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Emmy predictions: Look for 'Game of Thrones' and 'Veep' to repeat as winners

Emmy predictions: Look for 'Game of Thrones' and 'Veep' to repeat as winners
Lena Headey is one of many Emmy favorites from the HBO series "Game of Thrones." (HBO)

Yes, yes, television has never been better. I know. I know! But while figuring out a way to binge-watch shows while I'm asleep, a stray thought keeps popping into my brain. Why, if there's so much great TV, do the Emmys often reward the same shows and performances over and over again?

The reruns are probably going to happen anew on Sunday with "Game of Thrones" and "Veep" repeating as series winners. Who else will be hoisting gold trophies? Here are my final predictions in the key categories.

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Drama series

Winner: "Game of Thrones"

Spoiler: There won't be one

Analysis: With 23 nominations, including key mentions for acting, directing and writing, "Game of Thrones" is the hands-down favorite. Two of its main competitors — "Better Call Saul" and "House of Cards" — didn't earn nominations for writing or directing, categories a series usually needs to win. And "Downton Abbey," long a favorite among actors, received only one nomination for its ensemble — Maggie Smith. It all points to an easy win for "Thrones."

Drama lead actor

Rami Malek in "Mr. Robot."
Rami Malek in "Mr. Robot." (Michael Parmelee / USA Network)

Winner: Rami Malek, "Mr. Robot"

Spoiler: Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards"

Analysis: The last three winners of this Emmy — Jeff Daniels, Bryan Cranston and Jon Hamm — are out of the picture, leaving the category open. Spacey is the safest choice, a brand name with two Oscars, along with a Golden Globe for "House of Cards." But he might be the new Hamm, a perennial nominee destined to go home empty-handed until the season where Frank Underwood is assassinated or leaves Washington to open his own barbecue joint. So I'm going with the talented Malek, though the often impenetrable early episodes of "Mr. Robot's" second season won't do him any favors with voters.

Drama lead actress

Robin Wright in "House of Cards."
Robin Wright in "House of Cards." (David Giesbrecht / Netflix)

Winner: Robin Wright, "House of Cards"

Spoiler: Viola Davis, "How to Get Away With Murder"

Analysis: This is an absolute coin flip. I lean ever so slightly toward Wright simply because of the numbers: "Cards" received 13 nominations, "Murder" just one. But it would not be surprising to see Davis repeat.

Drama supporting actor

Kit Harington in "Game of Thrones."
Kit Harington in "Game of Thrones." (HBO)

Winner: Kit Harington, "Game of Thrones"

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Spoiler: Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones"

Analysis: This is Harington's first nomination, mostly because, let's face it, playing Jon Snow doesn't require that much range. But the stoic character dominated "Thrones'" sixth season and all those "Jon Snow Returns From the Dead" headlines — along with Harington's improvement as an actor over the course of the series — could be enough to earn him the Emmy.

Drama supporting actress

Lena Headey in "Game of Thrones."
Lena Headey in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Winner: Lena Headey, "Game of Thrones"

Spoiler: Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey"

Analysis: Perhaps you are noticing a trend by this point: It's going to be a nice night for "Game of Thrones" fans.

Comedy series

Tony Hale and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in "Veep."
Tony Hale and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in "Veep." (Lacey Terrell / HBO)

Winner: "Veep"

Spoiler: "Transparent"

Analysis: The same rule of thumb noted in drama series applies here: No writing or directing nom, no win. That rules out "black-ish," "Modern Family" and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." "Veep" nearly doubled its nomination count, going from nine to 17. That feels right, rewarding a show that didn't miss a beat as David Mandel replaced Armando Iannucci as showrunner. With 11 nominations, "Silicon Valley" is also on the upswing with voters and newcomer "Master of None" just might be the best of the lot. But with the breadth and depth of love, "Veep" will be hard to beat this election year.

Comedy lead actor

Jeffrey Tambor in "Transparent."
Jeffrey Tambor in "Transparent." (Jennifer Clasen / Amazon Studios)

Winner: Jeffrey Tambor, "Transparent"

Analysis: This would be a great spot to reward the superb second season of "black-ish." But Emmy voters do repeat themselves, making it likely Tambor will be rewarded again for his moving work in "Transparent."

