A Breakdown Of The 69th Emmy Award Nominations

I was out of state when the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced in July. Rather than rush out a half-assed breakdown a week late, I decided I would wait for the halfway point of the race before posting a comprehensive breakdown for you all, as well as my predictions in all of the major categories, as well as some of the smaller categories that caught my eye.

Before we get into the major awards, I want to point out something I find worth mentioning. I said last year that, while it wasn’t my favorite season of BoJack Horseman, that “Fish Out of Water” was singlehandedly the greatest achievement in television animation and that the actors each deserved individual Emmys. Well, “Fish Out of Water” was egregiously snubbed (although it is still eligible for the Jury Award for Animation), but we did see the first Emmy nomination for Kristen Schaal. Schaal’s performance as Sarah Lynn last season was a true work of art, taking things to the next level, and combining comedy and drama in one tragic package. I consider her nomination a win for the Sacred Wall, a win for a great artist, and a win for art in general. She is my pick for the winner of Best Character Voice-Over, and in a just world, I will be correct.

Now that that’s settled, let’s talk about the major awards. Across the board, it was clear that there were two things the Emmys were looking for: politically charged shows that stuck it to the man (sometimes quite literally), and new shows that deserved acclaim. And with previous nominees like Game of Thrones ineligible, and shows like Transparent losing love across the board, there was plenty of room for the new vanguard of Peak TV to sneak in for some love. I’ll break each of these genres down separately, starting with comedy. As I mentioned, Transparent was left on the outside looking in, making room for one of the strongest comedy fields we’ve seen since the mid-nineties. Every channel brought their A-game, from the hot up-and-comers FX to the reliable HBO to Netflix to the networks. The biggest success story was Veep, bringing in ten nominations, including five acting nominations for Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Matt Walsh, previous winner Tony Hale, Anna Chlumsky, and guest actor Hugh Laurie. Of those five, you can bet that Louis-Dreyfus will win her sixth straight Emmy. Shockingly, the best performance on that show, Peter MacNicol, was left off the list, but he will be immortalized in the Best Ofs at the end of the year. Perhaps the reason he was left out is because, after many years being the laughing stock of the awards, Saturday Night Live received its greatest acclaim yet, receiving a nomination for Outstanding Sketch Series and a total of nine acting nominations, including Alec Baldwin for Best Supporting Actor, Vanessa Bayer and Leslie Jones in Best Supporting Actress alongside previous winner Kate McKinnon, Tom Hanks for Best Guest Actor (HE’S DAVID S. PUMPKINS, MAN! ANY QUESTIONS?), and Melissa McCarthy for Best Guest Actress. Of that list, I would say that Baldwin and McKinnon will win the Supporting categories, if only for the politics, and Hanks is a strong frontrunner for Best Guest Actor. McCarthy shouldn’t win over Angela Bassett, who gave the most honest and beautiful performance of the year, but it will unfortunately happen because the Emmys are still voted on by white liberals. And quite frankly, it will be a shame to see Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt go home empty handed, especially because Tituss Burgess’ performance is 10000 times better than even Baldwin’s best episode. Other noteworthy shows include Atlanta and Master of None, both looking to overthrow Veep and Jeffrey Tambor for the top prize, Black-ish putting up an impressive showing (I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tracee Ellis Ross beat Louis-Dreyfus in a close race), and surprise nominations for Zach Galifianakis for Baskets and Pamela Adlon for Better Things. You can see the rest of my comedy predictions below.

