Another competitive year pits old favorites against critically acclaimed upstarts. Will there be a Game of Thrones victory lap? Will Fleabag upset Veep?

Awards and prizes

Outstanding Drama Series

The Emmys conversation is dominated, of course, by Game of Thrones, HBOs decade-defining, lavish fantasy epic that wrapped after eight sprawling seasons this spring. Thrones is an Emmys juggernaut it won for best drama series in its last three eligible seasons (2015, 2016 and 2018) and is nominated for 32 awards this year, the most for any single season of television, ever. (The show already won 10 awards at last weekends Creative Arts Emmys). The question this year, however, is whether the majority of the 24,000 Emmy voters will still reward Game of Thrones after a divisive, narratively uneven final season. Thats likely to be the case, especially with traditional rivals such as The Handmaids Tale, Stranger Things and The Americans no longer in the running. But younger, smaller shows could spoil the victory lap; HBOs other entry, Succession, received five nominations for its critically acclaimed first season, and BBC Americas Killing Eve could ride a solid second season and the wave of popularity for stars Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer and creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge to a win. Other nominees Better Call Saul, Pose, Ozark, This Is Us and Bodyguard all have sizable audiences and, for the most part, critical praise, but probably lack the momentum to topple Westerosi dominance.

Will win: Game of Thrones

Should win: Succession

Outstanding Comedy Series

Its a testament to the ever-expanding state of comedy in 2019 that despite a near-total turnover in nominees, last years most competitive category remains as tight and stacked this year. The only returning nominees from 2018 are HBOs critically adored Barry and the defending champion, Amazons The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. The 50s-set comedy, with 20 nominations, has broad support among Emmy voters, but as in outstanding drama, the sentimental favorite here is a beloved HBO series in its final season: Veep. Veep has won twice already, and though its final season was, like Game of Thrones, not of its previous caliber, the series could still win based on the popularity of its star, Emmys mainstay Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Phoebe
Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the second season of Amazons Fleabag. Photograph: BBC/Two Brothers/Steve Schofield

But both frontrunners contend with several strong, and popular, new entries. Barrys brilliant dark comedy Bill Hader as a hitman trying to become an actor could take home a win for its second season, as could the searing sophomore season of Phoebe Waller-Bridges Fleabag. And Russian Doll, shepherded by comedy veterans Natasha Lyonne and Amy Poehler, enjoyed a splashy, moment-seizing debut early this year. Schitts Creek and The Good Place, though broadly appealing, are long shots.

Will win: The Marvelous Mrs Maisel

Should win: Fleabag

Outstanding Limited Series

Its a year of strong entries for limited series: the moody, ephemeral Sharp Objects topped several critics lists (though its Emmys stock has dropped considerably since the show premiered in summer 2018), Showtimes Escape from Dannemora earned solid, if not overwhelming, positive interest, and Fosse/Verdon effectively revised the history of a storied Broadway partnership. But theres really just two options for the Emmy, both 80s-set historical dramas that mine famous tragedies for searing cultural and political relevance. Will voters go for HBOs meticulously crafted, expertly adapted Chernobyl? Or the wounding, pristine When They See Us, Ava DuVernays mini-series on the Central Park Five?

Will win: Chernobyl

Should win: When They See Us

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama

Sandra
Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

With last years champion, Claire Foy, and Elisabeth Moss not in contention, the race for best dramatic actress is fairly wide open, though given her recent Golden Globe and SAG awards, Sandra Oh in Killing Eve is the favorite. Ohs most likely rival is her co-star, Jodie Comer, whose scene-stealing turn as the serial contract killer Villanelle only turned more heads in the second season. Emmy voters could, however, choose to reward Emilia Clarke, nominated four times but with no wins, for her nearly decade-long work and an especially heavy lift in the final season as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. Theres an outside chance each for established awards favorites Laura Linney (Ozark) and Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder). Mandy Moores nomination is already a win for This Is Us, and it seems unlikely Emmy voters will pick Robin Wright (House of Cards) for a show that has faded significantly.

Will win: Sandra Oh (Killing Eve)

Should win: Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama

This could be Bob Odenkirks year the much-loved star of Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul has lost three previous nominations (to Jon Hamm, Rami Malek and Sterling K Brown). But Billy Porters electric performance in Pose could sway voters, and never count out a representative from Westeros (Kit Harington has never won for his portrayal of Jon Snow on Game of Thrones). Bateman, as the director-star of Ozark, has years of TV cred playing in his favor, while Sterling K Browns performance in This Is Us has already garnered him the award. Milo Ventimiglias nomination is, like his co-star Mandy Moores, itself a win for the lone network series represented in the category.

