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Emmy Predictions: Drama Acting Races Hotter Than Ever

This year’s acting races are the most competitive in years, which makes predicting a risky proposition. Still, we couldn’t resist hazarding a guess at who’ll be celebrating on Thursday. These are our predictions for the actors and actresses in the drama categories. Click to see our picks for those in the running for the comedy series categories.

jon hamm emmy mad men
Jon Hamm in “Mad Men.” Photo courtesy of AMC.

Drama Actor:

Adman Don Draper found bliss — and bought the world a Coke — in the final moments of AMC’s “Mad Men,” all but guaranteeing Jon Hamm an acting nod for the role. (Will he finally earn that elusive trophy? That’s for another column.) Hamm may once again have to fend off Kyle Chandler, who played a tormented brother in Netflix’s family drama “Bloodline” and won the category in 2011 for “Friday Night Lights.” Bob Odenkirk found the heart in Albuquerque’s best worst lawyer Saul Goodman, né Jimmy McGill, in AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” while Kevin Spacey proved yet again that President Francis Underwood doesn’t have one in Netflix’s “House of Cards.” Terrence Howard may well ride the “Empire” wave to an Emmy nod as the head of the hip-hop family. And the final slot could go to Clive Owen, for his work as the drug-addicted turn-of-the-century doctor in “The Knick.”

viola davis how to get away with murder emmy
Viola Davis in “How to Get Away with Murder.” Photo courtesy of ABC.

Drama Actress:

This may well be the year a black actress finally takes home the trophy for a leading role. To be sure, there will be more than one woman of color nominated. Viola Davis deserves it for that one wig-and-makeup-free scene in ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder” alone, let alone an entire season of bravura acting. And then, of course, there’s Cookie: The Academy can’t ignore Taraji P. Henson, who stole every scene in which she appeared in “Empire,” Fox’s brash, smash hit. The other likely nominees are familiar faces to the Emmy slate: “The Good Wife’s” Julianna Margulies, “Homeland’s” Claire Danes and “House of Cards'” Robin Wright. All continued to prove that television is the place for strong female performances. Last, but certainly not least: Save a slot for “Mad Men’s” Elisabeth Moss, whose much-GIFed strut down the hallway of McCann-Erickson deserves to be rewarded.

jonathan banks better call saul emmy
Jonathan Banks in “Better Call Saul.” Photo courtesy of AMC.

Supporting Actor:

There may not be a tougher category to call. But if there’s a sure thing, it’s Jonathan Banks, now starring in “Better Call Saul.” Of course, the lingering love for “Breaking Bad” would be more than enough. But then just watch the episode “Five-O,” and there’s no question, as the resolutely taciturn former cop breaks down. Game over, boys. Elsewhere in the race, there’s Ben Mendelsohn, who defines scene stealer as the blackest of sheep in “Bloodline,” challenging Kyle Chandler at every turn. “Game of Thrones'” Peter Dinklage remains the heart and soul of the HBO epic — witness his thrilling tete-a-tete with Emilia Clarke — as yet unimagined in the book. Other likely nominees include “Homeland’s” Mandy Patinkin, whose kidnap-and-rescue proved pivotal to the season’s renaissance; “Ray Donovan’s” Jon Voight, as creepy a father figure as ever; and “Mad Men’s” John Slattery, who proved a heart did indeed beat under all those witty rejoinders.

lena heady game of thrones emmy

Jonathan Pryce and Lena Headey in “Game of Thrones.” Photo courtesy of HBO.

Supporting Actress:
If any character soared in this final season of “Mad Men,” it was Joan: stirring speeches, epic showdowns, cutting one-liners — it was her moment. Christina Hendricks will have plenty to choose from for her clip reel. There’s little question about Lena Headey’s standout moment from this season of “Game of Thrones”: She endured a walk of shame (body double notwithstanding) that provided an emotional climax to the season finale. That should earn her a repeat nod, along with last year’s nominees — “The Good Wife’s” Christine Baranski and “Downton Abbey’s” Maggie Smith. Joining them: “Bloodline” matriarch Sissy Spacek, who offered a fierce foil to the feuding siblings. And finally, there’s “Orange Is the New Black’s” Kate Mulgrew, who left viewers seeing Red.

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