Game of Thrones, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Atlanta, and more of the shows that can expect to have a very good day when the nominations are announced.
Right now, there’s more television than there’s ever been before—which also means there’s more good TV than perhaps any other time in history. That, in turn, could make for an unpredictable Emmys class when the nominations for 2018’s awards are announced July 12 by Handmaid’s Tale star Samira Wiley and Ryan Eggold, who will star on the NBC series New Amsterdam this fall.
Even so, V.F.’s experts have taken a stab at predicting which series, TV movies, and actors will end up going the distance, from proven favorites like, well, The Handmaid’s Tale to newer entries like Killing Eve and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.Look below for our best guesses at who and what will get a nod come Thursday morning.
Game of Thrones
The Handmaid’s Tale
This Is Us
Last year—with Game of Thrones ineligible—the so-relevant-it-hurts Handmaid’s Tale dominated the Emmys, earning 13 nominations total and winning prizes including the night’s top honors. One year later, is America still embracing this tough-to-watch political dystopia—or has some post-election fatigue set in? The show will certainly be nominated for its second season—but with Game of Thronesback on the menu, it’s possible escapism will once again rule the day at the awards themselves. This is also why the popular Netflix streamer Stranger Things, with its throwback vibe and vanquished monsters, feels like another shoo-in. Meanwhile, This Is Us—which presents a sentimental, unified vision of the American family—is sure to pull down plenty of nominations, as will the fascinating interrogation of power that is The Crown. The final spots in this category could be used to say goodbye to the old and hello to the new, with one last nomination for the final season of The Americans and an anointing of the critically beloved first season of Killing Eve.
LEAD ACTOR, DRAMA
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Freddie Highmore, The Good Doctor
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us
Jeffrey Wright, Westworld
If anyone feels like a safe bet here, it’s Sterling K. Brown—who came out of thin air two years ago to make an unforgettable impression on The People v. O.J. Simpson,and doubled down with a 2017 win for This Is Us. He may see the stiffest competition from his own on-screen dad, Milo Ventimiglia, who was at the center of the show’s most powerful second-season story line. Perennial nominee Liev Schreiber will likely continue his three-year streak for his work on Television Academy favorite Ray Donovan, with Westworld star Jeffrey Wright getting a promotion from the supporting category to lead thanks to his work as Season 2’s befuddled narrator. Once again, there’s also room in the category for both hellos and goodbyes as Matthew Rhys takes a victory lap for his shape-shifting turn on The Americans and Emmys newcomer Freddie Highmore gets acknowledged for carrying one of fall’s only bona fide new ratings hits, The Good Doctor, on his narrow shoulders.
LEAD ACTRESS, DRAMA
Claire Foy, The Crown
Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Keri Russell, The Americans
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld
No actor here feels like a more invigorating potential shot in the arm than Sandra Oh, who—after five nominations in the supporting category for her work on Grey’s Anatomy—is back with some serious muscle in a leading role. She’ll face some stiff competition from Claire Foy in her last year of eligibility for The Crown and Keri Russell in her last chance to be acknowledged for The Americans. Two fellow supporting-category graduates, Elisabeth Moss and Mandy Moore, also present a threat, with Moss the most likely to repeat her win from last year. Finally, though Evan Rachel Wood’s performance in Westworld was, at times, hard to access, there’s no doubt her searing portrayal of post-traumatic pain will hit home in 2018.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Joseph Fiennes, The Handmaid’s Tale
David Harbour, Stranger Things
Justin Hartley, This Is Us
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
A few Game of Thrones heavy hitters submitted in the lead-acting categories for the first time this year, and while it’s possible they’ll make it in, the show still feels like enough of an ensemble that the supporting category may be where it’s at. That means there’s more room for on-screen brothers Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Peter Dinklage to fight it out for the crown. Their likeliest competition is Stranger Thingssuper-dad David Harbour, while Homeland’s steadfast father figure, Mandy Patinkin, could land his fourth nomination for the show. Throw in the tender-hearted Justin Hartley from This Is Us and the villain-turned-quasi-victim Joseph Fiennes from The Handmaid’s Tale, and you have the spectrum of what TV drama had to offer over the past year.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA
