The biggest question going into Sunday's Emmy Awards isn't who's going to win, but how many trophies will Game of Thrones win? The reigning drama series champ is set for a huge night that could, on one hand, see a whole lot of repeat winners, thanks to last year's new expanded voting system that allows all peer group members to vote in their respective groups and all the program races. But could a new tweak this year — winners will be determined by a plurality vote instead of a ranked ballot — produce some new winners?
We'll find out Sunday, but let's make some fearless predictions for now.
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Better Call Saul
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Who will win: Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones, which leads everyone with 23 nominations, is not only a stone-cold lock to win its second straight drama series statuette, thanks in part to the new popular vote system, but it's on track to become the winningest program in a single year. It broke the record for a series last year, with 12 wins. It's already snagged nine awards at last weekend's Creative Arts Emmys (breaking its own record of eight from last year) and needs five more wins Sunday to eclipse miniseries John Adams' 13 victories in 2008. It'd be the ninth show to win drama series twice.
Watch out for: The Americans
Thrones is basically Usain Bolt: Everyone else is racing for second. The Americans finally broke through with major nominations this year and could benefit from this year's new plurality vote. Voters just have to pick one choice now instead of ranking all the nominees, so the critical darling's pocket of supporters just need to rally again. Plus, unlike two of Thrones' perceived biggest threats, House of Cards and Better Call Saul, The Americans has one of the two all-important writing and directing nominations.
LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Kyle Chandler, Bloodline
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Who will win: Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Malek is the breakout star of the past year and Mr. Robot overperformed, earning six nominations. Plus, it doesn't hurt that Season 2 of Mr. Robot was airing during the voting period. And even though the second season has been underwhelming/confusing AF, Malek is still top-notch.
Watch out for: Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Spacey is the safest choice here — big movie star, two-time Oscar winner — and yet he's 0-8 at the Emmys in his career. He's on his fourth straight acting nod for House of Cards and all the dudes who previously beat him (Jeff Daniels, Bryan Cranston and Jon Hamm) are gone. He's won a Golden Globe and two straight Screen Actors Guild Awards for House of Cards, but, as previously mentioned, that doesn't always foreshadow Emmy gold. The biggest losers in this category, Hugh Laurie, Michael C. Hall and Martin Sheen, who are 0-6, are all Globe and SAG champs who never won the Emmy.
LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Taraji P. Henson, Empire
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Keri Russell, The Americans
Robin Wright, House of Cards
Who will win: Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Davis was the first black woman to win this category last year is poised to go back-to-back. She is the show — not only because she's the drama's only nomination — but she carries it with such force and magnetism that it demands to be seen. Besides, we'd give it to her just to hear another future Hall of Fame speech.
Watch out for: Robin Wright, House of Cards
Claire Underwood, which Wright plays to steely perfection, has always been the best part of House of Cards. She's on her fourth straight nomination and, if voters actually watched her episode submission, "Chapter 49," they might notice she directed it as well, which could earn her some brownie points.
Why Game of Thrones will dominate the Emmys until it ends
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Michael Kelly, House of Cards
Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan
Who will win: Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
If there isn't any vote splitting — a huge possibility now with the plurality system — between the Westeros dudes, look for Harington to win his first Emmy on his first nomination. Jon Snow isn't the, um, most complex of roles, but he dominated pop culture and TV convos for a year. Buzz goes a long way with the expanded voting pool.
Watch out for: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Dinklage was one of the beneficiaries of the new system last year, beating Better Call Saul's Jonathan Banks, who had a killer episode submission. But those don't matter as much — or arguably, anymore — now that the whole peer group can vote for whoever they want without being forced to watch the episodes. Everyone loves The Dink, and he'd join Aaron Paul as the only person to win this category three times.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Maura Tierney, The Affair
Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones
Constance Zimmer, UnREAL
Who will win: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
With three Thrones ladies here, Smith could rise above the fray and receive a farewell gift from voters for Downton's final season (she won here in 2012 and in 2011 on the miniseries side for Downton). She was shockingly not nominated last year, but she wouldn't be the first to return and win a year after being snubbed: Julianna Margulies most recently did it in 2014.
Watch out for: Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
If any of the Thrones women makes it out on top, it's Cersei herself.
Master of None
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Who will win: Veep
HBO will sweep both series prizes for the second straight year. Veep, which ended Modern Family's five-year win streak last year and has 17 nods, was stronger, funnier and more biting than ever even in the absence of series creator Armando Iannucci. It'd be the seventh show to win two comedy series prizes.
Watch out for: Transparent
Transparent is the type of show that would be helped by the plurality vote. It's polarizing enough that it'd be listed low on the old ranked ballot, but its ardent fans can push it over the finish line now. You only need a little over 14 percent of the vote in a seven-nominee race to win.
LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Aziz Ansari, Master of None
Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley
Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Who will win: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Tambor should cruise to a second straight win for his moving, tender portrait of Maura Pfefferman.
Watch out for: Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Of Black-ish's three nominations — comedy series, lead actor and lead actress — this is the best spot to reward it for its stellar, thought-provoking second season. Anderson also submitted his and the show's best and buzziest episode of the season, "Hope," about police brutality. He'd be the second black actor to win this category after Robert Guillaume (Benson) in 1985.
LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Laurie Metcalf, Getting On
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie
Who will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Yeah, she's going to do it. JLD is going to pull off an unprecedented five-peat for her pitch-perfect, self-loathing Selina Meyer. Not only that, but a win would also break her tie with Candice Bergen and Mary Tyler Moore as the category's biggest winner (she also has a win for The New Adventures of Old Christine).
Watch out for: Laurie Metcalf, Getting On
Hard to believe these days, but Louis-Dreyfus wasn't always winning Emmys left and right. Back in the '90s, Metcalf beat her three consecutive years they went head-to-head for Roseanne and Seinfeld. Maybe JLD's old foe is the one who can take her down? Plus, Metcalf had three acting nods this year and already lost two of them at the Creative Arts Emmys.
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Louie Anderson, Baskets
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Tony Hale, Veep
Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele
Matt Walsh, Veep
Who will win: Louie Anderson, Baskets
Anderson already did the hard part — getting nominated — and passion for his beautiful, vulnerable performance could snag the veteran comedian his first Emmy. Plus, with seven nominees here versus six, he needs an even smaller percentage to win.
Watch out for: Tony Hale, Veep
The two-time and defending champ is only other Veep actor besides Louis-Dreyfus to win.
Emmys snubs and surprises: Orange Is the New Black shut out, but yay Americans!
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Allison Janney, Mom
Gaby Hoffmann, Transparent
Judith Light, Transparent
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Niecy Nash, Getting On
Who will win: Allison Janney, Mom
Never bet against the Emmy darling. Janney is in prime position to three-peat, which would tie her with Cloris Leachman for most acting Emmy wins of all time at eight. She's currently tied at seven with Mary Tyler Moore and Edward Asner.
Watch out for: Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Chlumsky didn't really have a dynamo moment like she did last year, but she's slowly becoming overdue, now on her fourth straight nomination. She could easily be pulled in on any Veep wave.
Who will win: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
No contest. O.J. was an intoxicating mix of nostalgia and social commentary that captured the zeitgeist not unlike the way the Trial of the Century did 22 years ago. Twenty-two is O.J.'s make number: That's how many nominations it has.
Watch out for: Fargo
Poor Fargo. If it weren't for its fellow FX anthology series, Fargo would be taking home its second trophy in this category for its sterling second season.
A Very Murray Christmas
All the Way
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
Who will win: All the Way
The Emmys loves themselves a Jay Roach joint. His previous HBO films, Recount and Game Change, won this prize (Game Change won in 2012, when the TV movie and miniseries categories were merged for three years), and he won corresponding director trophies for them and is nominated again this year. All the Way has the most nominations of the field, with eight.
Watch out for: Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
Two years ago, Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman pulled off upset wins for His Last Vow that surely had The Normal Heart crew shaking in their boots about the top race before its name was ultimately called.
LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Bryan Cranston, All the Way
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
Idris Elba, Luther
Cuba Gooding Jr., The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager
Courtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Who will win: Courtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Vance's charismatic bluster as Johnnie Cochran was one of the biggest reasons you just couldn't look away from O.J. Plus, it helps to be part of a front-running favorite.
Watch out for: Bryan Cranston, All the Way
If anyone can put a stop to the O.J. runaway train, it's the Breaking Bad star. Not only do the Emmys love him, but he has experience taking down favorites: He won the last of his four Emmys for playing Walter White defeating Matthew McConaughey (True Detective) two years ago. And Cranston has already won a Tony for his portrayal of LBJ in All the Way.
LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Kirsten Dunst, Fargo
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emersons Bar and Grill
Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Lili Taylor, American Crime
Kerry Washington, Confirmation
Who will win: Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
The MVP of O.J., Paulson brought depth and humanity to the cruelly vilified Marcia Clark, and ought to finally win her first Emmy. And unlike the O.J. dudes, she doesn't have to worry about facing off against one of her co-stars.
Watch out for: Kirsten Dunst, Fargo
Dunst's Peggy Blomquist was so delightfully unhinged. If she can't win the Emmy, let's hope this is at least the beginning of a career resurgence for her.
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Sterling K. Brown, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager
Jesse Plemons, Fargo
David Schwimmer, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
John Travolta, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Bokeem Woodbine, Fargo
Who will win: Sterling K. Brown, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Brown was the true revelation of O.J., bringing a tense, determined calmness to Chris Darden and going toe-to-toe with much bigger and flashier heavyweights.
Watch out for: Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager
The House star being Emmy-less could work in his favor, especially if the three O.J. guys split the vote.
Emmys: Which longtime loser will finally win?
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Hotel
Olivia Colman, The Night Manager
Regina King, American Crime
Melissa Leo, All the Way
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Hotel
Jean Smart, Fargo
Who will win: Jean Smart, Fargo
A three-time winner, Smart is an Emmy favorite, and awarding her cold-blooded crime matriarch here — where O.J. is not competing — is the best way to recognize Fargo.
Watch out for: Regina King, American Crime
King was an upset winner last year, so don't be surprised if she triumphs again.
The Amazing Race
American Ninja Warrior
Dancing with the Stars
Who will win: The Voice
The NBC hit is the only show to take down The Amazing Race twice and appears to be the Emmys' new favorite.
Watch out for: The Amazing Race
It's won 10 times and its sheer production value trumps everyone else's. Who do you think will win?