2012 Emmy Awards Nominees: Our Predictions!

64th Primetime Emmy Awards

Tomorrow morning the television world will find itself rocked when Kerry Washington and Nick Offerman announce the nominations for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards (which has a snazzy new poster, left). Will Parks & Recreation finally get its due? Will Homeland or Downton Abbey upset the drama categories’ status quo? Will Girls, New Girl and Veep make a splash and join the ranks of recurring comedy favorites?

It’s a year that could be loaded with some pleasant (and some not-so-pleasant) surprises, and we’ll all find out tomorrow morning. For now, our team of TV experts at Hollywood.com has compiled our predictions for who will get honored, who will get bumped and who will throw Emmy voters for a wild loop. Check out our predictions below, and check back in for our Emmys coverage in the weeks leading up to the ceremony (which Jimmy Kimmel will host at L.A.’s Nokia Theatre on September 23rd):

Best Drama Series


Mad Men

Breaking Bad


Game of Thrones

Boardwalk Empire


Downton Abbey

The Good Wife





Sons of Anarchy

Homeland’s in. Dexter’s out. With Downton Abbey submitting as a drama instead of a miniseries, there’s a shake-up to be had, and the show perhaps most in jeopardy is The Good Wife (which had its “moment” last year).

Best Comedy Series


Modern Family

Parks & Recreation

The Big Bang Theory

Curb Your Enthusiasm


New Girl


30 Rock





Happy Endings

It’s a surprisingly wishy-washy year for a usually solid category. Don’t count on The Office like Emmy has in years past; instead, place your bets on newcomers New Girl or Girls (there’s a trend here somewhere) to nab a spot. Although Curb Your Enthusiasm will enthusiastically return to the category, the equally-deserving Louie may have to fight for a major nomination (Louis C.K. himself will get a nod, perhaps in redemption). And never count out dark horse Community, which is having a much buzzed-about year.

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series


Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)

Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)

Louis C.K. (Louie)

Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)


Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)

Don Cheadle (House of Lies)

Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men)


Joel McHale (Community)

Will Arnett (Up All Night)


Adam Scott (Parks & Recreation)

Parsons and Baldwin are category staples, and C.K. is having the best year of his career, so the first half of the ballot is already set. The Academy has shown no lack of love for Jon Cryer, who is submitting for lead this year (and will probably be happily surprised); new co-star Ashton Kutcher also submitted for lead, but he likely won’t find himself at the top of the bill (it’ll either be big name Don Cheadle or Big Bang’s once-nominated Johnny Galecki). You can bet that either Joel McHale (probably) or Will Arnett (probably not) will take a sixth spot for their comedic romps in two of this year’s buzziest comedies.

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series


Amy Poehler (Parks & Recreation)

Tina Fey (30 Rock)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)


Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)

Lena Dunham (Girls)

Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly)

Laura Dern (Enlightened)


Christina Applegate (Up All Night)

Laura Linney (The Big C)


Jane Levy (Suburgatory)

Laura Linney, Martha Plimpton and Edie Falco will make room — and rightfully so — for funnier performances by Deschanel, Dunham and Louis-Dreyfus. It’s also important to remember that Melissa McCarthy’s nod-and-win last year was largely reactionary, thanks to Bridesmaids; her spot this year for Mike & Molly is not guaranteed. Laura Dern could fill a sixth slot, if Linney doesn’t steal it back.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series


Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)

Jon Hamm (Mad Men)

Hugh Laurie (House)

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)

Damian Lewis (Homeland)


Kelsey Grammer (Boss)

Michael C. Hall (Dexter)

Dustin Hoffman (Luck)

Timothy Olyphant (Justified)


Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey)

Jason Isaacs (Awake)


William H. Macy (Shameless)

