Clear your Monday night schedules because television’s biggest night is nearly upon us, and we’re anticipating a night full of glitz, glamour, and Matthew McConaughey jokes.
Sure, the 2014 Emmys seem predictable, but there could be some shake-ups, thanks to HBO’s buzzy new anthology, True Detective, going up against the epic final season of Breaking Bad for the best drama series crown. And Netflix’s critically beloved Orange Is the New Black might finally be able to take down Modern Family, which has won the comedy series trophy for the past four years. In the words of MTV’s Diary (RIP), you think you know, but you have no idea.
But here at Wetpaint, we love to tempt fate. So here are Wetpaint editors’ picks for the top six Emmy categories. Catch the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Seth Meyers, at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC.
With all due respect to the other candidates, this race clearly comes down to two contenders: reigning champ Breaking Bad and the buzziest new drama of the year, True Detective.
Yes, Mad Men was as carefully paced and beautifully executed as ever this summer, but the Academy has clearly gotten tired of its former golden child over the last few years. Game of Thrones had arguably its best season yet, but we don't think that will be enough to overcome the Academy's bias against genre shows, especially when there are so many strong contenders that don't feature dragons. When it comes to Netflix, the attention is squarely on Orange Is the New Black, not House of Cards. And, well, sorry Downton Abbey, but even most of your fans didn't really like you this year.
So, will the prize go to the gritty detective drama with the A-list stars, or the conclusion of the epic that many already rank among the best shows of all time? It's a tough call, but we're putting our money on Breaking Bad.
True Detective has a lot going for it: the star studded cast, the beautiful cinematography, the HBO brand name, the Next Big Thing shininess. HBO clearly thinks it has a shot at the Best Drama title — otherwise, why not enter this anthology series as a Miniseries, like the similarly structured American Horror Story and Fargo, where it would have been almost guaranteed a win?
In the end, we don't think the gamble is going to pay off for HBO. True Detective was an intriguing concept executed incredibly well, but last summer Breaking Bad turned in what is widely, and correctly, considered one of the greatest final seasons in the history of television, featuring "Ozymandias," one of the single best episodes ever on TV. Breaking Bad proved that it is possible to go out on top, and it would be insane for the Academy not to send it off with one last hurrah. — Rebecca Martin
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
A crazy thing happened watching Matthew McConaughey play two decades of sometimes-detective Rust Cohle in True Detective: We forgot we were watching Matthew. Rust is a challenging character to settle into for anyone, to be fair. But after years of getting typecast as swaggery, in-your-face extroverts, introspective, cagey Rust really gave Matthew a chance to shine in a way that not even his Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club performance did.
In the first season of True Detective, Rust's mental state was as compelling a part of the show as the mystery itself — and in the end, these two threads merge inextricably. The nomination is based on his performance in the season finale, "Form and Void," when he delivers some serious thematic payoffs that, if not executed properly, could've let the whole season fall flat.
Matthew's co-star Woody Harrelson (Detective Marty Heart) is also nominated, and while he did a bang-up job, nobody comes close to what Matthew accomplished this season. And yes, the obvious choice is Bryan Cranston — he’s already a three-time winner in this category for Breaking Bad — and we have to admit, his portrayal of Walter White is one of the greatest performances in TV history, but Emmy voters love to award movie stars for gracing the small screen with their presence.
That’s not to say Matthew isn’t 100 percent deserving of this Emmy. Dude is totally having a moment; he should, and we're guessing he will, take home the Emmy. (Although uh, let's settle down a little before your acceptance speech this time, alright alright alright?) — Sarah Lloyd
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Robin Wright, House of Cards
While we’re still pretty upset about Orphan Black actress Tatiana Maslany’s blatant snub in this year’s Emmy nominations, we concede that narrowing down the field of strong female performances this year was basically impossible. Whether on network, cable, or online streaming, the 2013-2014 television season was full of a ridiculous number of Emmy-worthy performances by women.
That said, it’s unlikely there’ll be a two-way tie in the vote, much less a six-way. So which lady will reign supreme? The safe bets are Claire Danes and Julianna Margulies. Each actress has multiple wins under her belt already in this category, and both portrayed characters facing — spoiler alert — some devastating deaths of loved ones this past season.
