Entertainment

What Shows Will Win Big at the 2019 Emmys? Here Are Our Predictions.

thrones
Coming to conquer the Emmys. | HBO
Coming to conquer the Emmys. | HBO

The Emmys are a lot harder to predict than the Oscars. Given that the eligibility period does not span the calendar year, it can be tricky to even figure out what could possibly be nominated. There is, however, one thing that's nearly certain as 2019's Emmy season approaches: Game of Thrones is going to win a lot of trophies this year. It landed a whopping 32 Emmy nominations, breaking a record for most nods in a single year. Regardless of how you felt about the divisive final season, it would be awfully surprising if the Television Academy didn't treat the September 22 awards ceremony as final coronation for one of its perpetual favorites.

But more on that later; first, some background. The eligibility period for the 2019 Emmys spans from June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019, which means you might have to think back on some of the shows you watched last summer to dream up a convincing list of nominees. It also means that series that debuted new seasons this summer, like Big Little Lies, are out of the running. What slightly complicates that is the "hanging eligibility" rule, which allows shows to submit episodes that aired out of the previous year's window for individual categories. For instance, while The Handmaid's Tale was up for Best Drama at the 2018 awards, it will be submitting a couple of episodes this go around. So, yes, the TV Academy does love to make matters extra confusing.

When the nominations were announced July 16 by Ken Jeong and D'Arcy Carden, Game of Thrones, as expected, immediately dominated, but the TV Academy also threw in some welcome curveballs, showing love for Schitt's Creek and Fleabag in the comedy space. Read our analysis and final predictions for the event's biggest races below (and check out how wrong our predicted nominee selections were). The much longer list of nominations, including all the technical categories, can be found here.

game of thrones
HBO

Outstanding Drama Series

The nominees
Better Call Saul (AMC)
Bodyguard (Netflix)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
Killing Eve (BBC America)
Ozark (Netflix)
Pose (FX)
Succession (HBO)
This Is Us (NBC)

Winner: Game of Thrones

Our prediction:Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones? Yes, Game of Thrones. I will eat my proverbial hat if Game of Thrones doesn't run away with this most coveted Emmys prize. Fine, you may not have liked the final season, but I'm going to bet the Academy will want to honor how monumental Thrones was for the business of television. It's one of the last remaining examples of a TV series that caused fans to gather around a TV set to watch week in and week out, and existed on a massive movie-like scale. Expect it to be showered with awards from many categories, both behind the camera and in front of it, including, possibly and improbably writing (how?!).

If Thrones is the front-runner, which fellow nominee could pull an upset? This Is Us found its way onto the shortlist again despite no longer being the hot new thing, and its broad appeal and broadcast-network home likely ensures votes from many Academy members. What are the hot new things, though? Well, that seems to accurately describe two shows that are challengers to Thrones' throne: FX's Pose and HBO's Succession, two big, ambitious prestige ensemble shows that have only grown in popularity with the release of their second seasons this summer.

As for the rest: he Emmys love a prestigious Brit show and with The Crown sitting this one out, which could mean Netflix import Bodyguard could sneak some votes, along with Season 2 of BBC America's Killing Eve. While the second season of the latter drama was not as critically beloved as the first, with Phoebe Waller-Bridge no longer the showrunner, the TV Academy is also often slightly late to the party. (Keep in mind, Thrones didn't start winning until its fifth season.) Netflix's Ozark and AMC's Better Call Saul landed noms, too, but they're likely the longest of shots this year, even if Better Call Saul is arguably the most consistently well-written show in the pack.

Our predicted nominees
Bodyguard
Game of Thrones

Killing Eve
Homecoming
Pose
Succession
This Is Us

veep
'Veep' | HBO

Outstanding Comedy Series

The nominees 
Barry
Fleabag
The Good Place
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Russian Doll
Schitt's Creek
Veep

Winner: Fleabag
 
Our prediction:Veep

In 2018, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel dominated the comedy Emmys and, while Amy Sherman-Palladino's period joke machine is up for the top funny prize again, it has the seemingly impossible task this year of overcoming an awards-season juggernaut. Perennial favorite Veep, winner of the three consecutive Outstanding Comedy Series from 2015-17, sat this one out in 2018, but the Julia Louis-Dreyfus series is back for one last Emmys haul. I expect voters will get sentimental and give it a send-off victory. Another slot goes to Barry and its incredible second season, and I'm overjoyed to see the likes of Fleabag and Russian Doll make it in there. Two darkly hilarious female-driven explorations of the psyche? Hell, yes, shake it up. The cynic in me predicted The Big Bang Theory's final season to slide in, but voters instead did the right thing and made room for The Good Place and Schitt's Creek instead, making this one of the best line-ups for any category. But yeah, Veep's going to win.

