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Our expert’s Emmy predictions: Who will win? And who could pull off an upset?

Catherine O'Hara in "Schitt's Creek."
Catherine O’Hara should win her first acting Emmy for her portrayal of Moira Rose in “Schitt’s Creek.”
(Pop TV)
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Do you remember Kendall Roy dropping the mic in the season finale of “Succession”? What about the time “Watchmen” revealed the identity of Doctor Manhattan? Or Moira officiating David and Patrick’s wedding on “Schitt’s Creek”?

Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Really, these Emmy-nominated moments didn’t happen all that long ago. But if you’re like me, you’re probably struggling to recall what you did yesterday while wondering how it’s possible that pumpkin spice lattes have been a thing for a month now and that the leaves are already starting to turn — unless that’s just the ash on them? I’d go outside to check, but then I’d have to deal with the unhealthful air or the murder hornets or the water turning into blood or whatever biblical plague is upon us this week.

Which brings us to the Emmys! They’re here! They’re happening! Nobody knows how. (Though producer Reginald Hudlin has given some hints.) But hopefully the Zoom links will work, Catherine O’Hara wears something that would make Moira proud, and the screen will be filled with a sea of faces when “Succession” wins for drama series. One ray of sunshine: I think most of the prizes will go to the best shows and performers. Like last year with “Fleabag,” only without the undeserved “Game of Thrones” win to spoil the night.

Here’s how things should shake out on Sunday.

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Thanks to COVID-19, Reginald Hudlin, the first Black executive producer in Emmys history, has many unknowns to plan for. But don’t expect ‘The Zoomies.’

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DRAMA SERIES

Jeremy Strong in "Succession."
Jeremy Strong in “Succession.”
(Zach Dilgard/HBO)

“Better Call Saul”
“The Crown”
“The Handmaid’s Tale”
“Killing Eve”
“The Mandalorian”
“Ozark”
“Stranger Things”
“Succession”

Should win: “Succession”
Will win: “Succession”
Could surprise: “Ozark”

“Ozark” and “Succession” each earned 18 Emmy nominations, the most for a drama series. Both shows focus on horrible people doing unconscionable things, but that’s about all they have in common. “Succession” offers insights into the characters’ inner lives and scarred pasts in ways that make you care and feel for them despite all their dirty deeds. It’s also brutally funny, making it not just the best drama on television but also the finest comedy. “Ozark” does not have a sense of humor. Plot, not character, is the show’s working engine. Netflix wants you to keep churning through the episodes, and you do, because you want to know how the Byrdes are going to escape whatever crazy predicament the show has wedged them into. But three seasons in, I don’t have an emotional investment in these people, and I can’t imagine enough voters do either.

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LEAD ACTRESS (DRAMA)

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Jennifer Aniston in "The Morning Show."
(Apple TV+)

Jennifer Aniston, “The Morning Show”
Olivia Colman, “The Crown”
Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”
Laura Linney, “Ozark”
Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”
Zendaya, “Euphoria”

Should win: Aniston
Will win: Linney
Could surprise: Aniston

Every television academy member has probably seen “Friends” multiple times, either from their own viewings or revisiting it when their kids discover it. Because it’s a comedy, people take its craft for granted. And because it was a bit too popular and fun and breezy, it never did particularly well at the Emmys, winning only six prizes over its 10-season run.

But watching Aniston in “Friends” and on the public stage for the past couple of decades makes her work on “The Morning Show” an absolute revelation. She took everything she learned on that show and in her life and channeled it into her character, a famous morning news anchor whose talents are, yes, taken for granted. All this to say, Aniston should win. But since “The Morning Show” didn’t earn a drama series nomination, I fear that she won’t. Which is a shame. Linney already has four Emmys. She doesn’t need The One That Should Go to Aniston.

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LEAD ACTOR (DRAMA)

Jeremy Strong, left, and Brian Cox in a scene from "Succession."
(Peter Kramer / HBO )

Jason Bateman, “Ozark”
Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
Steve Carell, “The Morning Show”
Brian Cox, “Succession”
Billy Porter, “Pose”
Jeremy Strong, “Succession”

Should win: Cox
Will win: Cox
Could surprise: Strong

This is a toss-up between the two “Succession” leads or, if the evening goes completely sideways, Bateman. Strong spent the season playing the dutiful son, even paying homage to his dad in song (“L to the OG,” deserving its own special Emmy) until Logan ordered him to be the family’s “blood sacrifice” in the finale. Kendall flipped the script to everyone’s delight. But the episode ended with Cox making like Mona Lisa, smiling with ... pride? Appreciation? Constipation? You tell me. But that half-smile was perfect.