However, we’re going to go out on a limb and say this could be “The Year of Netflix.” House of Cards star Robin Wright has already won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Senator Underwood’s wife, Claire, and we have a feeling that Globe statuette is about to be joined by a winged lady. Her performance in Season 2 is basically a master class in playing a very bad, but very complicated bitch. — Amber Garrett
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
As always, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama is a fiercely competitive category that leaves us scratching our heads trying to figure out who will take home the prize. So, let's run down the candidates.
Jim Carter strikes us as the least likely to win; Downton Abbey gets a lot of nomination love, but its actors don't tend to take home the prize if they aren't named Dame Maggie Smith. We're also guessing that Mandy Patinkin is out of luck — he's awesome, but Homeland seems to have become an afterthought on the awards circuit, and wasn't even nominated for Best Drama.
That still leaves four strong contenders. Jon Voight has established movie star prestige, and did win the Golden Globe for his role on Ray Donovan, so you definitely have to keep your eye on him. Meanwhile, Josh Charles is back in the mix after a few years without nominations, which means the Academy sat up and took notice of his unforgettable Good Wife arc this year. The Academy rewarded Bobby Cannavale seemingly out of the blue last year; could that be Josh this year?
And then there are our picks for the two top contenders: Aaron Paul and Peter Dinklage. They've both won this award before for playing Jesse Pinkman and Tyrion Lannister, respectively (Aaron's won twice), and they both had banner years again.
Tyrion definitely had more to do overall than Jesse in their respective seasons, which could give Peter Dinklage the edge. That said, in the acting categories it really all comes down to one submission episode, and we'd say Aaron's devastating performance in "Confessions" is equal to Peter's blistering monologue in "The Laws of Gods and Men." They're both standout performances from two of the best actors on TV.
So, who gets the win? It's a close call, but if we have to pick we're going to say Aaron Paul, on the theory that Breaking Bad is likely to have a big year in general, which could give its stars the advantage in super closer races. — Rebecca Martin
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
It’s a shame that Lena Headey’s first nomination in this category happened to be opposite Anna Gunn’s last (well, for Breaking Bad, at least). If not for that, Lena may have had a shot. Her performance as Cersei Lannister in Season 4 of HBO’s Game of Thrones was her best yet. Sure, it’s easy to write Cersei off as a villain — she’s not the most likable lady in Westeros — but underneath her icy exterior, there’s a fragileness to Lena’s lurid portrayal of Cersei.
Her eldest son was killed, she had to send her only daughter to Dorne, and her brother and lover turned his back on her — but not before he raped her. So let’s just cut Cersei some slack (and pour her another glass of wine). Lena did an impeccable job with the materiel she was given. We still get shivers when we think about her encounter with Oberyn Martell: “Everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls.” That delivery alone was Emmy-worthy!
Unfortunately for Lena, this is Breaking Bad’s swan song, and the Television Academy is going to make sure it goes out with a bang. If we had to pick a winner in this category, we’d put our money on Anna Dunn taking this one. Last year, she took home her first Emmy for her portrayal of Skyler White, and we don’t see her momentum slowing down this year, especially with it being for Breaking Bad’s near-perfect final season. That final phone conversation between Skyler and Walter left us feeling both content and desperate for more, in that heartbreaking kind of way that Breaking Bad mastered over its five seasons on air.
So all the Skyler haters can shut up, shut up, shut up because it’s time for Breaking Bad to take its victory lap. — Crystal Bell
Outstanding Comedy Series: Orange Is the New Black
Netflix's flagship comedy is not only the show we think will win Emmy gold on Monday night, it's also the show we think should win. Orange Is the New Black has broken ground on which no other show nominated this year has even set foot. But it's not just splashy and sensationalist — it's also sincere.
Making a criminal sympathetic is no small feat, but Jenji Kohan & Co. have done that two dozen times over — giving the Litchfield inmates dreams, flaws, ambitions, romances, pathos, and more than a few redeeming qualities.
It's a huge cast of characters, but the show juggles each storyline nimbly. Even by the end of the first season — the extent to which Emmy voters are supposed to judge the show this year — we viewers felt like we too were imprisoned with these ladies, thanks to the rich characterization.
Even better, you have the feeling that all women are represented within the confines of Litchfield — or, at least, that all women could be. The cell blocks' diversity extends beyond the basics — race, sexuality, religion, etc. We also see a variety of personalities, psyches, morals, and worldviews.
The complex characterization plus these incessant culture- clashes make for hilarious comedy — but also, and perhaps more importantly, emotional breakthroughs. — Dan Clarendon
Who do you think will take home an Emmy this year? Sound off in the comments below!