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Win Your Emmy Pool With Our Uncannily, Nay, Disquietingly Accurate Predictions

Sep 18, 2016
Originally published on September 18, 2016 2:24 pm

You want to win the Emmy pool tonight.

Doesn't matter why: Maybe you want the money, maybe you just want to rub your victory in your friend Trish's face, because she reads Variety and calls TV shows "skeins."

God, Trish, right? Trish is the worst.

Whatever the reason, you can taste victory. And if you base all of your Emmy picks on our rigorous analyses below, you'll do more than taste it — you'll eat it. You'll spend tonight shoving meaty chunks of victory in your face by the greasy fistful, and chew so hard its juices — victory's juices! — will dribble down your chin and get all over Trish's couch, which she calls a sette, because of course she does, as Trish is just aggressively terrible but she does make that beer-cheese dip in the hollowed-out pumpernickel loaf, which is why the Emmy party is at her place, so maybe cut her some slack, okay?

When your fellow attendees gaze over the beer-cheese dip at you tonight, slack-jawed with admiration (and, let's face it, no small amount of animal lust) at your discerning Emmy acuity, you may choose to reveal to them that NPR was the ultimate source of your superhuman prognosticating ability — that this list is essentially your radioactive spider, if radioactive spiders held fiercely complicated opinions about Constance Zimmer.

Or you may choose not to reveal it, and reap the attendant rewards — be they monetary, emotional, or nookie-related — yourself. Up to you.

One last thing, before we get to the predictions: If you do begin the night by publicly citing NPR as your source, you are obligated to do the following: In the hugely unlikely event we get a prediction wrong, you must find a casual way to inform your fellow Emmy party attendees that when you said NPR earlier, you of course meant the charming character actor Neil Patrick Rarris, whom you refer to as NPR because you're cute like that.


NPR's Stunningly Right and Inviolately Correct 2016 Emmy Predictions, Which Give Off Wiggly Yellow Rays of Stark Objective Truth

Outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series

  • Anna Chlumsky — Veep
  • Gaby Hoffman — Transparent
  • Allison Janney — Mom
  • Judith Light — Transparent
  • Kate McKinnon — Saturday Night Live
  • Niecy Nash — Getting On

Everyone in this category has been nominated previously for the role they're nominated for now — except for Light. Emmy voters love rewarding the eminently rewardable Janney, but she's won for Mom twice now. Three in a row for a show as straight-ahead and un-buzzworthy as that one seems unlikely. Getting On, a lovely little show, spent its brief life in the shadow of other HBO shows like Veep and Silicon Valley. Its two acting nominations (Laurie Metcalf's up for lead actress in a comedy), while deserved, feel consolation prize-y. McKinnon's had a great year on and off of SNL, but Emmy voters traditionally don't know what to do with sketch performers, more's the pity. Transparent's heat has cooled a bit. Veep's creator and original showrunner left the series, but the show had a great year in his absence. Look for Emmy voters to reward that fact, and finally give the Emmy to the thrice-nominated, never-won Chlumsky.

Who Will Win: Anna Chlumsky — Veep


Outstanding writing for a comedy series

  • Catastrophe — Episode 1
  • Master of None — Parents
  • Silicon Valley — Founder Freindly
  • Silicon Valley — The Uptick
  • Veep — Morning After
  • Veep — Mother

Veep, despite its favored nation status among Emmy voters, has only won the writing award once before, as has Silicon Valley, though of course it's a younger show. New entrants Catastrophe and Master of None are both strong, elbow-throwing contenders, but voters tend to sit with a show for a season or two before rewarding it. Master of None may buck that trend, given the huge amount of buzz and goodwill it generated, but the "Mother" episode of Veep was smart and funny and wince-inducing — and that's the show's hat-trick.

