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The 61st Emmy Awards: Who Should Win And Who Will Win

Andrew Payne Andrew Payne
September 18th, 2009 3:44pm EDT
Neil Patrick HarrisYou may have forgotten since there is about a 47-month lull between the nomination announcements and the actual awards ceremony, but the Primetime Emmy Awards are coming to your living room on Sunday evening with everybody’s favorite human being, Neil Patrick Harris, serving as host for the evening.

Hopefully, the choice of somebody known for being funny and having talents that extend beyond being able to sit still for a perfect haircut and remembering the names of contestants will show a marked improvement in the quality of the ceremony with the return to Emmy ceremonies of yore where belly laughs were as common as fake smiles on losers’ faces.

Of course, in addition to the lavish spectacle that is the production, there are a slew of awards to hand out come Emmy evening with dozens of low-rated shows getting their shot to let everybody know they exist before viewers flip back to NCIS: Waco or The Real Househusbands of Henderson, NV.

But who will win these treasured statuettes? More importantly, who deserves to actually take home such an honor? These answers to both these questions are below:

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy
Jim ParsonsThe Nominees:
- Jim Parsons, 'The Big Bang Theory'
- Jemaine Clement, 'Flight of the Conchords'
- Tony Shalhoub, 'Monk'
- Steve Carell, 'The Office'
- Alec Baldwin, '30 Rock'
- Charlie Sheen, 'Two And A Half Men'

Who Will Win:
Jim Parsons, the buzz is strong with this nerd. It’s hard to page through any television opinion column that doesn’t hail Jim Parsons as the second coming of Peter Sellers for his well-controlled, albeit one-dimensional, portrayal of Sheldon, the Alpha Nerd of “The Big Bang Theory”. There’s a lot of love for this show, and with only one spot for Emmy to honor it, Parsons will be the fortunate recipient of it all.

Who Should Win:
Alec Baldwin took home his first Emmy last year after a Golden Globe win the previous year for his hilariously vacant portrayal of GE Head Honcho Jack Donaghy. All these accolades are richly deserved, as his character is at the same time the wackiest and most grounded of the entire nuthouse they call The “30 Rock” Ensemble. It’s an amazing balancing act performed by Baldwin each week as he must make his character seem incredibly intelligent yet incredibly ignorant simultaneously. A true comic gem and worthy of its second consecutive Emmy.

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy
Toni ColletteThe Nominees:
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 'The New Adventures of Old Christine'
- Christina Applegate, 'Samantha Who?'
- Sarah Silverman, 'The Sarah Silverman Show'
- Tina Fey, '30 Rock'
- Toni Collette, 'United States Of Tara'
- Mary-Louise Parker, 'Weeds'

Who Will and Should Win:
Last year, Emmy voters took a standout performance from a freshman show and did the previously unthinkable thing by actually giving that performance the Emmy. Last year, Bryan Cranston was the lucky recipient. It’s probably because new voting rules have found voters actually watching the nominees rather than simply hearing about them.

This year, there’s another performance likely to benefit from those rule changes and that belongs to Toni Collette. Even if voters simply catch the pilot, in which Collette seamlessly transitions between several personalities, creating completely separate human beings with the ease most of us do bad impressions of our parents. Any voter who watches this sublime bit of acting will certainly cast a vote for Collette and she will likely receive the prize because of this.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
NPH In Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo BayThe Nominees:
- Kevin DillonKevin Dillon, 'Entourage'
- Neil Patrick Harris, 'How I Met Your Mother'
- Rainn Wilson, 'The Office'
- Tracy Morgan, '30 Rock'
- Jack McBrayer, '30 Rock'
- Jon Cryer, 'Two And A Half Men'

Who Will and Should Win:
Seeing as he’s hosting the show, it really would be a shame to have Neil Patrick Harris stand up there all sad and Emmy-less. Voters won’t continue their mistake of years past when they left Harris’ bombastically funny portrayal of Barney Stinson without an award. There’s too much buzz, there’s no Jeremy Piven, and, once again, Harris is hosting the show for crissakes! Let the superstardom of NPH begin Sunday night with his first Emmy.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Kristen WiigThe Nominees:
- Kristin Chenoweth, 'Pushing Daisies'
- Jane Krakowski, '30 Rock'
- Elizabeth Perkins, 'Weeds'
- Amy Poehler, 'Saturday Night Live'
- Vanessa L. Williams, 'Ugly Betty'
- Kristen Wiig, 'Saturday Night Live'

Who Will Win:
This is very close. It’s going to be one of the two ladies from “SNL”. It didn’t work for Amy Poehler last year, but now the competition is even thinner and voters may have gotten over the shock of seeing people from a variety show nominated in a comedy program. The likely recipient is Wiig, who could probably win a Nobel Prize with just a five-minute reel of her cadre of genius from “Saturday Night Live”.

