Rotten Tomatoes’ staff got together, voted on this year’s Emmy nominees, and — honestly, picked a few doozies. The 71st edition of the Television Academy’s award show has already handed out trophies for technical and other categories as part of the Creative Arts Emmys two-day celebration, with Game of Thrones already winning 10 of the total 32 awards for which it was nominated. (Other big winners: National Geographic’s Oscar-winning Free Solo, HBO’s limited series Chernobyl, and reigning comedy winner The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.)
But the rest of the statues will be awarded on Sunday, Sept. 22. And here’s who the RT staff thinks will take home this year’s top TV honors in some of the highest-profile and most competitive categories:
It’s a battle of the hyphenates in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy category: Julia Louis-Dreyfus versus Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Rotten Tomatoes predicts Louis-Dreyfus will emerge victorious; though Waller-Bridge has the best shot of the nominees at upsetting the 11-time Emmy winner’s Veep streak.
Jared Harris or Jharrel Jerome? One of the Js will win Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie when the awards are handed out. Previously nominated for his work on Mad Men, Harris is this year nominated for his role in harrowing HBO miniseries Chernobyl, while Jerome’s performance in Ava DuVernay’s powerful When They See Us has landed him his first nomination.
Read on to find out which other nominees got RT’s staff vote in their categories (and which dark horse candidates might steal it away from them).
Visit “2019 Emmy Award Nominations” to see the full list of nominees. The winners will be announced live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 22 (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) on Fox.
Be sure to also check out: 2019 Emmy Nomination Snubs & Surprises: Game of Thrones Makes History, Schitt’s Creek Pops
And click here for a printable ballot (complete with Tomatometer scores!) you can use on the big night.
Amazon Prime Video series Fleabag is running neck-and-neck with HBO’s Veep and Amazon’s reigning comedy-series Emmy champ The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but RT’s staff backs the 100% Certified Fresh comedy from creator-writer-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Veep’s final season was delayed while its star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, underwent cancer treatment, leaving a window last Emmy season for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to step through and win the category, ending a three-year streak for the HBO title. This is an exciting race — will Emmy voters go with the veteran or one of the upstart challengers?
Eleven-time Emmy winner Louis-Dreyfus is the one to beat in this category. She’s won the award six times for her role as Selina Meyer in HBO’s Veep – eight times overall, including her awards for the roles of Christine Campbell in The New Adventures of Old Christine in 2006 and as Elaine Benes in Seinfeld in 1996. Brosnahan won the Emmy in the category in 2018 for her role as Midge in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. This year, Fleabag’s Waller-Bridge challenges Brosnahan for second place with many industry observers thinking Waller-Bridge may actually have a chance to both unseat the reigning champ and deny Louis-Dreyfus a seventh Emmy for her Veep role.
Emmy watchers predict the incumbent in this category, Hader, will absolutely take the award again this year for his role as the titular reluctant hitman, and the RT staff strongly agrees. Hader is up for four Emmys for the series, including directing, writing, and producing, as well as the acting award. If anyone were to unseat him, it would be acting veterans and previous Emmy winners Michael Douglas (six career nominations with one win) for his role in Netflix series The Kominsky Method or Ted Danson (17 career nominations and two wins) for NBC’s The Good Place.
Two-time Emmy winner Borstein’s biggest competition in this category is recent Oscar winner Colman for her role in Fleabag. Awards watchers expect Borstein to easily take the award again for the second year in a row, however.
Industry favorite Shalhoub didn’t get the RT staff vote. Instead, it was Veep star Hale. The three Barry actors in this category — Anthony Carrigan as NOHO Hank, Stephen Root as Monroe Fuches, and Henry Winkler as Gene Cousineau — split the RT staff vote. Hale has been nominated six times in this category for his role as Gary Walsh in the HBO comedy and won twice.
The RT staff vote puts Hader on top with the fifth episode of Barry’s second season. Meanwhile, industry watchers are betting that Palladino has an equal chance to take the category with the fourth episode from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s second season.
The RT staff agrees with industry watchers betting on Waller-Bridge, who got 50% of the RT staff vote, and many TV media experts expect Mandel’s “Veep” to hold second position in this race (Barry’s “ronny/lily” episode from Alec Berg and Bill Hader came in second with RT staff).
