Skip to main content

2012 Emmy Predictions: Who Will Win, Who Should And The Dark Horses

Prognostication is a bold person’s game. Willing to stick one’s neck out and choose the winners before the envelopes have been opened all while opening yourself up to the ‘Monday Morning Quaterbacks’ to mock your now oh-so-wrong picks. Well, I’m not a bold person but I’m Emmy prognosticating anyway. And as the Prognosticator (picture Johnny Carson’s Carnac the Magnificent with an unkempt beard), I have focused my pervasive powers of prediction on most of tonight’s major categories that celebrate the best that TV had to offer last year. All the nominees are surely deserving but, if Highlander taught us anything, there can be only one!

I know a thing or two about television so don’t be surprised if a lot of the picks below turn out to be correct, however, I don’t recommend using mine as the basis for your home pools. Mostly because I don’t want to hear about it in the comments. You got to be your own person, go your own way and besides I have no business pretending to be the authority on a few of these awards (Outstanding Reality-Competition Program is not in my field of expertise and sounds like an oxymoron) but I do have an ace up my sleeve... when in doubt, go British. Here are my ‘Will Win, Should Win and Dark Horse’ picks for the 64th Annual Emmy Awards. Oh, and Futurama lost? For shame! Anyway...

COMEDY

Outstanding Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory • CBS

Curb Your Enthusiasm • HBO

Girls • HBO - Dark Horse

Modern Family • ABC - Will Win/Should Win

30 Rock • NBC

Veep • HBO

There is little reason to think that ABC’s award machine Modern Family won’t make it three in a row, just look at the nomination domination with all six adults receiving acting nods. Girls is the dark horse pick because it seems so radically different than the other nominees and frankly, any of the HBO comedies (Veep and Curb lack the ‘heart’ that voters love) walking away with the prize would be satisfying but I’d look for the threepeat.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series

Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath - Girls • HBO - Dark Horse

Melissa McCarthy as Molly Flynn - Mike & Molly • CBS

Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day - New Girl • FOX

Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton - Nurse Jackie • Showtime

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope - Parks And Recreation • NBC - Will Win

Tina Fey as Liz Lemon - 30 Rock • NBC

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer - Veep • HBO - Should Win

McCarthy’s win last year was probably the result of her Bridesmaids momentum and I don’t think she’ll repeat. It does, however, open the door for a change before Fey takes it home for her 30 Rock final season making Poehler, a usual suspect, the perfect (and deserving) choice. Louis-Dreyfus was the funniest but there will be (should be) seasons to come that will afford her another chance. My reasoning for Dunham as the dark horse is much the same as above, she’s doing something different than the crowd.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series

Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper - The Big Bang Theory • CBS - Will Win

Larry David as Himself - Curb Your Enthusiasm • HBO

Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan - House Of Lies • Showtime

Louis C.K. as Louie - Louie • FX Networks - Should Win

Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy - 30 Rock • NBC - Dark Horse

Jon Cryer as Alan Harper - Two And A Half Men • CBS

I’m not a fan of Parsons’ performance as Sheldon, it seems like a less nuanced version of Danny Pudi’s Abed on Community, but millions and millions of people, are and he’ll probably be getting his third consecutive trophy. Louis C.K. not only has the best show of the nominees (House of Lies, are you kidding?) but delivers a cringe winning turn as a version of himself. Baldwin always has a chance but I’d look for him to take it next year.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler - The Big Bang Theory • CBS - Dark Horse

Kathryn Joosten as Karen McCluskey - Desperate Housewives • ABC

Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy - Modern Family • ABC

Sofia Vergara as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett - Modern Family • ABC

Merritt Wever as Zoey Barkow -Nurse Jackie • Showtime

Kristen Wiig as various characters - Saturday Night Live • NBC - Will Win/Should Win

The Modern Family cast have all been deemed supporting characters, and there would have been no reason to think that their wins wouldn’t continue (Bowen or Vergara) except that Kristen Wiig left SNL. Wiig carried the sketch comedy series on her shoulders for years and should have probably won the award several times before, but now that it’s her last chance I’m looking for her to finally be rewarded. The Emmys love Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper so why not spring for the female version as the dark horse challenger?

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

Ed O'Neill as Jay Pritchett - Modern Family • ABC

Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett - Modern Family • ABC

Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy - Modern Family • ABC - Will Win/Should Win

Eric Stonestreet as Cameron Tucker - Modern Family • ABC - Dark Horse

Max Greenfield as Schmidt - New Girl • FOX

Bill Hader as various characters - Saturday Night Live • NBC

This is a different story than Supporting Actress. There are no final seasons to worry about. One of the Modern Family cast members will win the Emmy and I’m putting all my money on Ty Burrell simply because he’s the most deserving. Phil Dunphy is hilarious and the standout on the series, too bad we didn’t get to see him go up against some other shows’ scene stealers, like Pudi or Ted Danson or Adam Pally. BORING.

