The biggest questions heading into Sunday's 69th Primetime Emmy Awards surround last season's breakout hit, This Is Us. Will the emotional family drama, which has become increasingly popular with viewers, clean up at the Emmys? Will voters end up splitting their votes between stars Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia, thus allowing a dark horse to slip in? Or will the series simply fall to more prestige television?
We'll have to wait until Sunday to find out what happens, but right now we're predicting which actors we think will take home those beautiful golden statues come Sunday. Let's take a look at each of the acting races across all categories: drama, comedy and limited series.
LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
The Nominees: This year's race for Lead Actor in a Drama Series is populated by several familiar faces. Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk, a 12-time Emmy nominee and 2-time winner, is back for the third year in a row for his performance in the Breaking Bad spin-off. Matthew Rhys, who was also nominated for his guest appearance on Girls this year, is back for the second year in a row for FX's The Americans. Meanwhile, six-time nominee Liev Schreiber is nominated for the third time for his performance on Showtime's Ray Donovan, and Kevin Spacey is hoping to break his losing streak with a 12th Emmy nomination, his fifth for his performance as Frank Underwood on Netflix's House of Cards.
Elsewhere, This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown, who won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series last year, is up against his co-star, Milo Ventimiglia. And then there's Anthony Hopkins, who was not quite the lead in Westworld, but was nominated because he's Sir Anthony freaking Hopkins. He's been nominated five times and taken home the Emmy twice.
Who Will Win: Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
The people love Sterling K. Brown; his breakout performance in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story blew voters away last season, and he's likely going to take home another Emmy this year. He's all over "Memphis," and he's good enough to overcome whatever vote-splitting Ventimiglia presents, since Brown was a frontrunner all season and the latter's nod was a surprise. If Brown wins, he'll be the first black winner in this category since 1998 and NBC's first acting winner since 2011.
Who Should Win: Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Odenkirk, primarily known for his comedy work, turned in yet another incredible dramatic performance as Jimmy inched ever closer to becoming the slippery criminal lawyer Saul Goodman he portrayed in Breaking Bad. However, it is clear by now the acting branch is just not watching Better Call Saul — despite its nine nods — and is likely name-checking names for nominations. All of this is surprising, too, since the bulk of Breaking Bad's early wins were for acting, with stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn eventually taking home nine trophies altogether.
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
The Nominees: Two actors are vying for their first Emmys: Stranger Things' David Harbour and This Is Us' Ron Cephas Jones. If voters really like This Is Us — and the show's seven acting nods proves they do — Jones benefits from being in a two-hander in "Memphis." Harbour's impassioned speech at the Screen Actors Guild Awards also won't hurt him here.
Elsewhere, The Crown's John Lithgow, a 12-time nominee, is fighting for his sixth Emmy, while five-time nominee Jonathan Banks — who was robbed of his rightful Emmy back in 2015 — is back again for his work on Better Call Saul, the highlight of which might have been a nearly five-minute scene in which he tore apart a car looking for a tracker. Mandy Patinkin, who took home an Emmy in 1995 for his performance in Chicago Hope, is nominated for the sixth time — his third nod for Homeland — while House of Cards' Michael Kelly is back for the third time. Westworld's Jeffrey Wright is a previous winner for Angels in America and a respected actor in a series that took home five Emmys during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards over the weekend, which is a good sign that Emmy voters are paying attention to the series.
Who Will Win: John Lithgow, The Crown
Lithgow won the Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance as Winston Churchill in Netflix's period drama The Crown, and was the first supporting actor to win. Another win for him on Sunday would mark his sixth Emmy and third in the drama category; he received two drama guest Emmys for Amazing Stories and Dexter, and took home three Emmys as a lead actor in a comedy for 3rd Rock from the Sun.
Who Should Win: Michael McKean, Better Call Saul
No, Michael McKean wasn't nominated, but he gave a show-stopping performance this season on Better Call Saul, and he might have been the best actor on television this year. The fact that Emmy voters snubbed him — likely because they're just not watching the show — doesn't change who we think should win. McKean was robbed, and we're still mad about it!
LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
The Nominees: First-time nominee Donald Glover, who is nominated for four Emmys this year, is the frontrunner for his performance in Atlanta, though Jeffrey Tambor, who has taken home the Emmy the past two years for Transparent, isn't far behind him. Elsewhere, Zach Galifianakis, a two-time Emmy winner for Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifiankis, has broken through in the lead actor race after his Baskets co-star Louie Anderson took home the supporting Emmy last year. Meanwhile, Anthony Anderson is nominated for the third time for his performance on ABC's Black-ish; Master of None leading man Aziz Ansari is nominated for the second time, his seventh nod overall; and William H. Macy is on his fourth straight nomination for his role in Showtime's Shameless. Macy has been nominated 13 times and taken home the Emmy twice.
