Emmys 2019 predictions: Who will win and possible upsets

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Forget about winter: Game of Thrones is coming... for Emmy statues. Even though the final season of HBO’s blockbuster series was put on blast by social media, Emmy voters propelled it to a record 32 nominations. The fact that Game of Thrones already took home 10 of those statues at the Creative Arts Emmys this past weekend heralds a big night for Westeros when the 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards air Sunday, Sept. 22 on Fox. Still, there could be a few usurpers out there eager to claim the Emmy Throne for themselves. Here are Yahoo Entertainment’s predictions for the winners in the major Emmy categories, along with a peek at what oddsmakers are saying.

Outstanding Drama Series

The Night King (Vladimir Furdik) walks in Game of Thrones. (Photo: HBO)

Better Call Saul
Game of Thrones
Killing Eve
This Is Us

As dominant as Game of Thrones might appear to be, there are some potential Kingslayers among the eight shows nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. Chief among them is BBC America’s buzzy spy serial Killing Eve, which only got buzzier in its second season, even without the voice of original head writer, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who devoted her energies to the second season of Fleabag. (If anything, the smash success of Fleabag has only raised Killing Eve’s profile.) But if Twitter had a say, House Roy would handily defeat House Stark, as HBO’s Succession has become a big mean meme-generating machine that Game of Thrones used to be. As the lone network drama in the bunch, a victory for This Is Us would represent the triumph of the old guard over the dominant forces of premium cable shows like Pose and Better Call Saul and streaming hits like Bodyguard and Ozark. But that’s a battle that seems as ill-advised as starting a land war in Westeros.

Prediction: Game of Thrones

Don’t Be Surprised By: Killing Eve

What the Oddsmakers Say: BetOnline has Game of Thrones handily in the lead at -800, while Killing Eve is a distant second at +650.

Outstanding Comedy Series

Tony Hale and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep. (Photo: HBO)

The Good Place
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Russian Doll
Schitt’s Creek

Two returning comedy champions square off as HBO’s three-time winner Veep chases after a final season statue, even as last year’s victor, Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, tries to stay one step ahead. But both shows could easily be lapped by Barry, Bill Hader’s much-loved Hollywood satire, which is quickly emerging as an industry favorite. There’s also a scenario in which the Anglophile contingent of Emmy voters power Fleabag to an upset victory, which would be a win for hot priests everywhere.

Prediction: Veep

Don’t Be Surprised By: Barry

What the Oddsmakers Say: Oddschecker places Veep on top with 5/4 odds, while poor Schitt’s Creek brings up the rear at an even 40. For the record, that show is first in our hearts.

Outstanding Limited Series

Jared Harris and Emily Watson in Chernobyl. (Photo: HBO)

Escape at Dannemora
Sharp Objects
When They See Us

With Game of Thrones and Veep already the favorites in their respective categories, HBO is well-positioned to pull off a hat trick when Chernobyl—a co-production with Sky Entertainment—is announced as the Limited Series winner. A nail-biting re-creation of the 1986 Russian nuclear disaster, the five-episode series emerged as an unlikely summertime smash, hooking audiences with its minute-by-minute retelling of the meltdown itself, as well as the government cover-up that followed. But voters could also be persuaded to choose the closer-to-home cover-up — one involving the wrongly-convicted Central Park Five — depicted in Ava DuVernay’s powerful Netflix miniseries, When They See Us. While the streaming service is normally tight-lipped about ratings, they’re on the record confirming that 23 million Netflix accounts binged the four-episode series during its first month.

Prediction: Chernobyl

Don’t Be Surprised By: When They See Us

What the Oddsmakers Say: Oddschecker gives the edge to When They See Us with 4/6 odds, while Chernobyl is right behind at 6/5.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Sterling K. Brown as Randall in This Is Us. (Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

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

In the past, Game of Thrones has been a powerhouse everywhere except the acting categories: To date, only Peter Dinklage has been recognized (three times, no less) amongst the super-sized ensemble. And while it’s possible that Kit Harington could be part of a final season sweep, history isn’t exactly in his favor. That means this category is really anybody’s game, as voters could choose to honor a first-time nominee like Billy Porter, or opt to reward previous nominees like Bob Odenkirk, Jason Bateman and Milo Ventimiglia with their first-ever win. Or they could stick with what they know (a popular Emmy tradition) and choose Sterling K. Brown, a perennial nominee who previously took home the statue in 2017 for This Is Us’s first season.

