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Early Emmy predictions: A 'Veep' repeat and a far-out forecast for 'Stranger Things'

Early Emmy predictions: A 'Veep' repeat and a far-out forecast for 'Stranger Things'
"Stranger Things" took a top honor at the SAG Awards. Will it repeat at the Emmys? (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

With the absence of a few reigning winners ("Game of Thrones," Rami Malek, Tatiana Maslany), this year's Emmys sport a bit more uncertainty than usual. Meaning: Don't hold me to these early predictions. I might be changing my mind, and then reversing course again, before the awards are bestowed Sept. 17. (Check back the week of the ceremony.)

DRAMA SERIES

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"Better Call Saul"

"The Crown"

"The Handmaid's Tale"

"House of Cards"

"Stranger Things"

"This Is Us"

"Westworld"

Winner: "Stranger Things"

Analysis: "Stranger Things" doesn't feel like the kind of show that would win the honor of best television drama. It's a horror-mystery. It stars a bunch of kids. It references "The Goonies." But you can't overlook its popularity — 18 Emmy nominations, a Producers Guild Award for best drama series and the SAG Awards honor for drama series ensemble. Voters love this show. Netflix had to turn away people from a June event at the film academy's 1,000-seat Goldwyn Theater in June. Shannon Purser (Barb!) got a nomination.

All that aside, I could still see "Handmaid's Tale" winning because of its unflinching excellence, political relevance and Hulu's savvy marketing. (Keep those handmaids roaming the streets.) Key nominations in directing (two nods, Reed Morano and Kate Dennis) and writing (showrunner Bruce Miller earned a nom for the pilot) indicate the depth of support for the show.

Elisabeth Moss, star of "The Handmaid's Tale"
Elisabeth Moss, star of "The Handmaid's Tale" (Patrick T. Fallon / For The Los Angeles Times)

LEAD ACTRESS DRAMA

Viola Davis, "How to Get Away With Murder"

Claire Foy, "The Crown"

Elisabeth Moss, "The Handmaid's Tale"

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Keri Russell, "The Americans"

Evan Rachel Wood, "Westworld"

Robin Wright, "House of Cards"

Winner: Moss

Analysis: Moss now has eight nominations — six for her iconic turn as Peggy Olson on "Mad Men," one for her formidable work in Jane Campion's series "Top of the Lake" and now one for playing the defiant handmaid Offred/June. Yes, she just seems to be getting better. And, yes, she's overdue. This one's a no-brainer.

Sterling K. Brown, nominated for "This Is Us."
Sterling K. Brown, nominated for "This Is Us." (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

LEAD ACTOR DRAMA

Sterling K. Brown, "This Is Us"

Anthony Hopkins, "Westworld"

Bob Odenkirk, "Better Call Saul"

Matthew Rhys, "The Americans"

Liev Schreiber, "Ray Donovan"

Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards"

Milo Ventimiglia, "This Is Us"

Winner: Brown

Analysis: Rami Malek, the reigning winner, wasn't nominated for the second season of "Mr. Robot," leaving the category open. First thought: I like Brown's chances, but won't Ventimiglia siphon off some votes? Let's go with Odenkirk. Next thought: Odenkirk is deserving but if voters really connected with "Saul," wouldn't they have nominated Michael McKean's operatic supporting turn? Let's change back to Brown. Last thought: (Flipping coin) Yes. Sticking with Brown. He won an Emmy last year for playing prosecutor Christopher Darden in "The People v. O.J. Simpson," and he's just as good as the dorky, generous Randall in "This Is Us."

Chrissy Metz, nominated for supporting actress for "This Is Us."
Chrissy Metz, nominated for supporting actress for "This Is Us." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS DRAMA

Uzo Aduba, "Orange Is the New Black"

Millie Bobby Brown, "Stranger Things"

Anne Dowd, "The Handmaid's Tale"

Chrissy Metz, "This Is Us"

Thandie Newton, "Westworld"

Samira Wiley, "The Handmaid's Tale"

Winner: Metz

Analysis: This is a superb set of nominees, making for a wide-open race. "Stranger Things," as I've already mentioned, has a lot of fans, and Brown brilliantly captured her character's conflicted emotions mostly without words. Newton was the fan favorite of a show that earned 22 Emmy nominations. But I'm leaning toward Metz at the moment, as her "This Is Us" story line packed such an emotional wallop and her own late-blooming story resonates.