Who Will Win: Veep — Mother


Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series

  • Louis Anderson — Baskets
  • Andre Braugher — Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Tituss Burgess — Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Ty Burrell — Modern Family
  • Tony Hale — Veep
  • Keegan-Michael Key — Key & Peele
  • Matt Walsh — Veep

The reign of Modern Family is over, though it will likely get another shot in its final season — but by then our bloated, dying sun will have long since swallowed the five inner planets, so let's not worry about it now. Anderson's work on Baskets is deeply odd, and great — but likely not seen by enough people to attain escape velocity. Ditto Burgess. Key's nomination is a nice way to pay homage to his show's final season, but again: Emmy voters don't know what to make of sketch comedy. As noted, things are shaping up for a Veep sweep this year, for a host of reasons, but the problem with Walsh being so consistently great is that he doesn't get the stand-out moments that voters can sink their teeth — and their votes — in. Hale got plenty of those, he won last year, and Emmy voters love to shower Veep with pointy gold.

Who Will Win: Tony Hale — Veep


Outstanding directing for a comedy series

  • Aziz Ansari — Master of None — Parents
  • Mike Judge — Silicon Valley — Founder Friendly
  • Alec Berg — Silicon Valley — Daily Active Users
  • Jill Soloway — Transparent — Man On the Land
  • David Mandel — Veep — Kissing Your Sister
  • Chris Addison — Veep — Morning After
  • Dale Stern — Veep — Mother

All strong contenders, but the "Mother" episode of Veep stands above the rest like a cold, disapproving, elderly maternal figure.

Who Will Win: Dale Stern — Veep — Mother


Outstanding lead actress in a comedy series

  • Ellie Kemper — Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus — Veep
  • Laurie Metcalf — Getting On
  • Tracie Ellis Ross — black-ish
  • Amy Schumer — Inside Amy Schumer
  • Lily Tomlin — Grace & Frankie

Louis-Dreyfus will win a fifth year in a row. Also: nighttime will be dark, winter will be cold, and Trish will find some way of bringing up the fact that she spent her junior year abroad.

Who Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus — Veep


Outstanding lead actor in a comedy series

  • Anthony Anderson — black-ish
  • Aziz Ansari — Master of None
  • Will Forte — The Last Man on Earth
  • William H. Macy — Shameless
  • Thomas Middleditch — Silicon Valley
  • Jeffrey Tambor — Transparent

Tambor's the odds-on favorite, having won last year, although Transparent's sophomore season was received more coolly than the first. Forte and Macy are turning performances that are highly specific, albeit a bit off-kilter for the collective Emmy voters' mainstream tastes. Middleditch is wonderful but deliberately unshowy in a way that could hurt him here. If it's not Tambor, it's between Anderson and Ansari — and Ansari's got the wind at his back. (I tend to think I can always hear the writing behind his delivery, but the guy got nominated, so what do I know.) But it will be Tambor.

Who Will Win: Jeffrey Tambor — Transparent


Outstanding reality-competition series

  • American Ninja Warrior
  • Dancing With the Stars
  • Project Runway
  • The Amazing Race
  • The Voice
  • Top Chef

The glory days of most of these nominated shows are behind them, but The Voice won last year, and American Ninja Warrior represents the only fresh blood. (The fact that RuPaul already won the 2016 Emmy for best reality show host does not make the absence of Drag Race on this list any less of an egregious oversight.) Ninja Warrior, though a lot of fun, seems a bit aggro for Emmy voters, whose tastes run more to melisma and rotating chairs.

Who Will Win: The Voice


Outstanding writing for a limited series or movie

  • Fargo — Palindrome
  • Fargo — Loplop
  • The Night Manager
  • The People v. OJ Simpson — Marcia, Marcia, Marcia
  • The People v. OJ Simpson — From the Ashes of Tragedy
  • The People v. OJ Simpson — The Race Card

Six nominations, only three shows. Expect The People v OJ Simpson to dominate the limited series or movie wins like it dominates this category. Fargo was pretty fantastic this year, but will get lost in the shuffle. The Marcia Marcia Marcia episode — which depicts a turning point in the trial, and was a turning point for the series — was one of 2016's best hours of television.

Who Will Win: The People v. OJ Simpson — Marcia, Marcia, Marcia


Outstanding supporting actress in a limited series or movie

  • Kathy Bates — American Horror Story: Hotel
  • Olivia Colman — The Night Manager
  • Regina King — American Crime
  • Melissa Leo — All the Way
  • Sarah Paulson — American Horror Story: Hotel
  • Jean Smart — Fargo

Because of the nutty way that American Horror Story falls into the "limited series or movie" category, there's a chance — a slim one — that Sarah Paulson will win both supporting actress and lead actress in a limited series or movie. King didn't get enough to do in American Crime, Leo and Bates and Colman turned in solid work, but Smart made a huge impression in her comparatively small but steely role in Fargo.

