Home TV TV Lists

Emmy Awards 2015: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

Predicting the winners — and who should be collecting the gold — for this year’s awards broadcast

Emmys

It may sound crazy, but in an age where there's more good television than any sane person could possibly watch, awards for the best shows of the bunch may matter more than ever. This Sunday's 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards could serve as a survey of an increasingly wide and wild TV landscape — with broadcast networks, basic cable, pay channels, and streaming services alike breaking molds and blurring lines in the battle for small-screen supremacy. Will upstarts topple favorites? Will risks be rewarded? And will Mad Men, the last New Golden Age landmark standing, sweep the show during its final year?

Below are our 2015 Emmy predictions: Our picks for who will take home the gold, our wishlist of shows and stars who should be taking the stage instead, and our dream slate of nominees who were inexplicably robbed of their shot. Don't touch that dial!

Mad Men

AMC

Best Drama

The Nominees:
Better Call Saul (AMC)
Downton Abbey (PBS)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
Homeland (Showtime)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Mad Men (AMC)
Orange Is the New Black (Showtime)

WILL WIN: A failure to award Matt Weiner's masterpiece Mad Men one more time before it heads off to the big Coke commercial in the sky would be almost willfully perverse. If its most direct points of comparison — Weiner's alma mater show The Sopranos and its AMC brother-in-arms Breaking Bad — could pull off the final-season win, the house that Don Draper built can do it t0o.

SHOULD WIN: Never mind the naysayers: Mad Men is an all-time top-five television show and deserves the trophy for its melancholy, valedictory suite of final episodes. That said, no series on TV thinks bigger or strikes harder than Game of Thrones, though it will take the departure of both its Bad/ Mad rivals for it to finally take home the gold.

ROBBED: The biggest drama here may well be the shows that didn't make the cut. Showtime's uncompromising psychodrama The Affair took home the Golden Globe but didn't even manage a nomination. FX's political thriller The Americans gets better and better seemingly with every episode but has yet to garner a nod, even as its weaker counterparts Homeland and House of Cards keep racking them up. Fox's ratings behemoth Empire was a way more entertaining soap than Downton Abbey's sagging fourth season, while Boardwalk Empire's morally merciless final episodes trumped it in the period-piece department. The Marvel/Netflix joint Daredevil was the best live-action superhero-comic adaptation since Tim Burton's Batman in 1989 (eat it, Chris Nolan). And NBC's violent visual fantasia Hannibal made almost everything else on TV look like a public-access show.

Modern Family

MODERN FAMILY - "Lifetime Supply" - After having a doctor's visit but then missing the call with the test results, Phil automatically jumps to conclusions and starts saying his goodbyes. Meanwhile Javier pops up unannounced again and takes Manny to the horse races for a belated birthday celebration, and a subtle competition ensues when Mitchell brings home an environmental law award and it becomes a game of who has the bigger trophy, on "Modern Family," WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4 (9:00-9:31 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/PETER "HOPPER" STONE) SARAH HYLAND, TY BURRELL, JULIE BOWEN, ARIEL WINTER, NOLAN GOULD

ABC

Best Comedy

The Nominees:
Louie (FX)
Modern Family (ABC)
Parks and Recreation (NBC)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Transparent (Amazon)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Veep (HBO)

WILL WIN: Though Transparent earned the headlines and swept the Golden Globes, perpetual favorite Modern Family has fended off forward-thinking streaming-only competition before — Orange may have been the new black, but it wasn't the new Emmy winner for Best Comedy. (Now it's in the Drama category, just to show how cockamamie these things can get.) The show also seems likely to withstand any sentimental votes for Parks & Rec's fond farewell, given that it did the same to 30 Rock a few years back. Picking Modern Family to pick up its sixth win may be the conservative choice, but in this category, conservatism is generally rewarded.

SHOULD WIN: Like Girls and Orange Is the New Black before it, Transparent expands the emotional and personal palette of the sitcom genre. If you see the Emmys as a signpost of what we find worth valuing in TV, rather than an argument that the winners are necessarily flawless, that's worth rewarding.

ROBBED: The big bong theory of Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer's Broad City deserved a shot, but the comedy brutality of Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King's The Comeback and Andy Daly and Jeffrey Blitz's Review should have earned either of those superior series a win.