Our predicted nominees
Barry
The Big Bang Theory

Fleabag
GLOW

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Russian Doll
Veep

fosse
'Fosse/Verdon' | FX

Outstanding Limited Series

The nominees
Chernobyl
Escape at Dannemora
Fosse/Verdon

Sharp Objects
When They See Us

Winner: Chernobyl

Our prediction:When They See Us

If you had asked me last summer what was going to dominate the Limited Series race, I would have said Sharp Objects, HBO's twisty, gothic thriller starring Amy Adams. But a year-plus is a long time and this category has turned out to be a very fruitful -- and insanely competitive. At the Globes, Sharp Objects got edged out by Ben Stiller's Escape At Dannemora, and it's a formidable adversary here as well. (Patricia Arquette's other acclaimed limited series, The Act, did not make it in.) The other nods went to FX's lavish Fosse/Verdon and HBO's impressive nuclear-disaster miniseries Chernobyl, which also are incredibly strong contenders. Chernobyl would be my number two pick, but I'm going to go with Ava Duvernay's affecting dramatization of the Central Park Five trial and aftermath, Netflix's When They See Us. But this is the one category of the night where it really could go to any of these series.

Our predicted nominees
The Act
Escape at Dannemora
Fosse/Verdon
Sharp Objects
When They See Us

killing eve
Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh in 'Killing Eve' | AMC

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

The nominees
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Laura Linney, Ozark
Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Winner: Jodie Comer

Our prediction: Sandra Oh

Will Emilia Clarke, who has never won an Emmy for playing Daenerys Targaryen, "dracarys" her competition? Perhaps, but she faces a Night King-level battle, since the Thrones writers did her no favors down the home stretch. She'll face off against previous nominee, Sandra Oh, who has only accumulated more accolades for Killing Eve in the year, as well as Oh's ferocious co-star Jodie Comer. I suspected that Julia Roberts would sneak in for Homecoming -- and for deigning to do a TV series -- but she didn't make the cut. Instead, the category is rounded out by 2015 winner Viola Davis in How to Get Away with Murder, previous nominee Robin Wright for the final season of House of Cards, Laura Linney for Ozark, and Mandy Moore, with her first nomination for This Is Us. But in my mind, this is a contest between Clarke and Oh, and we're going to bet that the Academy finally makes Oh a winner after six nominations (including five for Grey's Anatomy).

Our predicted nominees
Christine Baranski, The Good Fight
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Laura Linney, Ozark
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Julia Roberts, Homecoming

pose
Billy Porter in 'Pose' | FX

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

The nominees
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Billy Porter, Pose
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us

Winner: Billy Porter

Our prediction: Jason Bateman

The TV Academy picked some old favorites here, with repeat nominees Jason Bateman, Kit Harington, Bob Odenkirk, and the This Is Us duo of Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia getting nods over snubbed potential newcomers Richard Madden for Bodyguard and Brian Cox for Succession. (Harington had only previously been nominated as a supporting actor.) The only first-time nominee to break through was Billy Porter for his work in Pose, which I am completely in support of. Brown won this two years ago, and is has a better than average shot at winning again here, and voters could certainly choose to express their thanks to Harington for the many years of service as Jon Snow. However, I'm going to make a bold call and give this to Bateman, who has amazingly never won an Emmy.

