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Emmy predictions 2017: Who should be nominated and why?

Donald Glover, left, and Brian Tyree Henry on

Donald Glover, left, and Brian Tyree Henry on "Atlanta." Credit: FX / Guy D’Alema

The 2017 Primetime Emmy nominations will be announced Thursday, July 13, at 8:30 a.m. Here are my picks for contenders, along with my explanations.


“Veep” (HBO)

“Atlanta” (FX)

“Transparent” (Amazon Prime)

“Modern Family” (ABC)

“Black-ish” (ABC)

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)

“Master of None” (Netflix)

“The Good Place” (NBC)

The big newcomer this year is “Atlanta,” also considered — already — most likely to usurp the king, or queen, “Veep.” The rest of the category is still mostly locked in place, with repeats from last year or prior years. That leaves just one potential surprise in the Emmys’ least-competitive category. The seventh pick would seem wide open, even though conventional wisdom has already ceded that to “Master of None.” I suspect the TV Academy members would like to spread the wealth this year by going to at least one dark horse, and “The Good Place” seems like a good place to start.


“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)

“This Is Us” (NBC)

“The Americans” (FX)

“The Crown” (Netflix)

“Better Call Saul” (AMC)

“Homeland” (Showtime)

“The Leftovers” (HBO)

The drama category appears wide open, but that appearance is probably deceiving. Everyone expects “The Crown” to get a nod. In fact, the Netflix newcomer is already a big favorite to win. Not so fast, says I: The Emmys have a long history of declining to sanction a Golden Globe winner in the same year. That bodes ill for both “Atlanta” and “The Crown.” (At least they’ll still get nominations.) “Us” is a lock, “Handmaid’s,” too. “Americans,” “Saul” and “Homeland” have taken up residence here. Why no fan favorite like “Stranger Things” in this list? Good series, but it doesn’t belong in this particular club, at least not yet.


“Feud: Bette and Joan” (FX)

“Big Little Lies” (HBO)

“The Night Of” (HBO)

“American Crime” (ABC)

“Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” (Netflix)

Speaking of “competitive toss-ups,” the limited series one is brutal. The Academy allows only five entrants, even though “limited series” as a genre is the fastest-growing one on television. So whom to pick here? These seem like good choices, hardly locks (“Gilmore Girls” is admittedly a long shot). “Fargo” could land here again, while some observers expect Nat Geo’s “Genius” to join the party. But, in the end, this battle is between “Feud” and “Lies.” Good luck predicting an outcome.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”)

Allison Janney (“Mom”)

Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”)

Issa Rae (“Insecure”)

Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”)

Lena Dunham (“Girls”)

Dunham is the longest of long shots — which is why I like her so much here. But there’s only one question that matters here: We already know Louis-Dreyfus will get another nod, but will she get another win? If she does, that would be her seventh for “Veep” alone, which seems — I dunno — excessive? She’s great, the show’s great, but time for another class valedictorian, if only to prove that there were some other first-rate performances in 2017 as well. Janney’s turn?


Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)

Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”)

William H. Macy (“Shameless”)

Neil Patrick Harris (“A Series of Unfortunate Events”)

Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”)

Anthony Anderson (“black-ish”)

Macy has been nominated three times in a row for “Shameless” and, doubtless, the Academy will extend this exquisite form of torture a fourth time. Even if Macy gets that nod as expected, he remains a long shot because Glover is such a sure shot. Although best not to curse him, either: Two-time winner Tambor had a another fine season, too, so . . . Lots of other good performances in ’16-17, but this race does seem like it’s already down to just two names.


Claire Danes (“Homeland”)

Keri Russell (“The Americans”)

Elisabeth Moss (“Handmaid’s Tale”)

Claire Foy (“The Crown”)

Carrie Coon (“Leftovers”)

Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”)

Moss is as certain a nomination as any other actor in the 69th Emmys — with the exception of Louis-Dreyfus. But as certain to win? Advantage always goes to the previous year’s winner. That could be Moss’ big advantage. Tatiana Maslany of “Orphan Black” was the winner in 2016, but she was ineligible this year because the fifth and final season of “Black” aired outside the Emmys’ “eligibility” period. (Eligible shows must have aired between June 1, 2016, and May 31, 2017, while the fifth launched June 10). For Moss, that’s the good news. Now the bad: The other contenders are particularly strong. Almost always, this is the Emmys’ most competitive category.


Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)

Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”)

Bob Odenkirk (“Saul”)

Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”)

Justin Theroux (“The Leftovers”)

Dan Stevens (“Legion”)

After the actress category, this could be the most competitive of the major awards in 2017 — even if Malek is expected to get another nod, and even favored to repeat a win. Brown had a huge year, Stevens had a fascinating one. Rhys (and his on-screen and off-screen partner, Russell) had another standout season. Odenkirk gets better and better, deeper and deeper. Theroux was superb — really — on “Leftovers.” There’s literally no room to move here, hardly enough room to breathe. This category and its ultimate winner may be as close to “toss-up” as any other in ’17.

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