Alexis Bledel, The Handmaid’s Tale
Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Vanessa Kirby, The Crown
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
Thandie Newton, Westworld
If both her fictional brothers land a nomination in the supporting-actor category, Game of Thrones star Lena Headey could make it a hat trick for House Lannister. But she’ll have competition from Chrissy Metz of House Pearson over on This Is Us.Last year’s guest-actress winner, Alexis Bledel, feels like a lock for her traumatized turn in Handmaid’s Tale Season 2, while it would be a shame for Thandie Newton, the most emotionally accessible regular of Westworld’s second year, to be overlooked. Though it’s a bit of category fraud, Stranger Things’ young star Millie Bobby Brown feels like a must-have here as well—and after Princess Margaret’s devastating romantic roller coaster on The Crown, this is the Academy’s last chance to acknowledge Vanessa Kirby before her role is re-cast for Season 3.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Will & Grace
Expect a showdown between two awards-season favorites: the second season of Donald Glover’s acclaimed Atlanta and the debut season of Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. (Our money’s on Maisel for the ultimate win, but the Academy can be fickle.) Then again, HBO’s Barry could end up surpassing both—given both the premium network’s typical success at the Emmys and the appealing inside-baseball comedy of its industry setting. The rest of the nomination slots offer the Television Academy a bit of room to champion the types of efforts it likes to see repeated—and to reward those shows that managed to stand out amidst the noise, in a moment of more TV than ever before. Netflix’s GLOW has been pushing hard for Emmys, and heavily promoting Season 2 during the Academy’s voting period likely reminded many of the eligible Season 1’s charms. Because the soul of TV is still rooted in broadcast, expect a network show or two to make the cut as well. Black-ish, which has nabbed nominations in the past but never an actual statuette, is a likely choice for another round of nods. And with TV’s most successful reboot, Roseanne, ending in spectacular conflagration, don’t be surprised if miffed Emmy voters rally around that other successful reboot, Will & Grace—which, even more so than Roseanne, was an Emmy favorite back in its day.
LEAD ACTOR, COMEDY
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Donald Glover, Atlanta
Bill Hader, Barry
William H. Macy, Shameless
Eric McCormack, Will & Grace
For the last several years, William H. Macy has been nominated every season for Shameless, like some kind of bizarre, malfunctioning clockwork. This year, though, he might not make that annual shoo-in. This category has to make space for two longtime Emmy favorites: Ted Danson and Larry David, who both emerged from semi-retirement for new work over the course of the past two years. For Academy voters, Danson and David aren’t just beloved performers, but colleagues and friends; it helps that both Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Good Place are making bigger Emmy pushes as well. They’ll go up against younger stars Donald Glover (already a winner in this category) and Bill Hader, whose breakout performance as a struggling actor will likely be an industry favorite. Broadcast sitcoms might see another nominee in Will & Grace’s Eric McCormack—another familiar name in an industry with a long memory.
LEAD ACTRESS, COMEDY
Pamela Adlon, Better Things
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie
Allison Janney, Mom
Issa Rae, Insecure
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie
This is easily the most difficult category for comedy—but also, possibly, the most exciting. The half hour has become a wonderful proving ground for female talent, and streaming services have doubled down on shows led by women. But that means a stacked category; twice in the last decade, seven women were nominated, which is typically an indication of very close votes. And the plot thickens because perennial winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus is out of the running, for a change, as Veep didn’t air new episodes this season. That opens up room for a new winner. Assume Grace and Frankie’s Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda will both be nominated; repeat winner Allison Janney, fresh off an Oscar win, is likely to be honored again, too. That leaves only a few slots left for the relative newcomers in the category. Tracee Ellis Ross, now a two-time nominee, should be in the running—as should Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star and Golden Globe winner Rachel Brosnahan. If the votes are close enough to warrant seven nominees again this year, two underrated female auteurs could squeak by as well: HBO star Issa Rae for her show Insecure, and FX’s Pamela Adlon for the chronically overlooked Better Things.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY
