The 2014 Emmy nominations will be announced on July 10, with the ceremony then taking place on August 25. Below are my wish lists and predictions of the likely actual nominees in the drama category…
Outstanding Drama Series:
I love dreams; Hannibal is a dream, in all the best senses of that word. Mad Men was never overly concerned about making you go, “OHMYGOD I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE HOW THIS ALL ENDS!” But that’s what it did in the first half of its final batch of new episodes. Originally, I thought I might insist that True Detective should be considered a Miniseries, but then I remembered that I kind of used to think that American Horror Story should compete as a drama; so yeah, 8 episodes of mystical, character-based mystery is plenty dramatic. Masters of Sex was masterful not just about sex but also about the human interactions within and around sex. Arrow might just be the best (live-action) show based on a superhero comic book of all time. Orphan Black may have gotten a little too insane for its own good during parts of Season 2, but too much insanity is the right sort of problem for a potent blend of character-based sci-fi to have.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series:
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal) pulls off perhaps the emotionally trickiest role on television, constantly flitting between good and evil, loyal and betraying, puppeteer and puppet, and any other sort of duality. Meanwhile, Mads Mikkelsen, Hannibal himself, constantly plays one role: the master manipulator, but it is a role in which he constantly fools us into admiring him much more than seems appropriate. Matthew McConaughey (True Detective) touched darkness, and it brought light to all our days. Jon Hamm (Mad Men) continues to give one of those performances in which it seems he must be playing himself, even though he definitely isn’t. Woody Harrelson had to react a lot on True Detective, but when he was active, he was excruciatingly enthralling. Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex) doesn’t want you to like Dr. William Masters; he wants you to understand him.
-Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
-Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
-Jon Hamm, Mad Men
-Woody Harrelson, True Detective
-Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
-Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series:
To this day, when Tatiana Maslany is interviewed for an “Inside Look” that airs during a commercial break of Orphan Black, I think, “Why didn’t they interview the other actress in this scene?” and then I realize, “Oh right, Tatiana’s playing both characters here.” Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex) knows how to play the woman that everybody falls in love with and still come off as a real person. Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) got to play Peggy Olson at her pettiest, but also during her small victories – she was captivating the whole time. Accurate or not, Diane Kruger (The Bridge) gave one of the chilliest, but also most fascinating, performances of a character on the autism spectrum. I’m not as enamored of The Americans as many of fellow critics are, but it’s not because of any lack on the part of Keri Russell.
-Claire Danes, Homeland
-Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
-Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
-Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
-Kerry Washington, Scandal
-Robin Wright, House of Cards
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:
Jordan Gavaris (Orphan Black) is currently the best comic relief on a drama – which is quite a feat considering his show is already plenty funny. Jeff Perry is something close to comic relief on Scandal – he’s easily the most consistently funny character on the most overwrought show on TV, but he’s also so goddamned serious, making him also the most emotionally resonant. I forget if Thomas M. Wright ended up being a villain on The Bridge or not – that’s a compliment to him (though not necessarily to his show). Max Burkholder (Parenthood) has great chemistry with Ray Romano, and he’s also strong at playing isolated. John Slattery (Mad Men) just keeps showing up to work and becoming Roger Sterling, no big deal. Kristian Bruun (Orphan Black) still plays Donnie Hendrix like an idiot, but now, a badass idiot.
-Josh Charles, The Good Wife
-Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
-Dean Norris, Breaking Bad
-Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
-Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
-Jeffrey Wright, Boardwalk Empire
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:
Emily Bett Rickards is the perfect leavening force on a show like Arrow; if the award goes to the performer who makes the show so much better than it would be otherwise, then she ought to be the winner. Is Scandal secretly the story of Mellie’s redemption? Because that’s how Bellamy Young seems to be playing it. Here’s the area of my ballot where the lines between Supporting and Guest are blurry: as I considered the ladies of Masters of Sex, I thought, “Surely, Lillian appeared in enough episodes to be considered a Supporting role.” Well, she was in 7 out of 12 episodes, and the fact that it seemed like more speaks to the power of Julianne Nicholson. Michelle Monaghan (True Detective) has a knack for elevating roles that could otherwise have been just “the wife” or “the girlfriend.” Skyler Wexler (Orphan Black) knows how to summon the naturalism of childhood better than anyone else her age currently on TV. Weirdly enough, Joelle Carter did some of her most memorable work in one of Justified‘s weakest storylines.
-Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
-Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
-Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
-Michelle Monaghan, True Detective
-Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
-Bellamy Young, Scandal
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series:
Raúl Esparza (Hannibal) got shot in the face. Michael Pitt (Hannibal) ripped off his own face. Jeremy Davies (Hannibal) was into live human horse births. Eddie Izzard (Hannibal) remained creeping around the edges. Appearing in 9 out of 12 episodes, Beau Bridges (Masters of Sex) was dangerously close to being Supporting, but he had the vibe of a Guest – either way, he was poignantly awesome. Ray Romano was the stealth MVP of Parenthood Season 5; he was really Supporting, but I ran out of room there and needed to fill this category out.
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series:
Allison Janney was absolutely heartbreaking on Masters of Sex. I never expected Freddie Lounds to really be sympathetic, but Lara Jean Chorostecki (Hannibal) pulled it off. Anna Chlumsky (Hannibal) really got into the headspace of the effects of years of mind warping. Katharine Isabelle was the perfect encapsulation of what sexy means on a show like Hannibal. Ann Dowd (Masters of Sex) was awfully sympathetic, what with the lack of filial affection she was receiving. The final spot here ultimately came down to two women on a plane: there’s Neve Campbell, the woman Don Draper didn’t have an affair with, but then there’s Gillian Anderson, the woman that Hannibal Lecter is about to do something with.
Jeff Malone is a voracious entertainment consumer and entertainment creator. He currently resides in New York City, where he is working on a Master’s in Media Studies at The New School. In addition to his pieces on TMRzoo.com, you can check out his blog (jmunney.wordpress.com), where he provides regular coverage of Community and Saturday Night Live, as well as other television, film, music, and the rest of pop culture.