A note: For my Emmys 2015 roundup, check out my post here.
After considering the Best Drama and Best Comedy races, I’ll turn my attention to the acting awards. I’ll be covering most of the acting categories and will be listing two choices for each category: who should win, and who will win.
I’ll pick who should win based on my personal favourite out of all the nominees, while I’ll pick who will win based on who has the greatest chance or is the most likely to win.
Out of the eight major categories, I have listed choices for six (the other two are Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series), two of which are certain choices and the rest a little less certain. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Who should win: Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, Better Call Saul, episode “Five-O”
Jonathan Banks won critical praise for the hard-as-nails Mike in Breaking Bad, and continues to impress in Better Call Saul. As Mike’s background is explored in greater detail, Banks gets his showpiece moment in the episode “Five-O” – Mike’s breakdown and the now-famous “I broke my boy” line very much poignant.
Who will win: Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones, episode “Hardhome”
Dinklage didn’t have much to do this season of Game of Thrones as Tyrion spent most of it travelling and interacting with a select few characters, but his star power and status as a former winner should pull him through here.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Who should win: Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones, episode “Mother’s Mercy”
“Shame. Shame.” Lena Headey should win if only for that heart-breaking scene in “Mother’s Mercy”. Cersei was much more prominent in this season of Game of Thrones, and even though her downfall was written rather sloppily, Headey was successful in making Cersei a sympathetic character.
Who will win: Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris, Mad Men, episode “Lost Horizon”
This has not been the best season for Christina Hendricks – she should have won three years ago for her work in Mad Men‘s fifth season – but I suspect that the Academy will honour her this year for her overall work on the show. No Mad Men cast member has won an Emmy for their performance, and given that this is the show’s Emmy swansong, expect that to change.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Who should win: Jeffrey Tambor as Morton “Maura” Pfefferman, Transparent, episode “The Letting Go”
Who will win: Jeffrey Tambor
Maura Pfefferman is a complex character on paper brought to life by Jeffrey Tambor. Tambor, best-known for being George Bluth in Arrested Development, is stately and yet vulnerable in Transparent as she navigates her new life as a woman amid the Pfefferman family drama. A lesser actor would have failed to convince an audience of Maura’s pain and confusion, but Tambor succeeds on all fronts. A career-defining performance from the 71-year-old veteran.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Who should win: Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation, episode “One Last Ride”
Amy Poehler has been the heart and soul of Parks and Recreation the same way Steve Carrell has been for The Office, and so far both of them have exactly zero Emmy wins for playing Leslie Knope and Michael Scott. I’ll be very surprised if Poehler gets the win, because this seems like a (very well-deserved nonetheless) nostalgia nomination.
Who will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus as President Selina Meyer, Veep, episode “Election Night”
The best in her class. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has had another great year, as Veep remained incredibly strong. Her submitted episode, “Election Night”, has Selina in the highs and low spirits that can come from the nerves of an election night, and Louis-Dreyfus is once again excellent.
Outstanding Leading Actor in a Drama Series
Who should win: Jon Hamm as Don Draper, Mad Men, episode “Person to Person”
Who will win: Jon Hamm
Like Christina Hendricks, Jon Hamm should have won this award years ago. This year is his last and best chance, as Hamm turns in a typically brilliant performance. His submitted episode, “Person to Person” (the series finale) has Don in a few standout moments as he calls Betty and then Peggy, and who can forget that last shot of Don to close the show?
Outstanding Leading Actress in a Drama Series
Who should win: Tatiana Maslany as A Whole Bunch of People, Orphan Black, episode “Certain Agony of the Battlefield”
Finally! Tatiana Maslany’s omission from the nominees has been one of the biggest snubs in recent years, and her nomination this year is due recognition for her stunning work in Orphan Black. She won’t win the award – there are other nominees with higher profiles – but she deserves all the awards for playing multiple clones and making them unique, believable characters.
Who will win: Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon, Empire, episode “Pilot”
I very nearly went with Claire Danes for this one, as she has been front-and-centre of a rejuvenated Homeland, but Taraji P. Henson steals the entire show with her performance as Cookie. Her initial confrontation with Lucious, where she declares her intention of taking back her half of Empire, is a perfect synthesis of what the show is about. Cookie is forceful, bossy, loving and resourceful – a character brought to life in Taraji P. Henson’s Emmy-worthy performance.