Emmy Circuit: HBO stacks the deck for the Television Awards

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HBO is the heavyweight of Emmys. They are the Goliath in this arena, taking Best Drama Series, Best Comedy Series and Best Miniseries last year. As we head into this year’s Emmy race, we might just have to start counting what could HBO not get nominated for. I’ll break down, show by show, who is in the running and who should be in the running on the network.


“Game of Thrones”


Last year’s Drama Series winner is a clear bet to return. While this season so far has been mostly set-up, with the biggest reveal so far telegraphed months in advance, we all know those crafty people in Westeros will have more up their sleeves as the season continues. Winning a second Best Supporting Actor in a Drama trophy, Peter Dinklage is also safe, proving that no matter the material he is given, a nomination is at least expected. In fact, most of last year’s nominations will no doubt be replicated, including directing and writing nominations as well as a pair of Supporting Actress nods for Lena Headey and Emilia Clarke, depending if they have the material this year as the season goes on. It’s a little too early for me to say if there are any periphery characters giving standout Emmy moments, but let’s hope the rest of the season shocks and delights.

Likely Nominations:

  • Best Drama Series
  • Best Directing
  • Best Writing
  • Best Supporting Actor (Peter Dinklage)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke)
  • Best Guest Actress (Diana Rigg)
  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Casting
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Hairstyling
  • Best Prosthetic Makeup
  • Best Single Camera Picture Editing
  • Best Sound Mixing
  • Best Sound Editing
  • Best Stunt Coordination
  • Best Visual Effects

“The Leftovers”


Can the HBO critical darling muster up any Emmy support? The show got a slew of Critics Choice Award nominations, including a win for Carrie Coon in Best Actress. However, for smaller shows that are harder sells, this never usually carries over to Emmy love. However, I would like to challenge the Emmys to think of Coon, Justin Theroux and Regina King, who turned in some stellar work in the challenging season 2. There are two open slots in Drama Actor (Jeff Daniels and Jon Hamm both have shows no longer on) and one open slot in Drama Actress (Elisabeth Moss is no longer in contention). However, there are many other beloved shows waiting in the wings.


  • Best Actor (Justin Theroux)
  • Best Actress (Carrie Coon)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Regina King)


Vinyl-TV-show-on-HBO-season-one“Vinyl” premiered with a bang and ended with a whimper. While the buzz seems to have died with this one, there are certain people you can never count out and Martin Scorsese is one of them. Much like how “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Newsroom” stuck around long after people stopped talking about it, “Vinyl” has a good shot of doing the same. The only question is, how much will they give it? Directing for Scorsese seems a good shot and the Emmys love Bobby Cannavale (see the surprise “Boardwalk Empire” supporting actor win), so he will most likely take Jeff Daniels’ spot in the Best Actor lineup.

Likely Nominations:

  • Best Directing
  • Best Actor (Bobby Cannavale)
  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Costumes
  • Best Hairstyling



5e9b7550-f376-0132-44e0-0a2ca390b447“Veep” rode waves of support to unseat “Modern Family” as Best Comedy Series this past year. With the election year upon us, “Veep” is sure to get in, and possibly win again, despite this season not quite having the bite of previous years. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is exceptional as always and is still the one to beat. Tony Hale and Anna Chlumsky still have not got their episode to shine this season yet, but if given the opportunity, they will likely stay in again this year. Last year was the first year it got both writing and directing nominations. If provided a wow episode later in the season, there’s no reason to suspect it won’t get those nominations again.

Likely Nominations

  • Best Comedy Series
  • Best Directing
  • Best Writing
  • Best Actress (Julia Louis Dreyfus)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Tony Hale)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Anna Chlumsky)
  • Best Casting

“Silicon Valley”

TJ-Miller-Zach-Woods-Thomas-Middleditch-Kumail-Nanjiani-and-Martin-Starr-in-Silicon-Valley-Season-3HBO’s beloved tech comedy has always been a strange force in the race. Both seasons it got support in the series category and in writing and directing; however, it cannot seem to get one of its cast members in acting. Conventional wisdom, and past great episodes, suggest that TJ Miller is the one to look out for a nomination as the boisterous Erlach Bachman. However, with each episode I grow more and more impressed with Zach Woods as the good-natured Jared and would love if he was the one to get singled out. Lastly, Best Actor in a Comedy has always been somewhat of a disappointing category, and it would be great to see Thomas Middleditch, the awkwardly funny anchor of the show, receive his just reward and get nominated.

Likely Nominations

  • Best Comedy Series
  • Best Directing
  • Best Writing


  • Best Actor (Thomas Middleditch)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Zach Woods, TJ Miller)

“Girls”“Girls” became more and more of an obligation or chore to watch as the seasons went on, and the Emmys signaled this with less and less love over the years. However, the show rebounded amazingly this past season with each of the characters. Adam Driver seems to be in default nomination mode now, and will probably see another nomination now that “Star Wars” has propelled him to even more fame. However, I felt Andrew Rannells was the standout this season. Elijah has mainly been a punchline, but this season got a great romantic storyline and killed it. The finale gave Lena Dunham great material to work with and finally showed growth in the normally stagnant Hannah. Similarly, Jemima Kirke explored Jessa in a real relationship and deepened her normally shallow character. While many raved about Marnie and Charlie’s bottle episode, and it could be the one singled out for directing and writing, I didn’t feel the character choices belonged to the same characters we have known through the past few years. Lastly, Peter Scolari and Betty Ann Baker have never been better as Hannah’s parents – Tad and Loreen – and were finally given some juicy material to work with now that Tad has come out as a gay man. Not many shows find their footing again with Emmys once they are done with them, but hopefully “Girls” can pull through and come back in a major way, as they rose to the top of their game.

