2016 Emmys Part 2: The Drama Categories

Television was dominated by two shows last year that captured the conversation of social media and the hearts of critics. Game of Thrones continues to chug along after winning Best Series last year and being a rating behemoth. The People v. O.J. Simpson recaptured why people were fascinated by the trial and hit on the race issues that has be prominent in America. Both are nominated for Emmys this year in the drama category. The Emmys this year is also seeing the end of one their most beloved shows in Downton Abbey and welcomes new shows such as the always snubbed The Americans and Mr. Robot.

Here is Man of the Hour’s predictions of all the Drama and Limited Series or TV Movie awards for the 2016 Emmys.

If you agree or disagree with our choices, please leave a comment below.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn on Bloodline (Netflix) (Episode: “Part 23”)

Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson on Mr. Robot (USA) (Episode: “eps1.0_hellofriend.mov”)

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill on Better Call Saul (AMC) (Episode: Klick”)

Matthew Rhys as Phillip Jennings on The Americans (FX) (Episode: The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears”)

Live Schreiber as Ray Donovan on Ray Donovan (Showtime) (Episode: “Exsuscito”)

Kevin Spacey as President Frank Underwood on House of Cards (Netflix) (Episode: Chapter 52”)

A common theme that is going to run throughout this article is the celebration that finally The Americans did it. With the expansion of the awards and the ending of powerhouses like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, The Television Academy has finally found room to honor the little watched and critical darling, The Americans. This scrappy little show is like Rocky Balboa fighting off Apollo Creed in the late rounds. But, is Matthew Rhys going to win for his fine performance as Phillip Jennings? Probably not. No, the favorite has to Kevin Spacey who is not up for his fourth nomination as the nefarious Frank Underwood with the charming southern drawl. That does not mean House of Cards has been any good this season. But, Spacey has always operated in a crowded field of nominees, coming up against the end of Bryan Cranston on Breaking Bad and the end of Jon Hamm on Mad Men in the last two years. Now Spacey has finally been put in the prime position with his clout in Hollywood and his role on prestige television. The biggest threat to him is the terrific Rami Malek on Mr. Robot who is also my pick for who I want to win. The show which just began its second season has momentum and Malek is absolutely wonderful in it as the computer hacking vigilante who is struggling with exactly what is happening around him. His eyes are his key assets, always looking beleaguered and worn out. It is an incredibly soulful and fresh performance that deserves an Emmy.

Who Will Win: Kevin Spacey for House of Cards

Who Should Win: Rami Malek for Mr. Robot

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathieson on Homeland (Showtime) (Episode: “Super Powers”)

Viola Davis as Prof. Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder (ABC) (Episode: “There’s My Baby”)

Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyons on Empire (Fox) (Episode: “Rise by Sin”)

Tatiana Maslany as Various Character on Orphan Black (BBC America) (Episode: “The Anitsocialism of Sex”)  

Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings on The Americans (FX) (Episode: “The Magic of David Copperfield v The Statue of Liberty Disappearance”)

Robin Wright as First Lady Claire Underwood on House of Cards (Netflix) (Episode: “Chapter 49”)

 It is a little bit tougher to predict the Lead Actress category in how homogenous it has been for the past few years. The only new entry in this year’s category is that of Keri Russell who gets out of the yearly lists of who was snubbed by the Emmys. Last year the emotional story was the Viola Davis’ win, making her the first African American to win that category. She has a chance to do it again this year. Taraji P. Henson had all the momentum last year coming into this category but for some reason Empire could not garner any love from the Emmys despite it being rich in the cultural conversations. Now this year, Empire does not have that same momentum. If anyone has the greatest chance in winning for all the same reasons that Kevin Spacey does, Robin Wright for House of Cards can come out ahead. With no obvious winners in the category, the Academy might award it to a respected actress who is doing great work and has not won yet. But, if we go by that idea, then that award should go to Keri Russell for The Americans. Have I mentioned how big it is that The Americans finally got an Emmy nomination? I’m not sure I mentioned that yet. Yet, this category could have been fresher with a bunch of actresses doing great things on television last year. Although not considered prestige television, Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones on the Marvel television series, Jessica Jones did outstanding work last year as a superhero trying to overcome feelings of being used by a mind controlling villain.