Half of the RT staff votes went to Game of Thrones for its final season. The experts, too, are betting hard on the series to take the drama prize for its final season (Rotten Tomatometer score or no). But if any series is going to beat the HBO fantasy phenomenon, we’re thinking Killing Eve — with its likable leads, clever story, and witty banter — just might be the one to do it.
Oh has the advantage with critics and RT staff alike, but, if any, Comer is the favorite to unseat Oh in a battle between costars. This is Comer’s first Emmy nomination, but Oh’s eighth.
Pose tells a powerful survivor’s tale, and Porter is one of the most experienced and dynamic actors in the cast. Though the first-time Emmy nominee is certainly a favorite in his own right, his merits do include being part of an ensemble cast telling an important story. Odenkirk, a two-time Emmy winner for his writing, has been nominated in this category four times now — we may find out that voters feel like it’s time he won.
RT staff voted Christie as most likely winner here, but her biggest competition is her own costars: Headey, Maisie Williams, and Sophie Turner. Headey’s arc in the final season was cause for complaint among fans, but, given that this is her fifth nomination in this category for this role, and she won’t have a shot at it again as Cersei Lannister, Academy voters may deem it time she was rewarded for her performance in the series overall.
Nominated eight times in this category for his role as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, Peter Dinklage has one three Emmys. He’s favored to win his fourth this year, but if anyone is up to challenging him, it’s Banks, who’s been nominated five times for the role of Mike Ehrmantraut between Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.
Also known as the Game of Thrones portion of the evening, the drama awards handed out will certainly include the talent behind the scenes. (See the Creative Arts awards the title has won so far.) One of those is expected to go to Sapochnik for an episode that featured epic action, but was also considered absurdly dark to viewers squawking about it on social media. Sapochnik’s main competition is series creators Benioff and Weiss for their direction on the series finale.
Once again, Better Call Saul looks like the little series that could next to behemoth Game of Thrones. We wish it luck!
HBO’s Chernobyl and Netflix’s When They See Us both portray great injustices born of willful ignorance: men and women who refused to believe the facts in front of them because of their own biases. Both limited series are powerful, gripping cautionary tales, and it seems like the industry wants to reward both efforts; When They See Us creator Ava DuVernay (Oscar winner for Selma) is the favorite for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special, while Chernobyl’s Craig Mazin is the favorite for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special. The battle in these Limited Series categories puts Netflix head to head against Emmy powerhouse HBO. In 2018, HBO had 108 nominations and Netflix 112 nominations – they tied with 23 wins each. In 2019, HBO has 137 nominations and Netflix has 117. This category is a nail-biter, and the RT staff picked Chernobyl to win it.
RT staff and the experts wholeheartedly agree: Deadwood will win the category, but Bandersnatch is the next likely suspect.
Industry watchers strongly expect Williams to take this category, and the RT staff agrees. The more closely you look, the tighter the race looks: It’s the first Emmy nomination for both Williams and Adams. Williams has four Academy Award nominations to Adams’ six. Fosse/Verdon has an 82% Tomatometer compared to Sharp Objects’ 92%, and both are Certified Fresh. Previous Emmy winner Arquette, who won a Golden Globe for her performance as Tilly Mitchell, could easily just snatch this away from everyone, however.
Harris’ performance as Valery Legasov was a master class in dramatic acting. He was previously Emmy nominated for his role in Mad Men, and some think he should have been nominated for the first season of AMC’s The Terror. At the same time, Jerome’s Korey Wise is an extraordinary achievement early in the actor’s career, and people really want to reward that. It’s a classic generation struggle: Do you reward the person who’s been doing the work for a long time and deserves recognition for a standout performance, or do you encourage a newcomer in his celebrated breakout role?
Clarkson is seen by both the RT staff an industry experts as running away with this award. If forced to guess that anyone has a chance against her role as troubled mother Adora Crellin in the HBO limited series, we’ll say Arquette, who some say deserves the lead actress award for Showtime’s Escape at Dannemora, and gives a similarly transcendent/disturbing performance here.
Remember when A Very English Scandal hit seemingly out of the blue and stirred up that huge buzz? That was this Emmy season, and the buzz is still on Whishaw to land a trophy for his performance as Norman, the jilted lover of an English politician. Williams is seen as the next favorite.
DuVernay has got this.
Maybe it’s the technical challenge of telling Chernobyl‘s story that gives Mazin the edge here, but he’s seen as the favorite over DuVernay and Starrbury.
Both RT staff and industry observers agree: If it’s not John Oliver, it’ll be Samantha Bee.