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In a lot of ways, the Emmys are harder to predict than the Oscars. The Oscars have smaller timeline between when things get serious (usually mid-September) and the nominations announcement and the actual show itself. But in between that are dozens of precursors in the form of critics awards and industry awards that help us shape the race, give us frontrunners or surprise us with left field possibilities. The Emmys don’t have such a precursor path; the nominations are in July and the show is in September (a long break between the two compared to the Oscars) but the only real precursors are the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Awards from the beginning of the year, January, and even then both of those shows are built on a calendar year eligibility versus the traditional beginning of September to end of May deadline that television uses.
So what do we take into account when making our predictions? We look at Emmy history, which often gets name-check lazy and sees repeat winners often. We look at any new rule changes the Television Academy makes with the voting process. This year, for example, is the second year of the ‘popular vote’ rule meaning, voters simply chose a single show or person to win rather than rank a ballot. This has been an interesting experiment as it could produce really lazy winners or give us surprise passion votes that turn into wins. Or, as we saw this year – it gave us both. The other thing we look at is the old-fashioned form of submitting your ‘tape’ for consideration. Once a person (or show) is nominated, they submit the single episode that they (or their network) feel provides the best example of their work and/or their best chance to win. In the past, these have proven vital; with some submissions being the lockiest locks that have ever locked, something we often refer to as a “Whitecaps” submission. That is a reference to Edie Falco’s 2003 Emmy-winning submission for The Sopranos where it was so clear that if the voters watched the tapes (and back then it was a small panel viewing them and choosing winners) she was undeniable. Those types of submissions still exist but it’s not as easy to call them locks as it once was.
This year provided examples where a submission seemed like a clear force in a win (Louie Anderson’s for Baskets seems so) but then examples where a bulls-eye submission from the reigning winner wasn’t enough (How to Get Away with Murder‘s Viola Davis, who lost to Tatiana Maslany). Then there are virtually inexplicable wins like Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline) winning Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, something no one predicted. Even the audience was nearly dead silent when his name was announced, it was that surprising. Maggie Smith’s win over formidable competition was only a small surprise (most of our Emmy Experts had her at #2) and many will be lazy and chalk it up to the Game of Thrones women canceling each other out. But Downton Abbey was a hugely popular show and although it never won the top award at the Emmys it’s won the Ensemble award at SAG three times, including the last two years and Smith herself won there in 2014. She was also already a two-time Emmy winner for this show and sending it off with this final win makes “Emmy” sense.
So, how did the Emmy Experts do? Not bad overall. We definitely dropped the ball on some shocking wins like Sherlock: The Abominable Bride winning TV Movie over All the Way, the aforementioned Ben Mendelsohn’s shocking win, and Suzanne Bier (The Night Manager) triumphing over three nominations for The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story in the Directing category. Although it was a surprise when her name was announced, upon reflection it makes sense; she helmed the 6-episode limited series herself as opposed to the single episodes up for the win in her category. The Emmy voters could have easily seen this as the ‘bigger’ and more successful task and awarded her thusly. Tatiana Maslany’s win for Orphan Black is still a bit of a mystery as it feels almost too late, just as her first nomination last year felt. It was as if the Emmys were playing catch-up to her and her popularity (which peaked in 2014).
Also, who knew James Corden was going to end up being more popular than Adele, Beyoncé and the Kennedy Center Honors?
Onto the champion of our group though; congratulations to Nicole Latayan for eeking out a victory with 143 points! Right behind him was Chris Pepper with 141, yours truly Erik Anderson with 140, Jonathan Boehle with 136 and Fred Artico bringing up the rear with 126.
Here is the breakdown of points earned by the Emmy Experts: