Who Will Win the 2010 Emmys: ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Modern Family,’ ‘The Good Wife,’ ‘30 Rock,’ ‘Dexter’

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CHICAGO – With the Emmys almost upon us on Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010, it’s the right time to take one last look at the nominees for the last television year and do what all awards watchers love to do best: predict who will win, who should win and lament the snubs. Take notes and win your office pool.

Will Win: “Mad Men” (AMC)
Should Win: “Lost” (ABC)
Should Have Been Nominated: “Justified” (FX)

Mad Men
Mad Men
Photo credit: AMC

AMC’s “Mad Men” has won the prize for the first two seasons that it was on the air, making it the prohibitive favorite to three-peat. The fact is that the Academy likes legacies. “The West Wing” won four years in a row. “L.A. Law” won three. When the voting body latches on to something they think is the best, that opinion takes time to change. Or it takes a remarkably obvious alternative choice such as when “24” won for its universally beloved fifth season or the win for the first season of “Lost.” The closest thing to such an alternate this year is the final season of that great show, but I expect the bit of controversy surrounding the open ending will lead voters back to the safe comfort of “Mad Men.” The writers of “Dexter” produced their best season ever with the show’s fourth and that would be a great dark horse win but I imagine this is a battle between “Lost” and “Mad Men” and the voters will go with the safer choice.

Will/Should Win: “Modern Family” (ABC)
Should Have Been Nominated: Nothing, Perfect Six

Modern Family
Modern Family
Photo credit: ABC

Not only is this the best list of nominees but also the toughest category to predict of the entire night. In a very rare situation, the Academy accurately picked the six best comedies in a year of great ones, but which one deserves to rise to the top? As we just noted in the dramatic category, Emmys love repeat wins and they’ve given it to “30 Rock” three years in a row, making it the odds-on choice to win again, but that’s not going to happen. As we also just noted, the Academy recognizes when a landmark program deserves to break the pattern. However, it’s rare that there’s not one, but two seasons that merit such consideration. My guess is that this is a battle between “Glee” and “Modern Family,” two shows widely recognized in the acting categories, indicating huge support. The winner comes down to voter preference on one key question — what makes an outstanding comedy series winner: consistency throughout the year or greater peaks? The best of “Glee” was the best of television, but the show got a little sporadic in the second half of the year while “Modern Family” just kept getting funnier. What’s truly remarkable is the bridesmaids in this category — the first season of “Nurse Jackie” and the seventh of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” would be the obvious winners in many recent years. 2009-2010 was truly an amazing one for comedy.

Will Win: Michael C. Hall, “Dexter”
Should Win: Matthew Fox, “Lost”
Should Have Been Nominated: Timothy Olyphant, “Justified”

Michael C. Hall
Michael C. Hall
Photo credit: Showtime

Bryan Cranston has won two-in-a-row for “Breaking Bad” and there will be zero surprise if he takes a third. Like most Emmy categories, being a previous winner is a very good thing and doesn’t Cranston deserve at least as many as James Spader from “Boston Legal”? For some reason, and it’s hard to even put a finger on why, I’m expecting a surprise in this category. The fourth season of “Dexter” was the show’s most critically acclaimed and star Michael C. Hall won the Golden Globe for his work on it. He’s also struggled through some personal health problems that, unfair as it may be, play an effective sympathy card with voters. Hall has never won an Emmy for “Six Feet Under” or “Dexter” and I just have a gut feeling that this will change. Or could it be Matthew Fox for his only nomination in the entire history of “Lost”? Is it that hard to see voters who side with “Mad Men” in the main category and choose otherwise in the supporting ones decide that this is the perfect sendoff trophy for “Lost”? Not at all. Of course, it’s probably just going to be Cranston again. But one has to go out on a limb sometimes.

Will/Should Win: Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”
Should Have Been Nominated: Anna Paquin, “True Blood”

Juliana Margulies
Juliana Margulies
Photo credit: CBS

Glenn Close won for each of the first two seasons of “Damages” but most would agree that the third season of the ratings-embattled show was not her best work. Will that matter enough for voters to think outside of the box? If they do, I don’t think they’ll go back to safe choices like Mariska Hargitay or Kyra Sedgwick, which means this trophy goes to a first-time nominee. They snubbed January Jones for arguably better seasons of “Mad Men” and I still don’t think enough of the body is behind “Friday Night Lights” to get it to Connie Britton (although that would surely be a surprisingly heartfelt speech). Process of elimination leaves us with what I think is actually the most-deserving winner, career-best work from Juliana Margulies. Multiple nominations for “The Good Wife” along with a nod for Best Series makes it clear that the Academy loves this show and there’s no way to love the show and NOT love what Margulies is doing here. With “ER” and now this show, she’s become something of TV royalty and she’s never won. I have a feeling this year will change that and be the first of many.