Louie Anderson, Baskets
Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Sean Hayes, Will & Grace
Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Henry Winkler, Barry
Aside from a few possible dark horses amongst newer series—Marc Maron in GLOW or Brian Tyree Henry in Atlanta—supporting actor should be flooded with favorites. Louie Anderson surprised everyone with a win last year for his role in Baskets, which suggests he’ll be at least nominated again. And many of the other eligible performers are Academy favorites—veterans Henry Winkler and Tony Shalhoub in new roles, and Sean Hayes in a reboot of his best-known role. Anti-Trump sentiment might very well boost Alec Baldwin to another nomination for his work on Saturday Night Live, even though he’s not even a regular cast member; with political tensions running high, Academy voters will be keen to voice their opposition however they can. That leaves room for one more nomination, perhaps for perennial favorite Tituss Burgess—who has never won an Emmy, but has been nominated over the last three seasons for his work on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY
Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne
Rita Moreno, One Day at a Time
Megan Mullally, Will & Grace
Jessica Walter, Arrested Development
The only Arrested Development acting nomination that’s even possible is for grande dame Jessica Walter, who has the distinction of being one of the best performers on the show—as well as having been dismissed by her male cast members in a highly publicized New York Times interview with most of the Netflix reboot’s cast. That combination of factors ought to be enough to secure her a nomination; it helps that in the years since Arrested Development debuted, the show has attained cult status, with Walter’s Lucille Bluth among the perennial fan favorites. Walter will be competing with two-time winner Kate McKinnon, whose work on Saturday Night Live continues to be stellar, but whose relevance has faded a bit now that she doesn’t have Hillary Clinton to parody. They may both face contention from two strong performers in two very different broadcast reboots: Will & Grace’s Megan Mullally, who has won two Emmys for this role, and Oscar nominee Laurie Metcalf in her reprise of Aunt Jackie on ABC’s axed political lightning rod, Roseanne. But new blood might shake up the category, too. Veteran performer Rita Moreno—who nabbed a couple of Emmy statuettes back in the 70s—certainly ought to be in the running for her bravura work on Netflix’s One Day at a Time, which features highly relevant political story lines about undocumented immigration, veterans’ rights, and queer coming-of-age. And firecracker Leslie Jones could sneak her way into the category too, as fans continue to be taken with her brazen persona on Saturday Night Live.
“U.S.S. Callister,” Black Mirror
Actual, honest-to-goodness TV movies are rare these days. Hence the presence of “U.S.S. Callister,” which is technically an installment in Netflix’s Black Mirroranthology. (It could win, too.) More traditional, based-on-true-story TV movies like Lifetime’s Flint and HBO’s Paterno will likely appear here, as will HBO’s not terribly well-received literary adaptation Fahrenheit 451—which premiered at Cannes but, despite a starry, well-regarded cast, fizzled on arrival. That paves the way for The Tale, Jennifer Fox’s harrowing memoir drama, which premiered at Sundance to raves. The movie may prove alienating for some viewers, but there’s no denying its singular power in an otherwise lukewarm year.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace
The Looming Tower
A once-moribund Emmy category, the miniseries has been renewed under its new title—and by changing appetites in television consumption. This year, FX’s thorough, devastating portrait of late fashion designer Gianni Versace and his killer is likely to get a nod for its sprawl, ambition, and dazzling ensemble of actors. Hulu’s The Looming Tower, about nothing more sacrosanct than 9/11—well, the bungled events leading up to it, anyway—will probably get on the shortlist for the same reasons. We’d like to assume that David Lynch’s lauded, befuddling return to television is a lock, but who knows how many Emmy voters will groove on Twink Peaks’ grim, erratic wavelength. People love a good Western, which is why we’ve put Netflix’s solid Godless on here. And few awards voters can resist the pull of a well-reviewed literary adaptation period piece; hence, Starz’s Howards End. Potential spoilers could be Top of the Lake: China Girl and, we hope against hope, the brilliant American Vandal.
