Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad," Claire Danes of "Homeland,"… (AMC / Showtime / HBO / FX )
The Emmys are so predictable … so boring … so uninspired … unless, of course, voters are rewarding your favorite show yet again, and then it's wildly on-target, a well-deserved honor bestowed by perceptive and discriminating industry authorities.
FOR THE RECORD:
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: The Gold Standard column in the Aug. 9 edition of The Envelope said that Julia Louis-Dreyfus was a 12-time Emmy nominee. The actress has 13 nominations. —
Expect a great many predictable (and well-deserved) honors come September. Here's an early set of predictions to start the conversation.
Buzzmeter: More pundits' picks
"Game of Thrones"(HBO)
Should win: "Mad Men"
Will win: "Mad Men"
Analysis: "Mad Men" won the series Emmy for its first four seasons and, arguably, just completed its finest year. A fifth Emmy here would be unprecedented — and a proper reward. But AMC stable mate "Breaking Bad" poses a serious threat to its chances, particularly since it's currently airing an ambitious string of new episodes, just as votes are being cast.
BALLOT: Make your own picks
LEAD ACTOR, DRAMA
Hugh Bonneville, "Downton Abbey"
Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire"
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"
Michael C. Hall,"Dexter"
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"
Damian Lewis, "Homeland"
Should win: Cranston
Will win: Cranston
Analysis: After sitting out last year's race, Cranston faces little competition for a fourth Emmy, which would tie him with Dennis Franz for most wins in the category. Now if someone would only give the man a role in a decent movie …
LIST: Complete list of the 2012 nominees
LEAD ACTRESS, DRAMA
Kathy Bates,"Harry's Law"
Claire Danes, "Homeland"
Michelle Dockery, "Downton Abbey"
Julianna Margulies,"The Good Wife"
Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men"
Should win: Danes
Will win: Danes
Analysis: Close's camp can't run on the "this-is-her-year" platform that"Albert Nobbs" campaigners used in the last Oscar race since Close has already won here twice. Margulies won last year, but her show's exclusion for series doesn't bode well. Danes wins, and it's a slam-dunk.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA
Jim Carter, "Downton Abbey"
Brendan Coyle, "Downton Abbey"
Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones"
Giancarlo Esposito, "Breaking Bad"
Jared Harris, "Mad Men"
Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad"
Should win: Esposito
Will win: Esposito
Analysis: Dinklage won last year, but no one has repeated in this category since Ray Walston for "Picket Fences" in the mid-'90s. And, yes, Coyle has his T-shirted supporters ("Free Bates!"), but his stiff-upper-lip stoicism can't match the work of Paul and Esposito on "Breaking Bad" or Harris' heartbreaking turn on "Mad Men." Esposito should prevail, but it will be close.
PHOTOS: 'Boss,' 'Idol' and other snubs
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA
Christine Baranski,"The Good Wife"
Joanne Froggatt, "Downton Abbey"
Anna Gunn, "Breaking Bad"
Christina Hendricks, "Mad Men"
Archie Panjabi, "The Good Wife"
Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey"
Should win: Hendricks
Will win: Hendricks
Analysis: "Mad Men" has never won an acting Emmy, but Hendricks owns a showcase episode this year with"The Other Woman," in which Joan pondered prostituting herself for financial security. She should win, but Smith's sour dowager countess can't be discounted. This could be the category that the much-loved "Downton" carries.
"The Big Bang Theory"(CBS)
"Curb Your Enthusiasm"(HBO)
Should win: "Girls"
Will win: "Modern Family"
Analysis: "Modern Family" has been an Emmy juggernaut in its two eligible seasons. The legal battle between the cast and 20th Century Fox would have needed to venture into "Hatfields & McCoys" territory for the show to lose here.
LEAD ACTOR, COMEDY
Louis C.K., "Louie"
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
Don Cheadle,"House of Lies"
Jon Cryer,"Two and a Half Men"
Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm"
Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"
Should win: Louis C.K.
Will win: Louis C.K.
Analysis: C.K. received seven Emmy nominations — three (writing, directing, acting) for his FX series and four for his Beacon Theatre stand-up special. So, yes, this is his moment. Plus, even with all the love, "Louie" somehow failed to earn a series nod, an oversight that brought even more attention to C.K. via assorted cries of outrage and puzzlement. Admittedly, C.K.'s skewed humor isn't going to play to everyone in the room, but a Parsons three-peat seems both unlikely and kind of wrong. Unless, of course, that's your favorite show and then it's perfectly acceptable.
LEAD ACTRESS, COMEDY
Zooey Deschanel,"New Girl"
Lena Dunham, "Girls"
Edie Falco,"Nurse Jackie"
Tina Fey, "30 Rock"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"
Melissa McCarthy, "Mike & Molly"
Amy Poehler,"Parks and Recreation"
Should win: Poehler
Will win: Louis-Dreyfus