As for Drama, things are looking to be really interesting. Not only is Game of Thrones ineligible in all of its usual categories, but last year’s surprise winners Rami Malek and Tatiana Maslany arent’ nominated. This means the Drama Emmys will be completely dominated by new blood. This can be seen by the huge showing for new shows The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, and Westworld. While The Crown is perhaps the simplest show nominated, and will most likely win Best Drama, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor, most of the nominations were split between Westworld and The Handmaid’s Tale. Westworld seems to have overcome some of its backlash, earning a nomination for Best Drama, Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, and Thandie Newton. I would consider Newton one of the two frontrunners for Best Supporting Actress, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a late groundswell of support for Wright in Supporting Actor, but other than that, I think Westworld will be happy to have a seat at the table. Meanwhile, The Handmaid’s Tale has quickly become the most talked about show of the year. I haven’t watched it yet, as I’m trying to read the book before tuning in (I’ve started, and it’s great), but everyone I know who’s watched it has nothing but raves for the filmmaking on display. It is one of four shows in realistic competition for Best Drama, and there’s also nominations for Elisabeth Moss, Ann Dowd (doubled up for The Leftovers, I’m sure), Samira Wiley (because she’s perfect, I’m sure), and Alexis Bledel. From that list, I would expect the only win to be industry darling Bledel as Ofglen, who is described as one of the highlights of the show. Even if she wins, the fun for those of us who are fans of Gilmore Girls is the fact that Rory and Jess are both nominated this year. Huzzah! Yes, Milo Ventimiglia was nominated for his heartwarming turn in This Is Us, alongside Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, Ron Cephas Jones, and the show as a whole. If network shows make a surge (i.e. black-ish, etc.), then This Is Us could end up being our Best Drama Series 2017. If not, the show should still take home Best Actor for Brown. His only competition is Bob Odenkirk, who by this point has Saul Goodman down pat. And in the biggest shock of the nominations came from the love for Stranger Things. One of my favorite shows from 2016, it seemed the two options were either full snub or universal love. And it seems the latter is the case, as the film received nominations not only for Best Drama Series, writing and directing, but received nominations for Millie Bobby Brown (the other frontrunner for Best Supporting Actress) and, shockingly, David Harbour. However, most exciting of all is probably the surprise love for Shannon Purser, who gave the smallest performance possible as Barb, but obviously has made the largest impact (#justiceforBarb). I would say that it is a four-way race between Things, The Crown, This Is Us, and The Handmaid’s Tale, with the edge going to The Crown, but no matter what, without Game of Thrones, it is an exciting year for drama.

As for the Limited Series category, there’s nothing really surprising here. The wonderful Feud received the most nominations, including six acting awards. It should win Best Limited Series, but it’ll be in a close battle with Big Little Lies. Actually, they’ll be competing in almost every category, as you can break each race down to Jessica Lange vs. Nicole Kidman, Alfred Molina vs. Alexander Skarsgård, and Judy Davis vs. Laura Dern. Best Actor will probably be Ewan McGregor vs. Riz Ahmed, but I’ll give the edge to McGregor. Outside of that, there weren’t many surprises, although I will say it’s incredibly nice to see San Junipero get the love it deserves, because it was really next level.

A couple of random thoughts on the rest of the nominations: For the first time since he started in early 2014, Jimmy Fallon was not nominated for any Emmys, in what is most certainly a political choice (he was replaced by host Colbert and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee). I love the nomination for W. Kamau Bell for Best Host. The tightest race yet is clearly Feud vs. Stranger Things for Best Main Title Sequence. Two of the best nominations come for Best Original Music and Lyrics, with “We Tapped That Ass” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (one of the funniest songs on the show) competing with the stunningly perfect “Hell No” from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. And in one of the most exciting twists of fate, RuPaul’s Drag Race received a handful of nominations, including one for RuPaul herself. Huzzah!

The full list of nominees can be found below, with my current predictions marked with a *. The Primetime Emmy Awards will be held on September 17th. I’ll be back with live results that night.

Outstanding Drama Series

  • Better Call Saul
  • The Crown *
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • House of Cards
  • Stranger Things
  • This Is Us
  • Westworld 

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • Atlanta
  • Black-ish
  • Master of None
  • Modern Family
  • Silicon Valley
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Veep *

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

  • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live!
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver *
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
  • The Late Late Show with James Corden
  • Real Time With Bill Maher

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

  • Billy on the Street
  • Documentary Now!
  • Drunk History
  • Portlandia
  • Saturday Night Live *
  • Tracey Ullman’s Show

Outstanding Limited Series

  • Big Little Lies
  • Fargo
  • Feud: Bette and Joan *
  • Genius
  • The Night Of

Outstanding Television Movie

  • Black Mirror: San Junipero *
  • Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  • Sherlock: The Lying Detective
  • The Wizard of Lies

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

  • The Amazing Race
  • American Ninja Warrior
  • Project Runway
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race *
  • Top Chef
  • The Voice 

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Anthony Anderson-Black-ish
  • Aziz Ansari-Master of None
  • Zach Galifianakis-Baskets
  • Donald Glover-Atlanta *
  • William H. Macy-Shameless
  • Jeffrey Tambor-Transparent

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Pamela Adlon-Better Things
  • Jane Fonda-Grace and Frankie
  • Allison Janney-Mom
  • Ellie Kemper-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus-Veep *
  • Tracee Ellis Ross-Black-ish
  • Lily Tomlin-Grace and Frankie

