emmys 2018

Emmy Predictions: Who Should Win and Who Will Win This Year?

Photo: Nicole Rivelli/Amazon Prime Video

The 70th Emmy Awards air Monday, September 17, and Vulture TV critic Jen Chaney and New York Magazine TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz are breaking down the major categories with Emmy predictions for variety serieslimited series, comedy, and drama. What will win? What actually should win? That’s what we’re here to determine.

Outstanding Drama Series

• Game of Thrones (HBO)
• Stranger Things (Netflix)
• The Americans (FX)
• The Crown (Netflix)
• The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
• This Is Us (NBC)
• Westworld (HBO)

The Emmy should go to … The Americans. For the finale alone, but really for all of it. —MZS

The Emmy will to to … Probably A Handmaid’s Tale — or perhaps The Crown, because it’s very English, plus a good many Emmy voters would prefer that everything be on Netflix because it’s just easier that way. —MZS

Outstanding Comedy Series

• Atlanta (FX)
• Barry (HBO)
• Black-ish (ABC)
• GLOW (Netflix)
• The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
• Silicon Valley (HBO)
• Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

The Emmy will go to … The Marvelous Mrs MaiselNeither Mrs. Maisel nor Atlanta is a mainstream family sitcom, but the former is the more obviously comedic of the two. And in this category, that matters. —JC

The Emmy should go to … Atlanta. Mrs. Maisel is charming and bold, but Atlanta does things that challenge the basic frameworks of television. Even if it isn’t LOL funny at all times, it is still pretty funny. For example, the hilarious “Barbershop” episode, which features the most absurd haircut wait-time in the history of follicle maintenance. I’m just not sure enough Emmy voters will choose it here. I would be happy to be proven wrong. —JC

Outstanding Limited Series

• The Alienist (TNT)
• The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (FX)
• Genius: Picasso (National Geographic)
• Godless (Netflix)
• Patrick Melrose (Showtime)

The Emmy will go to … Patrick Melrose. Come on, now. It’s like it was engineered to make the Anglophiles that populate the Academy cry a single tear of joy over a stiff upper lip. —MZS

The Emmy should go to … The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. I’ve been reviewing TV for over 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything remotely like it, thematically, stylistically, or structurally. Only a producer as powerful and audacious as Ryan Murphy could’ve made it happen. Yeah, sure, it’s ostentatiously monumental and cold, but so are the Great Pyramids. And it makes a perfect, albeit alarming companion piece to Murphy’s other 2018 FX production, Pose, which is set during the same era. —MZS

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

• The Daily Show With Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
• Full Frontal With Samantha Bee (TBS)
• Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
• Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
• The Late Late Show With James Corden (CBS)
• The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (CBS)

The Emmy will go to … Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, for the reasons I just suggested. What Jon Stewart was to the George W. Bush era, Oliver is to the Trump era, and I expect he and his show will continue getting Emmys the same way The Daily Show once did. That said, if Bee or Kimmel pulls off an upset, I won’t be totally shocked. —JC

The Emmy should go to … Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. I admire Kimmel for the candor and political passion he’s brought to his program. (As much as I like Colbert, I still can’t shake the sense that he would be so much more interesting at this political moment if he were still doing The Colbert Show.) I like Bee a lot, too, but Oliver tends to be the first person I want to hear from when something particularly crazy happens in the political realm. Which is, you know, a lot. He’s also the host who most surprises me with his inventively sly jabs at the Establishment. In my mind, Oliver and his team won the Emmy as soon as they released a children’s book about Mike Pence’s homosexual pet rabbit, Marlon Bundo, then outsold Pence’s actual book about his pet rabbit, Marlon Bundo. —JC

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

• At Home With Amy Sedaris (TruTV)
• Drunk History (Comedy Central)
• I Love You, America With Sarah Silverman (Hulu)
• Portlandia (IFC)
• Saturday Night Live (NBC)
• Tracey Ullman’s Show (HBO)

The Emmy will go to … Saturday Night Live. It’s worth noting that the Emmys are airing on NBC this year, Lorne Michaels is producing the ceremony, and Weekend Update co-hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost are hosting. That doesn’t mean this win is a done deal, but it’s so a done deal. —JC

The Emmy should go to … At Home With Amy SedarisI honestly would be thrilled if this happened because Sedaris is a maniacal national treasure who’s underappreciated by the masses. Her series is also so idiosyncratically odd — no one else could do that show but Sedaris — that it stands out. Her acceptance speech also would undoubtedly be memorable and weird. But alas, Sedaris probably can’t beat SNL, which, by the way, would be wise to ask Sedaris to host one of these days. —JC

