Our Emmy predictions: Who will win, who should win, and who got robbed

Sarah Snook and Brian Cox (center) in “Succession,” an Emmy contender for best drama series.
Sarah Snook and Brian Cox (center) in “Succession,” an Emmy contender for best drama series. Colin Hutton/HBO/HBO

The Emmy Awards are broadcast on Sunday night, and until that moment I have some predictions to share. After that moment, however, I take absolutely no responsibility for anything I say here. Awards show prognosticators are like weather people; we confidently share our forecasts, then move on scot-free, regardless of our accuracy. See you later bye.

The 2019 nominations look a little different than they have in recent years, since many recent Emmy regulars are not eligible. “The Crown,” “Westworld,” “Stranger Things,” “Homeland,” “Atlanta,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” are not in the mix, due to deadline and production reasons. That may mean “Game of Thrones” will win more than it should — but it may also leave room for new names (“Succession”?) and faces (Phoebe Waller-Bridge?), which would be nice. Life is change, after all; how it differs from the rocks.


Drama Series

Better Call Saul (AMC)

Bodyguard (Netflix)

Game of Thrones (HBO)

Killing Eve (BBC America)

Ozark (Netflix)

Pose (FX)

Succession (HBO)

This Is Us (NBC)

WILL WIN: The final season felt too short and yet, somehow, it felt too long. In its peak moment, it was visually and narratively muddy. But flawed or not, “Game of Thrones” is clearly going into Emmy night with big winner energy, having earned 32 nominations and, last weekend, a bunch of technical awards. It will take the prize, given as a group hug to one of scripted TV’s few buzz shows.

SHOULD WIN: The drama on this list that I enjoyed without reservation is “Succession,” for its darkly comic writing and its dishy story lines. I can’t say it’s as original as drama winners such as “Breaking Bad” — it’s a bit like “Dynasty” with a PhD in snark — but I can say it’s smart and thrilling. The dog litter that is the Roy family is endlessly entertaining, managing to be comic and tragic at exactly the same time.


WAS ROBBED: “Homecoming” was riveting — and it deserves that “Killing Eve” nomination, since “Killing Eve” collapsed into a mess by the end of the season. “Sex Education,” about a teen whose sexuality is complicated — comically, mostly — by the fact that his mother is a sex therapist, is a clever take on coming of age. And “My Brilliant Friend” is a transporting adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels.

Comedy Series

Barry (HBO)

Fleabag (Amazon)

The Good Place (NBC)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)

Russian Doll (Netflix)

Schitt’s Creek (Pop TV)

Veep (HBO)

WILL WIN: I have a feeling that “Veep” is going to prevail, for a final season that did no harm to the show’s legacy. There’s a chance, though, that last year’s winner, “Mrs. Maisel,” will win again.

SHOULD WIN: “Fleabag” was revelatory, as a comedy about love, spirituality, religion, and healing. I adore “Veep,” which already has three wins under its belt, but “Fleabag” triggered all kinds of deep feels, along with laughs. I’m for it, big-time.

WAS ROBBED: “Shrill” is Aidy Bryant’s smart portrait of a woman dealing with other people’s discomfort with her weight. It humanizes self-acceptance. Ricky Gervais’s “After Life” is a tough but amusing look at grief. And “The Other Two” is a sharp newcomer about the two envious siblings of a pop star. It makes fame-adjacency so tragique.

Storm Reid as Lisa and Jharrel Jerome as Korey Wise in “When They See Us.”
Storm Reid as Lisa and Jharrel Jerome as Korey Wise in “When They See Us.”Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix/Netflix

Limited Series

Chernobyl (HBO)

Escape at Dannemora (Showtime)


Fosse/Verdon (FX)

Sharp Objects (HBO)

When They See Us (Netflix)

WILL WIN: I’d be pleased with seeing any of these titles — four of which are based in fact — take the prize, except the psychodramatic “Fosse/Verdon,” which was a bit baggy. But I think voters will respond most of all to Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us,” a timely look back at the human toll of the so-called Central Park Five case. “Chernobyl” is horrifying and frustrating, like “When They See Us,” but it doesn’t break your heart in quite as many places.

SHOULD WIN: As a portrait of disaster — not just environmental and humanitarian, but political — you really can’t beat “Chernobyl.” It’s as grim as you’d expect, but intelligent and unwilling to fall into disaster-movie clichés. Forced to choose between “Chernobyl” and “When They See Us,” I’d probably go with the former.

WAS ROBBED: Naturally, it wasn’t as good as the classic novel. But Hulu’s “Catch-22,” about the wounds of war, was beautifully done, veering between the absurdity of the situation and the tainted innocence of the boys.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Jason Bateman, “Ozark”

Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”

Kit Harington, “Game of Thrones”

Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”

Billy Porter, “Pose”

Milo Ventimiglia, “This Is Us”

WILL WIN: And the category is: Porter, indubitably. I suspect “Pose” is not the Academy’s cup of tea, generally speaking, but Porter is everybody’s cup of tea, always. Certainly Brown — who showed us Randall’s deep-seated sexism — stands a chance, and Odenkirk, too; they are solid choices.


