It’s always hard to pick a winner (I have been making predictions all week on Deadline), and I have some favorites (yes, I am one of the 23,000 or so eligible Emmy voters) in what has turned out to be an exceptional year for television.
A number of people didn’t get nominations who should have, for example Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery, so good in Defending Jacob; Joe Mantello, so heartbreakingly good in Hollywood; the great Patti LuPone in the same limited series; Reese Witherspoon in everything this year; Allison Janney opposite her nominated co-star Hugh Jackman in Bad Education; Daisy Edgar-Jones opposite her nominated co-star Paul Mescal in Normal People; and Nicole Kidman (I know—she won before) managing to be great again in the Big Little Lies sequel. And where is Rita Moreno for One Day at a Time? I could go on and on and on, but I won’t, except to say that I am sad there was no posthumous recognition for Robert Forster, who showed what the art of acting really is in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. You had your chance, TV Academy, and you blew it.
But here’s where they didn’t blow it. I would love to see the always brilliant Holland Taylor triumph in Hollywood in the Supporting Actress in a Limited Series/TV Movie category, and, as good as the competition is, I wouldn’t mind it at all if Schitt’s Creek swept the board and won all 15 of its nominations—there’s no funnier show on TV, and now it’s over. If I didn’t know Curb Your Enthusiasm would be coming back for another season, I would add that too. How can the Emmys keep overlooking this show?
For Drama Series, I fully expect Succession will win and keep HBO’s dominance in the category following last year’s third win there for Game of Thrones. But Ozark could take it and finally bring Netflix its long-desired win in one of the three marquee categories of Comedy, Drama and Limited Series. In the Trump era, the dark machinations of both Succession and Ozark speak to the unfortunate moment of greed and #MeAndOnlyMe. So let’s give it to Succession this year and maybe Ozark next year in its final round. Or better yet, Better Call Saul (how in God’s name could my fellow Emmy voters pass on nominating Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn???).
As good as Watchmen is (and with a leading 26 nominations and several craft Emmys already this week, it can’t lose) I love the political urgency and execution of FX’s Mrs. America. So instead of going for WatchMEN, my vote went to all those fascinating women of Mrs. America. I would love to see Cate Blanchett pick up her first Emmy in the Lead Actress in Limited Series or TV Movie category, but it probably goes to Regina King, not just because she is also (and always) excellent too, but because she has the Midas touch when it comes to Emmys. Hulu’s stunning Normal People somehow missed a nomination for Limited Series, but it could — and should — upset the competition in the writing and directing categories for Limited Series and wouldn’t that be interesting. And I wouldn’t be surprised at all if its co-star, the aforementioned Mescal, pulls off an upset and wins Best Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie over higher-profile candidates Hugh Jackman and Mark Ruffalo, who have been favored. Mescal has the heat, and winning for his first-ever television work would be a seminal Emmy moment. Momentum seems to be with him, so watch out for that category (I have officially picked the superb work of Jackman in Bad Education, but this is a category up in the air).
Laura Linney is an Emmy magnet so I am predicting a fifth win for her, in as many different roles, in Ozark, where she is sensational. But I am rooting for Jennifer Aniston in The Morning Show for a performance that perhaps ranks as the finest of her career. She won at SAG; actors know good when they see it. Jason Bateman won his first Emmy last year for directing Ozark, and this year he may win his first Emmy for acting for the same series. That would be nice, but I have to say Brian Cox, not just for Succession but a brilliant career as well, would be the one that would be the most satisfying to win Lead Actor in a Drama Series , even against co-star Jeremy Strong, who steals every scene he is in for that show and may well pull off the victory.
It has been an exceptional year for television, and perhaps because of the pandemic lockdowns the most viewed by Emmy voters ever, so surprises could loom Sunday. All these nominees are deserving as are so many that didn’t even get this far. It is an impossible task, this awards thing. Let’s just call it all a tie.