The Emmy awards will be unlike any other this year, as the Coronavirus pandemic means that Sunday’s ceremony will be taking place virtually (though still hosted by Jimmy Kimmel). Despite the unconventional award season, this year saw some incredible television, meaning there’s incredibly tough competition among the nominees for the top prizes. Let’s explore who will win, who should win, (who is a dark horse), and who should have been nominated in the first place.
Best Limited Series
Will Win: “Watchmen”
With 26 nominations, “Watchmen” is the show to beat at this year’s ceremony. The adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s 1986 comic book became one of the most talked about shows all year. If there’s one show we can predict will sweep the Emmys, it’s this one.
Should Win: “Watchmen”
“Watchmen” is simply extraordinary to watch; its commentary on race relations, neglected parts of history and predictions of the future mean nothing else comes close. I have to highlight the sixth episode of the series, “This Extraordinary Being”, which is one of the best hours of television I’ll ever see.
Potential Threat: “Mrs. America”
There’s a small chance FX’s “Mrs. America” takes it, but that’s highly unlikely.
Should Have Been Nominated: “Normal People”
Though a tough category, it seems a shame that the BBC/Hulu adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel didn’t make the cut, stranger still as it received nods for Best Actor, writing and directing.
Best Leading Actor in a Limited Series
Will Win: Paul Mescal, “Normal People”
While it may seem strange that a previously unknown actor may win this award over big names like Hugh Jackman, Jeremy Irons and Mark Ruffalo, Mescal has the buzz to pull it off. The actor’s breakthrough performance as Connell in “Normal People” catapulted Mescal to fame straightaway, giving a breakthrough performance that I can see Emmy voters awarding.
Should Win: Paul Mescal, “Normal People”
Mescal’s sensitive, heartbreaking performance stands out from the rest of the nominees. His work in episode 10 alone is astonishing. It’s only a shame co-star Daisy Edgar-Jones didn’t enjoy a nomination also.
Potential Threat: Mark Ruffalo, “I Know This Much Is True”
Mark Ruffalo impressed critics by playing twins in this dark HBO miniseries and so is a top contender for the award. However, the drama’s gloomy plotting left critics unimpressed. The fact that Ruffalo is the show’s sole nominee says a lot about the lack of enthusiasm for the show itself.
Should Have Been Nominated: Aaron Paul, “El Camino”
Jeremy Irons was great in “Watchmen”, but the idea that his was a leading rather than supporting performance is ridiculous. A performer that should have been in the slot instead was Aaron Paul, for his return to playing his acclaimed (and Emmy-winning) role as Jesse Pinkman in Netflix’s “El Camino.”
Best Leading Actress in a Limited Series
Will Win: Regina King, “Watchmen”
It’s between Regina King and Cate Blanchett for this award, but I think the appreciation shown for “Watchmen” this year, coupled with King’s brilliant performance, will give her the edge. King is also an Emmy favorite, having won three so far. Therefore, it would be foolish to count her out in any award race.
Should Win: Regina King, “Watchmen”
It’s impossible not to be in awe of Regina King in “Watchmen.” King leads the series with such determination, making Angela an engaging, complex lead rather than a straightforward heroine. Whether she was beating up white supremacists, struggling with her family’s history or falling in love in a bar, King’s performance was exceptional.
Potential Threat: Cate Blanchett, “Mrs. America”
Of course, if voters took the stance that King has been awarded enough in recent years, then they could choose to reward another Oscar winner. (I wouldn’t entirely count out “Unorthodox”’s Shira Haas though.) Cate Blanchett turned in a magnificent performance in FX’s “Mrs. America” as ultra-conservative Phyllis Schlafly, managing to create some sympathy for Phyllis even as the audience was horrified by her actions. The final episode, in particular, is a standout showcase of Blanchett’s talent and could lead to her taking the crown.
