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The Emmys are Sunday. Here’s who’s going to win

A man and woman in dressy clothes slow dance
Kate Winslet’s detective and Guy Pearce’s novelist share a rare happy moment in the HBO mystery “Mare of Easttown.”
(Sarah Shatz / HBO)

The 73rd Emmys arrive Sunday, and if you’re watching at home, you won’t be the only one. Thanks to the stubborn pandemic, the Television Academy is limiting attendance to about 600, meaning that some of this year’s nominees won’t be allowed to attend. Don’t worry. This is mostly just producers. Your favorite stars will (probably) still be there, provided they’re fully vaccinated and have tested negative for COVID. It’s going to be So. Much. Fun!

A particularly good time will likely be had by the entourages of “The Crown,” “Ted Lasso” and “Mare of Easttown,” the favorites to haul away multiple Emmys in the drama, comedy and limited series categories, respectively. With luck, there’ll be a surprise or two as well as long overdue recognition for Michael K. Williams, whose recent, tragic death will weigh heavy on the evening. If he doesn’t win, I’ll be tempted to switch off the television and watch an episode of “The Wire.”

But that’s not going to happen, is it? Well, this is the Emmys, so you never know. Read on for thoughts on that category and others.

The 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards take place Sunday in Los Angeles. Here’s who is nominated, who is hosting and how to watch.

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LIMITED SERIES

“I May Destroy You”
“Mare of Easttown”
“The Queen’s Gambit”
“The Underground Railroad”
“WandaVision”

Should win: “Mare of Easttown”
Will win: “The Queen’s Gambit”

“The Queen’s Gambit” swept through the guild honors earlier this year. Sound, costumes, writers, makeup artists, art directors, editors — everyone wanted to salute the show. That impulse has continued as Scott Frank’s smart, lavishly produced series won nine awards at the Creative Arts Emmys last weekend. It’s hard to go against that kind of love even if it feels as though “The Queen’s Gambit” aired ages ago and “Mare of Easttown” would be fresher in voters’ minds.

ACTRESS, LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIE

Michaela Coel, “I May Destroy You”
Cynthia Erivo, “Genius: Aretha”
Elizabeth Olsen, “WandaVision”
Anya Taylor-Joy, “The Queen’s Gambit”
Kate Winslet, “Mare of Easttown”

Should win: Winslet
Will win: Winslet

An unsmiling woman with her hair pulled back and wearing a sweatshirt saying "Ocean City" sits on a sofa
Kate Winslet in “Mare of Easttown.”
(Michele K. Short / HBO)

First off, they all should win, OK? Every one of these performances is special and deserving of all the praise and accolades that have come their way. But someone has to prevail. Like series, it’ll probably come down to a race between “Mare” and “Queen’s Gambit” and the two lead women who displayed an astonishing physical and emotional command of their characters. Winslet has the slight edge, thanks to her show’s later air date and the sheer delight everyone took from watching her eat a hoagie.

ACTOR, LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIE

Paul Bettany, “WandaVision”
Hugh Grant, “The Undoing”
Ewan McGregor, “Halston”
Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Hamilton”
Leslie Odom, “Hamilton”

Should win: Grant
Will win: Grant

A woman and a man stand along the water with a bridge in the distance
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant in “The Undoing.”
(Niko Tavernise / HBO)

Unlike the actress category, not much to choose from here. “Hamilton” is a filmed version of a stage performance, not a TV show. As much as I like the musical, its performers should not have been nominated, particularly for something recorded five years ago. McGregor elevated “Halston,” but you needn’t win an Emmy for the elegant way you smoke a cigarette. That leaves Bettany, charming in a Marvel series that became less interesting as time went along and it became obvious where it was heading, and Grant’s deliciously shifty turn as the self-involved cad in “The Undoing.” Grant lost to last year’s Emmy winner, Mark Ruffalo, at the SAG Awards, so he deserves his turn in the spotlight here, if only to make up for the criminal lack of honors for “Paddington 2.”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS, LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIE

Renée Elise Goldsberry, “Hamilton”
Kathryn Hahn, “WandaVision”
Moses Ingram, “The Queen’s Gambit”
Julianne Nicholson, “Mare of Easttown”
Jean Smart, “Mare of Easttown”
Phillipa Soo, “Hamilton”