Who Will Win: Jean Smart — Fargo


Outstanding directing for a limited series or movie

  • Jay Roach — All the Way
  • Noah Hawley — Fargo — Before the Law
  • Susanne Bier — The Night Manager
  • Ryan Murphy — The People v. OJ Simpson — From the Ashes of Tragedy
  • John Singleton — The People v. OJ Simpson — The Race Card
  • Anthony Hemingway — The People v. OJ Simpson — Manna from Heaven

The Night Manager was crisp and stylish, Fargo was exquisitely rendered, and All the Way was a thing about LBJ. But it's the year of The People v. OJ Simpson, and the series' first episode, From the Ashes of Tragedy, set the tone for everything that was to follow.

Who Will Win: Ryan Murphy — The People v. OJ Simpson — From the Ashes of Tragedy


Outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or movie

  • Sterling K. Brown — The People v. OJ Simpson
  • Hugh Laurie — The Night Manager
  • Jesse Plemons — Fargo
  • David Schwimmer — The People v. OJ Simpson
  • John Travolta — The People v. OJ Simpson
  • Bokeem Woodbine — Fargo

Hokay, there's a lot going on in this category. The three nominations from The People v. OJ Simpson could split the vote, allowing Plemons or Woodbine from Fargo to get the recognition they deserve. In any other year, Fargo would clean up. Laurie has never won an Emmy, believe it or not, and he put in excellent work in The Night Manager. Schwimmer was so recognizably Schwimmery you kept expecting him to add "WE WERE ON A BREAK!" after every "JUICE!" — and there were a lot of "JUICE!"es. If Travolta's eyebrows could be nominated, they'd have a real shot. But this is Brown's to lose — he had the most screen time, and did the most with it. Yes, even more than Travolta's left eyebrow.

(Egregious Oversight Dept: Connor Jessup in American Crime, a subtle, unshowy yet absolutely devastating performance.)

Who Will Win: Sterling K. Brown — The People v. OJ Simpson


Outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie

  • Kirsten Dunst — Fargo
  • Felicty Huffman — American Crime
  • Audra McDonald — Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
  • Sarah Paulson — The People v. OJ Simpson
  • Lili Taylor — American Crime
  • Kerry Washington — Confirmation

So many excellent peformances — Huffman was downright chilling — yet Paulson's Marcia Clark will win. I know this with a certainty that borders on Louis-Dreyfussian.

Who Will Win: Sarah Paulson -The People v. OJ Simpson


Outstanding lead actor in a limited series or movie

  • Bryan Cranston — All the Way
  • Benedict Cumberbatch — Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
  • Idris Elba — Luther
  • Cuba Gooding Jr. — The People v. OJ Simpson
  • Tom Hiddleston — The Night Manager
  • Courtney B. Vance — The People v. OJ Simpson

Emmy voters are Anglophiles, and they love giving stuff to Bryan Cranston, but in 2016 both of those impulses will be overpowered by The People v. OJ Simpson. It's a Gooding vs. Vance slugfest, and in that match-up, the perfectly cast Johnny Cochran will run roughshod over the miscast OJ.

Who Will Win: Courtney B. Vance — The People v. OJ Simpson


Outstanding television movie

  • A Very Murray Christmas
  • All the Way
  • Confirmation
  • Luther
  • Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

The Murray Christmas special is far too weird and spiky for Emmy voters to embrace en masse, alas. The stolidness of All the Way gives it a real shot here, but look for Confirmation to break out of the pack as a sort of consolation to Kerry Washington, in this, The Year of the Paulson.

Who Will Win: Confirmation


Outstanding limited series

  • American Crime
  • Fargo
  • Roots
  • The Night Manager
  • The People v. OJ Simpson

It's The People v. OJ Simpson's world, and we're all just livin' in it.

