If you were among the more than 1 million people who signed a petition asking HBO to remake the final season of “Game of Thrones,” you might want to avoid watching the Emmys on Sunday.
“Thrones” earned a record 32 nominations for its divisive farewell run and has already taken 10 prizes, presented at this past weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys. (For those of us who felt lost in the darkness during the Battle of Winterfell, thankfully, cinematography was not among them.)
Expect plenty more bending of the knee when the main categories are presented during Sunday evening’s telecast on Fox, culminating in a drama series win that will fill the stage with an army of cast members and creatives. (No CG needed!)
Though “Thrones’” coronation is a foregone conclusion, there’s an unusual amount of Emmy intrigue in many other categories, setting the stage for some potential surprises. Here’s one final look.
“Better Call Saul”
“Game of Thrones”
“This Is Us”
Will win: “Game of Thrones”
Could win: Seriously. “Game of Thrones” has this locked.
Should win: “Game of Thrones”
Wait ... what? “Game of Thrones” should win? The same show that scattered logic to the wind and wronged its female characters in a hurried final season, which delivered an anticlimactic head-scratcher of an ending (Bran???) that didn’t satisfy anyone? Yes. For six weeks, for good and bad, “Game of Thrones” was all we could talk about. And since the year’s two best dramas happened to be limited series (“When They See Us” and “Chernobyl”), there really isn’t a compelling counterargument here. So let’s forget about that disposable coffee cup, raise a glass of red wine and toast the glory days of this (often) remarkable show.
“The Good Place”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
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Will win: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Could win: “Veep”
Should win: “Fleabag”
“Maisel” won six Emmys over the weekend, including both comedy guest acting categories (Jane Lynch and Luke Kirby). It took the series Emmy for its first season (over “Atlanta,” but I’m done fighting that battle) and earned the most nominations of any comedy (20) for its second. It’s the safest choice to prevail, though picking it in a category containing the perfect encore of “Fleabag” and the daring “Barry” feels like an act of treason. Also looming is “Veep,” which won the series Emmy for its last three eligible seasons. Voters might want to send it out in style.
LEAD ACTRESS (DRAMA)
Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones”
Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”
Viola Davis, “How to Get Away With Murder”
Laura Linney, “Ozark”
Mandy Moore, “This Is Us”
Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”
Robin Wright, “House of Cards”
Will win: Oh
Could win: Clarke
Should win: Comer
Oh would be the first actress of Asian descent to win this Emmy, providing the telecast with a nice historic moment. But her frequent scene partner Comer might be more deserving, as she shuttled effortlessly between personas and accents — one moment kooky, the next a killer. It’s also possible that the night turns into a “Thrones” landslide, giving Clarke a reward for selling Daenerys’ ridiculous character turns with aplomb.
LEAD ACTOR (DRAMA)
Jason Bateman, “Ozark”
Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
Kit Harington, “Game of Thrones”
Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
Billy Porter, “Pose”
Milo Ventimiglia, “This Is Us”
Will win: Porter
Could win: Bateman
Should win: Porter
Matthew Rhys won this Emmy last year for the final season of “The Americans.” Now that he’s off making movies with Tom Hanks, it could be time for Odenkirk, nominated for all four seasons of “Better Call Saul,” or Bateman, feted twice each for “Ozark” and “Arrested Development.” But I’m going with Porter, the buzziest of the group, a Tony and Grammy Award winner (“Kinky Boots”) who would be an Oscar away from his EGOT with this win.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS (DRAMA)
Gwendoline Christie, “Game of Thrones”
Julia Garner, “Ozark”
Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones”
Fiona Shaw, “Killing Eve”
Sophie Turner, “Game of Thrones”
Maisie Williams, “Game of Thrones”
Will win: Williams
Could win: Garner
Should win: Garner
Four “Game of Thrones” nominees in this category could splinter the vote, opening the door for the firecracker Garner. More likely, it means voters really like “Game of Thrones” and are going to narrow it down to one of these women. Williams’ Arya is a fan favorite who delivered the season’s most thrilling moment. Headey is a fan favorite who was given too little to do and an unsatisfying ending. (“I will say I wanted a better death,” Headey lamented. And who could blame her?) Headey should have won by now, but it sounds like she wouldn’t even vote for herself. Let’s go with Williams.
SUPPORTING ACTOR (DRAMA)
Alfie Allen, “Game of Thrones”
Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul”
Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”
Giancarlo Esposito, “Better Call Saul”
Michael Kelly, “House of Cards”
Chris Sullivan, “This Is Us”
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, “Game of Thrones”
Will win: Dinklage
Could win: Sorry. Dinklage owns this.
Should win: Dinklage
With this victory, Dinklage will become the first actor to win four supporting drama Emmys, making him the real winner of “Game of Thrones.”