Likely Nominations:

  • Best Supporting Actor (Adam Driver)


  • Best Comedy Series
  • Best Directing
  • Best Writing
  • Best Actress (Lena Dunham)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Andrew Rannells)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Jemima Kirke)
  • Best Guest Actor (Peter Scolari)
  • Best Guest Actress (Betty Ann Baker)


togetherness-season-2It’s a shame “Togetherness” was cancelled. The show really found its groove in the second season and turned out amazing episode after amazing episode. It will join “Enlightened” in the HBO’s heaven of shows cancelled much too soon. Also like “Enlightened,” hopefully it will also be able to net a couple Emmy nominations in its farewell season. As much as I would love to see a comedy series nomination, that seems like a pipe dream. Instead, I would focus on the supporting couple in the series, Steve Zissis as the newly minted actor Alex Pappas and Amanda Peet as the aging narcissistic Tina Morris. Zissis had great fun inflating his character’s ego now that he has a modicum of success under his belt. Peet, on the other hand, blew it out of the park. She turned Tina’s insecurities into a firmly constructed minefield of emotions that only became deeper and more realistic when her babysitting duties for her sister’s kids stopped becoming a chore and became a calling. In supporting categories that often surprise, here’s hoping that Zissis or Peet surprise and hear their names called.


  • Best Comedy Series
  • Best Supporting Actor (Steve Zissis)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Amanda Peet)

“Getting On”

gettingon09HBO’s other cancelled gem, “Getting On,” was the recipient of one of those surprise supporting nominations for Niecy Nash last year, and it was justly deserved. With this being the last season of the show, hopefully more voters watched the little seen show and we can get some growth in the show’s Emmy tally. While that may be reaching for the stars, I do expect Nash to show up after another year of continually great acting, while also winning fans over on “Scream Queens.” If I were to wish for anyone else in the cast to get in, I would die to see the eternally great Laurie Metcalf honored for her role as the morally compromised doctor at the center of the show. Mel Rodriguez also earned a well deserved nomination at the Critics Choice Awards, and it would be fitting to see him join the supporting actor lineup.

Likely Nominations:

  • Best Supporting Actress (Niecy Nash)


  • Best Comedy Series
  • Best Actress (Laurie Metcalf)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Mel Rodriguez)

Out of the rest of HBO’s slate, “Ballers” has a very outside chance to get some attention for The Rock’s performance, but that’s somewhat of a longshot. “The Brink” and “Doll & Em” shouldn’t hold their breath on nomination morning, for somewhat of a good reason.


“Show Me a Hero”

main-s1HBO has to have a horse in each race, and “Show Me a Hero” will be their miniseries horse. The miniseries got strong reviews and is bolstered by a popular star, Oscar Isaac, who just won the Golden Globe for this role and starred in “Star Wars.” This could have coattails in other categories, particularly Directing, Writing and Supporting Actress for Catherine Keener or Winona Ryder.

Likely Nominations:

  • Best Miniseries
  • Best Directing
  • Best Writing
  • Best Actor (Oscar Isaac)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Keener, Winona Ryder)

“All the Way”

Bryan-Cranston-in-All-The-Way-21Bryan Cranston won the Tony for this role, what’s stopping him from the Emmy. That narrative might propel the four time acting Emmy winner to his fifth win in the category. If the film is good, that will put it in contention for both the big prize, and could drag in other players, such as Anthony Mackie, Frank Langella and Melissa Leo into the conversation. All eyes will be on it once it releases next weekend. Early reviews are mixed though, so I feel it will be the Cranston only show, much like “Trumbo” at the Oscars.

Likely Nominations:

  • Best Made for TV Movie
  • Best Actor (Bryan Cranston)


confirmation_stillThe film got strong enough reviews, but didn’t really light the TV Movie world on fire. HBO love in general could propel this to a TV Movie nomination, especially since this is a much less competitive category. Kerry Washington got plenty of raves as well, but it is a competitive category. I think she will squeak in, but it will be nearly impossible for her to win against the likes of Sarah Paulson, Kirsten Dunst and Felicity Huffman. Wendell Pierce also got some great notice from the show and could parlay that into a Supporting Actor nomination.

Likely Nominations:

  • Best Made for TV Movie
  • Best Actress (Kerry Washington)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Wendell Pierce)

“True Detective”

Rachel McAdams is resilient. The second season of “True Detective” was almost universally despised, but Rachel McAdams garnered a Critics Choice nomination. She could “Grace of Monaco” her way into getting this thing a nomination, but the competition is too stiff.

“7 Days in Hell”

If the Emmys are really feeling in a laughing mood, we could have a surprise TV movie nomination. I’m not expecting it, but with little in the field, it could very well be a fun shock to see it up for this… and maybe nothing else.

What are your favorite HBO shows?  Sound off in the comments!

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Written by Christopher James

Christopher James has been an Oscar obsessive ever since watching his first ceremony at age 5 when "Titanic" won Best Picture. He is a recent graduate from Loyola Marymount University with degrees in Screenwriting for Film and Television and Marketing. Christopher currently works in media strategy and planning at Liquid Advertising, based out of Los Angeles, CA. You can find Christopher running on the sunny beach, brunching at trendy restaurants or mostly just sitting in a dark room watching movies and TV in sweatpants. Follow me on Twitter @cwj92movieman


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Alec Glass

for Game of Thrones, I wouldn’t count out a Jonathan Pryce guest actor nomination (High Sparrow), particularly with how good the material he’s been getting is. Unless he would be considered supporting for this season? In which case his odds are probably slim


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