Should win: Hahn
Will win: Hahn

A woman holds up a cage containing a rabbit
Kathryn Hahn as Agnes in a black-and-white scene from “WandaVision.”
(Marvel Studios)

Can you win an Emmy basically for just one scene? Nicholson’s climactic catharsis in “Mare of Easttown” might provide the answer to that question, if voters don’t go with the well-liked Hahn, a mainstay of indie films and (mostly) unheralded TV shows, who finally found a mainstream audience with her sly work in a Marvel superhero project. Thinking about it, this does feel like it could be a nice spot to spread the wealth. Nobody had more fun with a role this year than the delightful Hahn.

SUPPORTING ACTOR, LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIE

Thomas Brodie-Sangster, “The Queen’s Gambit”
Daveed Diggs, “Hamilton”
Paapa Essiedu, “I May Destroy You”
Jonathan Groff, “Hamilton”
Evan Peters, “Mare of Easttown”
Anthony Ramos, “Hamilton”

Should win: Essiedu
Will win: Peters

A close-up of a man's face looking pensive
Paapa Essiedu in a dramatic scene from “I May Destroy You” on HBO.
(HBO)

Essiedu’s searing work in “I May Destroy You,” particularly the series’ fourth episode in which his character works through the trauma of sexual assault, is raw, remarkable and the standout in this category. I’d like to think that voters would remember it — and the show — which premiered on HBO more than a year ago, but that’s usually not how the Emmys work. He’s also up against Peters’ terrific turn as the lovesick, doomed detective in “Mare of Easttown.” Peters deserves some kind of prize if only for his drunk bar scene opposite Winslet (“Well howdy-do there, partner ...”), and that award may well be an Emmy.

Our panel of veteran TV journalists predict the 2021 Emmy winners. Take your own shot at it with our online polls.

DRAMA SERIES

“The Boys”
“Bridgerton”
“The Crown”
“The Handmaid’s Tale”
“Lovecraft Country”
“The Mandalorian”
“Pose”
“This Is Us”

Should win: “The Crown”
Will win: “The Crown”

An extended royal family portrait with adults and children dressed up
The extended royal family gathers for a portrait in “The Crown.”
(Ollie Upton / Netflix)

Do we need to put an asterisk by “The Crown’s” inevitable win because the pandemic delayed the new seasons of “Stranger Things,” “Better Call Saul,” “Ozark,” “Killing Eve” and reigning Emmy drama series champ “Succession”? Nah. And I say that not just because I love the Dodgers and Lakers and believe their 2020 championships were legit, shortened seasons notwithstanding. Peter Morgan’s sumptuous soap opera about a family of insufferable, self-absorbed monsters (the shy Diana excepted) just enjoyed its best season and, in its own way, is just as rewatchable as “Ted Lasso.” How else could we ever possibly learn the ins and outs of royal protocol and that you can’t possibly survive a weekend retreat at a Scottish castle wearing smart suits and high heels? (Poor Margaret Thatcher. Wait ... did I just write that???) Anyway, fire up the gun salute and ... when does Season 3 of “Succession” premiere again?

DRAMA ACTRESS

Uzo Aduba, “In Treatment”
Olivia Colman, “The Crown”
Emma Corrin, “The Crown”
Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Mj Rodriguez, “Pose”
Jurnee Smollett, “Lovecraft Country”

Should win: Corrin
Will win: Corrin

A young woman looks out from under her bangs
Emma Corrin as Diana Princess of Wales in Season 4 of “The Crown.”
(Des Willie / Netflix)

Princess Diana portrayals are rolling off the assembly line, what with Kristen Stewart’s lauded work in “Spencer” having screened at the Venice and Telluride film festivals and set photos of Elizabeth Debicki in Season 5 of “The Crown” burning up the internet. Corrin’s delicate, assured turn in Season 4 (her only year on the show) won’t soon be forgotten though, as she was utterly convincing and charming portraying a young woman evolving from a spirited teen roller-skating through the palace to a princess dealing with the often unpleasant reality of being a royal.

