Before the curtain rises on the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, we have a lot of questions. Will Breaking Bad finally get the recognition it deserves? Is this Hugh Laurie's year? Will 30 Rock four-peat? Will Glee or Modern Family sweep? Check out the list of nominees and then see if our predictions line up with your picks. If they don't, be sure to tell us all about it in the comments section below.
Sure, people felt conflicted about the ending of Lost, but it can't be an accident that the academy changed its own rules to allow for the two-and-a-half-hour series finale to be submitted. We're guessing that episode's emotional tone will move enough Emmy voters to reward the show for six innovative seasons. (Only Season 1 received academy attention, when it won this award in 2005.)
Joyce's Pick: Coming off arguably its strongest season yet, Breaking Bad delivered unsettling, entertaining twists for all its characters as Walt continued his moral descent. The show isn't returning until July 2011 (the annual Emmy eligibility period ends May 31), so the academy will have to wait two years for another chance to recognize it.
Watch Out For:
You can never count out the two-time defending champ Mad Men, especially after its revelatory and game-changing Season 3. If it triumphs again, it will be the first drama to three-peat since The West Wing, which claimed not just three but four trophies in a row (2000-03).
Freshman series Glee, Modern Family dominate Emmy nominations
Sure, it's basically a musical, but Glee manages to sing, dance and make us laugh. No other show transitions among genres so effortlessly. It's no surprise that the academy recognized it, but nominations for cast members Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer might foreshadow a sweep.
Joyce's Pick: Clever, zany and laugh-'til-your-belly-hurts funny, Modern Familyhas earned nearly unanimous critical and commercial praise. Part throwback to the family sitcoms of yesteryear and part 21st-century mockumentary, the show feels familiar and fresh all at once. With five acting nominations for its regular cast and three wins at the Creative Arts Emmys last weekend — the most for any prime-time series — Family is clearly popular with the academy.
Watch Out For: 30 Rockhas been an Emmy darling since its inception, so a four-peat is not totally out of the question. Helping the cause: It submitted the episode in which Tracy tries to achieve an EGOT (win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony). Voters will love the nudge-nudge-wink-wink of it all.
See Hugh Laurie's greatest roles
LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Mickey and Joyce's Pick:
This is the race of the night, hands down. Hugh Laurie gets the slightest of edges for two reasons: He's way overdue for a win, and he submitted House's two-hour season premiere, in which the cranky doc detoxes from Vicodin at a psychiatric hospital. He displayed incredible range in the episode as the typically misanthropic House acted charming, funny, vulnerable and — gasp — likable.
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Michael C. Hall's on-screen foe, John Lithgow, just won the guest actor Emmy for Dexter, so it seems feasible that Hall might win for his heartbreaking performance in the Season 4 finale. He's already pocketed a Golden Globe and SAG this year, so he has momentum. Only one drama actor has swept the Golden Globe, SAG and Emmy awards in a calendar year: James Gandolfini for The Sopranos in 2000.
LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Mickey and Joyce's Pick: Compelling and sympathetic as the jilted and multilayered wife of a two-timing politician on The Good Wife, Julianna Margulies has the buzz, goodwill (she's the only ER regular to have won an Emmy) and industry support (Golden Globe, SAG and Television Critics Association award wins) to take home another statuette. The Good Wife's good showing in the big races — a drama series nomination and two supporting actress nominations — doesn't hurt, either.
Watch Out For: Kyra Sedgwick is the Hugh Laurie of the drama actresses: five nominations and zero wins. Her commanding presence and confessional-scene fireworks on The Closer could score her a victory.
Check out all the lead drama acting nominees
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Terry O'Quinn had the challenge of retooling his Lost character mid-series when John Locke became the Man in Black. He handled the switch with aplomb, imbuing the bad guy with a depth and strength of purpose that made him a formidable adversary. Plus: He won this award in 2007, and his work in the final season is arguably stronger.
After two straight wins for Bryan Cranston in lead actor, it's time to spread the Breaking Bad wealth and honor Aaron Paul, who played Jesse Pinkman with heart-wrenching anger, tension, anguish, and fear as he struggled to sober up, only to relapse in the face of tragedy.
Watch Out For: Andre Braughernabbed a surprise nomination for his flawed, stressed-out Owen Thoreau on Men of a Certain Age. He's an Emmy favorite, having won twice in five previous nominations.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
The academy loves eight-time nominee Christine Baranski for her comedy (she won for Cybill). But as a tough-as-nails law partner on The Good Wife, she manages to convey Diane's power without resorting to nastiness.
Joyce's Pick: In her Mad Men episode submission — the lawnmower episode — Christina Hendricksgoes from sassy and strong to sweet and sad. She saves the day after Guy MacKendrick's horrific injury, but then packs her things and leaves. Devastating.
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Veterans do very well in this category — recent winners include Stockard Channing, Tyne Daly, Blythe Danner, Dianne Wiest and Cherry Jones — and who's a bigger veteran this year than 10-time Emmy nominee and two-time winner (and BurnNotice scene-stealer) Sharon Gless?
See Jim Parsons' greatest roles
Watch Out For: Top Chef has ignited a culinary lust in even non-gourmand audiences. The academy might recognize its highbrow appeal.