The Television Academy will have to look outside of Westeros for winners this year.
The 69th Annual Emmy Awards are airing this Sunday (CBS, 7 CT), and the Stephen Colbert-hosted ceremony will be missing the best-drama winner from the past two years. Game of Thrones premiered too late to be eligible, but the absence of the HBO juggernaut only makes the races more competitive and exciting.
Here's a look at who will win during the ceremony, and who should.
Better Call Saul, AMC
The Crown, Netflix
The Handmaid's Tale, Hulu
House of Cards, Netflix
Stranger Things, Netflix
This Is Us, NBC
Should win: The Handmaid's Tale
Will win: Stranger Things
Without Thrones, this is the most wide-open race, and the biggest beneficiaries will be a group of scrappy kids from Hawthorne, Ind. Stranger Things became a full-blown sensation last summer, and Netflix has been campaigning hard for its supernatural series to take the top prize. But there is a chance Eleven and friends could lose out to This is Us, the family drama with big ratings and the chance to end broadcast networks' recent drought in this category. Either way, it's a shame, because although Stranger and Us are enjoyable diversions, they don't have the ambitions of Hulu's stunning Handmaid's Tale, with its strong acting, beautiful direction and sharp writing.
Master of None, Netflix
Modern Family, ABC
Silicon Valley, HBO
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix
Should win: Atlanta
Will win: Veep
Veep is a great series that found new relevancy during a tumultuous political time, and that should catapult it to a third straight win in this category. But the more daring and exciting series in the race is Donald Glover's Atlanta, which offers a unique world view from a talented auteur.
Lead actor, drama series
Matthew Rhys, The Americans (FX)
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul (AMC)
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards (Netflix)
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan (Showtime)
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us (NBC)
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us (NBC)
Anthony Hopkins, Westworld (HBO)
Should win: Matthew Rhys
Will win: Sterling K. Brown
In a slightly off season for The Americans as a whole, Rhys managed to continue to expand his character. However, he'll likely miss the award this year thanks to Brown's emotional turn on This is Us, an extremely worthy performance.
Lead actress, drama series
Keri Russell, The Americans (FX)
Claire Foy, The Crown (Netflix)
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)
Robin Wright, House of Cards (Netflix)
Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld (HBO)
Should win: Elisabeth Moss
Will win: Elisabeth Moss
If you bet on one category at the Emmys this year, make it this one. Between Handmaid's political messaging and critical acclaim, Moss has nothing but (well-deserved) momentum going into Sunday's ceremony.
Lead actor, comedy series
Donald Glover, Atlanta (FX)
Zach Galifianakis, Baskets (FX)
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish (ABC)
Aziz Ansari, Master of None (Netflix)
William H. Macy, Shameless (Showtime)
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent (Amazon)
Should win: Donald Glover
Will win: Donald Glover
While Atlanta likely won't take the top comedy prize, the odds look good for Glover's anchoring performance on the series. As Earn, he's just subtle and affecting enough to make Atlanta work.
Lead actress, comedy series
Pamela Adlon, Better Things (FX)
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish (ABC)
Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie (Netflix)
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie (Netflix)
Allison Janney, Mom (CBS)
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)
Should win: Tracee Ellis Ross
Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Never bet against JL-D. If she's victorious again, she'll set a record for number of wins by an actress for the same role (six), and tie Cloris Leachman's record of eight wins for a performer. But she's been well-honored for playing Selina Meyer, while Ross has not yet been for Black-ish, in a role that adds heart and hilarity to an already great sitcom.
Supporting actor, drama series
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul (AMC)
John Lithgow, The Crown (Netflix)
Michael Kelly, House of Cards (Netflix)
David Harbour, Stranger Things (Netflix)
Ron Cephas Jones, This Is Us (NBC)
Jeffrey Wright, Westworld (HBO)
Should win: John Lithgow
Will win: John Lithgow
Earlier this year, when it cleaned up at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, The Crown seemed like a front-runner in several categories. Things have changed, but not for Lithgow's celebrated take on an aging Winston Churchill.
Supporting actress, drama series
Ann Dowd, The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)
Samira Wiley, The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things (Netflix)
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us (NBC)
Thandie Newton, Westworld (HBO)
Should win: Samira Wiley
Will win: Thandie Newton
Moss' Handmaid's character is so big that a supporting player like Wiley, who gave the dark and sometimes dreary series much-needed energy every time she was onscreen, could get overlooked. Instead, Westworld's Newton probably will be rewarded for elevating every one of her scenes in the middling drama.
Supporting actor, comedy series
Louie Anderson, Baskets (FX)
Ty Burrell, Modern Family (ABC)
Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Tony Hale, Veep (HBO)
Matt Walsh, Veep (HBO)
Should win: Matt Walsh
Will win: Alec Baldwin
Baldwin's impression of President Trump, both before and after the election, helped buoy Saturday Night Live to its most-watched season in decades, and the TV Academy won't ignore that. Walsh, however, has been toiling in the wings of Veep for six seasons, and just keeps getting better.
Supporting actress, comedy series
Vanessa Bayer, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Kathryn Hahn, Transparent (Amazon)
Judith Light, Transparent (Amazon)
Anna Chlumsky, Veep (HBO)
Should win: Vanessa Bayer
Will win: Kate McKinnon
All three women of SNL are great choices for this award, but it would be just delightful to see Bayer, an underrated cast member who exited the series in May, be rewarded for her enthusiastic contributions.
Big Little Lies, HBO
Feud: Bette and Joan, FX
Genius, National Geographic
The Night Of, HBO
Should win: Big Little Lies
Will win: Big Little Lies
Each of the nominees has star power and acclaim behind it, but Lies became a part of the zeitgeist in a way the other four nominees could not manage. And with its excellent acting and emotional conclusion, the HBO series deserves the attention.
Black Mirror: San Junipero, Netflix
Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, NBC
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, HBO
Sherlock: The Lying Detective, Masterpiece/PBS
The Wizard of Lies, HBO
Should win: Black Mirror: San Junipero
Will win: Black Mirror: San Junipero
San Junipero, an episode of Netflix's Black Mirror anthology revival with a surprisingly innovative sci-fi concept, was one of the best and most gutting pieces of television produced this year. It should easily walk away with this award.
Lead actor, limited series or movie
Ewan McGregor, Fargo (FX)
Geoffrey Rush, Genius (National Geographic)
Riz Ahmed, The Night Of (HBO)
John Turturro, The Night Of (HBO)
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Lying Detective (Masterpiece/PBS)
Robert De Niro, The Wizard of Lies (HBO)
Should win: Riz Ahmed
Will win: Robert De Niro
De Niro has a lot of goodwill going for him, even if The Wizard of Lies was a pretty unremarkable film. But Ahmed is fascinating as a seemingly decent man convicted of murder in The Night Of.
Lead actress, limited series or movie
Felicity Huffman, American Crime (ABC)
Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Carrie Coon, Fargo (FX)
Jessica Lange, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Susan Sarandon, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Should win: Nicole Kidman
Will win: Nicole Kidman
Four actresses in this category have five Oscars between them. But Kidman has been almost universally praised for her Big Little Lies arc as an abused wife coming to terms with her own reality. It's top-notch and it stole the show.
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