FINAL EMMY PREDICTIONS 2012 - Drama

With the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards set to take place on Sunday, September 23, now's the time to start making projections in the major categories.


As I did last year, I've watched ALL of the submitted episodes. Some categories seem like foregone conclusions (Drama Series, Actor, Actress), but, the Emmys have a tendency to throw in a few curveballs (remember last year's winners Kyle Chandler and Peter Dinklage?).


Based on what I've seen (and how I imagine voters will make their selections), here are my predictions (in order of probability) for which shows and stars will likely walk home with awards in the drama field. . .




1. MAD MEN - It's the critical darling that could set a record for most consecutive Drama Series wins, and based on the six episodes submitted for consideration (Signal 30; Far Away Places; At the Codfish Ball; The Other Woman; Commissions and Fees; The Phantom), it's set to do just that. Personally, I found the show's fifth season to be frustratingly inconsistent, although "The Other Woman" and "Commissions and Fees" were brilliant. However, I also thought last season saw a sharp drop in quality, and we all know how that turned out.


2. DOWNTON ABBEY - It's popular, many of its cast members are nominated, it triumphed in the miniseries category last year and, most importantly, Emmy voters love them some Brits.




3. BREAKING BAD - The fourth season wasn't nearly as addictive as the third, but the finale alone was a fine piece of primetime television. Many feel it's due for a Drama Series win.



4. HOMELAND - While the Critics' Choice and Golden Globe wins were helpful, a lot of its buzz has died down considerably. It's a good show knocking on the door of greatness, but it's not quite there yet.


5. BOARDWALK EMPIRE - Last year seemed like a better time to dethrone MAD MEN. Outside of "To the Lost," there weren't too many memorable episodes.





6. GAME OF THRONES - Most seemed less jazzed about the second season. The lack of nominations in the directing and writing categories hurt quite a bit.







"Crawl Space"
"Crawl Space"

1. Bryan Cranston (BREAKING BAD): It might seem a little boring for the same guy to keep winning every time he's up, but that's just a testament to his program's writing and, of course, his acting. As much as I would personally like to see new winners here, I can't argue with Cranston repeating for a fourth time. He's fantastic on the show, and he submitted the absolute best episode. As soon as Walter started laughing uncontrollably, the Emmy became Cranston's to lose. Plus, his biggest competition (BOSS's Kelsey Grammer) wasn't even nominated.


"The Other Woman"
"The Other Woman"

2. Jon Hamm (MAD MEN): He's overdue, but if he couldn't win last year with a terrific episode submission ("The Suitcase") and no Cranston in sight, can he really do it now?



"Marine One"
"Marine One"

3. Damian Lewis (HOMELAND): The double life aspect of his character could work in his favor, but Cranston and Hamm have juicier scenes.

"Two Boats and a Lifeguard"
"Two Boats and a Lifeguard"

4. Steve Buscemi (BOARDWALK EMPIRE): As he did last year, Buscemi didn't pick the best episode for submission. In fact, outside of one crying scene, you don't really remember him. Michael Pitt is the one who steals the show.

"Episode 7"
"Episode 7"

5. Hugh Bonneville (DOWNTON ABBEY): The nomination is more of a testament to how much the voters love his show, not his performance. A win would be a major upset.

"Nebraska"
"Nebraska"

6. Michael C. Hall (DEXTER): Considering how poorly received the show's sixth season was, no one was expecting this. The nomination is the award.









"The Vest"
"The Vest"

1. Claire Danes (HOMELAND): It's hers to lose. Playing a schizophrenic CIA operations officer just sounds like awards bait. Additionally, she doesn't seem to have much competition. None of the other ladies knocked their roles out of the park.


"Parenting Made Easy"
"Parenting Made Easy"

2. Julianna Margulies (THE GOOD WIFE): She's good, although she doesn't have the flashy tear-jerker scene (a la "In Sickness") that won her this trophy last year. It's a very understated performance.

"I've Done Way Too Much For This Girl"
"I've Done Way Too Much For This Girl"

3. Glenn Close (DAMAGES): Even if DAMAGES has lost a lot of its luster, Close is still plenty engaging. Her hold over this category has already passed, however.


"Onward and Upward"
"Onward and Upward"

4. Kathy Bates (HARRY'S LAW): Showing a normally tough character's vulnerable side is always a great way to impress voters. Still, it's hard to see her making it in ahead of the aforementioned three.

"The Other Woman"
"The Other Woman"

5. Elisabeth Moss (MAD MEN): She shares a great scene with Hamm. Outside of that, Christina Hendricks gives the most memorable performance. Like Margulies, this submission is more subdued than last year's.

"Episode 7"
"Episode 7"

6. Michelle Dockery (DOWNTON ABBEY): She's one of the few DOWNTON actors who actually stands out in this episode. That being said, it's still not the kind of performance you expect to see picking up any awards.







"Hermanos"
"Hermanos"

1. Giancarlo Esposito (BREAKING BAD): A few things work in his favor. First, he's terrific in the episode he submitted. Second, he's terrific in EVERY episode from the show's fourth season. Third, there's been a new winner in this category for the past 16 years. Frankly, he deserves to win.


"End Times"
"End Times"

2. Aaron Paul (BREAKING BAD): If anyone deserves to beat Esposito (and, ultimately, buck the new winner trend), it's his co-star. He had plenty to choose from this past season, and he made a smart choice. The standoff between Walt and Jesse in the living room is phenomenal.

"Commissions and Fees"
"Commissions and Fees"

3. Jared Harris (MAD MEN): He's fantastic in the fifth season's penultimate episode, in addition to "Signal 30" (one of the Drama Series submissions), where he challenges Pete Campbell to a fight. No one really gave much thought to the idea of Peter Dinklage sneaking in last year. Harris could easily pull off a similar feat.

"Blackwater"
"Blackwater"

4. Peter Dinklage (GAME OF THRONES): Speaking of Dinklage, last year's winner in this category probably shouldn't expect a repeat this time around. He's not quite as funny or compelling in the show's second season.

"Episode 2"
"Episode 2"

5. Jim Carter (DOWNTON ABBEY): Carter's one of the most lovable characters from the series. Nevertheless, he doesn't shine enough to pull off a major upset.

"Episode 7"
"Episode 7"

6. Brendan Coyle (DOWNTON ABBEY): Like Carter, he's likable, but he has even less material to work with, especially in the episode he submitted, where he's overshadowed by Dockery and Joanne Froggatt.








"Episode 1"
"Episode 1"

1. Maggie Smith (DOWNTON ABBEY): Truthfully, she probably shouldn't win. The fact that her character is baffled by even the simplest of objects (chairs, plants, etc.) gets old fast. But she's the kind of veteran voters love to honor whenever they can. Additionally, despite its many nominations, this is actually one of the few areas where DOWNTON ABBEY seems likely to score a win.


"The Other Woman"
"The Other Woman"

2. Christina Hendricks (MAD MEN): She should win, but many of us believed she had this in the bag two years ago when she submitted "Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency." The competition is nowhere near as fierce this time around, but Emmy voters seem to have a hard time honoring MAD MEN's cast members, even whey they deserve it.

"Episode 7"
"Episode 7"

3. Joanne Froggatt (DOWNTON ABBEY): She actually stands out in her episode more than Smith does in hers. Nevertheless, it's not a flashy performance, and that works against a relative unknown.

"Alienation of Affection"
"Alienation of Affection"

4. Christine Baranski (THE GOOD WIFE): She's always fun to watch, and she actually submitted a decent episode this time. Still, her performance doesn't knock you out.

"Cornered"
"Cornered"

5. Anna Gunn (BREAKING BAD): She has one of the best lines from last year ("Someone has to protect this family from the man who protects his family"), and based on what we saw in Season 5, she'll be back. Most of her scenes with Cranston, however, tip in favor of his performance, not hers.

"The Dream Team"
"The Dream Team"

6. Archie Panjabi (THE GOOD WIFE): Compared to what we've seen from her in previous years, Panjabi's damn near invisible this time around. Outside of breaking through a wall, Kalinda isn't given much to do in the submitted episode (or the third season as a whole.)






"Marthas and Caitlins"
"Marthas and Caitlins"

1. Dylan Baker (THE GOOD WIFE): A well-respected character actor gets to sink his teeth into a role he clearly had fun with? That can only be good news. Baker's been nominated for this role in the past, and this time, he has less competition. While it wouldn't necessarily be a surprise if he lost, his stature in the film and television industry, along with Colin Sweeney's playful, sinister nature, put him squarely in the driver's seat.


"Coalition"
"Coalition"

2. Jeremy Davies (JUSTIFIED): Davies is always fantastic as Dickie Bennett. Many felt he deserved this award last year. "Reckoning" was a showier performance, but he's still got some memorable scenes in the episode he submitted.

"Face Off"
"Face Off"

3. Mark Margolis (BREAKING BAD): Great to see him recognized for his silent, occasionally funny work. It's because he doesn't actually speak, however, that a win may elude him.

"Parenting Made Easy"
"Parenting Made Easy"

4. Michael J. Fox (THE GOOD WIFE): Normally, whenever Fox's name is in the mix, he's a viable threat. This time, it's the other guest performer from THE GOOD WIFE who turns in a much more memorable performance. It's not all bad news, though. Fox is still nominated for his work in the comedy arena, where he has better odds.

"Dark Shadows"
"Dark Shadows"

5. Ben Feldman (MAD MEN): Feldman submitted wisely, but his character may strike some voters as annoying. He should be happy with the nomination.

"Politics"
"Politics"

6. Jason Ritter (PARENTHOOD): I'm thrilled Ritter was recognized. While his chemistry with Lauren Graham is fantastic in the episode he submitted, he should have gone with the emotionally-devastating finale.







"The Rematch"
"The Rematch"

1. Jean Smart (HARRY'S LAW): She's clearly an Emmy favorite, having one three awards out of seven nominations. Of those three wins, two came from her guest work (albeit on a comedy series). She engages in some humorous sparring matches with Bates, and even when she loses the argument, she seems to get the last laugh. Out of everyone else nominated in this category, she has the best collection of scenes.


"If Only You Were Lonely"
"If Only You Were Lonely"

2. Loretta Devine (GREY'S ANATOMY): She surprised many of us with her win in this category last year. Many even believe she'll repeat. However, she doesn't have that scene-stealing moment we got last time.

"The Dream Team"
"The Dream Team"

3. Martha Plimpton (THE GOOD WIFE): Glad to see she's finally recognized for her fantastic guest work on the show. But like Devine, she's been better in the past.

"The Phantom"
"The Phantom"

4. Julia Ormond (MAD MEN): At the Codfish Ball would have been a better choice. She isn't given much to do in the finale.

"Can I Have A Mother"
"Can I Have A Mother"

5. Joan Cusack (SHAMELESS): She was much better last year, and in the submitted episode, she's actually upstaged by Louise Fletcher.

"Tech"
"Tech"

6. Uma Thurman (SMASH): Nothing too memorable here.












"Face Off"
"Face Off"

1. BREAKING BAD (Vince Gilligan): It's arguably the best episode from BREAKING BAD's fourth season. It's taut, enthralling and totally compelling TV. Revealing Gus at a pivotal moment was perfectly realized.


"To the Lost"
"To the Lost"

2. BOARDWALK EMPIRE (Tim Van Patten) - If there's one thing BOARDWALK has a shot at winning, it's directing. Van Patten did an outstanding job with the finale. The showdown between Nucky and Jimmy is gorgeously shot.

"The Other Woman"
"The Other Woman"

3. MAD MEN (Phil Abraham): Revealing events out of order is a nice trick. While Far Away Places did something similar, the editing in The Other Woman is much more fluid. Expertly directed as the episode is, it's still not quite on par with the excellence displayed in either BREAKING BAD or BOARDWALK EMPIRE.

"Episode 7"
"Episode 7"

4. DOWNTON ABBEY (Brian Percival): DOWNTON is more a writer's show than a director's. If it scores an upset here, it could mean MAD MEN's fifth consecutive Drama Series win is very much in jeopardy.

"Pilot"
"Pilot"

5. HOMELAND (Michael Cuesta): Nothing about the direction really stands out, especially compared to the top three contenders.









"Commissions and Fees"
"Commissions and Fees"

1. MAD MEN (Andre Jacquemetton & Maria Jacquemetton): From my perspective, this was the episode that secured MAD MEN's fifth consecutive Drama Series win. It's immaculately composed. It almost makes up for the lack of intrigue that permeates throughout the rest of the season. One character gets the best sendoff anyone from the show has ever gotten. The episode alternates between being both touching and devastating. It stays with you long after the credits roll.


"The Other Woman"
"The Other Woman"

2. MAD MEN (Semi Chellas & Matthew Weiner): So far, all of MAD MEN's writing awards have gone to creator Matthew Weiner (either as the sole scribe or as part of a duo). If The Other Woman failed to win in this category, it would mark the first time he wasn't rewarded for his efforts. Many of the principal actors submitted it, and the episode is nominated for directing as well. Keep in mind, however, that Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency was in a similar position, and it still lost the writing award to Shut the Door. Have a Seat.

"Episode 7"
"Episode 7"

3. DOWNTON ABBEY (Julian Fellowes): If voters wisely decided not to reward Smith but wanted to recognize the PBS melodrama somewhere, this would be the place to do it. Fellowes is a revered writer in the industry, and last year's surprise win for FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS' Jason Katims proves MAD MEN doesn't have this category locked down.

"Pilot"
"Pilot"

4. HOMELAND (Alex Gansa & Howard Gordon & Gideon Raff): Any other year, it might be a real threat. But the category's too competitive, and all of the aforementioned nominees are more deserving.

"Far Away Places"
"Far Away Places"

5. MAD MEN (Semi Chellas & Matthew Weiner): An episode that sees Roger tripping on LSD and Don searching for Megan in nonlinear fashion is more of a showcase for outstanding directing, not writing.







1. DOWNTON ABBEY - New shows are usually given the advantage here. DOWNTON's leap from miniseries to drama may be seen as new enough for most voters. Additionally, take a look at how many of its cast members received nominations this year (6 people in 4 categories). If you like the ensemble, it stands to reason that you appreciate the work of the casting director.


2. HOMELAND - Being new helps, but the lack of nominations for others here (notably Mandy Patinkin and Morena Baccarin) makes this seem like a series that relies on two people rather than an ensemble.

3. MAD MEN - It's already won before, and the cast isn't as uniformly sharp as it's been in the past.

4. THE GOOD WIFE - Nominations in the lead actress, supporting actress and guest spots help. No recognition for supporting male work hurts.

5. BOARDWALK EMPIRE - Earning less love for the second season probably won't go over well.

6. GAME OF THRONES - Like last year, the nomination is the win.









Finally, if I had my own Emmy ballot, the winners would look something like this:

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