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Our critic picks who should, will win the Emmys

Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong in HBO's "Succession"

Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong in HBO's "Succession" Season 2. (2020) Credit: HBO

Here are our picks in the major categories at this year's Emmy Awards.

BEST DRAMA

Better Call Saul (AMC)

The Crown (Netflix)

The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)

Killing Eve (BBC America)

The Mandalorian (Disney+)

Ozark (Netflix)

Stranger Things (Netflix)

Succession (HBO)

SHOULD WIN Succession

No objective counter-argument can seriously be advanced on this point — "Succession" is now, far and away, the best drama on television. A series that once seemed (at least superficially) like a thinly disguised revenge fantasy about Rupert Murdoch instead fully occupies a parallel reality, its subtext about the ties that bind or fracture a family. To call it "Shakespearean" seems overstatement — except it's not.

WILL WIN Succession

If there's any downside to this expected victory, it's that "Succession" will henceforth be the favorite for years to come, potentially leading to that dreaded repeat phenomenon. OK, maybe other downsides: "Ozark" and "Saul," which will soon come to an end, are still looking for their first wins.

COMEDY

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

Dead to Me (Netflix)

The Good Place (NBC)

Insecure (HBO)

The Kominsky Method (Netflix)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime)

Schitt's Creek (Pop)

What We Do In the Shadows (FX)

SHOULD WIN Curb Your Enthusiasm

"Curb" gets better with each passing season, better in its twilight years. It may be way out of step with Hollywood's prevailing sentiments — most glaringly #MeToo — except that is the whole point. Larry David is always out of step, always his own worst enemy. "Curb" is one of the greats. Time to recognize that greatness.

WILL WIN Schitt's Creek

Back in July I predicted "Insecure" would win this award. Silly me: It already belonged to "Schitt's." GALECA, the influential LGBTQ critics association, recently crowned "Schitt's" as the best, other critic groups have too. This win however isn't about critics, but about the show — a gentle comedy about familial love. It is the inversion of "Succession," and a show whose big heart seemed especially relevant — or at least essential — during quarantine.

ACTOR/DRAMA

Jason Bateman ("Ozark")

Sterling K. Brown ("This Is Us")

Steve Carell ("The Morning Show")

Brian Cox ("Succession")

Billy Porter ("Pose")

Jeremy Strong (Succession")

SHOULD WIN Cox

One of the great performances in recent TV history should be rewarded.

WILL WIN Cox

Every scene Cox was in this past season was Emmy-worthy — including the very last one, when betrayed Logan Roy smiled ever-so-slightly, his Mona Lisa moment that begged the question: Why?

ACTRESS/DRAMA

Jennifer Aniston ("The Morning Show")

Olivia Colman ("The Crown")

Jodie Comer ("Killing Eve")

Laura Linney ("Ozark")

Sandra Oh ("Killing Eve")

Zendaya ("Euphoria")

SHOULD WIN Colman/Linney. Over the last season, Wendy Byrd finally embraced her dark side — convincingly, thrillingly in Linney's always capable hands, while Colman was magnificent as Queen Elizabeth — a study in contrasts, of human being versus monarch, or human being as monarch. Go ahead: You try to choose.

WILL WIN Zendaya

Terrific in the lugubrious, ironically named "Euphoria," I'm willing to bet that the Emmy membership this year wants to prove it can be just as cool as the Golden Globes in picking the unexpected.

COMEDY/ACTOR

Anthony Anderson ("Black-ish")

Don Cheadle ("Black Monday")

Ted Danson ("The Good Place")

Michael Douglas ("The Kominsky Method")

Eugene Levy ("Schitt's Creek")

Ramy Youssef ("Ramy")

SHOULD WIN Cheadle

Another sorry Emmy practice is nominating someone over and over again, only to let them warm their seat — William H. Macy, as the greatest of seat-warmers. But Cheadle's time is now. He deserves this, makes bad shows better, even intermittently, unexpectedly good, while history is important too. If the Emmys are serious about reversing it, at least start here.

WILL WIN Levy

The father/son team — Eugene and Dan — made "Schitt's." Hard to imagine how at least one of them won't get the credit.

COMEDY/ACTRESS

Christina Applegate ("Dead to Me")

Rachel Brosnahan ("The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel")

Linda Cardellini ("Dead to Me")

Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek")

Issa Rae ("Insecure")

Tracee Ellis Ross ("Black-ish" )

SHOULD WIN Rae

If voters bothered to watch this season of "Insecure" — and I know they did — they'd see an assured, talented, graceful, interesting and funny performer in Rae. Best in class, in fact. Once again, she'd be just the second Black female to win.

WILL WIN O'Hara

Oh come on, how could she not? Every time Moira said "bebe!" ("baby") she scored Emmy points. That wedding outfit in the series finale alone could win its own Emmy.

LIMITED SERIES

Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)

Mrs. America (FX)

Unbelievable (Netflix)

Unorthodox (Netflix)

Watchmen (HBO)

SHOULD WIN Watchmen

As alt-history, "Watchmen" succeeded where alt-history often falls short, by scoring a direct bull’s-eye on contemporary culture through the lens of recent history. "Watchmen" was otherwise great in a thousand small ways, and one more vivid — and thrilling — example of what TV can achieve when it has a mind to.

WILL WIN Watchmen

As much as any series in this 72nd, "Watchmen" is assured of victory.

OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE

American Son (Netflix)

Bad Education (HBO)

Dolly Parton's Heartstrings: These Old Bones (Netflix)

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy Vs. The Reverend (Netflix)

SHOULD WIN El Camino

"Breaking Bad" probably didn't need closure but at least it got closure of the best possible sort, and major bonus points for Robert Forster's second-to-last screen appearance.

WILL WIN Bad Education

Hugh Jackman's performance as disgraced former Roslyn schools superintendent Frank Tassone was so good that it should ensure a victory for the movie..

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