If I had an Emmy Ballot (2014 Edition)

So, the Primetime Emmys are tonight. Unlike last year, when the awards ran against the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad, this year, the awards show is on a Monday, in August, because, football.

And so, here briefly, are some of my picks. These are not predictions of who will win (which I leave to the experts at Kremlinology Acadameyology, but who I would vote for if I had a ballot.

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Andre Braugher, Brooklyn 9-9. Two words: “Kwazy Cupcakes.” That is all. Tony Hale had some brilliant moments in Veep and Adam Driver’s performance as Adam on Girls is brilliantly sympathetic and weird at the same time. But Braugher’s deadpan timing as Holt was a true comedy supporting masterpiece, as he was the straight man (jn the comedic sense) that allowed the rest of the characters to be more funny.

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Kate Mulgrew, Orange is the New Black. How long did it take you to realize that’s Captain Janeway as Red, Lichtfield Federal’s Russian cook? Exactly.

Supporting Actor in a Drama Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones. Dean Norris should have been nominated for his work as Hank in the last season of Breaking Bad. But he wasn’t, which is a shame, because he developed the character from a brash foil for Walt to being the true hero of the show. Aaron Paul, as always, was great in the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad. But he may not have had anything as good to play Dinklage had with Tyrion’s trial. Like with Ralph Wiggum in the audience at the Krusty Anniversary special, you can actually pinpoint the second when his heart rips in half.

Supporting Actress in a Drama Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad. You’ve seen her submission episode, Ozymandias, right?

Writing for a Drama Moira Walley-Beckett, “Ozymandias”, Breaking Bad. Behold Ye Might and Despair. The best hour of television this year? Or at least the best hour of television this year without awkward table-side guacamole.

Writing for a Comedy Liz Friedman and Jenji Kohan, “I Wasn’t Ready (Pilot)” Orange is the New Black. The Veep and Silicon Valley episodes nominated were funnier, but Orange’s pilot introduced this world and these characters and made me need to watch more.

Directing for a Comedy Jodie Foster, Orange is the New Black. A very good episode, with a famous director. (And the best of the two nominated episodes that I’ve seen.)

Directing for a Drama Cary Fukunaga, True Detective. Given all of the eligible episodes, my pick would probably be Rian Johnson’s direction of Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias” (the single most intense episode of television all year) or possibly Alex Graves for Game of Thrones’ “The Lion and the Rose” (which, like the nominated “Watchers on the Wall”, shows how much better GOT is when it’s allowed to linger in one place for more than a single scene at a time.) But even if those two episodes were on the ballot, I still might vote for Fukunaga, not just because it was a great episode, but solely on the power of that one amazing single-take tracking shot in the last act.

Writing for a Miniseries David Simon & Eric Overmeyer, Treme. This is probably deservedly going to Noah Hawley for Fargo, but wouldn’t it be nice to see Simon and Overmeyer win an Emmy for Treme?

Actor in a Miniseries Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo. Big movie star, showy TV role? A midwestern Woland from the Master and Margarita? As good as this category is, Thornton is the standout.

Actress in a Miniseries Allison Tolman, Fargo. Wait, Allison Tolman, the lead actress in Fargo was submitted as supporting? Oh. Hmm. I haven’t seen any of the other nominees in this category, so let’s say, Kristen Wiig? Why? Because, Kristen Wiig?

Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie Allison Tolman, Fargo. See above.

Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie (I still haven’t watched The Normal Heart, so I can’t really make an educated pick here. My prediction? Someone from The Normal Heart, maybe?)

Miniseries Fargo. Since the final season of Treme became classified as a miniseries due to rules, I’d be happy to give it a vote for the short and sweet coda to a wonderful low-key series. But Fargo was so much better than it had any right to be. And like Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad, Martin Freeman plays so well against type as the genial, sweet, and spinelessly evil Lester Nygaard. And Freeman’s may not even be the best performance in the cast. From start to finish, this was such a great series, ya know.

Variety Series The Colbert Report. We will miss you when you’re gone, “Stephen Colbert”. After breaking through last year to finally defeat the TDS mothership, have another Emmy to hang above the fireplace.

Lead Actor in a Comedy Louis C.K., Louie. Without 30 Rock and The Office reliably delivering Alec Baldwin and Steve Carrell as nominees, this is a surprisingly weak category. Shameless isn’t really a comedy, and William H. Macy isn’t really the lead. Louis C.K. delivers wonderfully subtle reactions in Louie, and with this ballot, he runs away with it. That said, does anyone doubt that Jim Parsons will actually win?

Lead Actress in a Comedy Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation. Unlike the Lead Actor in a Comedy category, I would strongly consider at least four of these performers as viable winners (Dunham, Louis-Dreyfus, Poehler, and Schilling). But Poehler carries Parks & Rec and, unlike JL-D, doesn’t already have two of statues for this role.

Lead Actor in a Drama. Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad. In a category that prognosticators seem to think comes down to two leading nominees — Bryan Cranston and Matthew McConaughey, it is a difficult choice to pick. Cranston’s increasingly frantic and evil Walter White or McConaughey’s unnervingly calm Rust Cohle? I would be shocked if McConaughey doesn’t win, but Walter White is one of the most inedible performances in television. Behold ye mighty and despair. And it’s yet another year where Jon Hamm will be overlooked despite carrying one of the most iconic roles in the medium.

Lead Actress in a Drama. Emmy Rossum, Shameless. Oh wait, she isn’t nominated? Shameless is now a comedy? Feh. Then, I’ll vote for Lizzy Caplan, because I watched more of Masters of Sex than of any of the other nominees’ shows.

Comedy Series Do I really have to choose between Orange is the New Black and Veep? Yes? OK, then, Orange is the New Black. Veep is a funnier show, but Orange is a richer world with more fully realized characters and had the opportunity to use a Lost-like flashback structure to show who the characters were before they became the characters we’ve met. Dark comedy is certainly comedy, and the best comedy has depth and drama.

rama Series Breaking Bad. Things wrapped up very neatly — almost too neatly for Walt. But it’s hard to argue with the intensity and quality of the final season. True Detective and Game of Thrones were both very good, but not in the same league as Breaking Bad.

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