Who Will Win: Robin Wright for House of Cards

Who Should Win: Keri Russell for The Americans

Outstanding Supporting Actor for a Drama Series

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut on Better Call Saul (AMC) (Episode: “Bali Ha’I”)

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “The Winds of Winter”)

Kit Harrington as Jon Snow on Game of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “Battle of the Bastards”0

Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper on House of Cards (Netflix) (Episode: “Part 44”)

Ben Mendelsohn as Danny Rayburn on Bloodline (Netflix) (Episode: “Part 23”)

Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan on Ray Donovan (Showtime) (Episode: The Kalamazoo”)

Here is the only category that needs to come with a spoiler alert. Game of Thrones has always gotten a lot of love in the supporting actor categories with Peter Dinklage winning the award in the past few years. Once again he is the favorite for this year’s award as Tyrion Lannister. Hs biggest competitor is his Game of Thrones co-star Kit Harrington who is running on the momentum of the dubiousness of his character’s fate and fan support. But, the biggest surprise is the inclusion of Ben Mendelsohn as Danny Rayburn who has a smaller role than last year but was just as great as ever. Mendelsohn is just an actor who should win everything that comes in his way. Surprisingly, with the last season of Downton Abbey, Jim Carter is not nominated for the first time in the entire run of the television series. But, the biggest snub come in the form of Christian Slater who has never been better as the mysterious Mr. Robot in the television series of the same name. It is strange because he fits the normal mold of what Emmy voters love. He is a big movie star name with a semi-redemption story. It is a prestige show which got nominations in other bigger categories. Maybe it will take until next year for Slater to break through the glass ceiling.

Who Will Win: Peter Dinklage for Game of Thrones

Who Should Win: Ben Mendelsohn for Bloodline

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen for Games of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “Book of the Stranger”)

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister for Game of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “The Winds of Winter”)

Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley for Downton Abbey (PBS) (Episode: “TBA”)

Maura Tierney as Helen Solloway for The Affair (Showtime) (Episode: “204”)

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark on Game of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “No One”)

Constance Zimmer as Quinn King on UnReal (Lifetime) (Episode: “Mother”)

The three actresses nominated for Game of Thrones could inevitably split the voting amongst the three from voters. But, even then the favorite to win the category is one of the actresses from the series, Lena Headey. But, I want to give a special shout out to someone who I wouldn’t think would get the nomination. Constance Zimmer got nominated for a wonderfully underrated series, UnReal, as the producer of a Bachelor-like television series. Her ability to play apathetic and cold-hearted is what shines through in her performance as Quinn King. This could be the category in which Maggie Smith wins another Emmy especially with Downton Abbey wrapping up as a thank you to the great British actress. It is surprising that last year’s winner Uzo Aduba on Orange is the New Black is nominated this year for Best Supporting but this has been a rough year for the usual Emmy powerhouse as it still struggles from the shift from the comedy category to the drama category.

Who Will Win: Lena Headey for Game of Thrones

Who Should Win: Constance Zimmer for UnReal

Best Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Bryan Cranston as Lyndon B. Johnson on All the Way (HBO)

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes on Sherlock: “The Abominable Bride” (PBS)

Idric Elba as DCI John Luther on Luther (BBC: America)

Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Pine on The Night Manager (AMC)

Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

The Limited Series or Movie categories are dominated by The People v. O.J. Simpson. There is no one better on that show than Courtney B. Vance who was able to challenge the charisma yet the inner challenges of blackness Johnnie Cochran had to face during the trial. Unfortunately, with the nomination of Cuba Gooding Jr. in the same category there could be a chance that they split up the votes leading to none of the actors on the show to win the award. It is Bryan Cranston as his turn as LBJ, a role that he took to television from Broadway. Like his nomination for Trumbo though, this performance is technically sound but it feels too old fashioned. But, with the love that Cranston has from the Academy he is the favorite to win despite Vance being the one that should win. What is surprising is that there is no nomination for Oscar Isaac of the HBO show, Show Me a Hero. First off, Isaac is an all-around beautiful human being and actor. Secondly he was really good on the show as well.