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  • Sterling K. Brown-This Is Us *
  • Anthony Hopkins-Westworld
  • Bob Odenkirk-Better Call Saul
  • Matthew Rhys-The Americans
  • Live Schreiber-Ray Donovan
  • Kevin Spacey-House of Cards
  • Milo Ventimiglia-This Is Us

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  • Viola Davis-How to Get Away with Murder
  • Claire Foy-The Crown *
  • Elisabeth Moss-The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Keri Russell-The Americans
  • Evan Rachel Wood-Westworld
  • Robin Wright-House of Cards

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Riz Ahmed-The Night Of
  • Benedict Cumberbatch-Sherlock: The Lying Detective
  • Robert De Niro-The Wizard of Lies
  • Ewan McGregor-Fargo *
  • Geoffrey Rush-Genius
  • John Turturro-The Night Of

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Carrie Coon-Fargo
  • Felicity Huffman-American Crime
  • Nicole Kidman-Big Little Lies
  • Jessica Lange-Feud: Bette and Joan *
  • Susan Sarandon-Feud: Bette and Joan
  • Reese Withersoon-Big Little Lies

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Louie Anderson-Baskets
  • Alec Baldwin-Saturday Night Live *
  • Tituss Burgess-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Ty Burrell-Modern Family
  • Tony Hale-Veep
  • Matt Walsh-Veep

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Vanessa Bayer-Saturday Night Live
  • Anna Chlumsky-Veep
  • Kathryn Hahn-Transparent
  • Leslie Jones-Saturday Night Live
  • Judith Light-Transparent
  • Kate McKinnon-Saturday Night Live *

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

  • Jonathan Banks-Better Call Saul
  • David Harbour-Stranger Things
  • Ron Cephas Jones-This Is Us
  • Michael Kelly-House of Cards
  • John Lithgow-The Crown *
  • Mandy Patinkin-Homeland
  • Jeffrey Wright-Westworld

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Uzo Aduba-Orange Is the New Black
  • Millie Bobby Brown-Stranger Things
  • Ann Dowd-The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Chrissy Metz-This Is Us
  • Thandie Newton-Westworld *
  • Samira Wiley-The Handmaid’s Tale 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Bill Camp-The Night Of
  • Alfred Molina-Feud: Bette and Joan *
  • Alexander Skarsgård-Big Little Lies
  • David Thewlis-Fargo
  • Stanley Tucci-Feud: Bette and Joan
  • Michael K. Williams-The Night Of

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Judy Davis-Feud: Bette and Joan *
  • Luara Dern-Big Little Lies
  • Jackie Hoffman-Feud: Bette and Joan
  • Regina King-American Crime
  • Michelle Pfeiffer-The Wizard of Lies
  • Shailene Woodley-Big Little Lies

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Riz Ahmed-Girls
  • Dave Chappelle-Saturday Night Live
  • Tom Hanks-Saturday Night Live *
  • Hugh Laurie-Veep
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda-Saturday Night Live
  • Matthew Rhys-Girls

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Becky Ann Baker-Girls
  • Angela Basett-Master of None
  • Carrie Fisher-Catastrophe
  • Melissa McCarthy-Saturday Night Live *
  • Wanda Sykes-Black-ish
  • Kristen Wiig-Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series

  • Hank Azaria-Ray Donovan
  • Brian Tyree Henry-This Is Us
  • Gerald McRaney-This Is Us
  • Ben Mendelsohn-Bloodline *
  • Denis O’Hare-This Is Us
  • BD Wong-Mr. Robot 

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series

  • Alexis Bledel-The Handmaid’s Tale *
  • Laverne Cox-Orange Is the New Black
  • Ann Dowd-The Leftovers
  • Shannon Purser-Stranger Things
  • Cicely Tyson-How to Get Away with Murder
  • Alison Wright-The Americans

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series

  • “B.A.N.”-Atlanta (Donald Glover) *
  • “Intellectual Property”-Silicon Valley (Jamie Babbit)
  • “Server Error”-Silicon Valley (Mike Judge)
  • “Blurb”-Veep (Morgan Sackett)
  • “Justice”-Veep (Dale Stern)
  • “Groundbreaking”-Veep (David Mandel)

