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Following a remarkably strong 2011-2012 television season, this year’s Emmy nominations are filled with new faces and faces so familiar we’re astonished they’ve never been nominated before. A few A-listers earned their first Emmy nods as well, and some of the newbies may just win big on their first try.

We’ve highlighted some of this year's first-time nominees, including those who've been waiting a long time for recognition, and the Emmy virgins we think stand a good chance of getting the golden statue their first time at bat.

Comedy

Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day on New Girl: Outstanding Lead Actress
Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath on Girls: Outstanding Lead Actress
Mayim Bialik* as Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory: Outstanding Supporting Actress 
* May actually win. Mayim has been on the small screen since she was just a kid on Blossom, and Emmy voters are in love with Big Bang. Plus, she’s excellent.
Merritt Weaver as Zoey Barkow in Nurse Jackie: Outstanding Supporting Actress
Bill Hader as various characters on Saturday Night Live: Outstanding Supporting Actor
Max Greenfield* as Schmidt on New Girl 
* May actually win. Schmidt is one of the most original and exciting characters we've seen on TV since Seinfeld’s Kramer. 

Drama

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley on Downton Abbey: Outstanding Lead Actress
Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham on Downton Abbey: Outstanding Lead Actor
Anna Gunn as Skyler White on Breaking Bad: Outstanding Supporting Actress
Joanne Froggatt as Anna on Downton Abbey: Outstanding Supporting Actress
Giancarlo Esposito* as Gustavo “Gus” Fring on Breaking Bad: Outstanding Supporting Actor 
May actually win. Was there a more eccentric, frightening, and unforgettable villain on TV this past season? Plus, Giancarlo has been acting his butt off on various shows for years. This may finally be his chance for some recognition from the Academy.
Brendan Coyle as John Bates on Downton Abbey: Outstanding Supporting Actor
Jim Carter as Mr. Carson on Downton Abbey: Outstanding Supporting Actor
Jared Harris as Lane Pryce on Mad Men: Outstanding Supporting Actor

Miniseries/TV Movie

Julianne Moore* as Sarah Palin in Game Change: Outstanding Lead Actress
* May actually win. The Academy tends to stay away from such stridently political series and movies, but no matter which side of the aisle you're on, it was hard to deny how well Julianne played Palin, with unexpected sympathy and none of the laugh tracks. 
Nicole Kidman as Martha Gellhorn in Hemingway & Gellhorn: Outstanding Lead Actress
Clive Owen as Ernest Hemingway in Hemingway & Gellhorn: Outstanding Lead Actor
Benedict Cumberbatch* as Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia: Outstanding Lead Actor
* May actually win. Fans of Benedict are absolutely nuts for his portrayal of Sherlock as a sociopath. Emmy voters love highbrow fare, and Benedict’s take on a well-worn character is new and convincing.
Kevin Costner as Devil Anse Hatfield in Hatfields & McCoys: Outstanding Lead Actor
Bill Paxton as Randall McCoy in Hatfields & McCoy: Outstanding Lead Actor
Sarah Paulson as Nicolle Wallace in Game Change: Outstanding Supporting Actress
Denis O’Hare as Larry Harvey in American Horror Story: Outstanding Supporting Actor
Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson in Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia: Outstanding Supporting Actor

 

SourceEmmys

Molly Friedman is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @MollyFriedman.

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