Who Will Win: Bryan Cranston for All the Way

Who Should Win: Courtney B. Vance for The People v. O.J. Simpson

Best Lead Actress in a Limited Series of Movie

Kirsten Dunst as Peggy Blumquist on Frago (FX)

Felicity Huffman as Leslie Graham on American Crime (ABC)

Audra McDonald s Billie Holiday on Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (HBO)

Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

Lili Taylor as Anne Blaine on American Crime (ABC)

Kerry Washington as Anita Hill on Confirmation (HBO)

What a strong category. Every actress on this list has delivered strong performances all year. The two favorites have to be Kirsten Dunst and the always wonderful Sarah Paulsen. Dunst was the star of the recent season of Fargo reminding me of how much I missed Dunst as a consistent presence in my life. Yet, it is Paulsen as the Marcia Clark that should and is favorited to win. Her role as Clark gives new dimension to a real life character that has been perceived for years as one dimensional. She expanded the way we think about her giving her the pathos of being someone who cannot understand the social implications that are going on around her. Kerry Washington also has a chance as Anita Hill.

Who Will Win: Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark on The People v. O.J. Simpson

Who Should Win: Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark on The People v. O.J. Simpson

Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

Hugh Laurie as Richard Onslow Roper on The Night Manager (AMC)

Jesse Plemons as Ed Blumquist on Fargo (FX)

David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

John Travolta as Robert Shapiro on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

Bokeem Woodbine as Mike Milligan on Fargo (FX)

One again this category is the People v. O.J. Simpson’s to lose. But, it is not the big names that should. John Travolta is nominated out what seems to be obligation for giving a hilariously bad performance as Robert Shapiro. David Schwimmer was fine as Robert Kardashian. But, it was Sterling K. Brown as one of the prosecuting attorneys against O.J. that really stood out. That said his biggest competition will be Hugh Laurie for The Night Manager which is coming on at an especially strong year for these categories.

Who Will Win: Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Who Should Win: Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Kathy Bates as Iris on American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)

Olivia Colman as Angela Burr on The Night Manager (AMC)

Regina King as Terri LaCroix on American Crime (ABC)

Melissa Leo as First Lady Lady Bird Johnson on All the Way (HBO)

Sarah Paulson as Sally McKenna on American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)

Jean Smart as Floyd Gerhardt on Fargo (FX)

Kathy Bates is coming into this category with the most nominations for this category ever, getting six thus far. However, it is her co-star Sarah Paulsen who is gaining all the momentum for having a great year. It is hard to say whether or not the Academy will allow Paulsen to win two awards of the night. Olivia Colman was also great The Night Manager and she will be vying for the win. I still do not understand why Show Me a Hero got so little love from the Emmys but Catherine Keener definitely deserves more recognition which should be the tagline for her entire career.

Who Will Win: Sarah Paulson as Sally McKenna on American Horror Story: Hotel

Who Should Win: Olivia Colman as Angela Burr on The Night Manager

Outstanding Drama Series

The Americans (FX)

Better Call Saul (AMC)

Downton Abbey (PBS)

Game of Thrones (HBO)

Homeland (Showtime)

House of Cards (Netflix)

Mr. Robot (USA)

Final time I will do this: THE AMERICANS FINALLY GOT A NOMINATION. That said The Americans is not the show that should win this category. It is the newcomer Mr. Robot which is the only new show on the list this year. The show felt fresh and groundbreaking and for a network that has never had any respect among the cable juggernauts. But, now it has another juggernaut to overcome in the ratings hit and last year’s winner, Game of Thrones. This year the fantasy drama even got more love in the acting categories than it did last year. But, now that The Americans got the nominations, critics can now move on to bemoaning the lack of nominations for the Starz series, Outlander. It works in the same realm as Game of Thrones in the fantasy landscape but because of being on a channel most people do not have, Outlander may have to wait five critically acclaimed years before it gets any Emmy love.

