“Breaking Bad,” AMC
“Downton Abbey,” PBS
“Game of Thrones,” HBO
“House of Cards,” Netflix
“Mad Men,” AMC
Will win: “Breaking Bad” is one of the best dramas ever made, and still no Emmy? I think the Academy will rectify that this year. After all, “The Sopranos” didn’t win until its fifth season. The show is nominated for last summer’s episodes, but the current finale obsession has surely added to the voting momentum.
Should win: “Breaking Bad,” no question. “Homeland,” last year’s winner, quickly embedded itself in our culture, in op-eds and a “Saturday Night Live” parody. But season two was a “24”-like mess, largely because there was no character continuity with Carrie. Her hatred of Brody turned to undying love too quickly. “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards,” and four-time winner “Mad Men” were strong, but “Breaking Bad” was the tops.
Was robbed: That “Downton Abbey” slot belongs to “Southland,” “The Americans,” or “Orphan Black.”
LEAD ACTOR, DRAMA
Hugh Bonneville, “Downton Abbey,” PBS
Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad,” AMC
Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom,” HBO
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men,” AMC
Damian Lewis, “Homeland,” Showtime
Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards,” Netflix
Will win: Cranston. He’s tremendous as Walter White, which is why he has won three Emmys for the role so far. Two-time Oscar winner Spacey may be the surprise, though, if voters are ready to embrace Netflix so quickly; they have an old-fashioned TV-shame response to movie stars, and Spacey’s performance is showy goodness.
Should win: The Academy has never given a statue to a “Mad Men” performer. But Hamm really ought to win for his fifth nomination. The guy is profoundly good as the deeply scarred ad exec who hit bottom last season (we hope). Don’s response to Sally’s discovery of his affair is devastating, and so is his eye contact with her in the finale. Unforgettable work.
Was robbed: Timothy Olyphant of “Justified,” William H. Macy of “Shameless,” Matthew Rhys of “The Americans,” and Travis Fimmel of “Vikings.”
LEAD ACTRESS, DRAMA
Connie Britton, “Nashville,” ABC
Claire Danes, “Homeland,” Showtime
Michelle Dockery, “Downton Abbey,” PBS
Vera Farmiga, “Bates Motel,” A&E
Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men,” AMC
Kerry Washington, “Scandal,” ABC
Robin Wright, “House of Cards,” Netflix
Will win: Danes and her cry face will take the night, although it’s possible Washington will win in an upset. “Scandal” has become an It Show.
Should win: I think Moss had a subtly authoritative season. She showed us Peggy’s internal power struggles, without losing sight of her meek beginnings.
Was robbed: Keri Russell of “The Americans” and Emmy Rossum of “Shameless.” But Tatiana Maslany was the glaring and shameful omission here, for her spectacular work as clones in “Orphan Black.”
SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA
Bobby Cannavale, “Boardwalk Empire,” HBO
Jonathan Banks, “Breaking Bad,” AMC
Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad,” AMC
Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey,” PBS
Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones,” HBO
Mandy Patinkin, “Homeland,” Showtime
Will win: Patinkin will win. He’s great as the paternal Saul, and he atoned in The New York Times for his bad behavior on his previous shows. It’s possible, though, that Paul, deserving winner of two, will swoop in for a third.
Should win: Journeyman actor Banks personified “Breaking Bad” with his calm but intense focus. He was the man Jesse might have become. If he wins, I will cheer.
Was robbed: The list of the snubbed in this category is long, including John Slattery of “Mad Men,” Michael Cudlitz of “Southland,” Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of “Game of Thrones,” and Dean Norris of “Breaking Bad.”
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA
Anna Gunn, “Breaking Bad,” AMC
Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey,” PBS
Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones,” HBO
Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife,” CBS
Morena Baccarin, “Homeland,” Showtime
Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men,” AMC
Will win: Ugh, Smith. Don’t get me wrong; she’s great on “Downton,” but her zinger-slinging is shtick at this point. Maybe the “Downton” backlash after Matthew’s death will lead voters to Gunn.
Should win: Gunn. It’s time. Her nominated episode — in which the depressed Skyler tells Walt she’s waiting for him to die — is a perfect example of her ability to stun. Her character has changed as profoundly as Cranston’s and Paul’s.
Was robbed: It would have been sweet to see Kiernan Shipka of “Mad Men” on this list, as well as J. Smith-Cameron as the torn mother of an ex-convict on “Rectify.”
“The Big Bang Theory,” CBS
“Modern Family,” ABC
“30 Rock,” NBC
Will win: Yeah, it’ll be “Modern Family,” despite the fact that the show has lost a lot of juice. Only three shows have won this award four or more times, “All in the Family,” “Frasier,” and “Cheers”; voters may be willing to put this three-time winner in that elite club — unless they decide to say farewell to three-time winner “30 Rock” with a kiss.
Should win: “Louie” and “Veep” had outstanding seasons, with “Veep” morphing from a collection of jokes into a satire that plays like a comic “West Wing.” My vote goes to “Louie,” though, knowing that voters prefer ensemble comedies. It has depth and heart, and it resists formula so stubbornly.
Was robbed: “Parks and Recreation.”