Who Will Win: The People v. OJ Simpson


Outstanding writing for a variety special

  • Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo
  • John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid
  • Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping
  • Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted
  • Triumph's Election Special 2016

Excellent, uniformly hilarious specials across the board. So if Emmy voters still have a soul in the dried-out husk they call a body, they'll give it to Oswalt: This special was taped before his wife passed away, and if you can watch him talk about her without a lump in your throat I name you monster.

Who Will Win: Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping


Outstanding variety talk series

  • Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • The Late Late Show with James Corden
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Look, cars are fun. Pranking celebrities is fun. Forcing celebrities to sit and listen to your political yammering is fun. Those carpool karaoke clips are a phenomenon, as are those lip-syncing contests (ask RuPaul). But Last Week Tonight has become a show with a clear, consistent and finely modulated voice, and that voice is the product of writers and producers — and a host — who work hard to maintain it. Plus, Last Week Tonight won the 2016 Emmy for writing last weekend. It's possible this award will go to a different show, given the viral success of wacky celebrity party games and such, but I have to believe that solid joke writing matters more than the third lead from NCIS covering "Wrecking Ball" or whatever.

Who Will Win: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver


Outstanding directing for a comedy special

  • Louis J. Horvitz — 58th Grammy Awards
  • Beth McCarthy-Miller — Adele Live in New York City
  • Chris Rock — Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo
  • Thomas Kail and Alex Rudzinski — Grease: Live
  • Kahlil Joseph and Beyonce Knowles — Lemonade
  • Glenn Weiss — The Kennedy Center Honors

Look: I know it should be Lemonade. You know it should be Lemonade.

But you and I? Are not Emmy voters, who last weekend showered the giant Costco tub of cheese-balls known as Grease: Live with every award it was up for, snubbing the brilliant, difficult, bracingly engaged and engaging Lemonade in the process. Grease: Live will win tonight, and when it does, millions of Americans will look to the wings of the stage during the acceptance speech, hoping against hope to see Kanye there, striding forcefully to the mic with a few thoughts he'd like to share.

Who Will Win: Thomas Kail and Alex Rudzinski — Grease: Live


Outstanding variety sketch series

  • Documentary Now!
  • Drunk History
  • Inside Amy Schumer
  • Key & Peele
  • Portlandia
  • Saturday Night Live

SNL kicks into high gear during election cycles, which this last season wasn't. Documentary Now! is a painstakingly wrought but hilariously niche creation, and Drunk History's deliberately low-fi lack of polish might hurt it. Key & Peele signed off for good, and Schumer announced that her show's on indefinite hiatus. Both have a good shot, but in the end Emmy voters will likely choose to honor K & P.

Who Will Win: Key and Peele


Outstanding writing for a drama series

  • Downton Abbey — Episode 8
  • Game of Thrones — The Battle of the Bastards
  • Mr. Robot — eps1.0_hellofriend.mov
  • The Americans — Persona Non Grata
  • The Good Wife — End
  • UnREAL — Return

The bloom is off the English Rose for Downton. This could go three ways. The Americans has solidified the kind of critical attention that could help net it its first win. Mr. Robot's no longer the critical darling it was in its first season, but it's the pilot that's nominated, and that pilot is a singularly great hour of television. And Emmy voters love Game of Thrones, and will likely reward it for its ambition and scope — but maybe not in this category, for an episode more about visual spectacle than dialogue.

Who Will Win: Mr. Robot — eps1.0_hellofriend.mov


Outstanding supporting actress in a drama series

  • Emilia Clarke — Game of Thrones
  • Lena Headey — Game of Thrones
  • Dame Maggie Smith — Downton Abbey
  • Maura Tierney — The Affair
  • Maisie Williams — Game of Thrones
  • Constance Zimmer — UnREAL

Dame Maggie doesn't show up to the ceremony, which matters to Emmy voters. Constance Zimmer's wonderful performance is likely too barbed for their tastes as well. Tierney's got the track record, but this year is shaping up for Headey, who had a lot to play with this year, and delivered a Cersei whose cold-blooded, reptilian affect concealed a fiercely beating human heart.

