It’s 2020, large portions of the country are literally on fire, and there’s also civil unrest, the ever-growing rise of fascism, and of course a global pandemic — but that will not stop the Television Academy from giving out awards for the best television of 2020, goddamn it. And honestly, the question of who will win on Sunday night isn’t a bad distraction right now, especially since ABC says there will be an alpaca named Isabella involved.
Below are the nominees for this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards, along with my humble predictions as to who will take the top prizes. Some of these are more based in hope than likelihood, but c’mon, it’s 2020. Hope is in rare supply.
Better Call Saul (AMC)
The Crown (Netflix)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Killing Eve (BBC America/AMC)
The Mandalorian (Disney Plus)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
It might be an out-there pick, but when you look at the creative arts awards (where The Mandalorian did very well both in terms of nominations and wins) it doesn’t feel quite so out there. This year’s slate of nominees is nearly all repeats otherwise, none of which really feel like they electrified audiences — with the exception of Succession, nominated for its critically lauded and fascinating second season after being left out of the race for its first. Succession is probably the safe bet. But I’m an outlaw, baby. A rebel. Much like the Mandalorian himself.
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Dead to Me (Netflix)
The Good Place (NBC)
The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime Video)
Schitt’s Creek (Pop TV)
What We Do in the Shadows (FX)
The dark horse in this race, I suspect, is Curb Your Enthusiasm, which has gotten 47 nominations over its 10 season run but has never won the top prize — and yet had arguably one of its strongest seasons creatively. But this being Schitt’s Creek‘s last season gives the charming Pop TV comedy the edge here.
Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)
Mrs. America (Hulu)
The fact that it led the nominations count alone makes this pick feel like a sure thing. Also, there’s that whole no-other-show-captured-the-madness-of-America-better-in-2020 thing.
Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Jason Bateman (Ozark)
Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Steve Carell (The Morning Show)
Brian Cox (Succession)
Billy Porter (Pose)
Jeremy Strong (Succession)
It should be Billy Porter. It really should. But so much of Succession‘s brilliance is owed to the acting and this one just feels like a question of who the Academy picks. Brian Cox is a legend, but given how Season 2 was really Kendall’s season (especially in those final moments), I’m going with Jeremy Strong. (And ready to be surprised one way or the other.)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show)
Olivia Colman (The Crown)
Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)
Laura Linney (Ozark)
Sandra Oh (Killing Eve)
Laura Linney deserves, but I’m going with Jennifer Aniston largely because whether you loved The Morning Show, hated The Morning Show, or found The Morning Show a soapy and entertaining binge, there’s one thing we can all agree on: The seven-time nominee did some of her best work to date in the Apple TV+ drama.
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)
Don Cheadle (Black Monday)
Ted Danson (The Good Place)
Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method)
Eugene Levy (Schitt’s Creek)
Ramy Youssef (Ramy)
Ramy Youssef could take this from Eugene Levy, but damnit, who doesn’t want to see the Schitt’s Creek star get recognized for his talent? The safe bet is that the Academy agrees.
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Well, see above regarding Eugene Levy. It’d be nice if Issa Rae could break in, but, I mean, it’s Catherine O’Hara.
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Jeremy Irons (Watchmen)
Hugh Jackman (Bad Education)
Paul Mescal (Normal People)
Jeremy Pope (Hollywood)
Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much Is True)
It’s a real shame that the Emmys combine Limited Series and Film for this category, because everyone here did great work this year. Hugh Jackman has rarely, if ever, been better as an actor.
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America)
Shira Haas (Unorthodox)
Regina King (Watchmen)
Octavia Spencer (Self Made)
Kerry Washington (Little Fires Everywhere)
In any other year, this would be Cate Blanchett’s to walk away with. But it’s not any other year, it’s Watchmen‘s year. And more importantly, it’s Regina King’s time.
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul)
Bradley Whitford (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Billy Crudup (The Morning Show)
Mark Duplass (The Morning Show)
Nicholas Braun (Succession)
Kieran Culkin (Succession)
Matthew Macfadyen (Succession)
Jeffrey Wright (Westworld)
Baby Yoda was fucking snubbed. With that out of the way, this is quite honestly anyone’s game, and rather than play it safe, I’m going with Matthew Macfadyen for this scene and this scene alone…
Oh, and also, the chicken…
Maybe this one isn’t as hard as I originally thought. (Though, again, it could be anyone’s game.)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Laura Dern (Big Little Lies)
Meryl Streep (Big Little Lies)
Helena Bonham Carter (The Crown)
Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve)
Julia Garner (Ozark)
Sarah Snook (Succession)
Thandie Newton (Westworld)
Honestly, I’m picking Helena here because I still can’t believe this casting happened and she was so good. Though to be clear, if Sarah Snook or Samira Wiley swoop in here, I will not be mad.
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
William Jackson Harper (The Good Place)
Alan Arkin (The Kominsky Method)
Sterling K. Brown (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Mahershala Ali (Ramy)
Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live)
Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek)
There are some stellar performances here, but is any other supporting actor in this category literally carrying his show on his shoulders? Kenan Thompson will probably get overlooked yet again, but I wanted to give him a shout-out here and these are my predictions so why not. (Congrats to either Tony Shalhoub or Dan Levy, who are both very good and are the favorites to actually win.)
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Betty Gilpin (GLOW)
D’Arcy Carden (The Good Place)
Yvonne Orji (Insecure)
Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Marin Hinkle (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live)
Annie Murphy (Schitt’s Creek)
This is, according to the odds-makers, another Maisel vs. Schitt’s showdown featuring Alex Borstein and Annie Murphy. They’re both great, either one of them will be great winners, but D’Arcy Carden was one of this year’s best girls robots performers, proving in the final season of The Good Place what an incredible talent she is.
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Dylan McDermott (Hollywood)
Jim Parsons (Hollywood)
Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend)
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen)
Jovan Adepo (Watchmen)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Watchmen)
Really, this is the anti-Alien v. Predator of categories — whoever wins, we win. But Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is a true breakout star in Watchmen, and one can only imagine the joy that would radiate off the screen if he won.
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Holland Taylor (Hollywood)
Uzo Aduba (Mrs. America)
Margo Martindale (Mrs. America)
Tracey Ullman (Mrs. America)
Toni Collette (Unbelievable)
Jean Smart (Watchmen)
You could argue that Jean Smart’s already gotten to hold the only trophy that really matters. But an Emmy is a good runner-up.
The Masked Singer (FOX)
Nailed It (Netflix)
RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1)
Top Chef (Bravo)
The Voice (NBC)
Drag Race is the one to beat here, as it’s won for the last two years, but as Top Chef may never be the same again post-pandemic, giving the award to this latest season, a memento of what we may never recover, feels like the right call.
Variety Talk Series
Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS)
Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)
If nothing else, the shift to audience-less production makes one thing extremely clear — when stripped down for remote production, these shows truly become about the content, and Last Week Tonight has barely missed a beat since entering John Oliver’s “void.” Do the right thing, Academy voters. C’mon.
The 2020 Emmy Awards will be handed out remotely on Sunday, Sept. 20 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT on ABC. Here’s what we know about the way they’ll be awarded.