Will win: Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)

Should win: Billy Porter (Pose)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy

This year will mark either a triumphant return to tradition or a changing of the guard for best comedy actress. The obvious favorite is Julia Louis-Dreyfus for the final season of Veep. Louis-Dreyfus has won six (six!) times before for her role as Selina Meyer, though a year of ineligibility last year opened up the door for Rachel Brosnahan as the star of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. In any other year, Brosnahan could confidently assume a repeat, but competition this year is stiff, even outside of Louis-Dreyfus. Phoebe Waller-Bridge was luminous as the triple threat creator/writer/star of Fleabag. Natasha Lyonne had a breakout year in Russian Doll, and Catherine OHara who last won an Emmy in 1981 has decades of goodwill and a passionate fanbase for Schitts Creek on her side. Christina Applegate (Dead To Me) is unlikely to eke out a win, but crazier things have happened.

Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)

Should win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) or Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy

Bill
Bill Hader as a hitman turned struggling actor in Barry. Photograph: HBO

Last years winner, Bill Hader, returns again with a strong case for the second season of Barry, though he could be unseated by two popular TV veterans: Ted Danson, for network darling The Good Place, and Eugene Levy of cult-favorite Schitts Creek. If anyone outside those three were to score an upset, it would probably be Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method), a six-time nominee who last won in 2013 for Behind the Candelabra. Don Cheadle (Black Monday) and Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) have each delivered solid work beyond their respective TV seasons, but thats unlikely to stem the tide of support for Hader, Danson or Levy.

Will win: Bill Hader (Barry)

Should win: Bill Hader (Barry)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie

Yet another strong category pits industry favorites Patricia Arquette (Showtimes Escape from Dannemora), Michelle Williams (FXs Fosse/Verdon) against relative newcomers Joey King (Hulus The Act) and Aunjanue Ellis (Netflixs When They See Us). Williams likely has the edge, given the overwhelming critical praise for her portrayal of old Hollywoods Gwen Verdon. But awards regular Arquette, also nominated for best supporting actress in a limited series for The Act, might eke out the win. The prospects for Amy Adams, once a frontrunner, have dimmed in the more than year since Sharp Objects premiered. Niecy Nash is also a possible spoiler for When They See Us.

Will win: Michelle Williams (Fosse/Verdon)

Should win: Michelle Williams (Fosse/Verdon)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie

Jharrel
Jharrel Jerome in When They See Us. Photograph: Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

Benicio Del Toro (Escape at Dannemora), Hugh Grant (A Very English Scandal), Sam Rockwell (Fosse/Verdon), and Mahershala Ali (True Detective) all achieved solid performances, but go up against the surging popularity for actors from the two defining mini-series of the year: Jared Harris of Chernobyl and Jharrel Jerome of When They See Us. The winner probably depends on the outcome of best limited series: the Emmys will want to reward When They See Us somewhere, and Jeromes turn, as the only actor to carry his character through the full series arc, was devastating.

Will win: Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us)

Should win: Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us) or Jared Harris (Chernobyl)

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

At this point, all the nominated variety talk series either cover basically the same political material Trump and his headline-grabbing scandals, from Sharpie-edited maps to the Mueller report or riff on friendly celebrity chats and games. The two exceptions are the weeklies Full Frontal With Samantha Bee (TBS) and HBOs Last Week Tonight with John Oliver which have more time to select and dig deeper into larger, more opaque subjects. Emmy voters are more likely to reward John Olivers unabashed, absolutely no-bullshit HBO show, but the real outstanding star is Colbert, whose consistency five nights a week outpaces all the other hosts.

Will win: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Should win: The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series

Anthony Carrigan (Barry)

Stephen Root (Barry) Will win

Henry Winkler (Barry)

Alan Arkin (The Kominsky Method)

Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel) Should win

Tony Hale (Veep)

Outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series

Sarah Goldberg (Barry)

Sian Clifford (Fleabag)

Olivia Coleman (Fleabag)

Betty Gilpin (GLOW)

Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel) Will win

Marin Hinkle (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel)

Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)

Anna Chlumsky (Veep) Should win

Outstanding supporting actor in a drama series

Peter
Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones. Photograph: Associated Press

Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul) Should win

Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul)

Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones)

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones)

Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) Will win

Michael Kelly (House of Cards)

Chris Sullivan (This Is Us)

Outstanding supporting actress in a drama series

Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones)

Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) Will win, Should win

Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones)

Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones)

Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve)

Julia Garner (Ozark)

Outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or TV movie

Stellan Skarsgrd (Chernobyl)

Paul Dano (Escape at Dannemora)

Ben Whishaw (A Very English Scandal)

Aante Blackk (When They See Us)

John Leguizamo (When They See Us)

Michael K Williams (When They See Us) Will Win, Should Win

Outstanding supporting actress in a limited series or TV movie

Patricia Arquette (The Act)

Marsha Stephanie Blake (When They See Us)

Patricia Clarkson (Sharp Objects) Will win, Should win

Vera Farmiga (When They See Us)

Margaret Qualley (Fosse/Verdon)

Emily Watson (Chernobyl)

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