Month-in-Advance Emmy Predictions 2010 (Part 2 of 3 - The Dramas)
After this year, we won't have the luxury of being able to watch two major legal dramas, one that had a good run but was unexpectedly axed (Law & Order), and one that made the most of its many twists and turns, but, ultimately, couldn't figure out how to avoid a premature cancellation (Damages).
The big news, of course, is that 2010 saw the end of a couple of basic-cable shows that changed the face of television, oftentimes incorporating more drama and action into their episodic makeup than most feature films (Lost, 24). Ironically, both concluded their stories a day apart from each other.
With this, it will be interesting to see how many of these programs will be able to garner a few final Primetime Emmy accolades. I doubt very seriously that any of them will prevent Mad Men from hauling in its third consecutive Drama Series trophy, but then again, there is a small outside chance that voters will want to give one these shows a proper sendoff.
In terms of the upcoming July nominations, here is how I think things will pan out. . .
- BIG LOVE
- BREAKING BAD
- MAD MEN
- if they go with seven nominees again: THE GOOD WIFE or HOUSE
Reasoning: Essentially, I think the nominees will be the same as last year, minus House (maybe). Mad Men is the one to beat, and I don't really see any major threats as of now. Lost is the closest thing to competition, but I think the only way it would be able to upset is if its final season had been spectacular the whole way through, and it wasn't.
For me, it didn't feel like the I-can't-wait-to-see-what-happens-next Lost until "The Last Recruit," the twelfth episode of the season (the twelfth out of sixteen). And then with just three episodes left, you had the extremely mediocre "Across the Sea," an episode that didn't include any of the principal cast members, and offered up only a few answers to some big questions. Nevertheless, I think it has too much momentum to go unnoticed.
I'm happy to say that it looks like Breaking Bad is starting to make an impression on people, which is great, because it's a fantastic show. Ditto with Dexter, a series that only gets more addictive as it goes on. Double ditto for Big Love, which seems to be benefiting from Chloe Sevigny's performance.
The show I think is the most vulnerable is Damages. I'm not caught up yet, but the consensus seems to be that it's lost a lot of the magic from its first season. Then again, there's been a lot of good buzz surrounding Martin Short and Lily Tomlin for the better part of the year. Ultimately, I think it will make the shortlist.
If there are seven nominees again, I think The Good Wife and House will fight over it. The former has the advantage of being a new series with good reviews, but it may be seen primarily as a star vehicle for Julianna Margulies. The latter was inconsistent in its sixth season. When it was good, it was very good, but for the most part, it was mediocre.
While there are a decent number of quality comedies currently airing on television, there are many more good dramas, and as a result, a lot of worthy shows will be overlooked. I've pretty much given up hope on Friday Night Lights ever vying for top honors, but that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve the recognition. Even without a lot of the original cast members present for its fourth season, the show is no less amazing.
It may not be the The Wire, but Treme gets my vote for the best drama series of the year. It boasts an undeniably talented ensemble of actors, in addition to some mighty fine writing and directing. Another HBO series, True Blood, might benefit from its soaring popularity, but I have a feeling a show about vampires won't be bowling any Emmy voters over (see Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
It's the last chance for either Law & Order or 24 to find themselves in this category, but both shows' better days are behind them, and the competition is a little too heavy.
LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
- BREAKING BAD (Bryan Cranston)
- DEXTER (Michael C. Hall)
- HOUSE (Hugh Laurie)
- MAD MEN (Jon Hamm)
- THE MENTALIST (Simon Baker)
- TREME (Clarke Peters)
If In Treatment's Gabriel Byrne had been eligible, I'd say this year's list would be the exact same as last year's. Bryan Cranston is still the frontrunner, but since Michael C. Hall won the Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild awards, he's got some competition. Hugh Laurie getting nominated is automatic at this point, though I don't think he will ever win. And even though he's still relatively new on the seen, I think the same thing applies to Jon Hamm. He plays a character that will always earn him nominations, but the role isn't flashy enough to actually result in wins. Simon Baker should have no problems getting nominated for a second time around.
That leaves my wild card vote. I'll probably change this before I post my official predictions a week before the Emmy nominees are announced, but for now, I'm sticking with Clarke Peters. Every time he's on screen in Treme, I'm engaged in everything he's doing, whether he's beating up a kid that tries to steal from him, or he's dressed in his Mardi Gras Indian chief getup. And of course, part of this is wishful thinking. I'd love to see anybody from The Wire handed their just desserts. But more than anything, I actually do think he deserves a mention, and I could see him filling the sixth place slot.
