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Emmys 2020 drama predictions: A new ‘Succession’ plan to watch for

Brian Cox and Sarah Snook are among "Succession's" many Emmy nominees.
Brian Cox and Sarah Snook are among “Succession’s” many Emmy nominees.
(Zach Dilgard / HBO)

With the departure of “Game of Thrones,” the Emmy for drama series is up for grabs. “Succession” and “Ozark” would like to inherit the crown and since each show nabbed 18 nominations, there’s no clear-cut favorite. And the same uncertainty is present in the four drama acting races too, all toss-ups that should lead to some nice suspense when the Emmys are handed out (in some form or another) on Sept. 20.

Here’s an early look at the drama races.

DRAMA SERIES

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

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

“Game of Thrones” took the main prize last year, but voters seemed to understand the shortcomings of its final season and gave “Ozark” the drama directing prize and “Succession” the writing honors. Now “Ozark” and “Succession” are the category nomination co-leaders and unless Baby Yoda has some special trick of the Force up his cute little tunic sleeve, one of them will likely prevail. Netflix dropped “Ozark’s” third season during the early days of the pandemic, and viewers devoured it, some discovering the series for the first time and burning through the whole thing in one twisty marathon of incredulity. But “Succession” is the superior series in every respect — writing, acting, directing, rapping — and I will be shocked if it doesn’t win this Emmy and a host of others.

Jennifer Aniston earned a nomination for "The Morning Show."
Jennifer Aniston earned a nomination for “The Morning Show.”
(Apple TV+)

LEAD ACTRESS DRAMA

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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

The “Ozark” writers put Linney’s character through the wringer this season, introducing her bipolar brother (Tom Pelphrey, shockingly not nominated) and forging a connection between the siblings that led to a devastating end. Linney has won four Emmys (for four different shows!) and it’d be hard to begrudge her a fifth. Hard ... but not impossible, as Aniston gave the performance of her career on “The Morning Show,” deftly using the comic instincts she honed for a decade on “Friends” and adding a raw, deeply felt empathy to her character, a morning show anchor dealing with betrayal, divorce and dismissive ageism. I fear voters will underestimate Aniston because of all those years in comedy. But she did win the SAG Award, so maybe her excellence isn’t hiding in plain sight.

Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox in the Season 2 finale of "Succession."
Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox in the Season 2 finale of “Succession.”
(HBO)
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LEAD ACTOR DRAMA

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 race is basically a story line from “Succession.” Can Strong usurp Cox, the classically trained actor who has portrayed everyone from King Lear to Hannibal Lecter? The series revolves around Cox’s towering turn as Logan Roy, but it gets much of its emotional ballast from Strong’s wounded portrayal of his sad-boy son Kendall. Logan orchestrated “Boar on the Floor”; Kendall dropped the mike on Season 2, courageously reclaiming his dignity and retaliating against a father who had tabbed him to be the family’s “blood sacrifice.” Logan may be the OG, but Kenny’s on the rhymes. We’ll soon see which one emerges as the king.

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Helena Bonham Carter played Princess Margaret on "The Crown."
(Sophie Mutevelian / Netflix)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS DRAMA

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

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Bonham Carter excels at earning nominations for awards — she has been up for eight Golden Globes, two Oscars, four individual Screen Actors Guild honors and, now, four Emmys — but has yet to win anything. She may have found the role to finally bring her to the podium, though — the Swinging Sixties version of Princess Margaret on “The Crown.” Emmy voters have long adored the royals, and Claire Foy and John Lithgow won for the show’s first two seasons. Bonham Carter seems poised to join them ... unless “Succession” just steamrolls through the ceremony. Then look for Snook.

Kieran Culkin is one of three "Succession" cast members nominated for drama supporting actor.
Kieran Culkin is one of three “Succession” cast members nominated for drama supporting actor.
(HBO)

SUPPORTING ACTOR DRAMA

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”

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

Maybe I should just let Culkin explain how voters might deal with the trio of “Succession” actors nominated here after he joked on Emmy nominations morning that he’d punch Braun in the privates if his costar beat him. “Matthew Macfadyen is a threat in the Emmys race, which is why I don’t make fun of him,” Culkin explains, laughing. “I don’t see Nick Braun coming, and that’s probably why he’s going to take us all out.”

All three are worthy, which could doom their chances as voters might divide their attention among them, leading to a win for Crudup for playing charismatic network president Cory Ellison, a guy who’d probably have an algorithm that would predict the winners of every Emmy category and be right almost all the time.


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