Obviously with five “shoo-ins,” the entire category looks to be mostly locked, as it is every year. Buscemi, Hamm and Cranston won’t budge, and Laurie will stay on the ballot for the last season of House. Expect Michael C. Hall to be given the boot from his usual slot to make room for Homeland’s brilliant enigma Damian Lewis. The sixth spot could go to Kelsey Grammer, an obvious choice for the middling Boss, but Grammer likely won’t get the same love from Emmy that he got from the HFPA at the Globes earlier this year. If Downton Abbey dominates the year overall, patriarch Hugh Bonneville could fill the vacancy; otherwise, it’s a toss-up between Dustin Hoffman, Timothy Olyphant and Hall again.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series


Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)

Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)

Claire Danes (Homeland)

Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU)


Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy)

Glenn Close (Damages)


Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey)

Debra Messing (Smash)


Madeleine Stowe (Revenge)

The race for leading actress is relatively inflexible — Margulies and Danes will duke it out for the actual trophy, while mainstay Hargitay will more than likely keep her prime spot on the shortlist (whether or not she deserves to is another matter). Elisabeth Moss will definitely make the cut after another consistent season-long performance on Mad Men. Glenn Close will probably have the edge on the criminally under-awarded Katey Sagal, while wildcard (and Emmy crush) Debra Messing could pop up to demonstrate the Academy’s courteous appreciation for Smash.

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series


Ty Burrell (Modern Family)

Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)

Max Greenfield (New Girl)

Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)


Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation)

Ed O’Neill (Modern Family)

Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family)


Jeremy Piven (Entourage)


Jack McBrayer (30 Rock)

When it comes to the Modern Family guys, Burrell and Stonestreet are guaranteed locks, but O’Neill and Ferguson — who have been jilted in the past — are only high-possibility potentials (O’Neill had a stronger season presence, and Ferguson had an impressive finale). NPH must be relieved that Jon Cryer has bumped himself up to the leading race, but he faces competition from newcomer Max Greenfield, the fan favorite of Fox’s New Girl. The wrench in the plan is either Nick Offerman, who may finally earn his much-deserved nomination for Parks & Recreation, or Jeremy Piven, who could return to glory for the final season of Entourage (but probably won’t).

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series


Julie Bowen (Modern Family)

Sofia Vergara (Modern Family)

Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live)

Betty White (Hot in Cleveland)

Jane Krakowski (30 Rock)


Kristin Chenoweth (GCB)


Cheryl Hines (Suburgatory)

Anna Chlumsky (Veep)


Maya Rudolph (Up All Night)

No surprises lie with Bowen, Vergara or Wiig — and, frankly, with White, although her inclusion is more of a necessity than a commentary on the Emmy worthiness of Hot in Cleveland. Hines is a fan favorite and Chlumsky shines on Veep, but it’s Kristin Chenoweth who will mark this season’s new addition to the ballot for her star turn on GCB (smart move, submitting as supporting, even though ads for the cancelled soap played her up as its lead).

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series


Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)

Josh Charles (The Good Wife)

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)

Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)


John Slattery (Mad Men)

Mandy Patinkin (Homeland)

Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire)

Walton Goggins (Justified)


Robert Sean Leonard (House)

Jared Harris (Mad Men)


Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men)

Could Robert Sean Leonard’s return to House’s final season or Jared Harris’s emotional finale on Mad Men mean nominations that bump out John Slattery or Michael Pitt? Potentially, although more so for Leonard than Harris. But I’d count on Mandy Patinkin popping up in this category alongside favorites Dinklage, Paul and Charles. (Oh, and Esposito is compulsory here.) 

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series


Christine Baranski (The Good Wife)

Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)

Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)

Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife)

Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire)


Megan Hilty (Smash)

January Jones (Mad Men)


Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men)

Anjelica Huston (Smash)


Lana Parrilla (Once Upon a Time)

It’s a damn free-for-all in this category, but there’s surprisingly little wiggle room. Megan Hilty could eke out a nomination for standing out (for all the right reasons) on Smash, but it’s no promise, especially considering that the Smash presence at the Emmys may be limited. If not Hilty, then Mad Men’s January Jones may get another chance to win for her impressive Fat Betty.

How’d we do? Think we got it right, or totally wrong? Let us know in the comments!

[Photo Credit: Academy of Television Arts & Sciences]


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