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Emmys 2013: Predicting drama's surprises, snubs and winners

Emmy nominations arrive Thursday morning, so it's time to do one last sweep through the high-profile categories to see who might be waking up early to field phone calls and talk about how honored they're feeling, how they heard the news and precisely how much caffeine they drank before the announcement came down.

Let's have a look at the drama categories, shall we?

DRAMA SERIES

Surprise: "House of Cards" arrived with plenty of hype, but by the time Kevin Spacey did you-know-what to you-know-who (sorry ... but we don't know if you've binged yet), the show's dramatic tension had all but evaporated. FX's "The Americans," meanwhile, got better as its debut season progressed. "Cards" probably still makes it in, but those who watched both shows all the way through might be inclined to vote "Americans."

FULL COVERAGE: Emmys 2013

Snub: "Boardwalk Empire" won nominations for its first two seasons, but the HBO series has found itself edged out of the conversation this year by newer entries. A three-peat seems unlikely.

Predicted nominees: "Homeland," "Downton Abbey," "Breaking Bad," "Game of Thrones," "Mad Men," "House of Cards"

LEAD ACTOR:

Surprise: Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom" didn't win much love in its first season, but no one blamed Jeff Daniels for the show's troubles. His inclusion will prompt some head-scratching in the Heartland and further confirm Emmy voters' love for name-brand actors.

Snub: Daniels and fellow newcomer Spacey will likely crowd out two of last year's nominees: "Downton Abbey's" Hugh Bonneville and "Boardwalk's" Steve Buscemi.

Predicted nominees: Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards"; Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"; Damian Lewis, "Homeland"; Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"; Jeff Daniels, "The Newsroom"; Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire"

VIDEO: Live chats with Emmy contenders

LEAD ACTRESS:

Surprise: BBC America's smart sci-fi series, "Orphan Black," and its head-turning star, Tatiana Maslany, have been championed since the show's March premiere. Even though Emmy voters don't usually go for genre shows, Maslany's recent Critics Choice win might have increased her profile enough to place her among the nominees.

Snub: In an extremely competitive category, disappointment is inevitable. Keri Russell ("The Americans") and Vera Farmiga ("Bates Hotel") are two deserving contenders who might fall between the cracks.

Predicted nominees: Claire Danes, "Homeland"; Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"; Kerry Washington, "Scandal"; Robin Wright, "House of Cards"; Michelle Dockery, "Downton Abbey"; Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men"

SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Surprise: You want a shocker? Mandy Patinkin wasn't even nominated here last year. If The Bear somehow finds himself on the outside looking in this year, it'll be the result of a conspiracy far more nefarious than anything "Homeland" has ever imagined.

BUZZMETER: Emmy 2013 pundit's picks

Snub: We suppose the exclusion of "Downton's" Jim Carter and Brendan Coyle, both nominees last year, might disappoint some, though the show's prime storylines this season belonged to the "upstairs" characters.

Predicted nominees: Mandy Patinkin, "Homeland"; Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad"; Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones"; Jonathan Banks, "Breaking Bad"; Sam Waterston, "The Newsroom"; Corey Stoll, "House of Cards"

SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Surprise: "Parenthood" seems to always fly under the radar, so Monica Potter's expected nom could take some off guard. (Never mind that she's overdue.) Of the possible nominees, Potter had the year's best character arc (fighting breast cancer) and she brought a remarkable humanity to the storyline.

Snub: Wait ... she freed Bates and doesn't get a reward? Perhaps not. "Downton's" Joanne Froggatt is on the bubble.

Predicted nominees: Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey"; Anna Gunn, "Breaking Bad"; Christina Hendricks, "Mad Men"; Monica Potter, "Parenthood"; Christine Baranski, "The Good Wife"; Morena Baccarin, "Homeland"

ALSO:

Emmys 2013: Buzzmeter panelists make case for deserving favorites

The Gold Standard: It's time for Emmy to surprise us

The Gold Standard: A wide field for drama series

Follow @GlennWhipp

glenn.whipp@latimes.com

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