DRAMA ACTOR

Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
Jonathan Majors, “Lovecraft Country”
Josh O’Connor, “The Crown”
Regé-Jean Page, “Bridgerton”
Billy Porter, “Pose”
Matthew Rhys, “Perry Mason”

Should win: Porter
Will win: Porter

A man in a white suit surrounded by a choir
Janet Hubert as Latrice, Billy Porter as Pray Tell in “Pose.”
(Eric Liebowitz / FX Networks)

O’Connor is nearly as good as Corrin, but c’mon. We’re not going to give an Emmy to an actor playing that guy, are we? I suspect that voters will do what Diana should have done — run ... run like the wind ... away from (the actor playing) Charles and, in the case of this race, into the ever-loving arms of Porter for his healing work on the groundbreaking “Pose.” (Though I do wonder ... did enough television academy members watch “Pose’s” final season? Hmmm ...)

DRAMA SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Gillian Anderson, “The Crown”
Helena Bonham Carter, “The Crown”
Madeline Brewer, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Ann Dowd, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Aunjanue Ellis, “Lovecraft Country”
Emerald Fennell, “The Crown”
Yvonne Strahovski, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Samira Wiley, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Should win: Anderson
Will win: Anderson

A middle-aged woman with coiffed hair
Gillian Anderson as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “The Crown.”
(Des Willie/Des Willie/Netflix)

“The Handmaid’s Tale” received what was probably the quietest set of 21 nominations in the history of the Emmys. Only “The Crown,” “The Mandalorian” and “WandaVision” earned more nods, the latter two shows picking up most of their haul in below-the-line categories. Here, a quartet of “Handmaid’s Tale” women were nominated, including two — Dowd and Wiley — who have previously won. But “The Crown” has all the heat this year, with new additions Fennell and Anderson joining Bonham Carter, who, in a bit of an upset, lost to “Ozark’s” Julia Garner in 2020. Fennell nailed Camilla Parker Bowles’ confidence, but this Emmy belongs to Anderson, brilliant as the starched British Prime Minister Thatcher.

DRAMA SUPPORTING ACTOR

Giancarlo Esposito, “The Mandalorian”
O-T Fagbenle, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
John Lithgow, “Perry Mason”
Tobias Menzies, “The Crown”
Max Minghella, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Chris Sullivan, “This Is Us”
Bradley Whitford, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Michael K. Williams, “Lovecraft Country”

Should win: Williams
Will win: Williams

A man in handcuffs stands in the dark
Michael K. Williams stars as the complicated and traumatized father in “Lovecraft Country.”
(Eli Joshua Ade / HBO)

Emmy voting closed well before Williams’ shocking death. That shouldn’t matter because he was as good as he’s ever been in “Lovecraft Country,” which is to say, very, very good. Awards, as we all know, aren’t simply about the nominated work (though that should be the primary consideration), but also about the narrative surrounding the nominee. Williams has never won an Emmy. In fact, he wasn’t even nominated for his career-defining turn as Omar Little in “The Wire,” the most memorable character on one of the best series in television history. So this was going to be the time to finally honor an actor who poured every ounce of his being into the lost souls he portrayed. Williams didn’t make it easy on himself, often having trouble separating himself from his characters after filming ended. All to say, he was brilliant and beloved and an Emmy isn’t going to bring him back or really do a damn thing. But it’d be nice to see his legacy honored.

COMEDY SERIES

“black-ish”
“Cobra Kai”
“Emily in Paris”
“The Flight Attendant”
“Hacks”
“The Kominsky Method”
“PEN15"
“Ted Lasso”

Should win: “Ted Lasso”
Will win: “Ted Lasso”

A group of men stand on the sidelines of a soccer game
Nick Mohammed, Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt in “Ted Lasso.”
(Apple TV+)

It appears the year after the unprecedented “Schitt’s Creek” Emmy sweep that voters will cast their lot with another heartwarming comedy populated with likable characters and a generous view of humanity. And why not? When you’re confronted with grim news and ignorant displays of selfishness on a daily basis, it’s comforting to escape to a place where characters treat each other with kindness and refuse to indulge their worst impulses. “Ted Lasso” won’t pull off a sweep — its women are both nominated in supporting — but it’s going to win a good many Emmys from its 20 nominations despite (because of?) the inevitable backlash that sparked recently during the airing of its second season. Not everyone likes nice things.