Who Should Win:
Wiig certainly gave the best performance this year, but since she’s on a variety show she shouldn’t even be included in this category. That leaves four real nominees and Krakowski the clear standout. Her Jenna on “30 Rock” goes far beyond the typical airhead blonde. The sense of entitlement and the narcissistic nature of character come through in every misadventure we encounter with her on screen. Also, the sheer fearlessness required for this role (how many intense situations has Jenna found herself in over the years) get Krakowski bonus points. It’s not often we see an actor go to such extreme lengths in order to milk every last laugh from their character, but Krakowski does it on “30 Rock” with ease.

Outstanding Actor in a Drama
Jon HammThe Nominees:
- Bryan Cranston, 'Breaking Bad'
- Michael C. Hall, 'Dexter'
- Hugh Laurie, 'House'
- Gabriel Byrne, 'In Treatment'
- Jon Hamm, 'Mad Men'
- Simon Baker, 'The Mentalist'

Who Will Win:
Somehow, Hamm actually hasn’t won this award yet. It’s probably the only honor “Mad Men” hasn’t received. When voters wake up to this fact they’ll rush to give an Emmy to this very popular actor giving maybe the most drooled-over performance in the history of television.

Who Should Win:
Last year, Bryan Cranston gave maybe the finest performance that’s ever graced the small screen as we saw his Walter White grapple with the realization that everything he ever wanted has not come to pass and the only way to achieve his goals is to take the easy way out – a life of crime. This year, we saw White further descend into hell and become a callous monster in the process, neglecting everything he does have in favor of the unquenchable thirst the first taste of success has wrought. While this may have been a bit easier to play, and not given Cranston quite the level of material into which he was able to dig his considerable chops in the series’ debut season, his performance was no less compelling and only slightly less difficult. A second consecutive Emmy is richly deserved.

Outstanding Actress in a Drama
Glenn CloseThe Nominees:
- Sally Field, 'Brothers and Sisters'
- Kyra Sedgwick, 'The Closer'
- Glenn Close, 'Damages'
- Mariska Hargitay, 'Law and Order SVU'
- Elisabeth Moss, 'Mad Men'
- Holly Hunter, 'Saving Grace'

Who Will Win:
When a multiple-Academy-Award-nominated star on the level of Glenn Close gives a standout performance in a hugely buzzed-about series and wins her first Emmy (like she did last year) there’s no stopping her from winning an Emmy again and again and again until the end of time.

Who Should Win:
With Cranston taking a step back this year, is Elisabeth Moss now giving the best performance on television? She makes an excellent case with her brilliantly controlled portrayal of the seemingly innocent Peggy Olsen who one can’t help suspect has a devious intellect that’s ready to dominate the cutthroat business world in which she so desperately seems out-of-place. Moss makes this character seem well beyond everybody else we see on the series, as though she’s a visitor from the future with a worldview more advanced than her contemporaries, yet at the same time is struggling to keep up with the way society is moving. A truly remarkable performance that deserves an Emmy.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama
William HurtThe Nominees:
- William Shatner, 'Boston Legal'
- Christian Clemenson, 'Boston Legal'
- Aaron Paul, 'Breaking Bad'
- William Hurt, 'Damages'
- Michael Emerson, 'Lost'
- John Slattery, 'Mad Men'

Who Will Win:
Once again, a movie star leaps to the small screen for a one-year stint on a buzzed-about series. William Hurt’s role as a creepy scientist is just too juicy for Emmy to ignore. After all, last year they gave Zeljko Ivanek an award on the same series for overacting as a lawyer, and he doesn’t have anywhere near the clout of Hurt.

Who Should Win:
This is an absolutely loaded category. Hurt was great, Shatner’s kookiness is always reliable, the ease with which Slattery plays a philandering playboy who mentally checked out of life years ago makes a loathsome character likeable, and Emerson’s Machiavellian Ben Linus just may be the most memorable Sci-Fi/Fantasy villain since Darth Vader. These were all deserving, but none can touch Aaron Paul’s dynamic performance as Jesse Pinkman, a way over-his-head slacker who sort of collapses into becoming a drug kingpin.