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama

• Jason Bateman, Ozark 
• Matthew Rhys, The Americans 
• Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us 
• Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us 
• Jeffrey Wright, Westworld 
• Ed Harris, Westworld

The Emmy should go to … Matthew Rhys. For the parking-garage scene in the finale alone — what an acrobatic display of tone-shifting that was! —MZS

The Emmy will go to … Probably Sterling K. Brown, because he’s great, he’s royalty, because he won last year, and the character is beguiling. —MZS

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

• Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
• Ted Danson, The Good Place
• Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
• Donald Glover, Atlanta 
• Bill Hader, Barry 
• William H. Macy, Shameless

The Emmy will go to … Donald Glover. His performance is more than deserving and, as I’ve said repeatedly, Emmy voters do tend to repeat themselves. Jim Parsons has won for The Big Bang Theory three times this decade, and Jeffrey Tambor won two years in a row for Transparent before Glover emerged victorious last year. A second consecutive win for the star of Atlanta seems the most likely outcome on Emmy night. —JC

The Emmy should go to … Bill Hader. As great as Glover is — not to mention Danson — I still think Hader’s performance was the year’s quiet knockout. —JC

Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

• Antonio Banderas, Genius: Picasso
• Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
• Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick Melrose
• Jeff Daniels, The Looming Tower
• John Legend, Jesus Christ Superstar
• Jesse Plemons, Black Mirror, “USS Callister”

The Emmy will go to … John Legend. A lot of folks will vote for him just to see the inevitable viral video of him making another batch of pancakes. —MZS

The Emmy should go to … John Legend. Criss gives the most daring of all the nominated performances in this category, playing a serial killer who’s just wired differently from other people yet still somehow plugged into the national Zeitgeist of the Reagan era. But Legend faces and bests his own impossible challenges as Jesus, a role that, in stage productions, often fizzles into beautiful tedium or gets outshone and outsung by the more dynamic character of Judas. —MZS

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

• Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
• Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
• Claire Foy, The Crown
• Keri Russell, The Americans
• Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
• Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld

The Emmy should to to … Keri Russell, because she’s been excellent but subtle throughout her stint on The Americans, and this is her last chance in the role. —MZS

The Emmy will go to … Sandra Oh, even though she’ll have many more chances, because she’s just as impressive, and because of the historic nature of her nomination. —MZS

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

• Pamela Adlon, Better Things
• Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
• Allison Janney, Mom
• Issa Rae, Insecure
• Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
• Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

The Emmy will go to … Rachel Brosnahan. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t. —JC

The Emmy should go to … Rachel Brosnahan. I would love to see a win for Ross or Adlon, who does such consistently wry and lovely work on Better Things. But I can’t deny that this feels like Brosnahans year. —JC

Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

• Jessica Biel, The Sinner
• Laura Dern, The Tale
• Michelle Dockery, Godless
• Edie Falco, Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders
• Regina King, Seven Seconds
• Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Cult

The Emmy will go to … Michelle Dockery. She’s a Brit who was on Downton Abbey, she’s an excellent actress, and she’s playing a gun-toting American woman in a Western. —MZS

The Emmy should go to … Regina King. She outdid herself here, which is really saying something. She’s been so excellent for so long — recently on HBO’s The Leftovers and on three consecutive seasons of ABC’s late, lamented American Crime — that fans started to wonder if she was at risk of being taken for granted. Seven Seconds itself got mixed reviews and didn’t seem to make much of an impression on the wider culture, which is a shame. Her already-buzzed-about work in Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk ought to return her to the forefront of awards discussions, though. —MZS

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama

• Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
• Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
• Matt Smith, The Crown 
• Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
• David Harbour, Stranger Things 
• Joseph Fiennes, The Handmaid’s Tale

The Emmy should go to … Mandy Patinkin. After an early burst of affection, the Academy largely seems to be over the show, though it continues to nominate it in certain categories; but Patinkin is a wily pro who was at the top of his game this season. —MZS

The Emmy will go to … David Harbour, because who doesn’t love this character, and this performance? As the character’s name, Hopper, suggests, it’s got a touch of Dennis Hopper’s smart-alecky hard edge in 1980s supporting performances, but also the broad-shouldered leading-man magnetism that Harrison Ford brought to American cinema during that same decade. Plus, he’s acting opposite Eleven, which makes him look even better than he might’ve already. —MZS

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

• Louie Anderson, Baskets
• Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live
• Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
• Brian Tyree Henry, Atlanta
• Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
• Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live
• Henry Winkler, Barry

The Emmy will go to … Henry Winkler. #JusticeforFonzie —JC

The Emmy should go to … Henry Winkler. Again, #JusticeforFonzie. —JC

Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

• Jeff Daniels, Godless
• Brandon Victor Dixon, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert
• John Leguizamo, Waco
• Ricky Martin, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
• Edgar Ramirez, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
• Michael Stuhlbarg, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
• Finn Wittrock, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