Who Will Win: Lena Headey — Game of Thrones


Outstanding directing for a drama series

  • Micheal Engler — Downton Abbey — Episode 9
  • Jack Bender — Game of Thrones — The Door
  • Miguel Sapochnik — Game of Thrones — Battle of the Bastards
  • Leslie Linka Glatter — Homeland — The Tradition of Hospitality
  • David Hollander — Ray Donovan — Exsuscito
  • Steven Soderbergh — The Knick — This Is All We Are

Emmy voters still love a Hollywood name like Soderbergh, but Game of Thrones is sucking up all the oxygen in this category. Yes, an episode like "The Door" tugs at the heart (and requires a director to find some way to show Max Von Sydow sitting in a tree without having the audience think to themselves "K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"). But in the end the labyrinthine logistical demands of the "Battle of the Bastards" will put that episode over the top.

Who Will Win: Miguel Sapochnik — Game of Thrones — Battle of the Bastards


Outstanding supporting actor in a drama series

  • Jonathan Banks — Better Call Saul
  • Peter Dinklage — Game of Thrones
  • Kit Harington — Game of Thrones
  • Michael Kelly — House of Cards
  • Ben Mendelsohn — Bloodline
  • Jon Voight — Ray Donovan

Dinklage won last year, and was largely sidelined by the show's plot this season. Jonathan Banks deserves it, but it's Harington's to lose, despite the fact his character's death and return only managed to knock him a few notches down the emotional spectrum, from "brooding" to "mopey."

Who Will Win: Kit Harington — Game of Thrones


Outstanding lead actor in a drama series

  • Kyle Chandler — Bloodline
  • Rami Malek — Mr. Robot
  • Bob Odenkirk — Better Call Saul
  • Matthew Rhys — The Americans
  • Liev Schreiber — Ray Donovan
  • Kevin Spacey — House of Cards

Malek and Rhys are both bringing the heat — Malek as a new face, Rhys as a veteran who's finally being acknoweldged for the stellar work his been doing on The Americans for years. And the Netflix publicity department has been reminding anyone who'll listen — and lots of people who won't — Spacey has yet to win an Emmy, so don't count him out. Except do count him out, because it'll be Malek.

Who Will Win: Rami Malek — Mr. Robot


Outstanding lead actress in a drama series

  • Claire Danes — Homeland
  • Viola Davis — How to Get Away with Murder
  • Taraji P. Henson — Empire
  • Tatiana Maslany — Orphan Black
  • Keri Russell — The Americans
  • Robin Wright — House of Cards

It's great to see Maslany, who plays multiple roles on Orphan Black and thus carries the weight of that show on her back(s), on this list. Davis could take it home a second year in a row, but Wright hasn't yet won for House of Cards, which seems like something Emmy voters would rectify, if Cards had had a bigger, more buzzed-about year. There's no clear front-runner. But a change to the voting rules this year (previously, voters ranked their preferences in each category, this year they simply pick a single choice) might help Keri Russell eke out an overdue win.

Who Will Win: Keri Russell — The Americans


Outstanding comedy series

  • black-ish — ABC
  • Master of None — Netflix
  • Modern Family — ABC
  • Silicon Valley — HBO
  • Transparent — Amazon
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt — Netflix
  • Veep — HBO

Master of None needs another year to become a strong contender, but Emmy voters will cap their evening-long tributes to Veep's ability to carry on without its creator by giving it comedy Emmy for a second year in a row.

Who Will Win: Veep — HBO


Outstanding Drama Series

  • The Americans — FX
  • Better Call Saul — AMC
  • Downton Abbey — PBS
  • Game of Thrones — HBO
  • Homeland — Showtime
  • House of Cards — Netflix
  • Mr. Robot — USA

My heart yearns to see The Americans take the trophy, but Emmy predicting isn't about puny human emotions, it's about rigor and science and buzz and marketing budgets. As such, there will be no stopping Game of Thrones, which Emmy voters will reward with the drama trophy for the second year in a row. As the GoT plotlines tighten over its final seasons, and the stakes rise, and even more characters meet their ignominious ends, it will only get harder for other series to knock it off its perch.

Who Will Win: Game of Thrones — HBO

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