Ideally, I'd love it if Peters' co-star, Wendell Pierce (Treme), made the cut as well. I'm never disappointed to see Denis Leary (Rescue Me) show up here, and I do think there's a chance Kiefer Sutherland (24) could score one last mention.
As I've indicated with Peters above, I think this year will see a first-time nominee make the cut. Bill Paxton has yet to get any love for Big Love, and even though I think the women on the show outperform him the majority of the time, he's still good. Of course, Kyle Chandler is always terrific on Friday Night Lights. I know he won't get nominated, but I'd still love to see it happen before the shows ends next year.
Timothy Olyphant was always acting in the shadow of Ian McShane when he was on Deadwood, and nominations eluded him. But now that he's got a breakout role on a good cop show (Justified), he might actually stand a chance. Matthew Fox should at least be a consideration for the performance he turned in on the Lost series finale.
LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
- BROTHERS & SISTERS (Sally Field)
- THE CLOSER (Kyra Sedgewick)
- DAMAGES (Glenn Close)
- THE GOOD WIFE (Julianna Margulies)
- LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (Mariska Hargitay)
- TREME (Melissa Leo)
This is going to be between Glenn Close and Julianna Margulies, the returning champ from a cancelled series versus a past Emmy winner on a new, well-received show. I can't really tell who has the upper hand, but one thing's for sure: both are definitely getting nominated.
Kyra Sedgewick is automatic, and both Sally Field and Mariska Hargitay, while not complete locks, are still pretty safe bets. For the final slot, again, I pull out a wild card, and again, they're from Treme. Like Clarke, Melissa Leo makes the most of her time on screen. She has a strong screen presence that I think could translate into some accolades.
Why not include January Jones (Mad Men), someone every other predictor has on their list? Well, consider this: she hasn't been nominated for two years in a row. I think her strongest material came in the show's second season, and she went overlooked. This year, I think she has a great chance of making the cut, especially since Elisabeth Moss wisely moved from leading to supporting, but as I was watching the third season, I never got the impression that she really deserved a nomination like she did for the previous year. Also, just like I mentioned with predicting the comedies, I just have a gut feeling it won't happen. I'm probably wrong, but that's my take on it nonetheless.
Other ladies who I wouldn't mind seeing show up: Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), Jeanne Tripplehorn (Big Love) or Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy).
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
- BREAKING BAD (Aaron Paul)
- DAMAGES (Martin Short)
- LOST (Michael Emerson)
- LOST (Terry O'Quinn)
- MAD MEN (John Slattery)
- TREME (John Goodman)
Unless I'm severely underestimating another actor, this seems to be one of the easiest categories to call. I don't see any of these men not making it in. Terry O'Quinn has to win. Playing a man who wasn't really Locke but occupied his body, he ate the material he was given up.
The only other person I could see breaking through is John Noble (Fringe), but I'm not sure who he would replace. Josh Holloway (Lost) got his best material last year, so if it didn't happen then, it's not happening now.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
- BIG LOVE (Chloe Sevigny)
- DAMAGES (Rose Byrne)
- THE GOOD WIFE (Christine Baranski)
- GREY'S ANATOMY (Chandra Wilson)
- MAD MEN (Elisabeth Moss)
- TREME (Khandi Alexander)
After getting a Lead Actress nomination last year, it's pretty clear that Emmy voters think the best female performer on Mad Men is Elisabeth Moss. She didn't win, but now that she's moved down to supporting, she will. It doesn't hurt that she had that episode where Peggy got high in the office. Even before we know who any of the other nominees will be, Moss is winning this thing.
It looks like one of the Big Love ladies will finally get recognized. Chloe Sevigny won the Golden Globe award (over Jane Lynch, no less). That helps her, a lot, as do the good reviews. Rose Byrne is expected to return after delivering in her show's final season, and Chandra Wilson is pretty much guaranteed to get a mention nowadays.
Christine Baranski plays one of those flashy, animated supporting players, and roles like that are pure awards bait. Next to her co-star John Goodman, I'd say Khandi Alexander is the most likely Treme cast member to earn a nomination. Even before the show debuted, early word was that Alexander was a standout. She definitely is.
I'm pretty okay with the aforemenioned six ending up as the nominees, though there are still a few others who turned in good work. Many believe S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order) stands a chance, and that's fine by me, because she was always good. Sandra Oh's been nominated for every season of Grey's Anatomy, but I think Wilson is more heavily favored lately. Rachel Griffiths (Brothers & Sisters) is pretty much great in everything, and she's been nominated a few times in the past, but I think the general consensus now is her show succeeds mostly because of Sally Field.