COMEDY ACTRESS

Aidy Bryant, “Shrill”
Kaley Cuoco, “The Flight Attendant”
Allison Janney, “Mom”
Tracee Ellis Ross, “black-ish”
Jean Smart, “Hacks”

Should win: Smart
Will win: Smart

Two women look at performer photos on a wall
Hannah Einbinder and Jean Smart in a scene from “Hacks.”
(HBO Max)

This category also feels a bit like a callback to 2020 when Catherine O’Hara, at the age of 66, won her first acting Emmy for playing the indestructible Moira Rose on “Schitt’s Creek.” Smart, 69, has three Emmys — two for guesting on “Frasier” and another for a supporting turn on “Samantha Who?” But winning for her star turn on “Hacks” would be the culmination of a late-career renaissance that includes “Fargo,” “Legion” and “Watchmen,” plus, of course, her delightful Emmy-nominated work opposite Kate Winslet on “Mare of Easttown.” O’Hara was the oldest woman to win this category. Her Emmy record will last but a year, though really I need to see a birth certificate to believe that Smart is pushing 70.

COMEDY ACTOR

Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”
Michael Douglas, “The Kominsky Method”
William H. Macy, “Shameless”
Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso”
Kenan Thompson, “Kenan”

Should win: Sudeikis
Will win: Sudeikis

A man squats down to talk with a little boy
Jason Sudeikis in “Ted Lasso.”
(Apple TV+)

Sudeikis nails the nuances of Ted Lasso with such little apparent effort that the work is taken for granted. Coach Lasso is so gosh darn affable that outsiders think he’s a rube or, worse, a phony, but he doesn’t let that pervading cynicism defeat him. Television Academy members were watching the second season as they voted on the first, and the new batch of episodes have offered Sudeikis a dramatic storyline exploring why Ted is so manic and eager to please. (Though it is taking a long time to develop. Bring on the pain, guys!) Sudeikis handles these dramatic beats quite well — another reason he’s a deserving winner here.

COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Aidy Bryant, “Saturday Night Live”
Hannah Einbinder, “Hacks”
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”
Rosie Perez, “The Flight Attendant”
Cecily Strong, “Saturday Night Live”
Juno Temple, “Ted Lasso”
Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso”

Should win: Waddingham
Will win: Waddingham

Two women wearing bathrobes sit in a hotel room
Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple in “Ted Lasso.”
(Apple TV+)

Waddingham had quite the character arc in “Ted Lasso’s” first season, playing Rebecca, the revenge-minded owner who hires the soccer novice coach to “burn the team to the ground” and then finds the strength to move past her history and her insecurities and open her heart again. She’s the favorite, but I could see voters possibly wanting to honor both the women of “Hacks” and going with Einbinder, a stand-up comic who’d never acted much before this show yet more than held her own as Smart’s frequent sparring partner.

COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTOR

Carl Clemons-Hopkins, “Hacks”
Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso”
Brendan Hunt, “Ted Lasso”
Nick Mohammed, “Ted Lasso”
Paul Reiser, “The Kominsky Method”
Jeremy Swift, “Ted Lasso”
Kenan Thompson, “Saturday Night Live”
Bowen Yang, “Saturday Night Live”

Should win: Goldstein
Will win: Yang

Two men, one in costume, sit behind a news desk set
Bowen Yang as Bottle Boy and anchor Colin Jost during the Weekend Update segment of “Saturday Night Live.”
(Will Heath / NBC)

Four “Ted Lasso” cast members earned nominations. Goldstein, to me, is the clear choice, but maybe that’s just because I tend to be stoic and bottle up my emotions. Maybe you root for the underdog and relate to Mohammed’s shy kit man or appreciate Swift, a bootlicker who develops a spine, or you’re a taciturn beardo and claim Hunt as your favorite (though you’d never admit it to anyone). My point: There’s a lot of choices for “Ted Lasso” supporters — too many. That could mean Thompson finally wins his first acting Emmy, a real possibility as voters liked him enough to also nominate him for “Kenan.” Or it might be Yang, the center of many of “SNL’s” most viral moments, including one that decried anti-Asian hate. The veteran Thompson is the headliner, but I’m leaning toward Yang, the cast member making the headlines.


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