Prediction: Sterling K. Brown

Don’t Be Surprised By: Billy Porter

What the Oddsmakers Say: Betonline is eyeing a virtual dead heat with Porter and Bateman at +125 and +150 respectively. Harrington is a distant fourth in their rankings, an appropriately chilly placement for the former King in the North.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) goes full Mad Queen in the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones. (Photo: HBO)

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

Daenerys Targaryen may have lost the Iron Throne, but Emilia Clarke’s transformation from hero to heel is catnip for Emmy voters. Even as fans complained about the Mother of Dragons’s abrupt about-face, Clarke was praised for wholeheartedly committing to an ending that she knew would be controversial. Factor in that this is the last chance to honor a character that was a Game of Thrones favorite throughout the show’s run, and Khaleesi seems unstoppable... until you remember that Jodie Comer’s Villanelle has taken out equally formidable opponents during Killing Eve’s two-season run. The show’s sophomore year featured some of the actress’s finest work yet, and with Game of Thrones expected to dominate in other categories, this could be the time for her to make her mark.

Prediction: Emilia Clarke

Don’t Be Surprised By: Jodie Comer

What the Oddsmakers Say: BetOnline favors Killing Eve’s other leading lady, Sandra Oh, at -400, while Clarke and Comer are tied for second at +450.

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Bill Hader as Barry Berkman in Barry. (Photo: HBO)

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Don Cheadle, Black Monday
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Michael Douglas, The Kominksy Method
Bill Hader, Barry
Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Like many TV fans, we found Michael Douglas’s Golden Globes victory back in January to be a real head-scratcher. That said, The Kominsky Method star has a path towards a repeat victory at the Emmys based on his status as Hollywood royalty, as well as the fact that older voters might identify with his septuagenarian acting teacher, who has an ego as big as his prostate. Our own take is that if voters are looking to honor industry legends of a certain age, Eugene Levy might be more appealing due to the growing popularity of Schitt’s Creek and the way he’s made that delightful show a real family affair. But frankly, both of them will likely be usurped by relative whippersnapper Bill Hader, who has created one of the most complex — and hilarious — characters currently on the airwaves with hitman-turned-actor, Barry Berkman.

Prediction: Bill Hader

Don’t Be Surprised By: Eugene Levy

What the Oddsmakers Say: BetOnline agrees that Hader is the likely victory, but predicts Douglas as the runner-up with Levy at the back of the pack.

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag. (Photo: Amazon)

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

No suspense here: Julia-Louis Dreyfus has won six Emmys for Veep and will almost certainly add a seventh award to her trophy shelf for the show’s farewell season. The closest competition she has is Phoebe Waller-Bridge, whose irreverent Fleabag alter ego would get along famously with Selina Meyer. Come to think of it, we’d love to see Rachel Brosnahan’s marvelously funny Mrs. Maisel turn that duo into a trio. How can we vote for a crossover?

Prediction: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Don’t Be Surprised By: Phoebe Waller-Bridge

What the Oddsmakers Say: BetOnline puts Louis-Dreyfus in the lead at -900 odds, with Waller-Bridge in third place at +800. In between them is last year’s champ, Brosnahan, at +700.

Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Jharrel Jerome in When They See Us. (Photo: Netflix)

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

The first three episodes of When They See Us are largely divided up amongst the quintet of teenagers that became known as the Central Park Five. For the last installment, though, Ava DuVernay narrows the focus to the eldest of the boys, Korey Wise, who spent 14 years in an adult prison until his release. Jharrel Jerome, 21, is the only actor in the series to play both the teenage and adult versions of the real man, and his tour-de-force performance will likely be upmost in voters’ minds. On the other hand, Jared Harris could also snag this statue as part of an overall Chernobyl sweep.

Prediction: Jharrel Jerome

Don’t Be Surprised By: Jared Harris

What the Oddsmakers Say: Oddschecker has Jerome ahead of Harris with 4/7 odds versus 5/2.

Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon in the FX series Fosse/Verdon. (Photo: Eric Liebowitz / ©FX / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

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

One year, Amy Adams will win an Emmy and/or an Oscar... but it is not this year. Michelle Williams — another frequent Oscar nominee who has yet to take home one of those statues — has the Emmy on lock thanks to her lauded performance as Broadway legend, Gwen Verdon, in FX’s Fosse/Verdon. (An emotional speech at the TCA Awards further sealed the deal.) If there’s an upset brewing, Patricia Arquette would likely be the beneficiary thanks to her transformative performance in Escape at Dannemora.

Prediction: Michelle Williams

Don’t Be Surprised By: Patricia Arquette.

What the Oddsmakers Say: Oddschecker awards Williams a 2/5 edge over Arquette at 2 and Adams at 12.

The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards air Sunday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. on Fox.

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