Will Win: Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
Should Win: Larry David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Should Have Been Nominated: Joel McHale, “Community”

Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin
Photo credit: NBC

Give it to Alec Baldwin for a third year in a row, honor three-time winner Tony Shalhoub one final time, or induct one of the new guys into the club? Matthew Morrison’s work on “Glee” is not strong enough to overshadow his more experienced competitors and as much as I love Jim Parsons’ work on “The Big Bang Theory,” a win would surprise me. Steve Carell and Larry David will be included when the history books write about the best TV comedies of all time but neither has ever won an Emmy. But, and I know I sound like a broken record here, the Emmys are not about spreading the wealth. With the awareness that “30 Rock” is probably not winning Best Comedy or Actress, voters will want to make sure that one of their favorite children doesn’t walk away completely empty-handed and Baldwin will get his third.

Will/Should Win: Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
Should Have Been Nominated: Kaley Cuoco, “The Big Bang Theory”

Edie Falco
Edie Falco
Photo credit: Showtime

The “repeat winners” pattern falls apart a bit here largely due to the lack of consistent performers in the category. No one has won this category twice since 2000-01 (Patricia Heaton). Will Tina Fey or Julia Louis-Drefyus break that pattern and take home a second Emmy? I doubt it. Not with the incredible strength of the ladies of Showtime — Edie Falco and Toni Collette. Both are doing far superior work to that of Lea Michele on “Glee” and Amy Poehler on “Parks and Recreation,” so it seems like it’s a two-woman race. Collette won last year and could break the pattern here if not for the insanely good work by Edie Falco on “Nurse Jackie.” The Academy loves her, having given her four awards already (three for “The Sopranos” and a guest spot on “30 Rock”). “Nurse Jackie,” a show that they liked enough to nominate for Best Comedy, will not break the love affair.

Will Win: John Slattery, “Mad Men”
Should Win: Terry O’Quinn, “Lost”
Should Have Been Nominated: Henry Ian Cusick, “Lost”

John Slattery
John Slattery
Photo credit: AMC

You could throw a dart at a board and get a reasonably good idea of who will win this category. Unlike the series and lead categories, the wealth is definitely spread in supporting categories, which often makes them the hardest to predict. Let’s play process of elimination. Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn have both won already for “Lost” and could cancel out each other’s votes. Let’s cut them. Aaron Paul is great on “Breaking Bad” but this is not a category that often swings toward young actors with recent winners including William Shatner, Alan Alda, and Zeljko Ivanek. Aaron Paul doesn’t fit in that crew although if they’re going another way with Lead Actor, this could be the consolation prize for the obviously-liked show. Everyone was stunned that Andre Braugher snuck in for the mediocre “Men of a Certain Age.” There’s not enough support to get him to the top. That leaves us with Martin Short and John Slattery. Neither would surprise me but if I have to predict, I’ll take the actor from the clearly more well-liked program overall. Welcome to the club John.

Will Win: Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife”
Should Win: Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men”
Should Have Been Nominated: Regina King, “Southland”

Christine Baranski
Christine Baranski
Photo credit: CBS

Do two nominees from the same show cancel out each other’s vote? This category will serve as an answer to that question in future years. If you believe that splitting the vote is deadly, then Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss for “Mad Men” and Christine Baranski and Archie Panjabi for “The Good Wife” are out of the question, leaving us with two nominees — Rose Byrne on “Damages” or Sharon Gless on “Burn Notice”. Here’s the problem — I can’t see either of them winning. Byrne’s character did not have a significant episode or arc this season and Sharon’s nomination was a surprising-enough choice that it should be considered a win. “Burn Notice” getting a prize for acting just doesn’t seem likely. So, we have to go back to the pairs. I think the Academy loves “The Good Wife” and would enjoy the pairing of Juliana Margulies and one of her co-stars in the female drama categories. Clear some shelf space Christine.

Will/Should Win: Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”
Should Have Been Nominated: Peter Facinelli, “Nurse Jackie”

Ty Burrell
Ty Burrell
Photo credit: ABC

Five out of twelve supporting comedy nominees are from the same show — “Modern Family” (sorry Ed O’Neill). While some may point to them canceling each other out, that won’t happen if they get all the votes. If the “Modern Family” guys “split” 98 out of 100 votes, the other two won’t matter. Sorry Chris Colfer and Neil Patrick Harris and if Jon Cryer takes this prize again, I’m going to have to pause my DVR for a bit and scream. No offense to Jon, who’s easily the best thing about “Two and a Half Men,” but even he’s voting for the “MF” guys. So, which one? I’m going with my heart and picking Ty Burrell’s genius take on a modern man-child and his adventures in parenting.

Will/Should Win: Jane Lynch, “Glee”
Should Have Been Nominated: Jenna Fischer, “The Office”

Jane Lynch
Jane Lynch
Photo credit: FOX

The most slam-dunk category of the night. The minute Jane Lynch walked on-screen in “Glee,” the prize was hers. This is a category that regularly goes to scene-stealers like Kristin Chenoweth in “Pushing Daisies” and Jaime Pressly in “My Name is Earl” and who stole scenes last year more completely than the great Jane Lynch? Honestly, can anyone see nominees like Holland Taylor or Jane Krakowski winning over Lynch? If they do, someone miscounted the votes. Now, if “Modern Family” goes on a complete, crazy sweep than I wouldn’t be stunned to see Julie Bowen or Sofia Vergara take it home but given my other predictions that would leave “Glee” completely trophy-free. That seems unlikely. If there’s only one category that you can bet on, make it this one.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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