Jon Hamm

Style: "Mad Men"

AMC

Best Actor in a Drama

The Nominees:
Kyle Chandler, Bloodline
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

WILL WIN: Come on, people. Jon Hamm. The end.

SHOULD WIN: See above.

ROBBED: Given that half the nominees are pretty much ridiculous this year (Jeff Daniels? Couldn't Aaron Sorkin have hired pretty much anyone to sit there and read his op-eds about these kids today and their ePhones?), the omission of Matthew Rhys for his mesmerizing work as The Americans' conscience-stricken spy Philip Jennings is as criminal as anything the character's KGB paymasters have asked him to do. He absolutely deserves the chance to lose to Jon Hamm. The end.

Elisabeth Moss

Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in <em>Mad Men</em>.

AMC

Best Actress in a Drama

The Nominees:
Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Taraji P. Henson, Empire
Tatiana Malsany, Orphan Black
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Robin Wright, House of Cards

WILL WIN: Started from the bottom, now she's here: The echoes between Peggy Olson fighting her way to the top of the ad-industry heap in Mad Men and Elisabeth Moss losing five times to win on her sixth should prove irresistible to Emmy voters, despite facing one of the strongest and most varied fields in the history of the category.

SHOULD WIN: Ideally, Moss's mantel would already be covered with statuettes, and Taraji P. Henson could take home the trophy she earned with her turn as Cookie Lyon on Empire. That role could be a camptastic mess in lesser hands, but Henson's thoughtful performance as the Tyrion Lannister of the Lyon empire keeps the character human (not to mention hilarious).

ROBBED: No actor left it all on the field the way Ruth Wilson did in her absolutely harrowing role as The Affair's grief-stricken, adulterous, self-injurious female half, Alison Lockhart — though Carrie Coon's haunted turn as mother-of-the-departed Nora Durst in The Leftovers came close.

Jeffrey Tambor

TV STILL -- DO NOT PURGE -- Transparent season 1 episode 2 from Amazon Studios 501B9889.CR2

Amazon

Best Actor in a Comedy

The Nominees:
Anthony Anderson, Blackish
Louis C.K., Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

WILL WIN: With great responsibility comes great power: Jeffrey Tambor took on the understandably freighted work of portraying Maura Pfefferman, Transparent's sorta-title character, to wide acclaim. Emmy voters are all but certain to agree.

SHOULD WIN: Tambor takes his role as a trans woman way beyond "hey look at me playing a persecuted minority" award-bait territory where many actors would have merely coasted.

ROBBED: It's a shame his in-character participation in oddcore comedians Tim and Eric's latest live tour doesn't count, because John C. Reilly's starring role Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, which took the year off, is the kind of fully committed craziness TV hasn't seen since Andy Kaufman. That aside, Andy Daly's oblivious everyman TV-show host Forrest MacNeil plumbs new depths of middle-aged white-guy disaster on a weekly basis in Review; we're sure he'd give winning an Emmy five stars.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

HBO

Best Actress in a Comedy

The Nominees:
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

WILL WIN: Amy Schumer may be a superstar in the making, if she hasn't been fully made already, and Amy Poehler's departure from Pawnee combined with her role as a macher for the new generation of women comedians is equally impressive. But at this point Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the most universally acclaimed comedic actress on TV since Lucille Ball. Look for Selina Meyer to get re-elected.

SHOULD WIN: Lisa Kudrow mixed layer upon layer of fiction, real life, comedy, drama, prestige TV, and reality trash to recreate her character Valerie Cherish in The Comeback's miraculous second season. In the process she gave a human face to one of the most excoriating portrayals of Hollywood sexism this side of Sunset Boulevard. She may not get the Emmy, but she deserves our gratitude.

ROBBED: As Hannah Horvath on Girls and Ilana Wexler on Broad City, Lena Dunham and Ilana Glazer are the yin and yang, the Goofus and Gallant, the Superman and Bizarro of half-assing your way through life in the big city. Those aren't just performances, they're a public service.