Should Have Been Nominated: Kaitlyn Denver and Merritt Weaver, “Unbelievable”
Despite the competition in the limited series categories growing tougher and tougher each year, it was still saddening to see Merritt Weaver and Kaitlyn Denver miss out on nominations for their arresting, sensitive performances in Netflix’s “Unbelievable.”
Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series:
Will Win: Jean Smart, “Watchmen”
With all the love for “Watchmen”, the HBO drama will likely sweep the ceremony, so I think voters will award Jean Smart for her brilliant work as Laurie Blake. Smart made an already groundbreaking show even better through her captivating role, making Laurie one of the most enjoyable and charismatic characters to watch on screen. Smart is just so good on this show and, therefore, it’s a performance that voters are unlikely to ignore.
Should Win: Toni Collette, “Unbelievable”
I’d be thrilled to see Smart win, but I can’t ignore Toni Collette’s memorable performance in “Unbelievable.” As Detective Grace Rasmussen, Collette gave a determined and tough performance that was driven by empathy and justice. Particularly as her co-stars were snubbed, I’d love to see Collette and the series itself recognized for its brilliance.
Potential Threat: Uzo Aduba, “Mrs. America”
While some of her co-stars were playing familiar figures from history, Uzo Aduba got to play a woman who has been criminally neglected from history. Playing Shirley Chisholm, the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential ticket, Aduba shone in portraying the challenges Chisholm faced from all areas during her historic run. In the standout episode from the series, “Shirley”, Aduba’s performance rightfully puts Chisholm into the spotlight and reminds the world of a woman who deserves to be more than a footnote in history. With such a lauded performance, you can’t count Aduba out of this race.
Should Have Been Nominated: Rose Byrne, “Mrs. America”
Yes, the cast from “Mrs. America” already dominates this category, but it’s a shame that voters didn’t recognize Rose Byrne’s admirable performance as Gloria Steinem. Byrne had the hard job of playing a feminist icon and making sure her performance was more than an impression. Byrne excelled at this, perfecting Gloria’s voice and mannerisms while conveying the difficulties that come with being the face of a political movement.
Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series:
Will Win: Jim Parsons, “Hollywood”
This is another category with no obvious frontrunner and, therefore, there are plenty of scenarios that could play out. Yet my money is on Jim Parsons for his notable role as producer Henry Wilson in Netflix’s “Hollywood”. The series didn’t fare well with critics (it also missed out on a limited series nomination) but one thing they generally did agree on was Parsons’s performance. Playing against type, the voters could choose to reward Parsons, who is already an Emmy favorite. (Parsons won four Emmys for “The Big Bang Theory.”)
Should Win: Yahya Abdul-Mateen, “Watchmen”
Everyone on “Watchmen” is fantastic, but out of the supporting actors, Mateen has the most surprising and effective role. Sure, being a part of a satisfactory twist boosts his performance, but it’s Mateen’s incredible chemistry with King that stands out, even in scenes where the audience can’t see his face.
Potential Threat: Yahya Abdul-Mateen, “Watchmen”
With two stars of “Watchmen” nominated, this will most likely lead to a vote split and Parsons winning. However, if voters have a preference for one of the “Watchmen,” cast then it will likely be Yahya Abdul-Mateen who wins.
Should Have Been Nominated: Michael Sheen, “Quiz”
Michael Sheen gave a pitch-perfect performance as “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” host Chris Tarrant on the ITV/AMC series “Quiz”, seamlessly performing Tarrant’s mannerisms and perfecting his voice so much you couldn’t tell the difference between the man and the actor.
Best Television Movie
Will Win and Should Win: “Bad Education”
Hugh Jackman gave one of his best performances in this HBO film, which depicted a riveting scandal centering on the largest public school embezzlement in American history.
Potential Threat: “El Camino”
The “Breaking Bad” spinoff featured the return of Aaron Paul’s beloved Jesse Pinkman, a character that the Emmys enthusiastically awarded. Therefore, it’s the only other serious contender in the TV movie race. However, despite their great track record in this category, the lack of nominations elsewhere dims Netflix’s chances this year.
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