LEAD ACTOR, COMEDY
Jason Bateman, “Arrested Development,” Netflix
Louis C.K., “Louie,” FX
Don Cheadle, “House of Lies,” Showtime
Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes,” Showtime
Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock,” NBC
Will win: Every year, the voters repeat themselves a bit. This year, they will give Parsons his third Emmy for the same role. Baldwin might get his third instead, but his June Twitter outburst probably turned off voters. That shouldn’t matter when it comes to judging a performance, but it does.
Should win: I’d love to see C.K. win, and not as a nod to his writing or stand-up skills. The hyphenate really does act, even while playing a version of himself. In his episodes opposite Melissa Leo (who won a best guest Emmy) and Parker Posey he evokes pathos and sympathetic confusion.
Was robbed: Jake Johnson has created a lovable screwball on “New Girl.”
LEAD ACTRESS, COMEDY
Lena Dunham, “Girls,” HBO
Laura Dern, “Enlightened,” HBO
Tiny Fey, “30 Rock,” NBC
Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation,” NBC
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep,” HBO
Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie,” Showtime
Will win: Louis-Dreyfus has more comedy nominations than any other actress; she has 14, Lucille Ball had 13. And she has deserved every one of them. But I’ve sensed momentum for Poehler, who is on her fourth nomination for “Parks and Recreation.”
Should win: I’m torn in 10 different ways, because everyone in this category is fantastic. Dern is a force to be reckoned with as Amy in the under-watched “Enlightened.” Falco is fearless, Fey gives a fantastic farewell, Dunham is polarizing and cringe-y, and Poehler has made Leslie Knope into the most lovable citizen ever. But Louis-Dreyfus, she is something else. Her physical comedy and timing are all that and more.
Was robbed: Mindy Kaling is amusingly eccentric on “The Mindy Project.”
SUPPORTING ACTOR, C OMEDY
Adam Driver, “Girls,” HBO
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Modern Family,” ABC
Ed O’Neill, “Modern Family,” ABC
Ty Burrell, “Modern Family,” ABC
Bill Hader, “Saturday Night Live,” NBC
Tony Hale, “Veep,” HBO
Will win: I’m thinking O’Neill. The voters love the “Modern Family” actors, and O’Neill has never won.
Should win: Driver is unique and complex, but I’m on the O’Neill train. He anchors the ensemble beautifully, and his rapport with stepson Manny is poignant.
Was robbed: Nick Offerman of “Parks and Recreation” and Jason Gann of “Wilfred.”
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY
Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS
Jane Lynch, “Glee,” Fox
Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family,” ABC
Julie Bowen, “Modern Family,” ABC
Merritt Wever, “Nurse Jackie,” Showtime
Jane Krakowski, “30 Rock,” NBC
Anna Chlumsky, “Veep,” HBO
Will win: Is it possible that two-time winner Bowen, with her strung tight performance, will win again? Please, no. I’m thinking voters will want to spread the love to Krakowski, who’s on her fourth nomination.
Should win: Wever is special, as she has taken her endearing character from a self-conscious kook to a capable and powerful nurse. But I’m feeling it for Krakowski, who’s the scene-stealer on a show of scene-stealers. She’s laugh out loud funny and has made the dumb blonde stereotype her own with a narcissistic twist.
Was robbed: Eliza Coupe of “Happy Endings” and Diane Ladd of “Enlightened.”
MINISERIES OR MOVIE
“American Horror Story: Asylum,” FX
“Behind the Candelabra,” HBO
“Phil Spector,” HBO
“Political Animals,” USA
“The Bible,” History
“Top of the Lake,” Sundance
Will win: “Behind the Candelabra” will prevail…
Should win: …and deservedly so. It’s that rare thing, a biopic with depth. The mystery “Top of the Lake” is also extraordinary and it has Oscar energy from director Jane Campion and Holly Hunter, but it is too unrelentingly downbeat for voters. “American Horror Story: Asylum” could upset, although voters tend to avoid genre material. “Candelabra” — the actors, director Steven Soderbergh, writer Richard LaGravenese — will probably sweep.
Was robbed: Lindsay Lohan’s “Liz & Dick.” Yup, kidding. “The Crimson Petal and the White” was a pungent gem.
LEAD ACTOR, MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Michael Douglas, “Behind the Candelabra,” HBO
Matt Damon, “Behind the Candelabra,” HBO
Toby Jones, “The Girl,” HBO
Benedict Cumberbatch, “Parade’s End,” HBO
Al Pacino, “Phil Spector,” HBO
Will win: Douglas.
Should win: Douglas. He makes Liberace into more than caricature, resisting the temptation to go over the top. I admired Cumberbatch; the tragedy of the elegant “Parade’s End” plays out on his face. But yeah, Douglas, who gives one of the best turns of his career.
Was robbed: Dominic West and Ben Whishaw in “The Hour,” Chris O’Dowd in “The Crimson Petal and the White.”
LEAD ACTRESS, MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story,” FX
Laura Linney, “The Big C: Hereafter,” Showtime
Helen Mirren, “Phil Spector,” HBO
Sigourney Weaver, “Political Animals,” USA
Elisabeth Moss, “Top of the Lake,” Sundance Channel
Will win: Moss will get a statue, especially since she’s unlikely to win for “Mad Men.”
Should win: And Moss should get a statue. She is both commanding and subtle as a pent-up detective, carrying the miniseries on her shoulders.
Was robbed: Rebecca Hall of “Parade’s End.”
Matthew Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.