Given the vastness of the TV landscape, it’s harder than ever to predict what will be nominated for this year’s Emmys. It’s even challenging to gauge how many nominees there might be when they’re announced on July 16.
Major categories like Outstanding Drama or Comedy, for example, typically consist of seven nominated programs. But because of what’s called the 2 percent rule, there could be eight or nine: The way it works is that if an eighth or ninth show comes within 2 percent of the same number of votes as the seventh nominee, those additional one or two shows must be nominated as well. The total is capped at nine, though. (If you’d like to read more about Emmy rules like these and give yourself a spectacular headache, rock on.)
In other words, predicting, always a murky endeavor under the best of circumstances, feels especially murky when it comes to the Emmys. What follows are basically shots in the dark, is what I’m saying. So let’s cut the lights and start firing some 2019 Emmy predictions into the void, shall we?
Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul
Game of Thrones
This Is Us
With so many options, I suspect that, as was the case in the Comedy Series category last year, there will be eight nominees this year. Television Academy voters tend to repeat themselves, so I expect previous contenders like Better Call Saul and This Is Us to be in the mix again this year. And yes, I expect Game of Thrones will be too, despite the internet’s feelings about the final season. Flaws aside, season seven was one of the biggest pop-cultural events of the past year, and I think enough Academy members will include it based on its ambition and significance.
I also expect some new shows to break in, since so many of last year’s nominees are out of contention now. Expect Killing Eve, nominated last year for its writing and Sandra Oh’s performance, to make it into the category; same goes for Ozark, which earned five nominations for its inaugural season but missed out on an overall series nod. Homecoming, with its Julia Roberts star power and homages to ’70s cinema, strikes me as appealing to Emmy voters, as do the familial tension and acerbic wit of Succession. I think Pose makes it in there too because, in addition to being a sensitive drama that just gets better and better, its trans-inclusive casting and narrative focus make it too groundbreaking for voters to ignore. (Then again, Emmy voters have ignored groundbreaking things many, many times before. So we’ll see.)
Outstanding Comedy Series
The Good Place
The Kominsky Method
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
I’m forecasting eight nominees here, too, including three I consider locks: Barry, nominated last year; The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which won last year; and frequent nominee and winner Veep. I’ll admit I still haven’t seen The Kominsky Method, but word on the street — and by “the street” I mean Gold Derby — is that Emmy voters will take a shine to this one, partly because they relate to its focus on Hollywood old-timers. (News flash: A lot of Emmy voters are Hollywood old-timers.)
Harder to make sense of is which shows will take the remaining four slots. I singled out GLOW because it was nominated last year and is even better in its second season. I went with The Good Place because it just seems crazy that it hasn’t been nominated yet, though I’ll admit this prediction may be based on some wishful thinking on my part. Russian Doll’s audacity and narrative experimentation led me to believe it will squeeze its way into the race, and I think Fleabag will, too. It made so much noise in the cultural conversation after its superb second season that it’s hard to imagine its being overlooked. Having said all that, I would not be surprised to see one or more of these predictions replaced with previously nominated series Black-ish or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the never-nominated Schitt’s Creek, or Netflix newcomer Dead to Me.