Who Will Win: Game of Thrones

Who Should Win: Mr. Robot

Outstanding Limited Series

American Crime (ABC)

Fargo (FX)

The Night Manager (AMC)

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

Roots (History)


There is no question who is going to win this category. The People v. O.J. Simpson was not only critically loved but everyone was talking about it. Maybe, just maybe Fargo can compete but is there any question. The People v. O.J. just has the topical significance that Fargo can’t beat. There is no reason to even talk about the other series. That said, this is the first year since its inception that American Horror Story did not secure a nomination. And once again, I do not understand why HBO’s Show Me a Hero gained so much apathy from the Academy. Maybe they do not like shows about government bureaucracy set in Yonkers.

Who Will Win: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Who Should Win: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Outstanding TV Movie

All the Way (HBO)

Confirmation (HBO)

Luther (BBC: America)

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (PBS)

A Very Murray Christmas (Netflix)

HBO has won this category nine years in a row and they are very likely going to win again. All the Way has the credibility being about civil rights and being about a president starring one of the most beloved Emmy actors of all time, Bryan Cranston. It is as Oscar Bait of a movie as there ever was without it being the Oscars. That said, the best thing and most surprising thing on the list is the inclusion of Sophia Coppola’s A Very Murray Christmas. Imagine the existential melancholy of Lost in Translation and the weirdness of George Clooney singing a sex song about Santa Claus. That is the summation of A Very Murray Christmas, a Christmas special starring Bill Murray. It is weird, idiosyncratic and deserves all the awards. If the Academy was brave that is exactly what would happen.

Who Will Win:  All The Way

Who Should Win: All The Way

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series

Donwton Abbey (Episode: “Episode 9”), directed by Michael Engler (PBS)

Game of Thrones (Episode: “Battle of the Bastards”), directed by Miguel Sapochnik (HBO)

Game of Thrones (Episode: “The Door”), directed by Jack Bender (HBO)

Homeland (Episode: The Tradition of Hospitality”), directed by Lesli Linka Glatter (Showtime)

The Knick (Episode: “This is All We Are”), directed by Steven Soderbergh (Cinemax)

Ray Donovan (Episode: “Exsuscito”), directed by David Hollander (Showtime)

I’m sure Game of Thrones will win but that is because it feels like it is well directed. The best directed thing on television is from no surprise, Steven Soderbergh and The Knick. Maybe The Knick is now in the spot that was previously held by The Americans as the most overlooked show on television today. But, a major gripe I have is the lack of nomination for Sam Esmil as the director of the first episode for Mr. Robot. It is one of the most well executed episodes of the entire year evoking images from American Psycho to the works of David Fincher.

Who Will Win: Jack Bender for Game of Thrones

Who Should Win: Steven Soderbergh for The Knick

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special

All the Way, directed by Jay Roach (HBO)

Fargo (Episode: “Before the Law”), Directed by Noah Hawley (FX)
The Night Manager, Directed by Susanne Bier (AMC)

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Episode: “From the Ashes of Tragedy”), directed by Ryan Murphy (FX)

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Episode: “Manna from Heaven”) directed by Anthony Hemingway (FX)

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Episode: “The Race Card”), directed by John Singleton (FX)

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is the most likely winner of this category especially for its first episode which was directed by Ryan Murphy. However, although it is a great mini-series, Noah Hawley and Susanne Bier did excellent work as well on their respective series that is going to be overlooked by the much more popular show. I already professed my love for A Very Murray Christmas which should have got a nod for Sofia Coppola because it was one of the most unique experiences of the year, however, maybe it was a little too unique for Emmy voters.

What Will Win: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Episode: “From the Ashes of Tragedy”), directed by Ryan Murphy  

What Should Win: The Night Manager, Directed by Susanne Bier