5

SUPPORTING ACTRESS (DRAMA)

Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret in Netflix's "The Crown."
(Sophie Mutevelian/Netflix)

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Helena Bonham Carter, “The Crown”
Laura Dern, “Big Little Lies”
Julia Garner, “Ozark”
Thandie Newton, “Westworld”
Fiona Shaw, “Killing Eve”
Sarah Snook, “Succession”
Meryl Streep, “Big Little Lies”
Samira Wiley, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Should win: Streep
Will win: Bonham Carter
Could surprise: Snook

In what seems like half a lifetime ago, Streep appeared to be a lock for this because A) she was so good as the unhinged, crucifix-fondling Mary Louise on “Big Little Lies” and B) she’s freakin’ Meryl Streep. But the show’s second season was perceived by many as a letdown, providing an opening for Bonham Carter, an actress who never seems to make good whenever she’s nominated for an award. Maybe playing a royal will help. “The Crown” has found favor for its actors before (Claire Foy and John Lithgow won for its first two seasons), and, saving for a “Succession” tsunami, Bonham Carter might finally have her prize. Best of all, she won’t have to leave London to collect.

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SUPPORTING ACTOR (DRAMA)

Billy Crudup in Apple TV+'s "The Morning Show."
Billy Crudup in Apple TV+'s “The Morning Show.”
(Apple TV+)

Nicholas Braun, “Succession”
Billy Crudup, “The Morning Show”
Kieran Culkin, “Succession”
Mark Duplass, “The Morning Show”
Giancarlo Esposito, “Better Call Saul”
Matthew Macfadyen, “Succession”
Bradley Whitford, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Jeffrey Wright, “Westworld”

Should win: Culkin
Will win: Crudup
Could surprise: Macfadyen

There’s going to be a surprise or two in these overflowing supporting acting categories. Having three “Succession” actors nominated is good for the show but possibly bad for their chances. If I had to choose, I’d lean toward Culkin because his character, Roman, grew and — wonder of wonders — matured (a bit) over the course of the season. Plus, I (kind of) ship Roman and Gerri. But “The Morning Show” will probably win something, and if it’s not going to be Aniston, then maybe it’ll be Crudup, so charismatic and enigmatic as the series’ mad hatter network executive.

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COMEDY SERIES

Annie Murphy, left, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy and Daniel Levy in "Schitt's Creek."
Annie Murphy, left, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy and Daniel Levy in “Schitt’s Creek.”
(Steve Wilkie / Pop TV)

“Curb Your Enthusiasm”
“Dead to Me”
“The Good Place”
“Insecure”
“The Kominsky Method”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
“Schitt’s Creek”
“What We Do in the Shadows”

Should win: “Schitt’s Creek”
Will win: “Schitt’s Creek”
Could surprise: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

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“Maisel” topped all comedy series with 20 nominations. But this race has the same feel as last year when Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s buoyant, beloved “Fleabag” swept through the comedy categories, defeating “Maisel” for the series, writing and directing Emmys. “Schitt’s Creek” engenders the same giddy affection, a feel-good program about acceptance that has felt like a balm during these stressful times. Emmy voters have finally caught up to it and will likely give the series a big sendoff for its final season.

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LEAD ACTRESS (COMEDY)

Catherine O'Hara as Moira Rose in "Schitt's Creek."
(Pop TV)

Christina Applegate, “Dead to Me”
Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Linda Cardellini, “Dead to Me”
Catherine O’Hara, “Schitt’s Creek”
Issa Rae, “Insecure”
Tracee Ellis Ross, “black-ish”

Should win: O’Hara
Will win: O’Hara
Could surprise: Rae

I’ve run out of ways to fall over myself praising O’Hara, so I’ll just repeat that I would gladly watch any “Schitt’s Creek” episode again just to dip into her spectacular, peculiar pronunciation and the way Moira would drop arcane words into just about any conversation. Emmy voters have bedeviled us over the years, but they aren’t balatrons or frippets. O’Hara will win, and I’ll be positively glee-ridden when she does.

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LEAD ACTOR (COMEDY)

Ramy Youssef in "Ramy."
(Hulu)

Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”
Don Cheadle, “Black Monday”
Ted Danson, “The Good Place”
Michael Douglas, “The Kominsky Method”
Eugene Levy, “Schitt’s Creek”
Ramy Youssef, “Ramy”

Should win: Youssef
Will win: Youssef
Could surprise: Levy

Jon Cryer is the last actor to win this Emmy without his series also being nominated, with voters rewarding him both for his talent and enduring Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men” all those years. So there is precedent for Youssef, who was also nominated for directing his excellent Hulu series. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Levy prevail if voters decide to go all-in on “Schitt’s Creek.” But Youssef won the lead actor comedy Golden Globe in January, and I think he’ll make it to the podium again.