As with her co-star January Jones, I felt like Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) had better material in earlier seasons. A pleasant surprise would be Mary Lynn Rajskub (24), but I'm not counting on it.
GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
- THE CLOSER (Beau Bridges)
- DAMAGES (Ted Danson)
- DEXTER (John Lithgow)
- HOUSE (Andre Braugher)
- HOUSE (James Earl Jones)
- if they have six nominees: MAD MEN (Chelcie Ross or Robert Morse)
In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter who the other nominees will be, because John Lithgow is going to win. Handily. Still, Beau Bridges has a lot of positive buzz in his favor, so does Ted Danson, who got nominated in the guest actor category last year. James Earl Jones and Andre Braugher were great in both of their respective turns as well, and being revered actors (as well as past Emmy winners) surely helps.
If there are six nominees, I think the spot will go to one of the guys from Mad Men. Chelcie Ross was incredibly enjoyable to watch as Conrad Hilton, and Robert Morse always makes the most of his time as Bertram Cooper. Personally, I think the best guest actor to appear on the show was Patrick Fischler, but he was snubbed last year.
I haven't watched too many of the other shows, so I can't bring a whole lot to the table. I know many believe one of the men from from Damages (Len Cariou; Campbell Scott) could end up on the shortlist. I'd be pretty happy if Keith Carradine (Dexter) or Walton Goggins (Justified) made the cut.
And of course, how incredible was Zach Gilford on the Friday Night Lights episode "The Son?" Unless voters averted their eyes throughout the whole thing, there's no way he didn't leave a lasting impression.
GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
- BIG LOVE (Sissy Spacek)
- DAMAGES (Lily Tomlin)
- LAW & ORDER (Debra Winger)
- LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (Isabelle Huppert)
- LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (Sharon Stone)
- if they have six nominees: THE CLOSER (Mary McDonnell)
More than any other category in the drama section, this is one where I am relying almsot exclusively on buzz and educated guesses. And right now, Sissy Spacek and Lily Tomlin have the most momentum going into the nominations. I pick Debra Winger because I can't imagine her appearing on Law & Order and turning in a forgettable performance, and I round out the list with Isabelle Huppert and Sharon Stone because Law & Order: SVU always generates lots of guest acting nods (especially for women), and both actresses are showing up on everybody's lists.
I caught a glimpse of Mary McDonnell on The Closer via YouTube, and just based on what I saw, she played off of Kyra Sedgewick real well. My wishful thinking nominee: Maura Tierney (Rescue Me).
DIRECTING IN A DRAMA SERIES
- THE GOOD WIFE (Pilot - Charles McDougall)
- HOUSE ("Broken," parts 1 & 2 - Katie Jacobs)
- LOST ("The End" - Jack Bender)
- MAD MEN ("The Grown Ups" - Barbet Schroeder)
- TREME ("Do You Know What It Means?"/ Pilot - Agnieszka Holland)
I feel pretty good about these predictions. Except for maybe an episode of Breaking Bad or Damages, I don't see any other shows getting in. There are several other Mad Men possibilities, but the episode where all the employees react to JFK being assassinated stood out. However, I think it was a mistake on the part of the show's campaign people not to submit the episode "The Fog." In my opinion, that was one of the best-directed episodes from the third season, and maybe the series.
In any event, I'm not seeing anything threatening to take the award away from Lost, which should win this one pretty easily. And I hope it wins. I didn't think it was a perfect final season, as I've already stated, and the last episode didn't answer all the questions it needed to. And yet, I liked it. "The End" stayed with me long after it was over, kind of like "Everyone's Waiting" did from Six Feet Under. And it's the best way to honor the series as a whole short of giving it the Drama Series prize.
WRITING IN A DRAMA SERIES
- THE GOOD WIFE (Pilot - Robert King & Michelle King)
- LOST ("The End" - Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse)
- MAD MEN ("Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency" - Robin Veith & Matthew Weiner)
- MAD MEN ("Shut the Door. Have a Seat." - Matthew Weiner & Erin Levy)
- TREME ("Do You Know What It Means?" / Pilot - David Simon & Eric Overmyer)
Again, I feel pretty good about these predictions. Mad Men's season finale probably has this one in the bag, and even if that particular episode doesn't win, Matthew Weiner's looking at a win-win scenario. Outside possibilities for Damages ("The Next One's Gonna Go In Your Throat"), House ("Broken," parts 1 & 2) and maybe even 24 ("3:00PM-4:00PM"). Wishful thinking pick: Friday Night Lights ("The Son").
And I conclude my predictions with the MOVIE/MINISERIES potential nominees. . .
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