LEAD ACTRESS (COMEDY)
Christina Applegate, “Dead to Me”
Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
Natasha Lyonne, “Russian Doll”
Catherine O’Hara, “Schitt’s Creek”
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Fleabag”
Will win: Louis-Dreyfus
Could win: Waller-Bridge
Should win: Waller-Bridge
Louis-Dreyfus owns 11 Emmys (three as a producer) and has won this category for all six seasons of “Veep.” After a yearlong hiatus spent treating her breast cancer, she’s back for “Veep’s” final season. Waller-Bridge, with her exquisite comic timing and ace ability to convey grief and brokenness, would win in almost any other scenario. And she will probably win an Emmy this year for writing. But she won’t take this one.
LEAD ACTOR (COMEDY)
Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”
Don Cheadle, “Black Monday”
Ted Danson, “The Good Place”
Michael Douglas, “The Kominsky Method”
Bill Hader, “Barry”
Eugene Levy, “Schitt’s Creek”
Will win: Hader
Could win: Danson
Should win: Hader
Veterans Danson and Levy have received boosts from people finding their shows on Netflix, and either would make for a nice feel-good story if they won. Hader will likely repeat, though. “Barry” pulled in 17 nominations — second to “Mrs. Maisel” for comedy series — and Hader’s understated, emotionally rich acting is essential to the show’s success.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS (COMEDY)
Alex Borstein, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Anna Chlumsky, “Veep”
Sian Clifford, “Fleabag”
Olivia Colman, “Fleabag”
Betty Gilpin, “GLOW”
Sarah Goldberg, “Barry”
Marin Hinkle, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”
Will win: Borstein
Could win: Colman
Should win: Gilpin
With a bumper crop of eight nominees, this could go any number of ways ... so the percentage play is again going with “Maisel” and last year’s winner, Borstein. Oscar winner Colman could easily win too — who doesn’t want another acceptance speech from her? — though she’ll almost certainly be back at the Emmys next year, taking Claire Foy’s place for “The Crown.”
SUPPORTING ACTOR COMEDY
Alan Arkin, “The Kominsky Method”
Anthony Carrigan, “Barry”
Tony Hale, “Veep”
Stephen Root, “Barry”
Tony Shalhoub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Henry Winkler, “Barry”
Will win: Shalhoub
Could win: Arkin
Should win: Root
Emmy voters love Shalhoub, giving him three Emmys for playing the compulsive detective on “Monk” and nominating him seven other times. He was denied last year, as it was most definitely time to finally reward Winkler. With three members of the “Barry” ensemble in the mix, the path is clear for Shalhoub to add another trophy to his mantle.
“Escape at Dannemora”
“When They See Us”
Will win: “When They See Us”
Could win: “Chernobyl”
Should win: “When They See Us”
It’s a choice between the year’s two best dramas, and it’s going to be close. “Chernobyl” earned 19 nominations; “When They See Us” scored 16. “Chernobyl” has the early momentum, winning seven prizes Sunday at the Creative Arts Emmys to a lone victory (casting) for “When They See Us.” My gut tells me Ava DuVernay’s series will pull out a win for its relevance and importance, but all that early “Chernobyl” love gives me pause.
“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”
“Deadwood: The Movie”
“My Dinner With Herve”
Will win: “Deadwood: The Movie”
Could win: “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”
Should win: “Deadwood: The Movie”
Nearly all those Creative Arts Emmys “Chernobyl” won came at the expense of “Deadwood,” leaving this category as its last chance for a victory. David Milch’s western probably will prevail, as voters take a break from “Black Mirror,” which has won this Emmy the past two years.
LEAD ACTRESS (LIMITED SERIES/MOVIE)
Amy Adams, “Sharp Objects”
Patricia Arquette, “Escape at Dannemora”
Aunjanue Ellis, “When They See Us”
Joey King, “The Act”
Niecy Nash, “When They See Us”
Michelle Williams, “Fosse/Verdon”
Will win: Williams
Could win: Arquette
Should win: Williams
Williams gave a star turn in “Fosse/Verdon,” exhilarating in the showbiz scenes and vulnerable in the depiction of dancer Gwen Verdon as a defiant survivor. Arquette has a lot of fans, but interest in “Dannemora” probably peaked about the time she won the Golden Globe in January.
LEAD ACTOR (LIMITED SERIES/MOVIE)
Mahershala Ali, “True Detective”
Benicio Del Toro, “Escape at Dannemora”
Hugh Grant, “A Very English Scandal”
Jared Harris, “Chernobyl”
Jharrel Jerome, “When They See Us”
Sam Rockwell, “Fosse/Verdon”
Will win: Jerome
Could win: Harris
Should win: Jerome
Another tight contest between “Chernobyl” and “When They See Us,” with Jerome gaining the edge for the series’ last (and best) episode, which recounts the harrowing years Central Park Five defendant Korey Wise spent in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Anyone who watched it is likely voting for him.