10

SUPPORTING ACTRESS (COMEDY)

Alex Borstein in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."
(Philippe Antonello / Amazon Studios)

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Alex Borstein, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
D’Arcy Carden, “The Good Place”
Betty Gilpin, “GLOW”
Marin Hinkle, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”
Annie Murphy, “Schitt’s Creek”
Yvonne Orji, “Insecure”
Cecily Strong, “Saturday Night Live”

Should win: Orji
Will win: Borstein
Could surprise: Murphy

Rhea Perlman (“Cheers”), Laurie Metcalf (“Roseanne”) and Doris Roberts (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) all won this Emmy three years running. So why not Borstein, the standout from the most-nominated comedy?

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SUPPORTING ACTOR (COMEDY)

Eugene and Daniel Levy, co-creators of "Schitt's Creek."
Eugene and Daniel Levy, co-creators of “Schitt’s Creek.”
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Mahershala Ali, “Ramy”
Alan Arkin, “The Kominsky Method”
Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
Sterling K. Brown, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
William Jackson Harper, “The Good Place”
Daniel Levy, “Schitt’s Creek”
Tony Shalhoub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Keenan Thompson, “Saturday Night Live”

Should win: Levy
Will win: Levy
Could surprise: Ali

Voters nominated Levy in four categories — writing, directing, producing and acting. And OH. MY. GOD ... he could win them all!

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LIMITED SERIES

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in HBO’s “Watchmen.”
(Mark Hill / HBO)

“Little Fires Everywhere”
“Mrs. America”
“Unbelievable”
“Unorthodox”
“Watchmen”

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Should win: “Watchmen”
Will win: “Watchmen”
Could surprise: Haha, you’re kidding, right?

“Watchmen” earned the most Emmy nominations of any program, pulling in 26. It can’t win them all, as it shows up multiple times in the supporting actor, direction, cinematography and editing categories. But this extraordinary series is going to clean up, culminating with this win.

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TV MOVIE

Hugh Jackman in "Bad Education."
(HBO)

“American Son”
“Bad Education”
“Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones”
“El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie”
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend”

Should win: “Bad Education”
Will win: “Bad Education”
Could surprise: “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie”

I thought this could be something of a toss-up between “Bad Education” and “El Camino” until voters took a knife to my heart and failed to nominate Aaron Paul from the satisfying “Breaking Bad” continuation or even Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn from pre-"Breaking Bad” masterpiece “Better Call Saul.”

14

LEAD ACTRESS (LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE)

Regina King in "Watchmen."
(Mark Hill / HBO)

Cate Blanchett, “Mrs. America”
Shira Haas, “Unorthodox”
Regina King, “Watchmen”
Octavia Spencer, “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker”
Kerry Washington, “Little Fires Everywhere”

Should win: King
Will win: King
Could surprise: Haas

This was the year’s most competitive category, with the likes of Kaitlyn Dever and Merritt Wever (“Unbelievable”) and Daisy Edgar-Jones (“Normal People”) being crowded out. Now that the dust has settled, though, King stands as the clear-cut favorite to win for her spectacular work on “Watchmen,” a performance that pivoted between grace and power with a subtlety that anchored the series in truth.

15

LEAD ACTOR (LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE)

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Paul Mescal stars in the Hulu romantic-drama "Normal People."
Paul Mescal stars in the Hulu romantic-drama “Normal People.”
(Hulu)

Jeremy Irons, “Watchmen”
Hugh Jackman, “Bad Education”
Paul Mescal, “Normal People”
Jeremy Pope, “Hollywood”
Mark Ruffalo, “I Know This Much Is True”

Should win: Mescal
Will win: Ruffalo
Could surprise: Mescal

It’s hard to go against a respected actor like Ruffalo playing twin brothers, one a paranoid schizophrenic, the other a weary working man making sacrifices out of familial love and duty. “I Know This Much Is True” feels like it was created in a laboratory, deep beneath the Television Academy building in North Hollywood, repeatedly tested and ultimately approved to win Emmys. But, personally, I don’t know anyone who watched it through to the end, leaving an opening for, really, just about anyone else in this category. Who knows? Maybe voters will be burdened with guilt for overlooking “Normal People” and reward Mescal, and he can dedicate the award to Edgar-Jones, and we’ll all swoon and immediately start to binge watch this epic romance again.