Our predicted nominees
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Brian Cox, Succession
Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
Richard Madden, Bodyguard
Billy Porter, Pose

natasha lyonne
Natasha Lyonne in 'Russian Doll' | Netflix

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

The nominees 
Christina Applegate, Dead to Me
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll
Catherine O'Hara, Schitt's Creek 
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag

Winner: Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Our prediction: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

This one is a no-doubter. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won Emmys for all six previous seasons as Selina Meyer on Veep. It seems frankly unfathomable that she wouldn't get her seventh trophy for the role in her final chance. Of course, this year she will go head-to-head with Rachel Brosnahan, a.k.a. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, who won last year -- the one time Louis-Dreyfus was not in the running with Veep taking a year off. Those front-runners will be joined by worthy longshots Natasha Lyonne and Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Russian Doll and Fleabag fame, respectively, both of whom do soul-bearing work, as well as perpetually underrated Christina Applegate (for Netflix's Dead to Me) and the perpetually excellent Catherine O'Hara, who gets long overdue recognition for Schitt's Creek. But yeah, this is going to Julia Louis-Dreyfus. [Editor's note, post-Emmys: welp!]

Our predicted nominees
Pamela Adlon, Better Things
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Regina Hall, Black Monday
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag

BARRY
Billy Hader in 'Barry' | HBO

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

The nominees 
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Don Cheadle, Black Monday
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
Bill Hader, Barry
Eugene Levy, Schitt's Creek

Winner: Bill Hader

Our prediction: Bill Hader

I fully believe with my heart of hearts that this prize belongs to Barry's Bill Hader, even though he won last year. But who else is in the race? Though Shameless' William H. Macy has been a fixture on the scene for the past couple of years, Operation Varsity Blues possibly kept him out of the running, allowing fellow Showtime denizen Don Cheadle of the '80s-set stock-market comedy Black Monday to nab a spot. The Good Place's Ted Danson and Black-ish's Anthony Anderson also return to the category and always have a shot. And, hey, remember The Kominsky Method and how it was so surprisingly triumphant at the Golden Globes this year? Michael Douglas is in that. Finally, the last spot went to Eugene Levy, riding the high of the newfound love for Schitt's Creek. He landed in the running over Jim Parsons, who I thought would score a nostalgia nom from the Academy. But Hader's the cream of this crop this year, and the Academy should pony up.

Our predicted nominees
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Don Cheadle, Black Monday
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
Bill Hader, Barry
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

dannemora
Patricia Arquette in 'Escape at Dannemora' | Showtime

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

The nominees
Amy Adams, Sharp Objects
Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora
Aunjanue Ellis, When They See Us
Joey King, The Act
Niecy Nash, When They See Us
Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon

Winner: Michelle Williams

Our prediction: Patricia Arquette

This is the hottest category of the year. Will Patricia Arquette escape (sorry) the Emmys with an award for Escape at Dannemora, for which she won the Golden Globe? She's not going up against herself in The Act, since she's competing in the Supporting Actress category for that role. She'll probably win. But could Michelle Williams' pitch-perfect Gwen Verdon in Fosse/Verdon get in the way of Arquette's coronation? Will Amy Adams finally get a major award prize, for her performance in Sharp Objects? Niecy Nash and Aunjanue Ellis in When They See Us would also be great choices, as would Arquette's young The Act co-star Joey King. But this is Arquette's year.

Our predicted nominees
Amy Adams, Sharp Objects
Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora
Joey King, The Act
Niecy Nash, When They See Us
Emma Stone, Maniac
Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon

true d
Mahershala Ali in 'True Detective' | HBO

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie 

Nominees
Mahershala Ali, True Detective
Benicio Del Toro, Escape at Dannemora
Hugh Grant, A Very English Scandal
Jared Harris, Chernobyl
Jharrel Jerome, When They See Us
Sam Rockwell, Fosse/Verdon

Winner: Jharrel Jerome

Our prediction: Sam Rockwell

Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse in Fosse/Verdon, Mahershala Ali traveling through memory-time in True Detective, and Benicio Del Toro in Escape at Dannemora all seemed guaranteed spots here and landed them, and it could go to any one of them. Hugh Grant in A Very English Scandal, Jared Harris in Chernobyl, and Jharrel Jerome in When They See Us are also worthy nominees. I'm almost going to close my eyes and reach into a bag for a slip of paper to find the name of the winner of this category. And the slip of paper says... Sam Rockwell for Fosse/Verdon. Fine by me!

Our predicted nominees
Mahershala Ali, True Detective
Benicio Del Toro, Escape at Dannemora
Hugh Grant, A Very English Scandal
Jared Harris, Chernobyl
Ian McShane, Deadwood
Sam Rockwell, Fosse/Verdon

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.