The Emmy will go to … Jeff Daniels. He plays one of the greatest Western baddies in memory, a prairie snake with a hypnotic stare. And the character’s signature line — “This ain’t my death. I’ve seen my death; this ain’t it” — is right up there with Gene Hackman’s last line in Unforgiven: “I don’t deserve to die this way. I was building a house.” —MZS

The Emmy should go to … Brandon Victor Dixon. Pretty much everybody who’s ever played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar has killed in the role, on top of enabling a killing. Dixon is the most physically as well as musically muscular performer ever to sing the part, but he acts it with just as much precision and force. —MZS

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama

• Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
• Vanessa Kirby, The Crown 
• Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things 
• Yvonne Strahovski, The Handmaid’s Tale 
• Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale
• Alexis Bledel, The Handmaid’s Tale 
• Thandie Newton, Westworld 

The Emmy should go to … Thandie Newton. There isn’t a single frame of her performance on Westworld that isn’t both impeccable and affecting. And the extra-dramatic factor of her being one of the most famous voices in the #MeToo movement might give voters one more reason to mark her name on the ballot. —MZS

The Emmy will go to … Ann Dowd. —MZS

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

• Zazie Beetz, Atlanta
• Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
• Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live 
• Betty Gilpin, GLOW
• Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live 
• Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live 
• Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne
• Megan Mullally, Will & Grace

The Emmy will go to … Kate McKinnon. —JC

The Emmy should go to … Betty Gilpin. Because she took what could come across as a generic soap opera-star type, and then gave her even more soul and depth than what’s on the page. Even if she doesn’t win this year, Gilpin will be back in 2019. —JC

Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

• Sara Bareilles, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert
• Penelope Cruz, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
• Judith Light, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
• Adina Porter, American Horror Story: Cult
• Merritt Wever, Godless
• Letitia Wright, Black Mirror, “Black Museum”

The Emmy should go to … Letitia Wright. Her humane performance anchored a tricky episode of Black Mirror that, even more so than most, kept threatening to spin off into academic abstraction. —MZS

The Emmy will go to … Judith Light. She’s a multiple Primetime Emmy nominee, two-time Daytime Emmy award winner, and Tony winner who did some of the best work of her career in The Assassination of Gianni Versace, as Marilyn Miglin, the wife of a murdered real-estate tycoon with a secret life. —MZS

Outstanding Direction for a Drama Series

• Game of Thrones, “Beyond the Wall,” Alan Taylor
• Game of Thrones, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” Jeremy Podeswa
• Ozark, “The Toll,” Jason Bateman
• Ozark, “Tonight We Improvise,” Daniel Sackheim
• Stranger Things, “Chapter Nine: The Gate,” The Duffer Brothers
• The Crown, “Paterfamilias,” Stephen Daldry
• The Handmaid’s Tale, “After,” Kari Skogland

The Emmy will go to … Alan Taylor for “Beyond the Wall,” because damn. —MZS

The Emmy should go to … Kari Skogland, for an episode with images that owe as much to real-world photojournalism as they do to dystopian sci-fi. —MZS

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series

• Atlanta, “Fubu,” Donald Glover
• Atlanta, “Teddy Perkins,” Hiro Murai
• Barry, “Chapter One: Make Your Mark,” Bill Hader
• The Big Bang Theory, “The Bow Tie Asymmetry,” Mike Cendrowski
• GLOW, “Pilot,” Jesse Peretz
• The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, “Pilot,” Amy Sherman-Palladino)
• Silicon Valley, “Initial Coin Offering,” Mike Judge

The Emmy will go to … Hiro Murai. No disrespect to any of the other entries, but I can’t see how this goes to anyone other than Murai for his direction of “Teddy Perkins,” an episode of TV like no other this year. —JC

The Emmy should go to … Hiro Murai. —JC

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special

• The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, “The Man Who Would be Vogue,” Ryan Murphy
• Godless, Scott Frank
• Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert: David Leveax and Alex Rudzinski
• Paterno, Barry Levinson
• Patrick Melrose, Eric Berger
• Twin Peaks: The Return, David Lynch

The Emmy should go to … David Lynch. Seriously. For “Episode Eight” alone. It’s hard to imagine the Television Academy giving it to him, so I’ll fantasize about Jesus Christ Superstar taking it — and the fact that it was a logistically complex and visually dazzling live production means it at least has a shot. —MZS

The Emmy will go to … Scott Frank. Again, just a feeling that Godless will be a strong contender. —MZS

Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special

• Dave Chappelle: Equanimity, Stan Lathan
• Jerry Seinfeld: Jerry Before Seinfeld, Michael Bonfiglio
• The Oscars, Glenn Weiss
• Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, Marcus Raboy
• Super Bowl LII Halftime Show Starring Justin Timberlake, Hamish Hamilton

The Emmy will go to … The Oscars. (That’s a weird sounding sentence, isn’t it?) —JC

The Emmy should go to … The Oscars. Honestly, and this surprises me as much as you, but I think this would be the right call. The ceremony has a lot of flaws, the same ones that are repeated year after year: It’s bloated, it drags in spots, and some of the host’s gags — in this case, Jimmy Kimmel’s — could stand to be jettisoned. But it’s an undeniably enormous, high-pressure undertaking and Weiss, handling it again after 2017’s Moonlight mix-up, ushered it from beginning to end as well as anyone could expect. —JC

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

• Game of Thrones, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
• Killing Eve, “Nice Face,” Phoebe Waller-Bridge
• Stranger Things, “Chapter Nine: The Gate,” The Duffer Brothers
• The Americans, “Start,” Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg
• The Crown, “Mystery Man,” Peter Morgan
• The Handmaid’s Tale, “June,” Bruce Miller

The Emmy should go to … Either The Americans or Killing Eve. The end or the beginning. —MZS

The Emmy will go to … Killing Eve, because it’s so much damned fun, and because Emmy voters know from industry meet-and-greet events how charismatic and hilarious Phoebe Waller-Bridge is (even if they’ve never seen a frame of her excellent Amazon star vehicle Fleabag) and will want to see her absolutely kill up there onstage. —MZS

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

• Atlanta, “Alligator Man,” Donald Glover
• Atlanta, “Barbershop,” Stefani Robinson
• Barry, “Chapter One: Make Your Mark,” Alec Berg and Bill Hader
• Barry, “Chapter Seven: Loud, Fast and Keep Going,” Liz Sarnoff
• The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, “Pilot,” Amy Sherman-Palladino
• Silicon Valley, “Fifty-One Percent,” Alec Berg

The Emmy will go to … Donald Glover. Atlanta and Barry seem to have the advantage, although Sherman-Palladino certainly does have a way with words. That said, I’m inclined to think the Emmy will go to Donald Glover for “Alligator Man,” the opener of Atlanta Robbin’ Season and an episode that sets up the sense of generational history and pressure Earn will feel compelled to escape in the season finale. —JC

The Emmy should go to … Liz Sarnoff. I have no qualms with “Alligator Man,” to be honest. But just to mix things up, I would vote for Liz Sarnoff and “Chapter Seven” of Barry because that’s the episode where Barry’s acting and hitman lives finally collide. It beautifully synthesizes the show’s themes via tense, spare, and carefully crafted dialogue. —JC

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special

• American Vandal, “Clean Up,” Kevin McManus and Matthew McManus
• The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, “House by the Lake,” Tom Rob Smith
• Godless, Scott Frank
• Patrick Melrose, David Nichols
• Twin Peaks: The Return, Mark Frost and David Lynch
• USS Callister, “Black Mirror,” William Bridges and Charlie Brooker

The Emmy should go to … Mark Frost and David Lynch. Yes, really. It’s a travesty that the most original and arresting dramatic TV production of the last ten years (and maybe the most instantly memeable) didn’t get more Emmy love, and it seems safe to assume that the best script nomination here is a substitute for the accolades it could never receive because it was just too strange. But we shouldn’t forget that those stunning scenes, images, and performances were meticulously scripted down to the syllable and gesture. —MZS

The Emmy will go to … Scott Frank. Just a feeling. If nothing else, Godlessis a great, image-driven oater with that hardtack-and-saddle leather feeling that you want out of a Western, along with the feminist text and subtext that made it play like something other than a glorified nostalgia act. —MZS

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special

• Full Frontal With Samantha Bee Presents: The Great American* Puerto Rico (*It’s Complicated)
• John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City
• Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady 
• Patton Oswalt: Annihilation
• Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life 

The Emmy will go to … Full Frontal With Samantha Bee Presents: The Great American* Puerto Rico. I also think voters will feel less guilty about voting for John Oliver in the outstanding variety talk series category if they throw something Bee’s way here. —JC

The Emmy should go to … This is really, really hard. I do think Bee’s special performed a valuable service, in addition to being funny. But this Emmy is specifically about the quality of the writing. On that metric, I have to give it to John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous because he crafted the kind of stand-up performance that I could imagine reading and laughing at just as hard as I laughed when Mulaney spoke his words out loud. —JC

Emmy Predictions: Who Should Win and Who Will Win This Year?