SHOULD WIN: Porter deserves the prize for his ballroom scenes alone. He’s the pulse of the show.

WAS ROBBED: As the Lear figure in “Succession,” Brian Cox is the glaring omission in this category. His Logan Roy manipulates his children shamelessly, his shadow falling over everyone in his path. Also, we tend to take Paul Giamatti’s bluster for granted, but his work on “Billions” is spectacular in its volume and precision.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones”

Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”

Viola Davis, “How to Get Away With Murder”

Laura Linney, “Ozark”

Mandy Moore, “This Is Us”

Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”

Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

WILL WIN: Oh got pulled down by the lousy writing, her semi-comic persona undermining her character’s dire actions and twisted attraction. But knowing the Academy, she will win anyway — because we like her, and because she didn’t win even one of her five “Grey’s Anatomy” nominations.

SHOULD WIN: The “Killing Eve” story line fell into unintentional absurdity, but Comer rose above it. She was fascinating as a killer with a droll sense of humor and a kicky sense of style.

WAS ROBBED: I’m stuck on the fact that Suranne Jones of “Gentleman Jack” was ignored. It was only a full-bodied, committed cyclone of a performance that showed how gender fluidity might have worked back in the early 19th century, but whatever. Mj Rodriguez from “Pose” ought to be here; she brings new facets to TV’s portrayal of motherhood. And Julia Roberts pulled off heavy intrigue, leaving us with the haunting image of her eating a fateful plate of gnocchi bite by painful bite.


Bill Hader in “Barry.”
Bill Hader in “Barry.”Aaron Epstein/HBO

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”

Don Cheadle, “Black Monday”

Ted Danson, “The Good Place”

Michael Douglas, “The Kominsky Method”

Bill Hader, “Barry”

Eugene Levy, “Schitt’s Creek”

WILL WIN: Season 2 of “Barry” was popular among fans (though not this one), and Hader will most likely repeat last year’s win. He is lovable, even when he flashes his cold killer’s eyes.

SHOULD WIN: Danson presides over his sitcom like a genial giant, or the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, mastering whatever complicated twists the clever writers send his way. He has been in the sitcom game for a long time, but his wit is as fresh as ever.

WAS ROBBED: Hear me out. “Who Is America?” was seriously flawed, as it quickly ran out of good material. But Sacha Baron Cohen was too funny as a variety of bizarre “journalists,” and he never broke character.

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Christina Applegate, “Dead to Me”

Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”

Natasha Lyonne, “Russian Doll”

Catherine O’Hara, “Schitt’s Creek”

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Fleabag”

WILL WIN: It’s quite possible that, after six wins, voters aren’t certain Louis-Dreyfus knows they really, truly love her on “Veep.” But I’m thinking they’ll honor someone else this year — Brosnahan again, for her turn as the least New York Jewish New York Jewish comic. If they go for Waller-Bridge, my favorite, I’ll plotz.

SHOULD WIN: I love O’Hara’s work, as she squeezes every last laugh out of her drama-loving fashion plate. And Lyonne took her character from terminal cynicism to life. But Waller-Bridge’s portrait of a brilliant woman dealing with grief and guilt was one for the ages.

WAS ROBBED: I just can’t with the Academy’s snubbing of Emmy Rossum, who was as good as ever on her final season of “Shameless.” And Pamela Adlon is a force of nature on “Better Things,” as a single mother just trying to get it right.

Lead Actor in a Limited Series
or Movie

Mahershala Ali, “True Detective”

Benicio del Toro, “Escape at Dannemora”

Hugh Grant, “A Very English Scandal”

Jared Harris, “Chernobyl”

Jharrel Jerome, “When They See Us”

Sam Rockwell, “Fosse/Verdon”

WILL WIN: Jerome, who broke through in “Moonlight,” brought us through the nightmare as Korey Wise, both young and old. He stands a good chance of winning, even if he wasn’t quite the lead in the ensemble piece.

SHOULD WIN: Harris’s understated, heartbreaking turn worked perfectly, both as a dramatic guide and as an audience surrogate. His pain was directed inward, an emotional implosion that was cool on the outside and scorching on the inside.

WAS ROBBED: Christopher Abbott brought frustration and heart to “Catch-22.”

Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Amy Adams, “Sharp Objects”

Patricia Arquette, “Escape at Dannemora”

Aunjanue Ellis, “When They See Us”

Joey King, “The Act”

Niecy Nash, “When They See Us”

Michelle Williams, “Fosse/Verdon”

WILL WIN: Williams will win for her transformation into actress and dancer Gwen Verdon. It’s the world of entertainment genuflecting to one of its own legends. I found her performance one-dimensional, but Twitter keeps reminding me that I’m in the minority.

