominee in both Lead and Supporting in Movie/Miniseries, but he's safest here with "Sherlock," having picked one up last time he was eligible too. Denis O'Hare got a nod the same year for "American Horror Story," but doesn't seem like to repeat for this year's "Coven," but John Goodman is a good bet for "Dancing On The Edge," which didn't make a huge impact, but voters like him, and in this Emmy division, it's the kind of import that always does well. For the fifth slot, some are tipping Frank Langella for Stephen Frears' "Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight," but given that most of the world has either forgotten or were never aware it existed, we're plumping for Blair Underwood in "The Trip To Bountiful," just because it feels like a more Emmy-ish pick.
If We Had A Vote: I'm in the minority by never quite falling for Bob Odenkirk's Saul on "Breaking Bad," but I thought he was really strong in "Fargo," as a baffled, slightly chauvinistic, but good-natured man totally unequipped for his job. The scene where he introduced his Sudanese foster child was one of the loveliest bits of acting I saw all year.
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or MovieAngela Bassett - "American Horror Story: Coven"
Kathy Bates - "American Horror Story: Coven"
Ellen Burstyn - "Flowers In The Attic"
Julia Roberts - "The Normal Heart"
Allison Tolman - "Fargo"
As with the male equivalent, this is pretty much wrapped in a bow and given to the star of "The Normal Heart"—Julia Roberts is the biggest name in the category, and voters are surely champing at the bit to award her, not least for something as high-profile and issues-driven as that film. Beyond that, "American Horror Story" picked up three nominations in the last two years in this category, and we'd wager they'll add two more, with big names Kathy Bates (nominated four times in this category previously) and Angela Bassett likely to be honored for their scenery-chewing (Bassett's a longer shot, but both should figure in). Beyond that, there are three strong potentials for two slots. Ellen Burstyn managed an Emmy nomination for a 14-second performance once (for 2006's "Mrs. Harris"), so she shouldn't have much trouble getting one for "Flowers In The Attic" this time around, even having won this award last year for "Political Animals". Then, it's the question of the big name against the newcomer: Jacqueline Bisset won acclaim for her turn in "Dancing On The Edge," but we think (and hope) that the buzz behind the relatively little-known Alison Tolman's great performance in "Fargo" will win out here. But don't rule out Janet McTeer in "The White Queen" as a potential surprise.
If We Had A Vote: Tolman, for sure, as I expressed previously. I wouldn't be against some recognition for Melissa Leo's performance in "Treme" either.
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or MovieBenedict Cumberbatch - "Sherlock: His Last Vow"
Chiwetel Ejiofor - "Dancing On The Edge"
Martin Freeman - "Fargo"
Mark Ruffalo - "The Normal Heart"
Billy Bob Thornton - "Fargo"
As has been the case for a while, this is likely to be movie-star heavy category this year, and certainly a competitive one. Despite the dominance of "The Normal Heart" elsewhere, Mark Ruffalo isn't the frontrunner to win, though he is a lock for a nomination. Instead, Billy Bob Thornton's villainous turn on "Fargo" is probably in pole position here. With two nominations in the last two years, Benedict Cumberbatch should get a third this year, for "Sherlock: His Last Vow." Idris Elba also has two prior nods, for the first two series of "Luther," but we have a feeling he might be beaten to the nod this time by fellow Brit Chiwetel Ejiofor, whose Oscar buzz will help his profile with "Dancing On The Edge." For the fifth slot, our money's on Cumberbatch and Thornton's co-star Martin Freeman, with a second nod for "Fargo," but there are some other possibilities here too alongside Elba: Rob Lowe for "Killing Kennedy," Dominic West for "Burton & Taylor," or Emile Hirsch for "Bonnie & Clyde."
If We Had A Vote: Idris Elba. The third season of "Luther" felt like a step down, but Elba's always been titanic in what could be a generic creation.
Outstanding Actress In A Miniseries Or Movie
Helena Bonham Carter - "Burton & Taylor"
Rebecca Ferguson - "The White Queen"
Jessica Lange - "American Horror Story: Coven"
Sarah Paulson - "American Horror Story: Coven"
Cicely Tyson - "The Trip To Bountiful"
Two things are certain here: Jessica Lange will be nominated once again for her work in "American Horror Story," and Emmy favorite Cicely Tyson will join her, and likely beat her, for "The Trip To Bountiful." Beyond that, Helena Bonham Carter seems like a good bet for her portrayal of superstar Elizabeth Taylor in "Burton & Taylor." After that, things become murkier: Toni Colette might find a way to salvage something from the total mess of "Hostages" with a nomination, while Minnie Driver might figure in for "Return To Zero," or Whoopi Goldberg for "A Day Late And A Dollar Short" (no, we hadn't heard of either before). But our money's on "The White Queen" lead Rebecca Ferguson and Lange's co-star Sarah Paulson grabbing the remaining slots here.
If We Had A Vote: I'd probably abstain. Or vote for Alison Tolman again, because really, she was the lead of "Fargo."
Outstanding TV Movie
"The Normal Heart"
"Return To Zero"
"Sherlock: His Last Vow"
"The Trip To Bountiful"
The category was re-divided this year with the re-emergence of the miniseries in the last few years (having been united only in 2011), which unfortunately leaves rather slim pickings in this category. "The Normal Heart" is, as you may have picked up by now, the no-brainer winner: its only serious competition would be "Sherlock" (which opted to submit as a TV movie rather than a miniseries, despite there being three of them), but it doesn't have a hope of defeating Ryan Murphy's film. Beyond that, there are a few serious contenders, but over "Muhammad Ali's Final Fight," "Burton & Taylor," and the unintentionally Lol-tastic "Killing Kennedy," we'd certainly put "The Trip To Bountiful," and possibly the Minnie Driver-starring Lifetime movie "Return To Zero." And, while no one seemed to like it very much, Greg Mottola's star-studded "Curb Your Enthusiasm" stopgap "Clear History" should grab the fifth slot from name recognition alone.
If We Had A Vote: "An Adventure In Space And Time," a loving and touching recreation of the genesis of "Doctor Who." The show managed to pick up several TCA nods, but doesn't have a high enough profile to figure in here, which is a shame.
"American Horror Story: Coven"
"Dancing On The Edge"
"The White Queen"
This one's an easier pick than the TV Movie category: "Fargo" is a dead cert (and likely winner), while "American Horror Story" should continue a clean sweep of nominations in this category with "Coven" joining "Murder House" and "Asylum," especially given the new division. "Luther" managed a nod two years ago, and should do the same again, while "Dancing On The Edge" has the right sort of Downton-ish prestige factor to get in as well. As for the fifth slot, "Bonnie & Clyde" has a thin chance, but it'll probably come down to a battle between two period dramas: all-star Shakespeare adaptation "The Hollow Crown," and Starz/BBC co-production "The White Queen." The former has more prestige, and the latter only mixed reviews, but its mix of class and bodice-ripping feels more likely to pick up Emmy votes.
If We Had A Vote: Sean Durkin's superb "Southcliffe" isn't yet eligible, having not aired in the U.S, so I'd love to see IFC's "The Spoils Of Babylon" in its place. I wasn't totally crazy about the series, but it'd be fun to see such a bare-faced parody among the more serious fare if nothing else.
Click to the next page for the Comedy races.