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series

  • “Witness”-Better Call Saul (Vince Gilligan)
  • “Hyde Park Corner”-The Crown (Stephen Daldry)
  • “Offred”-The Handmaid’s Tale (Reed Morano)
  • “The Bridge”-The Handmaid’s Tale (Kate Dennis)
  • “America First”-Homeland (Lesli Linka Glatter)
  • “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers”-Stranger Things (The Duffer Brothers) *
  • “The Bicameral Mind”-Westworld (Jonathan Nolan)

Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series

  • Drunk History
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live!
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert *
  • Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Big Little Lies (Jean-Marc Vallée) *
  • Fargo: “The Law of Vacant Places” (Noah Hawley)
  • Feud: Bette and Joan: “And The Winner Is… (The Oscars of 1963)” (Ryan Murphy)
  • Genius: “Einstein: Chapter One” (Ron Howard)
  • The Night Of: “The Art of War” (James Marsh)
  • The Night Of: “The Beach” (Steve Zaillian) 

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

  • “B.A.N.”-Atlanta (Donald Glover)
  • “Streets on Lock”-Atlanta (Stephen Glover)
  • “Thanksgiving”-Master of None (Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe) *
  • “Success Failure”-Silicon Valley (Alec Berg)
  • “Georgia”-Veep (Billy Kimball)
  • “Groundbreaking”-Veep (David Mandel) 

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

  • “The Soviet Division”-The Americans (Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg)
  • “Chicanery”-Better Call Saul (Gordon Smith)
  • “Assassins”-The Crown (Peter Morgan) *
  • “Offred”-The Handmaid’s Tale (Bruce Miller)
  • “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers”-Stranger Things (The Duffer Brothers)
  • “The Bicameral Mind”-Westworld (Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan)

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series

  • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • Late Night with Seth Meyers
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
  • Saturday Night Live *

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Big Little Lies (David E. Kelley)
  • Black Mirror: “San Junipero” (Charlie Brooker)
  • Fargo: “The Law of Vacant Places” (Noah Hawley)
  • Feud: Bette and Joan: “And the Winner Is… (The Oscars of 1963)” (Ryan Murphy) *
  • Feud: Bette and Joan: “Pilot” (Jaffe Cohen, Michael Zam, and Ryan Murphy)
  • The Night Of: “The Call of the Wild” (Richard Price and Steven Zaillian)

Outstanding Structured Reality Program

  • Antiques Roadshow
  • Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives
  • Fixer Upper
  • Lip Sync Battle
  • Shark Tank *
  • Who Do You Think You Are?

Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program

  • Born This Way
  • Deadliest Catch
  • Gaycation with Ellen Page
  • Intervention
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked
  • United Shades of America *

Outstanding Variety Special

  • Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2017
  • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents: Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner *
  • Louie C.K. 2017
  • Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust
  • Stephen Colbert’s Live Election Night Democracy’s Series Finale: Who’s Going to Clean Up This Sh*t?

Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special

  • 13th *
  • Amanda Knox
  • The Beatles: Eight Days a Week
  • A House Divided
  • L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later

Outstanding Animated Program

  • Archer: “Archer Dreamland: No Good Deed”
  • Bob’s Burgers: “Bob Actually”
  • Elena and the Secret of Avalor
  • The Simpsons: “The Town”
  • South Park: “Member Berries” *

Outstanding Children’s Program

  • Girl Meets World *
  • Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: 90th Celebration
  • Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas
  • School of Rock
  • Star Wars Rebels

Outstanding Character Voice-Over

  • Dee Bradley Baker-American Dad!
  • Nancy Cartwright-The Simpsons
  • Mo Collins-F is For Family
  • Seth MacFarlane-Family Guy
  • Kevin Kline-Bob’s Burgers
  • Kristen Schaal-BoJack Horseman *

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Rality-Competition Program

  • Alec Baldwin-Match Game
  • Kamau Bell-United Shades of America
  • RuPaul Charles-RuPaul’s Drag Race *
  • Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn-Project Runway
  • Gordon Ramsay-MasterChef Junior
  • Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg-Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party

Outstanding Main Title Design

  • American Gods
  • The Crown
  • Feud: Bette and Joan *
  • Stranger Things
  • Westworld

Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics

  • “Letter to the Free”-13th *
  • “We Tapped That Ass”-Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
  • “Good People”-Jimmy Kimmel Live!
  • “Jing-A-Ling-A-Ling”-Duck the Halls: A Mickey Mouse Christmas Special
  • “Last Christmas”-Saturday Night Live
  • “Hell No”-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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