John Lithgow, nominated for supporting actor for "The Crown."
John Lithgow, nominated for supporting actor for "The Crown." (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

SUPPORTING ACTOR DRAMA

Jonathan Banks, "Better Call Saul"

David Harbour, "Stranger Things"

Ron Cephas Jones, "This Is Us"

Michael Kelly, "House of Cards"

John Lithgow, "The Crown"

Mandy Patinkin, "Homeland"

Jeffrey Wright. "Westworld"

Winner: Lithgow

Analysis: You don't bet against a five-time Emmy winner playing Winston Churchill.

Anna Chlumsky, Sam Richardson, Matt Walsh, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale in "Veep."
Anna Chlumsky, Sam Richardson, Matt Walsh, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale in "Veep." (Colleen Hayes / HBO)

COMEDY SERIES

"Atlanta"

"black-ish"

"Master of None"

"Modern Family"

"Silicon Valley"

"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"

"Veep"

Winner: "Veep"

Analysis: I'd vote for the groundbreaking "Atlanta," which could still very well dethrone "Veep," which has won this Emmy two years running. Donald Glover's series shifted between seriousness and slapstick, brilliantly examining issues such as identity and appropriation. But "Atlanta" earned six nominations; "Veep" pulled in 17, earning every one of them with its sharp political satire. Based on its continued excellence and the numbers, it's hard to pick against it.

When it comes to Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the Emmys, the feeling is mutual.
When it comes to Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the Emmys, the feeling is mutual. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

LEAD ACTRESS COMEDY

Pamela Adlon, "Better Things"

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"

Jane Fonda, "Grace and Frankie"

Allison Janney, "Mom"

Ellie Kemper, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"

Tracee Ellis Ross, "black-ish"

Lily Tomlin, "Grace and Frankie"

Winner: Louis-Dreyfus

Analysis: Yes, Louis-Dreyfus has won five straight years for each and every season of "Veep." Yes, she has more Emmy wins in this category than any other woman. Yes, one more Emmy will tie her with Cloris Leachman for most Emmy acting wins. Yes, she currently has seven, as does fellow nominee Janney. No, Janney's presence in this category will not keep Louis-Dreyfus from winning another Emmy. (It's "Mom's" only nod.) In conclusion: Until Louis-Dreyfus loses, you'd be crazy to pick against her.

Donald Glover, the star and creator of "Atlanta"
Donald Glover, the star and creator of "Atlanta" (Guy D'Alema / FX)

LEAD ACTOR COMEDY

Anthony Anderson, "black-ish"

Aziz Ansari, "Master of None"

Zach Galifianakis, "Baskets"

Donald Glover, "Atlanta"

William H. Macy, "Shameless"

Jeffrey Tambor, "Transparent"

Winner: Glover

Analysis: Tambor won back-to-back Emmys, but "Transparent" failed to earn a series nod for its third season, indicating that voters are cooling a bit toward the show. More than that though, this would be a great spot to recognize Glover, the multi-hyphenate behind the essential "Atlanta."

Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, nominated for "Saturday Night Live."
Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, nominated for "Saturday Night Live." (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS COMEDY

Vanessa Bayer, "Saturday Night Live"

Anna Chlumsky, "Veep"

Kathryn Hahn, "Transparent"

Leslie Jones, "Saturday Night Live"

Judith Light, "Transparent"

Kate McKinnon, "Saturday Night Live"

Winner: McKinnon

Analysis: McKinnon makes even the worst "SNL" sketches watchable. (And, all the Emmy love notwithstanding, there were a fair number of clunkers this time around.) This season, she moved on from Hillary Clinton to skewering Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and sending up an unhinged Kellyanne Conway without missing a beat, making her an overwhelming favorite to win a second consecutive Emmy in this category.

Melissa McCarthy and Alec Baldwin, both Emmy-nominated for "Saturday Night Live."
Melissa McCarthy and Alec Baldwin, both Emmy-nominated for "Saturday Night Live." (Will Heath / NBC)

SUPPORTING ACTOR COMEDY

Louie Anderson, "Baskets"

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Alec Baldwin, "Saturday Night Live"

Ty Burrell, "Modern Family"

Tituss Burgess, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"

Tony Hale, "Veep"

Matt Walsh, "Veep"

Winner: Baldwin

Analysis: Reigning champ Anderson was even better this season on "Baskets," deepening his portrayal of a lonely woman taking charge of her life while dealing with her ever-disappointing adult sons. He's more than entitled to another Emmy. But Baldwin mocking Donald Trump week in and week out on "Saturday Night Live" became appointment viewing, whether you watched it live or the next morning on a laptop or phone. It's unlikely voters won't reward his expert turn.

Twitter: @glennwhipp

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