Jonathan Banks

AMC

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama

The Nominees:
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Michael Kelly, House of Cards
Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline

WILL WIN: Lord Tyrion's got a shot, though as with his Game of Thrones colleague Emilia Clarke, it's a bit baffling why Peter Dinklage isn't considered a lead. But by finally showing the softer side of his peerless tough-guy character Mike Ehrmantraut, Jonathan Banks will segue from Breaking Bad to its prequel Better Call Saul with an Emmy in his hand.

SHOULD WIN: Smart, tight, world-weary enough to make you take up smoking just to cope, Banks' performance deserves all the acclaim it gets, and the awards ought to follow suit.

ROBBED: Elsewhere in Better Call Saul's opening credits, you'll find the name of Michael McKean; it's amazing to think that the same guy who plays emotionally crippled but hugely arrogant attorney Chuck McGill was also responsible for singing Spinal Tap's “Big Bottom.” And unlike virtually everything else in the genre, Vincent D'Onofrio's turn as Daredevil nemesis Wilson Fisk risked alienating its audience rather than pandering to them, with dynamite results.

Christina Hendricks

AMC

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama

The Nominees:
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

WILL WIN: Rising to the top only to be pushed out the window before starting again stronger than she was before, Christina Hendricks' Joan Holloway Harris had the most dramatic arc of anyone inside the Sterling Cooper clique aside from Don Draper himself in Mad Men's final season. She'll help the show maintain its sweep.

SHOULD WIN: If Hendricks doesn't snag that statuette, then in Joan's own words, we'd like to burn this place down.

ROBBED: Jeez, where to begin? It's astonishing that neither underdog January Jones nor prodigy Kiernan Shipka were nominated for their soul-crushing work as Betty Francis and Sally Draper alongside their Mad Men castmate Hendricks. Like Shipka, young actors Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner are consistently overlooked for investing Arya and Sansa Stark with pathos that makes them the heart of Game of Thrones. Gretchen Mol was magisterially miserable as Gillian Darmody, who emerged as a central role once again in Boardwalk Empire's last episodes. And Orange Is the New Black has a whole prison full of scene-stealers to choose from. But for our money, the complexity and power of Alison Wright's performance as duped and deluded FBI employee Martha Hanson — the embodiment of all the innocents caught in The Americans' crossfire — was as good as TV acting got this year.

Ty Burrell

FOR TV WEEK -- DO NOT PURGE -- MODERN FAMILY - "Flip Flop" - Phil is pretty confident in his ability to sell Claire and Cam's flipped house, but when it proves to be a little harder than he thought, he recruits the whole family into taking some desperate, borderline crazy measures. Meanwhile, Javier (guest star Benjamin Bratt) is visiting Manny and brings along his new girlfriend (guest star Paget Brewster), which doesn't sit very well with Gloria, on "Modern Family," WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10 (9:00-9:31 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Peter "Hopper" Stone) TY BURRELL

AMC

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy

The Nominees:
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Titus Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Adam Driver, Girls
Tony Hale, Veep
Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele

WILL WIN: Tough call here, though the simple fact that many, many more people watch Modern Family than the other nominees gives frequent flier Ty Burrell the edge.

SHOULD WIN: Adam Driver's on his way to immortality in a galaxy far, far away, but in the meantime Titus Burgess pretty much made Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt water-cooler viewing.

ROBBED: Jordan fucking Peele. C'mon, what the hell is that about? Also, while the size of the role may technically relegate it to the also-ran Guest Actor category, Zachary Quinto's Ace, the most loathsome hipster ever to appear on Girls — which is saying something — was the single funniest character of the year.

Allison Janney

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy

The Nominees:
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Gaby Hoffman, Transparent
Allison Janney, Mom
Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Niecy Nash, Getting On

WILL WIN: Without Allison Janney, Mom would be, like, half a show, and she's a dynamic presence in anything that puts her on screen. Her second win in a row seems assured.

SHOULD WIN: Former child star Gaby Hoffman's emergence as a take-no-prisoners comedic character actor on Girls and Transparent is one hell of a second act, as is Niecy Nash's segue from Reno 911! and reality TV to the gallows humor of Getting On. Either would be a worthy winner.

ROBBED: Now that its "six seasons" are up and only "and a movie remains," it's pretty peculiar that neither Gillian Jacobs nor Alison Brie were ever nominated for their two-pronged assault on the notion of the Pretty Romantic Sitcom Lead in Community.