LEAD ACTRESS, LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Hayley Atwell, Howards End
Jessica Biel, The Sinner
Laura Dern, The Tale
Michelle Dockery, Godless
Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake: China Girl
The question here is, really, who’s going to run alongside Laura Dern before she wins? Jessica Biel, already a Golden Globe nominee, seems likely. So does Hayley Atwell, who shines in Howards End in a way she’s not often allowed to shine. Past them, things get a bit murkier. We’re guessing that Michelle Dockery will ride with Godless (and residual Downton affection) into the nominees corral (sorry), and that Elisabeth Moss’s Handmaid’s Tale mojo will swing her into this category as well. But Sarah Paulson’s turn as a horrified anti-Trumper on American Horror Story: Cult could bump either of them out, as could Regina King in Seven Seconds,Sarah Gadon in Alias Grace, Edie Falco in The Menendez Murders, or Cristin Milioti in Black Mirror’s “U.S.S. Callister.”
LEAD ACTOR, LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace
Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick Melrose
Jeff Daniels, The Looming Tower
Michael B. Jordan, Fahrenheit 451
Kyle MacLachlan, Twin Peaks
Al Pacino, Paterno
Darren Criss was the centerpiece of his series, as was Kyle MacLachlan, so they are likely to be recognized here. Benedict Cumberbatch is no stranger to Emmy nominations, and he’s been heaped with praise for his addled turn on Melrose—but are enough voters aware of it? Jeff Daniels and Al Pacino are big names in big projects, so we’re putting them down here, while Michael B. Jordan, riding high on Black Panther esteem, could edge his way in despite Fahrenheit’s tepid reviews. Antonio Banderas as an intense artist in Genius: Picasso could upset in that sixth slot, though.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Penélope Cruz, The Assassination of Gianni Versace
Laura Dern, Twin Peaks
Judith Light, The Assassination of Gianni Versace
Sharon Stone, Mosaic
Merritt Wever, Godless
Emmy voters likely won’t forego a chance to nominate Penélope Cruz, so we’re assuming she’ll be here. And her co-star Judith Light is beloved—let’s put her in, too. We’re predicting big things for Godless overall, which means Merritt Wever will likely get recognized for her idiosyncratic work as a gay frontierswoman. Laura Dern might even have a double-nomination year if enough voters appreciated her on Twin Peaks. Though many prognosticators are putting Angela Lansbury in that last spot, for a Little Women adaptation that didn’t get much traction, we’re gonna try to put some proactive energy out into the universe and predict Sharon Stone for her terrific work in Steven Soderbergh’s criminally under-appreciated mystery series. Following your heart instead of your head is a foolish game to play during awards season, but sometimes, you just have to do it.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Jeff Daniels, Godless
Bill Camp, The Looming Tower
Edgar Ramírez, The Assassination of Gianni Versace
Michael Shannon, Fahrenheit 451
Michael Stuhlbarg, The Looming Tower
All of these guys, minus maybe Jeff Daniels, have other contenders closely nipping at their heels. Brandon Victor Dixon could find his way into the mix for his Judas in the live Jesus Christ Superstar, as could any of the other approx. 8 billion men in The Looming Tower. But we think the biggest surprise nomination could be Ricky Martin for The Assassination of Gianni Versace. His part was small, but c’mon: it’s Ricky Martin.
VARIETY TALK SERIES
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
The Late Late Show with James Corden
Late Night with Seth Meyers
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
In the three years since late-night talk shows got their very own category at the Emmys—a spin-off from the old outstanding-variety-series umbrella—there’s been an enormous boom in the genre, with new ones popping up on a near-daily basis, everywhere from BET to Comedy Central to Netflix. It’ll be tough for any of those newcomers to sneak into this category, though, which will already be stuffed enough that several old favorites will likely be left out in the cold—including The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, still struggling to find its footing in the Trump era, and Real Time with Bill Maher, which just might not have enough oomph to beat out Seth Meyers’s more urgent, timely production. (Sorry, Bill.)
VARIETY SKETCH SERIES
At Home with Amy Sedaris
I Love You, America
Saturday Night Live
Tracey Ullman’s Show
This category feels a little less buzzy than it was a few years ago, when Amy Schumer, Jordan Peele, and Keegan-Michael Key were breathing new life into sketch with their sharply observed Comedy Central shows. Still, there’s a decent pool of options here—particularly Sarah Silverman’s Hulu hybrid, I Love You, America, which carries a message of unity despite troubled political times that might appeal to the Academy, and the cheerfully deranged At Home with Amy Sedaris.Both deserve nods, even if they’ll inevitably lose to S.N.L. come Emmy time in September.