Who Will Win: Donald Glover, Atlanta
Glover has already taken home a Golden Globe, a Critics' Choice Award, and the Television Critics Association award for Individual Achievement in Comedy for his performance on FX's Atlanta, which he also created, wrote, and directed. Although the Emmys have a history of ignoring comedians and auteurs with regards to acting awards (Ray Romano was the last to take home the award, and that was 15 years ago), the new popular voting system works in Glover's favor, because he's "hot" at the right moment.
Who Should Win: Donald Glover
Although Glover's performance makes him the frontrunner, don't be surprised if he doesn't take home the Emmy for acting — Emmy voters rarely award multi-hyphenates with multiple awards, and Glover is also nominated in both writing and directing. They might opt to award him either of those as something of a consolation prize, and give the acting statue to someone like Jeffrey Tambor. It would be his third straight win and his submission was a showcase for him. However, Transparent was also dropped from series contention this year and didn't win anything at the Creative Arts Emmys, so passion for the Amazon series might be waning.
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
The Nominees: Last year's winner, Louie Anderson, is nominated again for his performance in the FX comedy Baskets, while two-time Emmy winner Alec Baldwin is nominated for Saturday Night Live. The rest of the field is a bunch of other repeat nominees: Tituss Burgess is nominated for the third time for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, two-time Emmy winner Ty Burrell is nominated yet again for Modern Family, while Tony Hale and Matt Walsh are both nominated for Veep. Hale has been nominated five times and won twice, while Walsh has been nominated twice and is still seeking his first win.
Who Will Win: Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live
Dave Chappelle's surprise guest win at the Creative Arts Emmys last weekend ups Baldwin's chances of taking home his third Emmy. However, he was already at the front of the pack, because nearly everyone is familiar with his performance on Saturday Night Live this year, but might have missed the others' work. The only thing working against Baldwin is the fact he he submitted the episode Melissa McCarthy hosted and not the one he hosted, which could have been his attempt to self-sabotage. (He's done it before.)
Who Should Win: Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Burgess submitted "Kimmy's Roommate Lemonades," also known as the episode featuring Titus' Lemonade meltdown, which was an incredible showcase for the actor and arguably the best episode of the comedy's third season. He was also nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award this year, which is important, because the SAG Awards don't have separate supporting categories.
LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR A MOVIE
The Nominees: The race for Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie is littered with actors largely known for their film work: Robert De Niro is a first-time nominee (yes, really) for The Wizard of Lies; Ewan McGregor, who was nominated for a guest appearance on ER in 1997, is hoping to win his first Emmy for his dual performances in FX's Fargo; Geoffrey Rush, a former winner for The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers, is nominated for his performance in Genius; and John Turturro is hoping to beat out his The Night Of co-star Riz Ahmed. Rounding out the nominees is Benedict Cumberbatch, who's been on both the big and small screens of late, but is nominated here for Sherlock: The Lying Detective.
Who Will Win: Riz Ahmed, The Night Of
The Night Of picked up four statues during the Creative Arts Emmys, which is a pretty good indication Emmy voters liked the limited series and that Ahmed is in a good place to take home the Emmy. Of course, he's also up against his co-star John Turturro, but he'll likely be able to overcome any vote splitting here; he's the buzzier person.
Who Should Win: Riz Ahmed
Although McGregor pulled off the feat of playing two very different twins this season, Fargo just isn't what it used to be, while HBO's The Night Of, and Ahmed's performance in it, packed a powerful punch.
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR A MOVIE
The Nominees: Three first-time nominees are competing in the the race for Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie: Alexander Skarsgard (Big Little Lies), David Thewlis (Fargo), and Bill Camp (The Night Of). Elsewhere, two Feud: Bette and Joan co-stars are facing off against one another: Alfred Molina, a two-time Emmy nominee, and Stanley Tucci, an eight-time nominee and three-time winner. Rounding out the talented list of nominees is The Night Of's Michael Kenneth Williams.
Who Will Win: Alexander Skarsgard, Big Little Lies
Emmy voters may have taken notice of The Night Of, but the complex and tricky performance that Skarsgard gave in HBO's Big Little Lies, in which he played the abusive husband of Nicole Kidman's character, should help to propel him to the front of the supporting actor race. He'll also be helped along by the fact Molina and Tucci could split the Feud votes, despite the latter's flashy performance.
Who Should Win: Alexander Skarsgard
Swiftly and smoothly pivoting between menacing anger and adoration, often in the same scene, Skarsgard was never better than he was in Big Little Lies. Except for maybe that time he presented an award without pants.
The 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards air Sunday at 8/7c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)