Photo: Richard Cartwright/? 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
The 2011 Emmys are Sunday, which means it’s time for everyone’s favorite awards-related activity: predictions! Vulture breaks down the major categories for you, deciding which nominees can be immediately ruled out, who has a fighting chance, whom you should pick for an Emmy pool, and which performers and shows would win in our dream world (no matter how slim their chances are in reality). Will it be Jon Hamm or Steve Buscemi? Amy Poehler or Tina Fey? Peter Dinklage or Alan Cumming? Just how many statuettes will Modern Family walk away with this year? Oh, a whole bunch.
Nominees: The Big Bang Theory, Glee, Modern Family, The Office, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock
Toss Out: The Office hasn’t won since 2006, and, regardless of Steve Carell’s sympathetic farewell, this was far from its strongest season. And if Glee didn’t win for its first season, it’s sure not going to win for its inferior second. Parks and Recreation is the longest of long shots, though the fact that it’s nominated at all is a huge moment for the show.
Who’s Left: The Big Bang Theory is increasingly buzzy four years in, with nominations for two of its leads and a strong season of work. But Modern Family won last year, and the critical darling had a solid second season.
Vulture Pool Pick: Modern Family
Vulture Dream Pick: Parks and Recreation
Nominees: Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, Friday Night Lights, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, Mad Men
Toss Out: As great as it is, the Friday Night Lights nomination is its own reward; Dexter seems a bit outclassed this time around; and while Game of Thrones has more recent buzz, if an HBO show is going to win, it’s more likely to be the less grizzled, more Emmy-ready Boardwalk.
Who’s Left: The Good Wife is the best show of the broadcast networks, and the Emmys aren’t immune to a show with that kind of broad appeal. Period drama Boardwalk Empire was basically made for awards shows, and it did pick up a Golden Globe. And while there’s been much theorizing that all this spring’s behind-the-scenes drama around previous winner Mad Men could have soured voters, leaving room for one of the other shows to sneak in, it is coming off a great season.
Vulture Pool Pick: Mad Men
Vulture Dream Pick: Mad Men
Nominees: John Slattery, Mad Men; Andre Braugher, Men of a Certain Age; Walton Goggins, Justified; Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones; Josh Charles, The Good Wife; Alan Cumming, The Good WifeToss Out: Charles is great, but Cumming completely outshines him; Braugher was sublime on the dearly departed Men of a Certain Age, but as good as that show was, it didn’t get enough traction to have Emmy cred; Walton Goggins is electrifying on Justified, but if anyone’s going to win for that show it’s Margo Martindale.Who’s Left: Game of Thrones was the show people were talking about this spring, and Dinklage is a huge reason why. This is Slattery’s fourth nomination without a win, and while his character had a little less to do this season, Slattery could get a cumulative win. But The Good Wife is the network show the Academy loves to love, and it’s the only network show here.Vulture Pool Pick: Alan CummingVulture Dream Pick: Walton Goggins
Nominees: Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire; Christina Hendricks, Mad Men; Michelle Forbes, The Killing; Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife; Margo Martindale, Justified; Christine Baranski, The Good WifeToss Out: The Killing’s downward trajectory obliterates Michelle Forbes’s chances for being recognized for the art of perpetual weeping, and Kelly Macdonald only gets to show off a narrow range. Baranski mostly preens and delivers smarmy directives, and as nuanced and perfect as Hendricks’s performance is, this season of Mad Men really belonged to Elisabeth Moss.Who’s Left: Panjabi’s surprise win last year could turn into a way-less-surprising win this year, but Martindale’s run as ruthless kingpin put Justified on the map this season.Vulture Pool Pick: Margo MartindaleVulture Dream Pick: Margo Martindale
Nominees: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire; Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights; Michael C. Hall, Dexter; Jon Hamm, Mad Men; Hugh Laurie, House; Timothy Olyphant, JustifiedToss Out: Hugh Laurie’s always the bridesmaid for this category, but this season of House was a disaster. Hall’s Dexter already earned him a Golden Globe,* but this season was not fully up to par , and while we’d love to think cosmic justice would be enough to earn Chandler an Emmy, remember: The Wire only got three Emmy nominations and if anyone from FNL is going to get gold, it’s going to be Connie Britton.Who’s Left: Olyphant is a major long shot, but FX’s expertise at running Emmy campaigns means he has a teeny-tiny chance of an upset. Buscemi’s an A-lister, and Boardwalk is Emmy catnip, but the show was big but not big enough. Hamm has dominated this category and had another stunning season on Mad Men.Vulture Pool Pick: Jon HammVulture Dream Pick: Kyle Chandler (come on, it’s Coach!)*This slide has been updated to reflect that Michael C. Hall won a Golden Globe, not an Emmy, for his portrayal of Dexter.
Nominees: Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law; Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights; Mireille Enos, The Killing; Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU; Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife; Elisabeth Moss, Mad MenToss Out: If The Killing’s ending didn’t kill its nominations, it still slashes its chances of victory. That anything Harry’s Law–related has been nominated at all is a credit to Kathy Bates’s appeal and star power, and while Mariska Hargitay has won in the past, her moment is probably over.Who’s Left: If any of the Friday Night Lights nominees stand a chance, it’s Connie Britton. Alas, that’s still probably not enough, especially when the competition is so deserving. Elisabeth Moss has been more and more brilliant with every passing season of Mad Men, none more so than last year, but Margulies already has a win (for supporting actress on ER) under her belt.* Vulture Pool Pick: Julianna MarguliesVulture Dream Pick: Elisabeth Moss or Connie Britton*This slide has been corrected to reflect that Julianna Margulies has not won an Emmy for her performance on The Good Wife.