Comedy lead actress

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “Veep.&#8221
Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “Veep.” (Lacey Terrell / HBO)

Winner: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"

Spoiler: There won't be one

Analysis: Yes, that will be five in a row for the "Veep" lead. I can live with that. Playing Selina Meyer, Dreyfus has always relished the character's self-absorption and self-loathing but this season's rather extreme (even for "Veep") circumstances gave her occasion to reflect and even (just a bit) regret choices made. Louis-Dreyfus has never been better.

Comedy supporting actor

Louie Anderson, who plays Christine Baskets on FX's "Baskets," visited The Times to chat about his character and the show.

Winner: Louie Anderson, "Baskets"

Spoiler: Tony Hale, "Veep"

Analysis: Anderson earned "Baskets'" only nomination. So two-time winner Hale would be the safer bet. But Anderson's turn as Zach Galifianakis' mother is such a special, vulnerable piece of work, I think voters will reward the veteran comedian.

Comedy supporting actress

Allison Janney and Anna Faris, stars of CBS' "Mom," discuss their favorite moments and crossovers with other TV series.

Winner: Allison Janney, "Mom"

Spoiler: Kate McKinnon, "Saturday Night Live"

Analysis: You never pick against Janney, a seven-time winner, at the Emmys. You just don't.

Limited series

Cuba Gooding, Jr., left, and Courtney B. Vance in "The People v. O.J. Simpson."
Cuba Gooding, Jr., left, and Courtney B. Vance in "The People v. O.J. Simpson." (Byron Cohen / FX)

Winner: "The People v. O.J. Simpson"

Spoiler: There isn't one

Analysis: "O.J." received 22 Emmy nominations, including nods for acting, directing, writing, editing and casting. "Fargo" was right behind, earning 18 nominations and, just like "O.J.," it found favor in all the key categories. All of which is to ask: Shouldn't this feel like a closer race? That it doesn't speaks to the manner that "O.J." permeated the pop culture to a degree that the sublime "Fargo" — arguably a series that was better on a more consistent basis — didn't.

TV movie

Bryan Cranston in "All The Way."
Bryan Cranston in "All The Way." (Hilary Bronwyn Gayle / HBO)

Winner: "All the Way"

Spoiler: There isn't one

Analysis: HBO has long dominated this category, having won it nine years running (not counting the three years when the Emmys combined TV movies and limited series). Make it 10 for this electrifying slice of Lyndon B. Johnson history.

Lead actor, limited series or movie

Courtney B. Vance in “The People v. O.J. Simpson.&#8221
Courtney B. Vance in “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” (Prashant Gupta / FX)

Winner: Courtney B. Vance, "The People v. O.J. Simpson"

Spoiler: Bryan Cranston, "All the Way"

Analysis: Emmy voters love Cranston, giving him four drama lead actor Emmys for playing all-time antihero Walter White in "Breaking Bad." And Cranston has already won a Tony for his superb portrayal of LBJ. But Vance captured the spirit of notable  attorney Johnnie Cochran in such a vivid fashion, nailing the courtroom monologues and acing the big, powerful behind-the-scenes moments. He also has the edge of being in a 10-part series that's likely to roll through the ceremony as one of the evening's biggest winners.

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Lead actress, limited series or movie

Sarah Paulson in “The People v. O.J. Simpson.&#8221
Sarah Paulson in “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” (Byron Cohen / FX)

Winner: Sarah Paulson, "The People v. O.J. Simpson"

Spoiler: There isn't one

Analysis: Paulson humanized Marcia Clark with beauty, subtlety and intelligence. There were many good reasons to watch "The People v. O.J. Simpson." Her work topped the list.

Watch the Emmys with us on Sunday! We'll be live blogging all day, all night at latimes.com/emmys.

Watch the Emmys with us on Sunday! We'll be live blogging all day, all night at latimes.com/emmys.

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