SHOULD WIN: I was floored by Arquette, who made a complicated real person wholly scrutable, an administrator who entered prison every day like a prisoner dreaming of freedom. It feels like forever since “Dannemora” ran, but her performance remains crystal clear in my memory.

WAS ROBBED: Ultimately, I wasn’t a fan of “The Romanoffs,” Matthew Weiner’s follow-up to “Mad Men,” but two performances on the anthology series were phenomenal in their respective episodes — by Marthe Keller and Isabelle Huppert.

Supporting Actor
in a Drama Series

Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul”

Alfie Allen, “Game of Thrones”

Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”

Chris Sullivan, “This Is Us”

Giancarlo Esposito, “Better Call Saul”

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, “Game of Thrones”

Michael Kelly, “House of Cards”

WILL WIN: Dinklage will get his fourth statue for his charming, moving work as Tyrion . . .

SHOULD WIN: . . . And I will be happy to see him crowned again. The final season disappointed, but Dinklage did not

WAS ROBBED: Next to the Academy’s snubbing of Suranne Jones, what bugs me the most on this entire list of nominations is the absence of Asia Kate Dillon, who is quite remarkable as the foil in the macho world of “Billions.” Voters may be too distracted by issues of gender identity to see the brilliance.

Supporting Actress
in a Drama Series

Gwendoline Christie, “Game of Thrones”

Sophie Turner, “Game of Thrones”

Fiona Shaw, “Killing Eve”

Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones”

Maisie Williams, “Game of Thrones”

Julia Garner, “Ozark”

WILL WIN: There’s a strong wave of support for the up-and-coming Garner, who is affecting — as she was on “The Americans.” The voters will want to give her their imprimatur.

SHOULD WIN: I’m unhappy with this group of nominees, since it doesn’t include some of the year’s finest. All due respect, voters, but did you even watch “Game of Thrones”? Because Headey — always excellent — was barely in the final season. Of these nominees, I’d go with Garner, too. I’m a big fan of Turner, but, like many on “Game of Thrones,” the season doesn’t represent her best work.

WAS ROBBED: Gillian Anderson of “Sex Education” was both funny and poignant as a sex therapist who can help everyone but herself. Maura Tierney continued to be the emotional center of “The Affair.” Indya Moore and Dominique Jackson killed it on “Pose.” And Susan Kelechi Watson matched Sterling K. Brown beat for beat on “This Is Us.”

Supporting Actor
in a Comedy Series

Henry Winkler, “Barry”

Stephen Root, “Barry”

Tony Shalhoub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Anthony Carrigan, “Barry”

Alan Arkin, “The Kominsky Method”

Tony Hale, “Veep”

WILL WIN: The Academy nominated Shalhoub for each of the eight seasons of “Monk,” and he won three times. I’m thinking he’s heading for more gold.

SHOULD WIN: Winkler had little to do this season, and Carrigan had, perhaps, too much, since a little of him goes a long way. Hale is at the center of the final twist of “Veep,” but he’s been playing the same notes for years. I’m gonna go with Arkin, whose grumpiness and sorrow seem welded together.

WAS ROBBED: I’ve never been able to get my head around the fact that the Academy likes to nominate most of the supporting performers on “Veep,” except it’s best one. Timothy Simons, you’ve been robbed (x 7). Matthew Macfadyen delivers the comedy of desperation brilliantly on “Succession,” as a fool who doesn’t want to get stuck on the bottom of the pile. And where is the “sexy priest” — who is also a weary priest and a humane priest — from “Fleabag,” Andrew Scott?

Olivia Colman in “Fleabag.”
Olivia Colman in “Fleabag.”Steve Schofield

Supporting Actress
in a Comedy Series

Sarah Goldberg, “Barry”

Olivia Colman, “Fleabag”

Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”

Alex Borstein, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Sian Clifford, “Fleabag”

Betty Gilpin, “GLOW”

Marin Hinkle, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Anna Chlumsky, “Veep”

WILL WIN: Borstein won last year, and the Academy loves nothing better than to confirm its own choices.

SHOULD WIN: I hardly think there will be a “Fleabag” sweep. It’s a bit esoteric for that. But Colman was painfully funny as the petty, jealous, deeply insecure bride trying to torment her new daughters-in-law. She won an Oscar, and now the British actress, who’s taking over the role of Queen Elizabeth in November in “The Crown,” needs to win an Emmy.

WAS ROBBED: D’Arcy Carden belongs here, for her winning turn as Janet on “The Good Place.” Whatever brilliant nonsense the writers throw her way, she always elevates it as the robotic human — or is that the human robot? Academy, what are you thinking?

THE 71st Emmy Awards

On Fox, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.