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Rotten Tomatoes' 2019 Emmys Predictions

Veep is back! But could Fleabag emerge as the dark horse candidate and snag top comedy prize instead? Rotten Tomatoes' staff picks who will get an Emmy.

by and | September 18, 2019 | Comments

Rotten Tomatoes’ staff got together, voted on this year’s Emmy nominees, and — honestly, picked a few doozies. The 71st edition of the Television Academy’s award show has already handed out trophies for technical and other categories as part of the Creative Arts Emmys two-day celebration, with Game of Thrones already winning 10 of the total 32 awards for which it was nominated. (Other big winners: National Geographic’s Oscar-winning Free Solo, HBO’s limited series Chernobyl, and reigning comedy winner The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.)

But the rest of the statues will be awarded on Sunday, Sept. 22. And here’s who the RT staff thinks will take home this year’s top TV honors in some of the highest-profile and most competitive categories:

It’s a battle of the hyphenates in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy category: Julia Louis-Dreyfus versus Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Rotten Tomatoes predicts Louis-Dreyfus will emerge victorious; though Waller-Bridge has the best shot of the nominees at upsetting the 11-time Emmy winner’s Veep streak.

Jared Harris or Jharrel Jerome? One of the Js will win Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie when the awards are handed out. Previously nominated for his work on Mad Men, Harris is this year nominated for his role in harrowing HBO miniseries Chernobyl, while Jerome’s performance in Ava DuVernay’s powerful When They See Us has landed him his first nomination.

Read on to find out which other nominees got RT’s staff vote in their categories (and which dark horse candidates might steal it away from them).

Visit “2019 Emmy Award Nominations” to see the full list of nominees. The winners will be announced live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 22 (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) on Fox.

Be sure to also check out: 2019 Emmy Nomination Snubs & Surprises: Game of Thrones Makes History, Schitt’s Creek Pops

And click here for a printable ballot (complete with Tomatometer scores!) you can use on the big night.


COMEDY


OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES

Fleabag
(Photo by Amazon Prime Video)

RT Pick: Fleabag: Season 2 (2019) 100%
Upset Candidate: Veep: Season 7 (2019) 96% OR The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 2 (2018) 91%

Amazon Prime Video series Fleabag is running neck-and-neck with HBO’s Veep and Amazon’s reigning comedy-series Emmy champ The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but RT’s staff backs the 100% Certified Fresh comedy from creator-writer-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Veep’s final season was delayed while its star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, underwent cancer treatment, leaving a window last Emmy season for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to step through and win the category, ending a three-year streak for the HBO title. This is an exciting race — will Emmy voters go with the veteran or one of the upstart challengers?


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Veep season 7, (Colleen Hayes/HBO)
(Photo by Colleen Hayes/HBO)

Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus Veep: Season 7 (2019) 96%
Upset Candidate: Phoebe Waller-Bridge Fleabag: Season 2 (2019) 100% OR Rachel Brosnahan The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 2 (2018) 91%

Eleven-time Emmy winner Louis-Dreyfus is the one to beat in this category. She’s won the award six times for her role as Selina Meyer in HBO’s Veep – eight times overall, including her awards for the roles of Christine Campbell in The New Adventures of Old Christine in 2006 and as Elaine Benes in Seinfeld in 1996. Brosnahan won the Emmy in the category in 2018 for her role as Midge in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. This year, Fleabag’s Waller-Bridge challenges Brosnahan for second place with many industry observers thinking Waller-Bridge may actually have a chance to both unseat the reigning champ and deny Louis-Dreyfus a seventh Emmy for her Veep role.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Barry (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

Will Win: Bill Hader Barry: Season 2 (2019) 100%
Upset Candidate: Michael Douglas The Kominsky Method: Season 1 (2018) 79%

Emmy watchers predict the incumbent in this category, Hader, will absolutely take the award again this year for his role as the titular reluctant hitman, and the RT staff strongly agrees. Hader is up for four Emmys for the series, including directing, writing, and producing, as well as the acting award. If anyone were to unseat him, it would be acting veterans and previous Emmy winners Michael Douglas (six career nominations with one win) for his role in Netflix series The Kominsky Method or Ted Danson (17 career nominations and two wins) for NBC’s The Good Place.


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 2 Alex Borstein (Amazon Prime Video)
(Photo by Amazon Prime Video)

Will Win: Alex Borstein The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 2 (2018) 91%
Upset Candidate: Olivia Colman  Fleabag: Season 2 (2019) 100%

Two-time Emmy winner Borstein’s biggest competition in this category is recent Oscar winner Colman for her role in Fleabag. Awards watchers expect Borstein to easily take the award again for the second year in a row, however.