Outstanding Limited Series
Escape at Dannemora
When They See Us
The Limited Series category includes only five nominees, which leaves little wiggle room for a field as crowded as this one is every year. I believe Escape at Dannemora, Fosse/Verdon, and Sharp Objects are definites, and a combination of quality, recency, and buzz will cement nominations for Chernobyl and When They See Us. But it’s also possible that one of those could get bumped out for A Very English Scandal, The Act, or True Detective, among other possibilities.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Brian Cox, Succession
Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Billy Porter, Pose
Last year’s winner, Matthew Rhys, can’t repeat himself with The Americans off the air. But I do expect repeat nominations for Bateman, Brown — who won in this category two years ago — and Odenkirk. In completely different contexts, Cox and Porter give performances that loom over their entire respective series, so I expect to see them recognized. As for Harington, he has been nominated in the Supporting Actor category, but never as a lead, for his portrayal of Jon Snow. I suspect voters won’t let Game of Thrones end without a final nod for his work, assuming that Jon’s late brother, Richard Madden of Bodyguard, Milo Ventimiglia of This Is Us, or Stephan James of Homecoming doesn’t sneak in there instead.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama
Christine Baranski, The Good Fight
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Laura Linney, Ozark
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Julia Roberts, Homecoming
With the exception of Oh, whom I believe will be nominated a second time for her portrayal of Eve Polastri in Killing Eve, every single actress nominated last year is ineligible this year because their show wasn’t on the air. That makes this a really wide-open contest. Clarke, who has been nominated three times for Game of Thrones, has, like Harington, shifted to the lead competition and I think odds are very strong that she’ll be nominated here. While Bateman was nominated for Ozark, Linney was not, but I think voters will opt to change that. Same goes for Comer, who deserves recognition for the intimidating wit she brings to Killing Eve. That leaves two slots: one for Roberts, who seems like a shoo-in for Homecoming, and another that I suspect will go to Baranski for The Good Fight, a series that may miss out in other categories but should at least pick up a nom in this one. Under ordinary circumstances, I would say Robin Wright had a chance for the last season of House of Cards, but I have the feeling that, given its lingering association with Kevin Spacey, voters would prefer not to think about that show anymore.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Bobby Cannavale, Homecoming
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
Kieran Culkin, Succession
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Justin Hartley, This Is Us
Coster-Waldau and Dinklage, both nominated last year (Dinklage won for a third time), will no doubt be nominated again. So will Banks, who has been here before too. (In case you hadn’t picked up on this, it’s much harder to not be nominated once you break into your Emmy category than it is to get nominated.) Assuming Homecoming and Succession get the broader nomination love I am anticipating, I think Cannavale and Culkin, the most hilariously reprehensible member of the Roy clan, will be nominated. The sixth slot is a question mark, but I am betting on Hartley since Kevin went on such an emotional journey to understand his late father during season three of This Is Us.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Julia Garner, Ozark
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Susan Kelechi-Watson, This Is Us
Rhea Seehorn, Better Call Saul
Sophie Turner, Game of Thrones
Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones
Will all three of these GoT supporting actresses make the cut? I’m betting yes, unless Gwendoline Christie takes one of their spots instead. Even though Headey didn’t get to do much as Cersei in the show’s final season, I’m betting voters will still opt to pay tribute to her chilliness one last time. That leaves three spaces that will be filled by newcomers to the race: Seehorn, who somehow has yet to be nominated for Better Call Saul; Garner as the gutsy Ruth Langhorne on Ozark; and, given Beth’s much-lauded stand-alone episode this season, Kelechi-Watson for This Is Us. Do keep an eye on Indya Moore from Pose. It’s possible she could be nominated too, especially if Game of Thrones doesn’t dominate here as much as I’m anticipating.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy
Pamela Adlon, Better Things
Christina Applegate, Dead to Me
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag
Few things in life are guaranteed. But I can guarantee this: Brosnahan and Louis-Dreyfus will be nominated for Emmys in this category. If they are not, I will eat a “New.Selina.Now” sign and wash it down with whatever happy-hour cocktail is currently being served at the Steiner Resort. Beyond those two, things get a little harder to predict. I expect another previous nominee to get at least one of the other spots; right now I think that will be Adlon because not only is she great in Better Things but she also persevered as an actor and showrunner post–Louis C.K. scandal.