DRAMA

Outstanding Drama Series

Boardwalk Empire • HBO

Breaking Bad • AMC

Downton Abbey • PBS Will Win

Game Of Thrones • HBO

Homeland • Showtime Dark Horse Mad Men • AMC - Should Win

Matthew Weiner and those Mad Men must have shit a brick when it was announced that PBS’ cross-the-pond hit would compete in the ‘Drama Series’ category this year. The previous ‘Outstanding Miniseries or Movie’ winner will not only provide Weiner with more competition than he wants - Homeland is as deserving as any, not to mention that the other three are no slouches - but probably walk away with the trophy. I’m not a Downton man, so I feel all the other five are more worthy, especially MM which is trying for its fifth straight.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series

Glenn Close as Patty Hewes - Damages • DirecTV

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley - Downton Abbey • PBS

Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick - The Good Wife • CBS

Kathy Bates as Harriet Korn - Harry's Law • NBC

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison - Homeland • Showtime - Will Win/Should Win

Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson - Mad Men • AMC - Dark Horse

If Claire Danes doesn’t win, something is seriously amiss. Her performance as a psychologically shattered CIA Agent on Homeland is the best in all the acting categories regardless of genre or gender. While Bates may be a sentimental favorite since her show got the axe, the real dark horse this year is Moss because Mad Men might make up for the ‘Drama’ loss with acting wins. Of course, Margulies is a former winner as well and then there’s Downton. The British are coming! Sorry.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series

Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson - Boardwalk Empire • HBO

Bryan Cranston as Walter White - Breaking Bad • AMC - Will Win/Should Win

Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan - Dexter • Showtime

Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham - Downton Abbey • PBS

Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody - Homeland • Showtime

Jon Hamm as Don Draper - Mad Men • AMC - Dark Horse

Hamm’s had a rough go of it. He reminds me of (now retired) tennis star Andy Roddick, someone who would have won many titles if Roger Federer didn’t happen to also be playing. And while the door was open last year with three time champion Cranston out of the mix, sentimental favorite Kyle Chandler waltz in and stole the show. Well, Cranston is back and should return to the podium but, following the same logic used for Moss, the ‘Mad Man’ could finally be the bride and not the bridesmaid.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series

Anna Gunn as Skyler White - Breaking Bad • AMC - Dark Horse

Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham - Downton Abbey - Will Win

Joanne Froggatt as Anna - Downton Abbey • PBS

Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma - The Good Wife • CBS

Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart - The Good Wife • CBS

Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway Harris - Mad Men • AMC - Should Win

Another Mad Men and Downton Abbey showdown, the ‘Supporting Actress’ category could also easily start Breaking Bad. The last time the AMC series was in contention, Aaron Paul joined his leading man as a trophy winner and I wouldn’t be surprised if Gunn did the same. That being said, it’s still Smith or Hendricks award to lose and I really hope that the later is rewarded for turning in such a fantastic season. And seeing her take the stage is just a bonus.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman - Breaking Bad • AMC - Dark Horse

Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo 'Gus' Fring - Breaking Bad - AMC

Brendan Coyle as John Bates - Downton Abbey • PBS

Jim Carter as Mr. Carson - Downton Abbey • PBS

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister - Game Of Thrones • HBO - Will Win

Jared Harris as Lane Pryce - Mad Men • AMC - Should Win

Like the Oscars, ‘Supporting Actor’ is often the tightest of all the categories. In many ways, there are two returning champions this year with Paul once again eligible and Dinklage back in contention for his work on Game Of Thrones. Dinklage will win again (and I’d be hard pressed to say he doesn’t deserve it) but Jared Harris delivered a consistently special performance and I’d like to see him win. By the way, Lena Headey needs to be nominated in the ‘Actress’ category next year if Dinklage is going to keep winning the male equivalent.