Paul’s character faced tremendous obstacles in this second season. He found love and lost love, he attempted to assert himself only to find leadership didn’t suit him, and he constantly battled for respect from a self-loathing partner incapable of being satisfied. Paul met and overcame these obstacles with the skill of an old pro – demonstrating the level of skill and talent that must be rewarded with an Emmy.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Rose ByrneThe Nominees:
- Rose Byrne, 'Damages'
- Sandra Oh, 'Grey's Anatomy'
- Chandra Wilson, 'Grey's Anatomy'
- Dianne Wiest, 'In Treatment'
- Hope Davis, 'In Treatment'
- Cherry Jones, '24'

Who Will Win:
This is a true toss-up category with several people splitting votes for the same series and others without the buzz to really be considered a standout. The most likely winner is Byrne who‘s made some impact in the film world this year, and may benefit from the hype surrounding her show. She’s the predicted winner here, but a repeat win for Wiest, Davis’ making it two different wins in-a-row for ‘In Treatment’, or Tony mainstay Jones taking down an Emmy are all possibilities.

Who Should Win:
Once again, there isn’t a true standout. Unfortunately, this award should go to Connie Britton, Amanda Seyfried or Allison Pill, but Emmy didn’t see fit to nominate them. The best of the bunch is Jones, the Meryl Streep of the stage bringing her act to the small screen as a strong-willed female President with the poise of a salty acting vet.

Outstanding Reality Competition Program
Top ChefThe Nominees:
- Amazing Race
- American Idol
- Dancing With The Stars
- Project Runway
- Top Chef

What Will Win:
“The Amazing Race” has won this award every single year. That is not hyperbole; this show has won the award literally ever single year this category has existed. Six consecutive wins in all. Look for the seventh win this year, and the potential to change this category to “The Amazing Race Award”.

What Should Win:
Sure, “Race” is great, but is there a better bit of competition than “Top Chef”? Not only do we get the sophisticated thrills of “Race” but we get enough food porn to satiate a thousand Rosie O’Donnell’s and something we can actually use in our real life. Plus, it’s the show that allows us to best get to know its cast of characters each year as we’re actually seeing the competitors in their element and not forced to reveal themselves through extreme situations.

Outstanding Comedy Series
Family GuyThe Nominees:
- Entourage
- Family Guy
- Flight of the Conchords
- How I Met Your Mother
- The Office
- 30 Rock
- Weeds

What Will Win:
“30 Rock” is the twice-defending champion in this category so it should be a foregone conclusion. However, “Family Guy” does pose a serious threat, if only because it inclusion as an Animated Series is so far off the board that it gets the buzz that so often comes along with great surprises. However, Emmy’s insistence on awarding the same show ever year should hold true and “30 Rock” will make it a threepeat.

What Should Win:
“30 Rock” is great, it’s the funniest show on television by a considerable margin, but is it really the small screen’s best comedy series? It’s hard to say yes when “How I Met Your Mother” delivers such a richly drawn storyline with characters who are fast seeming more like our friends than people we watch through a glowing box. Its jokes are great, and the performances (particularly Harris) are consistently exceptional. It’s only slightly better than “30 Rock”, but it’s better all the same and deserves to take home the Emmy.


Outstanding Drama Series
LostThe Nominees:
- Big Love
- Breaking Bad
- Damages
- Dexter
- House
- Lost
- Mad Men

What Will Win:
There is no stopping the “Mad Men” freight train here. At this point, not voting for it will probably be taken as a sign of ignorance.

What Should Win:
“Big Love” continues to be the most underrated show on television. When it’s running, nobody ever seems to talk about it, and when it’s off the air it’s almost as if it doesn’t exist at all. It’s too bad, because the lack of buzz is probably finding many TV fans missing a deeply intricate show that presents topics such as faith, family, corruption, and the struggle with self in a devilishly entertaining primetime soap format that riles along like “Dynasty” with infinitely better writing and acting.

“Mad Men” aims to reach similar heights with its thematic structure, but doesn’t do it nearly as well from either a literary or entertainment standpoint. “Big Love” is the true standout of the drama genre and deserves to take home an Emmy.
That does it for the predictions. Check back Monday for a full recap of the ceremony with a Mega Emmy Diary.


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Andrew Payne
Story by Andrew Payne

Starpulse contributing writer