It’s also quite possible that Tracee Ellis Ross, Allison Janney, or Lily Tomlin — for Black-ish, Mom, and Grace and Frankie, respectively — could be nominated again. But I’m thinking some newer contenders will muscle their way in, specifically Lyonne in Russian Doll, which is the showcase for her talents that she has long deserved, and Applegate, whose work in Dead to Me is the best of her career. If voters go with those two and also nominate Waller-Bridge for Fleabag — and I think they will — some veteran nominees will have to go. I say Adlon’s the one who remains standing.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Don Cheadle, Black Monday
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
Bill Hader, Barry
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
I’m betting extra-hard on the voters staying in their comfort zone in this category, which is why Anderson, Danson, and Hader are each getting repeat nominations, and actors who have a history of receiving Emmy nominations for other roles — Cheadle and Douglas — will win voters over via their latest ones. The biggest gamble on my list might be Parsons. I can just as easily see Jim Carrey earning his first Emmy nomination for Kidding and pushing Parsons, or perhaps Anderson or Danson, out of the picture. But Parsons won four Emmys over the years for playing Sheldon on the most popular sitcom on network TV. My guess is that voters will be moved to give him a parting gift.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Olivia Colman, Fleabag
Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Once again, we’ve got some repeats — Borstein, Chlumsky, Jones, and McKinnon — and a couple of fresh faces. One is Carden, the only actress I can think of in the past year who played all of her castmates to an uncannily accurate degree in a single episode of television. And then there’s Colman, the passive-aggressive nightmare of a godmother in Fleabag, who may be helped by the fact that she’s still got some Oscar shine on her. How confident am I in these predictions? Maybe 75 percent, because some other folks — Betty Gilpin of GLOW or maybe even Rita Moreno of One Day at a Time — have a chance here too.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tony Hale, Veep
Stephen Root, Barry
Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Henry Winkler, Barry
The question in this category is how much it will be dominated by actors from Veep and/or Barry. I’ve settled on a nom for Hale, because that seems like a given, and another for Winkler, as well as one for Root, who has been doing great work forever and managed to be ridiculous and scary all at once on Barry this season. But I could easily imagine Anthony Carrigan, Barry’s Noho Hank, getting nominated, not to mention Matt Walsh or Tim Simons from Veep. But at the moment, my feeling is that Arkin and Shalhoub are definites and that Burgess will get one more nom for proving that Titus Andromedon can crush it in Cats.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Amy Adams, Sharp Objects
Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora
Connie Britton, Dirty John
Joey King, The Act
Emma Stone, Maniac
Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon
Several of these women — Adams, Arquette, Stone, and Williams — have competed against each other at the Academy Awards and will most likely be doing so again here. As for the other two competitors, my best guess is that they will be King, who made Gypsy Blanchard such a heartbreaking figure in The Act, and Britton, as the gullible but dumb Debra in Dirty John.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Mahershala Ali, True Detective
Benicio del Toro, Escape at Dannemora
Hugh Grant, A Very English Scandal
Jharrel Jerome, When They See Us
Ian McShane, Deadwood
Sam Rockwell, Fosse/Verdon
All of these names are very expected and will probably be read out on nomination day. Jerome is perhaps the exception: He broke out as Korey Wise in When They See Us, playing the wrongly accused young man from his teen years through adulthood with utter commitment. A couple of British men in HBO miniseries could potentially block him, though: Jared Harris (Chernobyl) or Benedict Cumberbatch, star of Brexit. My guess is Jerome manages to make the cut.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Patricia Arquette, The Act
Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects
Carmen Ejogo, True Detective
Sally Field, Maniac
Emma Thompson, King Lear
Emily Watson, Chernobyl
This looks like a viable field of candidates, as long as Eliza Scanlen (Sharp Objects) and Robin Weigert (Deadwood: The Movie) don’t knock anyone out of contention. I feel most certain about the two Patricias. They’re the front-runners, assuming the race shakes out as I foresee it.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Kyle Chandler, Catch-22
George Clooney, Catch-22
Paul Dano, Escape at Dannemora
Stellan Skarsgård, Chernobyl
Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal
Michael Kenneth Williams, When They See Us
These six guys are the ones I expect to see nominated come July 16. But it’s possible one of them could be replaced by Norbert Leo Butz, a.k.a. Paddy Chayefsky in Fosse/Verdon; Eric Lange, who plays Arquette’s husband in Escape at Dannemora; or, depending on how committed Emmy voters are to Sharp Objects, maybe even Chris Messina. I expect Dano and Whishaw, at least, to stay in it, and in Whishaw’s case, most likely win it.