MINISERIES OR MOVIE

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie

American Horror Story • FX Networks

Game Change • HBO - Dark Horse

Hatfields & McCoys • HISTORY - Will Win

Hemingway & Gellhorn • HBO

Luther • BBC America

Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia (Masterpiece) • PBS - Should Win

I’d like to believe that ratings don’t play a huge part in deciding what series are rewarded with the title of ‘Outstanding’ anything at the Emmys but I’m also not that naive. I don’t think Hatfields & McCoys is the best Miniseries or Movie in the category but I do think it will win. The episode of Sherlock in question was one of the brightest bright spots of television last year and should win and Game Change gets the dark horse vote for being from the same team as the Emmy winning Recount.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie

Connie Britton as Vivien Harmon - American Horror Story • FX Networks

Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin - Game Change • HBO - Will Win/Should Win

Nicole Kidman as Martha Gellhorn - Hemingway & Gellhorn • HBO

Ashley Judd as Rebecca Winstone - Missing • ABC

Emma Thompson as She - The Song Of Lunch (Masterpiece) • PBS - Dark Horse

Earlier I said that Claire Danes work on Homeland was the best in all the acting categories combines but if there was any performance to give her a run for her money it would be Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin in Game Change. The HBO film is rightfully well represented in all categories but its best chances, considering the competition, come in the acting races and I don’t see any of the women above taking this one from Moore.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie

Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt - Game Change • HBO

Kevin Costner as 'Devil' Anse Hatfield - Hatfields & McCoys • HISTORY - Will Win

Bill Paxton as Randall McCoy - Hatfields & McCoys • HISTORY

Clive Owen as Ernest Hemingway - Hemingway & Gellhorn • HBO

Idris Elba as John Luther - Luther • BBC America - Dark Horse

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes - Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia (Masterpiece) • PBS - Should Win

Kevin Costner will win the Emmy over Benedict Cumberbatch for the exact same reason why I think Hatfields & McCoys will beat out Sherlock in the main category. It’s kind of a shame, no discredit to Mr. Costner, but Cumberbatch’s performance is special and most complex, compelling and (in the end) iconic than the competition. Elba’s work in Luther is equally idiosyncratic and watch out for him as a dark horse after winning the Golden Globe for the role.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or A Movie

Frances Conroy as Moira - American Horror Story • FX Networks

Jessica Lange as Constance Langdon - American Horror Story - Will Win/Should Win

Sarah Paulson as Nicolle Wallace - Game Change • HBO

Mare Winningham as Sally McCoy - Hatfields & McCoys • HISTORY

Judy Davis as Jill Tankard - Page Eight (Masterpiece) • PBS Dark Horse

Okay. I have to admit that I really have no idea when it comes to this category. If I were to pick my favorite performance, I’d probably go with Sarah Paulson in Game Change (she’s amazing in everything, rewatch Studio 60) but I’d also me in the minority and most likely wrong. Lange should and will win because she’s Jessica Lange, although the same could easily be said for Frances Conroy and Judy Davis. See, I’m lost. Go Paulson!

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie

Denis O'Hare as Larry Harvey - American Horror Story • FX Networks

Ed Harris as John McCain - Game Change • HBO - Will Win/Should Win

Tom Berenger as Jim Vance - Hatfields & McCoys • HISTORY

David Strathairn as John Dos Passos - Hemingway & Gellhorn • HBO

Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson - Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia (Masterpiece) • PBS - Dark Horse

Nothing would make me happier at the ceremony than Freeman winning for playing Watson on Sherlock but I’m even resisting the Hatfields & McCoys urge because Harris, sorry, four time Academy Award nominee Ed Harris gives such a great performance as Senator John McCain in Game Change. Not quite as jaw dropping as his female co-star, Harris is wonderful as the man we all know so well from his appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Right?

VARIETY AND REALITY

Outstanding Variety Series

The Colbert Report • Comedy Central

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart • Comedy Central - Will Win/Should Win

Jimmy Kimmel Live • ABC - Dark Horse

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon • NBC

Real Time With Bill Maher • HBO

Saturday Night Live • NBC

I love the fact that The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has won this award for over a decade straight, haters be dammed! Who cares about shaking things up, I only care about rewarding the best series and the Comedy Central satirical look at the news has actual value and truly deserves to win (you could argue the same for Colbert and Maher too, and for the former, you'd be correct). Having said that, Jimmy Kimmel Live is a legitimate contender with his cameo heavy "Post-Oscar" episode being the one submitted for consideration. Awards shows love the stars.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

The Amazing Race • CBS - Will Win/Should Win

Dancing With The Stars • ABC

Project Runway • Lifetime

So You Think You Can Dance • FOX

Top Chef • Bravo - Dark Horse

The Voice • NBC

Not only do I know very little about these shows, but I could care even less who wins the trophy. That's not to be condescending to viewers of Reality TV, it's just me honestly saying that the genre is not my cup of tea and to pretend otherwise would be silly. I can say that The Amazing Race always wins so that's probably a safe bet. I picked Top Chef as the dark horse because it's the only one I've watch more than once or twice. Bravo!

Check out our live blog of the 2012 Emmy awards tonight! The Emmys air at 7:00 p.m. tonight (9/23) on ABC.