Nominees: So You Think You Can Dance, The Amazing Race, Project Runway, American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, Top ChefToss Out: DWtS and So You Think You Can Dance are both too trashy.Who’s Left: Amazing Race had this category on lockdown until last year, when Top Chef (rightfully) seized the crown. Runway is off the radar these days, and Idol was a watchable coma last season. Vulture Pool Pick: Top ChefVulture Dream Pick: Top Chef
Nominees: The Colbert Report; Late Night With Jimmy Fallon; Saturday Night Live; Conan; Real Time With Bill Maher; The Daily ShowToss Out: It’s not an election year, so SNL is out of the running (and besides, guest host Justin Timberlake already snagged a win for SNL over the weekend at the creative arts Emmys). If The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien couldn’t beat The Daily Show last year after all the Jay drama, it seems hard to imagine Conan doing so. And though Jimmy Fallon would be an awesome choice, he’s still too new to the game to beat the big guns.
Who’s Left: Real Time With Bill Maher also got more attention than usual last season, thanks to Maher’s history with Christine “I’m Not a Witch” O’Donnell. One of these days, The Colbert Report will break through with a win, and he did grab headlines with his Super Pac and the March to Keep Fear Alive last fall. However, Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity got the most attention, and he was particularly strong taking on both the GOP and the perceived weakness of President Obama. And with his visit to Fox News to debate Chris Wallace, he remains the most high-profile, news-making host.
Vulture Pool Pick: The Daily Show
Vulture Dream Pick: Real Time
Nominees: Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie; Tina Fey, 30 Rock; Laura Linney, The Big C; Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly; Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope; Amy Poehler, Parks and RecreationToss Out: Even a great turn in Bridesmaids won’t be enough for McCarthy to break through. And while we love Plimpton, and she is a film star, not enough folks watched Hope to let her eke out a win. Likewise, Tina Fey hasn’t won this category since 2008, and this isn’t the year to stage a comeback — it’s a very tough field.Who’s Left: Poehler had an amazing season on Parks and voters might finally be ready to give her the props she deserves. Falco won last year, and while Nurse Jackie has been losing buzz, Falco can never be counted out at TV awards shows. Ditto Laura Linney, who took the Golden Globe in January and is the only reason anyone even talks about The Big C. Vulture Pool Pick: Laura LinneyVulture Dream Pick: Amy Poehler
Nominees: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock; Louis C.K., Louie; Steve Carell, The Office; Johnny Galecki; The Big Bang Theory; Matt LeBlanc, Episodes; Jim Parsons, The Big Bang TheoryToss Out: Matt LeBlanc is lucky to be nominated for a show not that many people saw, and even fewer people buzzed about; Johnny Galecki should be honored just to be joining co-star Parsons in this category; and while we wish Louis C.K. would take this thing — he sure deserves it — there’s no chance.Who’s Left: Alec Baldwin and Jim Parsons have been trading off wins for the past few years, but they’re likely to both be trumped by sentimentality: The Office was not at its best this past season, but it was Steve Carell’s last one, and the Emmys will likely send him off a winner.Vulture Pool Pick: Steve CarrellVulture Dream Pick: Louis C.K.
Nominees: Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men; Chris Colfer, Glee; Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family; Ed O’Neill, Modern Family; Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family; Ty Burrell, Modern FamilyToss out: The very, very funny Stonestreet won last year, but he didn’t have quite as many meaty scenes this season. Ferguson might also have a shot if this really were a supporting actor category, but with so many big names (mostly from his own show) as rivals, he’s probably not a contender. Cryer might get a few sympathy votes for surviving Sheen, but it would be stunning if he actually won.Who’s Left: Per Goldderby.com, most Emmy experts think Burrell is the odds-on favorite, and we will not argue with this. But we also think Emmy voters might first want to give O’Neill his due after decades of service to the art of TV comedy. Colfer is a long shot, particularly if voters decide to vote on the basis of “comedy”; but if they vote with sentimentality in mind, he did have some great, moving episodes in a very rocky Glee season.Vulture Pool Pick: Ty BurrellVulture Dream Pick: Ty Burrell
Nominees: Jane Lynch, Glee; Betty White, Hot in Cleveland; Julie Bowen, Modern Family; Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live; Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock; Sofia Vergara, Modern FamilyToss Out: This is a pretty stiff category, but Bowen’s out, if only because when it comes to Modern Family, Vergara is the stand out. Krakowski is a delight, but she’s the least recognized 30 Rock member in not its strongest year. Wiig is coming off Bridesmaids; it’s not impossible that voters would give her an Emmy for the movie, but if that’s going to happen, it’s more likely to happen to her co-star Melissa McCarthy.Who’s Left: Glee’s fortunes may be fading fast, but Jane Lynch still has good will — she is hosting this shindig, after all. But not as much as the hilarious Vergara, or the all-time goodwill champ Betty White.Vulture Pool Pick: Betty WhiteVulture Dream Pick: Sofia Vergara