Emmys 2015: Five things to look for at the awards show (including Jon Hamm)

Emmys 2015: Five things to look for at the awards show (including Jon Hamm)
Jon Hamm might find an Emmy waiting for him in September. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Now that the nominations are in, the real race begins.

Thursday's nominations announcement for the 67th Emmy Awards sets up epic battles in a host of categories, with past favorites such as "Game of Thrones" (24 total nominations) and "Downton Abbey" (eight) in tough fights alongside newcomers such as "Transparent" (11) and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (seven).

That means plenty of speculation in the weeks leading up to the Sept. 20 ceremony, which us to be telecast on Fox and hosted by Andy Samberg.

Luckily for you, Show Tracker has highlighted five things to look out for as Emmy fever builds over the rest of the summer.

FULL COVERAGE: Emmy nominations

1. Is this finally Jon Hamm's year? The star of "Mad Men" -- what a loser. No, seriously, Hamm may have won in the gene pool, but he's been nominated for Emmys 13 times without a single win. (That includes guest spots on "30 Rock.") This year, he has two more nods -- for the final season of "Mad Men" plus a guest role on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." Is this finally his time to shine? Many critics predict a win given Emmy voters' desire to take their last chance to honor his work on a groundbreaking drama that changed TV. We'll see.

2. Viola Davis vs. Taraji P. Henson for the historic win: So far, no African American has ever won an Emmy for best lead dramatic actress. So a win for either Davis or Henson would finally break a barrier for the industry. Henson already knows all about this; she exclaimed, "I gotta win for history!" during an industry talk earlier this year, long before she was even nominated as Cookie, the villain of Fox's soap "Empire." But nothing's a sure bet until the prize is finally announced. Kerry Washington was an odds-on favorite to win for "Scandal" but came up short despite two nominations. 

3. A freshman comedy breakthrough? This could be the first time that a newcomer gets the best comedy honor in five years. Why? Because ABC's "Modern Family" has won five years in a row -- and while the show is still a hit, voters may well decide that it's time to give another series a chance. But which series? "Parks and Recreation" was nominated again, but the series wrapped its run in February and wouldn't seem to have Emmy momentum written all over it. "Louie" is critically beloved but probably deemed too narrow for a best-comedy prize. So all that would seem to give "Transparent" (already a Golden Globe winner) and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" at least decent shots at the big win.

4. Talk-show retirees duke it out! The outstanding variety talk series category has six nominees. And guess what? Half of those shows won't exist by the time the Emmys air. The host of "The Late Show with David Letterman" already retired earlier this year. Jon Stewart is likewise leaving "The Daily Show" in August. Comedy Central mothballed "The Colbert Report" last year, although host Stephen Colbert will replace Letterman this fall. What will voters do? Letterman would be the sentimental favorite, of course. But the prize could just as easily go to fellow nominees Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel or John Oliver.

5. "Better Call Saul" sneaks in: Emmy voters loved the meth-dealing drama "Breaking Bad." They loved it so much they handed it the best-drama prize two years in a row. So that may be the best explanation for why its spinoff, "Better Call Saul," was able to creep in as the sole freshman in the best-drama category this time around. Not that the show isn't good, mind you -- it's just that many were a bit surprised to see alongside established hits such as "Game of Thrones" and "Downton Abbey." Could "Saul" take the top prize? It looks like a long shot at this point. But doubt is what makes Emmy guessing games so much fun.

What do you think? What are you looking for at the September Emmy Awards?

Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT