With 122 categories, 9,100 submissions, and 25,000 voters the 2018 Emmy nominations come down to just two historic figures: 112 and 108. Those are the total number of nominations for Netflix and HBO, respectively, and represent a true transition in the industry.
This marks the first time in 17 years that HBO's run as nomination leader has been snapped, and the race wasn't particularly close in recent years. Last year, HBO had 111 nominations to Netflix's 94, but the industry trades have been full of stories — and ads — that reported Netflix was determined to surpass the leader. Mission accomplished. NBC will broadcast the awards live on Sept. 17.
Here are the major categories, with some thoughts:
"Atlanta"; "Barry"; "Black-ish"; "Curb Your Enthusiasm"; "GLOW"; "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"; "Silicon Valley"; "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"
"Unbreakable" is the only surprise here, but hurrah for that; the current (and penultimate) season is brilliant. Nevertheless, this is the year of "Atlanta." With16 nominations, it leads the field (easily) and should find its way to the winner's lounge in September.
"The Americans"; "The Crown"; "Game of Thrones"; "The Handmaid’s Tale"; "Stranger Things"; "This Is Us"; "Westworld"
Eligible after a break in '17, "Game of Thrones," which racked up 22 nominations, is the front-runner here. The sophomore season of "The Handmaid's Tale" was not quite the sensation it was in the freshman (and winning) season. "Stranger Things" is unlikely to surpass "The Crown" — Netflix's other contender — and "Westworld's" second season probably confused too many voters. This battle is between "The Americans" and "GoT." There can be Emmy shockers, and an "Americans" upset would qualify as one.
"The Alienist"; "The Assassination of Gianni Versace": "American Crime Story"; "Genius": "Picasso"; "Godless"; "Patrick Melrose"
The gaping hole in this list is "Twin Peaks: The Return," a brilliant reworking of the classic ABC series that probably never stood a chance with the Emmy crowd. Neither David Lynch nor Mark Frost (co-showrunners) produced this 18-episode series with an eye toward Emmys glory, but still. "Versace" is the easy favorite, but don't be surprised if "Melrose" pulls off an upset. Cumberbatch's performance could ensure that.
LEAD ACTOR, COMEDY
Anthony Anderson ("Black-ish"); Ted Danson ("The Good Place"); Larry David ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"); Donald Glover ("Atlanta"); Bill Hader ("Barry"); William H. Macy ("Shameless")
"Curb" was first nominated in 2002, then again in '03, '04, '06, 08, '10 and '12. No cigar for any of those years, if only because "Modern Family" was so busy collecting them. Nevertheless, David and "Curb" (also nominated for best comedy) still remain long shots after all these years. This battle is between Hader and Glover, advantage to the incumbent (Glover).
LEAD ACTRESS, COMEDY
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")
For the first time since 2011, this category is wide open because of who wasn't eligible for the 2018 Emmys — Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who underwent cancer surgery thus pushing "Veep" off this year's awards calendar. Would she have won a seventh straight year? That's now in the realm of speculation. Any of these nominees could win, but Brosnahan would be the clear favorite.
LEAD ACTOR, DRAMA
Jason Bateman ("Ozark"); Sterling K. Brown ("This Is Us"); Ed Harris ("Westworld"); Matthew Rhys ("The Americans"); Milo Ventimiglia ("This Is Us"); Jeffrey Wright ("Westworld")
Bateman was on no one's short list for a best actor nomination ("Ozark" was considered a contender for drama), but Netflix pushed hard, and the pushing paid off. This list also represents a triumph for "Westworld," which fully expected to get some love in the best actor category, but not this much love. Wright was always considered a lock and is the easy front-runner.
LEAD ACTRESS, DRAMA
Claire Foy ("The Crown"); Tatiana Maslany ("Orphan Black"); Elisabeth Moss ("The Handmaid's Tale"); Sandra Oh ("Killing Eve"); Keri Russell ("The Americans"); Evan Rachel Wood ("Westworld")
"Killing Eve" was widely expected to get a best drama nod, but instead its star Oh got a nomination. "Eve" is one of those freshman sensations that could (or will) turn up at the 71st Emmys, but in the meantime, its star must contend with a packed field. This is the toughest category of the 2018 Emmys, but advantage almost always goes to the previous winner. There was nothing in Moss' performance this year that suggested she doesn't deserve a repeat.
LEAD ACTOR, LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Antonio Banderas ("Genius"); Darren Criss ("The Assassination of Gianni Versace"); Benedict Cumberbatch ("Patrick Melrose"); Jeff Daniels ("The Looming Tower"); John Legend ("Jesus Christ Superstar"): Jesse Plemons ("Black Mirror")
Ever since the advent of the "limited series" on TV, this category has assumed major importance, and so have these nominees. No surprises here but certainly some favorites (Cumberbatch and Criss), and at least one notable potential winner. If Legend wins, he joins that rarefied EGOT club, or winners of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.
LEAD ACTRESS, 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")
You'll note that the words "Twin Peaks" appear nowhere here nor elsewhere in the limited series category, certainly a keen blow to both fans of the remarkable reboot and Showtime. But this list at least recognizes Laura Dern, who was brilliant in both "Peaks" and "The Tale." Meanwhile, great as Falco is, her nod is a surprise, if only because "Menendez" was so thoroughly ignored by viewers.