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Veep, Episode 61 (Season 7, Episode 3), debuts 4/14/19: Tony Hale. photo: Colleen Hayes/HBO
(Photo by Colleen Hayes/HBO)

Will Win: Tony Hale  Veep: Season 7 (2019) 96%
Upset Candidate: Tony Shalhoub The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 2 (2018) 91%

Industry favorite Shalhoub didn’t get the RT staff vote. Instead, it was Veep star Hale. The three Barry actors in this category — Anthony Carrigan as NOHO Hank, Stephen Root as Monroe Fuches, and Henry Winkler as Gene Cousineau — split the RT staff vote. Hale has been nominated six times in this category for his role as Gary Walsh in the HBO comedy and won twice.


Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series

Barry
(Photo by HBO)

Will Win: Bill Hader, “ronny/lily” Barry: Season 2 (2019) 100%
Upset Candidate: Daniel Palladino, “We’re Going To The Catskills!” The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 2 (2018) 91%

The RT staff vote puts Hader on top with the fifth episode of Barry’s second season. Meanwhile, industry watchers are betting that Palladino has an equal chance to take the category with the fourth episode from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s second season.


Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag season 2 (Credit: Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)
(Photo by Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

Will Win: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Episode 1” Fleabag: Season 2 (2019) 100%
Upset Candidate: David Mandel, “Veep” Veep: Season 7 (2019) 96%

The RT staff agrees with industry watchers betting on Waller-Bridge, who got 50% of the RT staff vote, and many TV media experts expect Mandel’s “Veep” to hold second position in this race (Barry’s “ronny/lily” episode from Alec Berg and Bill Hader came in second with RT staff).


DRAMA


OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Kit Harington as Jon Snow / Aegon Targaryen in Game of Thrones season 8, episode 6, series finale "The Iron Throne" (Helen Sloan/HBO)
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

Will Win: Game of Thrones: Season 8 (2019) 56%
Upset Candidate: Killing Eve: Season 2 (2019) 93%

Half of the RT staff votes went to Game of Thrones for its final season. The experts, too, are betting hard on the series to take the drama prize for its final season (Rotten Tomatometer score or no). But if any series is going to beat the HBO fantasy phenomenon, we’re thinking Killing Eve — with its likable leads, clever story, and witty banter — just might be the one to do it.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Jodie Comer as Villanelle, Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri - Killing Eve _ Season 2, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh/BBCAmerica
(Photo by Parisa Taghizadeh/BBCAmerica)

Will Win: Sandra Oh Killing Eve: Season 2 (2019) 93%
Upset Candidate: Jodie Comer Killing Eve: Season 2 (2019) 93%

Oh has the advantage with critics and RT staff alike, but, if any, Comer is the favorite to unseat Oh in a battle between costars. This is Comer’s first Emmy nomination, but Oh’s eighth.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

POSE -- "Never Knew Love Like This Before" -- Season 2, Episode 4 (Airs Tues, July 9, 10:00 p.m. e/p) Pictured (l-r): Billy Porter as Pray Tell. CR: Macall Polay/FX
(Photo by Macall Polay/FX)

Will Win: Billy Porter Pose: Season 2 (2019) 97%
Upset Candidate: Bob Odenkirk Better Call Saul: Season 4 (2018) 99%

Pose tells a powerful survivor’s tale, and Porter is one of the most experienced and dynamic actors in the cast. Though the first-time Emmy nominee is certainly a favorite in his own right, his merits do include being part of an ensemble cast telling an important story. Odenkirk, a two-time Emmy winner for his writing, has been nominated in this category four times now — we may find out that voters feel like it’s time he won.


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Gwendoline Christie as Brienne in Game of Thrones season 8 (Helen Sloan/HBO)
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

Will Win: Gwendoline Christie Game of Thrones: Season 8 (2019) 56%
Upset Candidate: Lena Headey Game of Thrones: Season 8 (2019) 56%

RT staff voted Christie as most likely winner here, but her biggest competition is her own costars: Headey, Maisie Williams, and Sophie Turner. Headey’s arc in the final season was cause for complaint among fans, but, given that this is her fifth nomination in this category for this role, and she won’t have a shot at it again as Cersei Lannister, Academy voters may deem it time she was rewarded for her performance in the series overall.


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 6, series finale "The Iron Throne" (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

Will Win: Peter Dinklage Game of Thrones: Season 8 (2019) 56%
Upset Candidate: Jonathan Banks Better Call Saul: Season 4 (2018) 99%

Nominated eight times in this category for his role as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, Peter Dinklage has one three Emmys. He’s favored to win his fourth this year, but if anyone is up to challenging him, it’s Banks, who’s been nominated five times for the role of Mike Ehrmantraut between Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.


Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3 (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

Will Win: Miguel Sapochnik, “The Long Night” Game of Thrones: Season 8 (2019) 56%
Upset Candidate: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, “The Iron Throne” Game of Thrones: Season 8 (2019) 56%

Also known as the Game of Thrones portion of the evening, the drama awards handed out will certainly include the talent behind the scenes. (See the Creative Arts awards the title has won so far.) One of those is expected to go to Sapochnik for an episode that featured epic action, but was also considered absurdly dark to viewers squawking about it on social media. Sapochnik’s main competition is series creators Benioff and Weiss for their direction on the series finale.


Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 6, series finale "The Iron Throne" (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

Will Win: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, “The Iron Throne” Game of Thrones: Season 8 (2019) 56%
Upset Candidate: Peter Gould and Thomas Schnauz, “Winner” Better Call Saul: Season 4 (2018) 99%

Once again, Better Call Saul looks like the little series that could next to behemoth Game of Thrones. We wish it luck!


MORE


OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES

HBO's Chernobyl, episode 3 (Liam Daniel/HBO)
(Photo by Liam Daniel/HBO)

Will Win: Chernobyl: Miniseries (2019) 95%
Upset Candidate: When They See Us: Season 1 (2019) 96%

HBO’s Chernobyl and Netflix’s When They See Us both portray great injustices born of willful ignorance: men and women who refused to believe the facts in front of them because of their own biases. Both limited series are powerful, gripping cautionary tales, and it seems like the industry wants to reward both efforts; When They See Us creator Ava DuVernay (Oscar winner for Selma) is the favorite for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special, while Chernobyl’s Craig Mazin is the favorite for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special. The battle in these Limited Series categories puts Netflix head to head against Emmy powerhouse HBO. In 2018, HBO had 108 nominations and Netflix 112 nominations – they tied with 23 wins each. In 2019, HBO has 137 nominations and Netflix has 117. This category is a nail-biter, and the RT staff picked Chernobyl to win it.


OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE

Deadwood movie stars Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

Will Win: Deadwood: The Movie (2019) 97%
Upset Candidate: Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) 72%

RT staff and the experts wholeheartedly agree: Deadwood will win the category, but Bandersnatch is the next likely suspect.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

FOSSE VERDON "Who's Got the Pain" Episode 2 (Airs Tuesday, April 16, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon. CR: Eric Liebowitz/FX
(Photo by Eric Liebowitz/FX)

Will Win: Michelle Williams Fosse/Verdon: Miniseries (2019) 82%
Upset Candidate: Amy Adams Sharp Objects: Miniseries (2018) 92% OR Patricia Arquette Escape at Dannemora: Miniseries (2018) 89%

Industry watchers strongly expect Williams to take this category, and the RT staff agrees. The more closely you look, the tighter the race looks: It’s the first Emmy nomination for both Williams and Adams. Williams has four Academy Award nominations to Adams’ six. Fosse/Verdon has an 82% Tomatometer compared to Sharp Objects’ 92%, and both are Certified Fresh. Previous Emmy winner Arquette, who won a Golden Globe for her performance as Tilly Mitchell, could easily just snatch this away from everyone, however.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

Chernobyl Jared Harris (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

Will Win: Jared Harris Chernobyl: Miniseries (2019) 95%
Upset Candidate: Jharrel Jerome When They See Us: Season 1 (2019) 96%

Harris’ performance as Valery Legasov was a master class in dramatic acting. He was previously Emmy nominated for his role in Mad Men, and some think he should have been nominated for the first season of AMC’s The Terror. At the same time, Jerome’s Korey Wise is an extraordinary achievement early in the actor’s career, and people really want to reward that. It’s a classic generation struggle: Do you reward the person who’s been doing the work for a long time and deserves recognition for a standout performance, or do you encourage a newcomer in his celebrated breakout role?


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

Sharp Objects, episode 2 star Patricia Clarkson (Anne Marie Fox/HBO)
(Photo by Anne Marie Fox/HBO)

Will Win: Patricia Clarkson Sharp Objects: Miniseries (2018) 92%
Upset Candidate: Patricia Arquette The Act: Season 1 (2019) 89%

Clarkson is seen by both the RT staff an industry experts as running away with this award. If forced to guess that anyone has a chance against her role as troubled mother Adora Crellin in the HBO limited series, we’ll say Arquette, who some say deserves the lead actress award for Showtime’s Escape at Dannemora, and gives a similarly transcendent/disturbing performance here.


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

Ben Whishaw as Norman Scott in A Very English Scandal (Sophie Mutevelian; (C) Blueprint Television Ltd)
(Photo by Sophie Mutevelian; (C) Blueprint Television Ltd)

Will Win: Ben Whishaw A Very English Scandal: Miniseries (2018) 97%
Upset Candidate: Michael Kenneth Williams When They See Us: Season 1 (2019) 96%

Remember when A Very English Scandal hit seemingly out of the blue and stirred up that huge buzz? That was this Emmy season, and the buzz is still on Whishaw to land a trophy for his performance as Norman, the jilted lover of an English politician. Williams is seen as the next favorite.


Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie Or Dramatic Special

When They See Us (Netflix)
(Photo by Netflix)

Will Win: Ava DuVernay When They See Us: Season 1 (2019) 96%
Upset Candidate: Johan Renck Chernobyl: Miniseries (2019) 95%

DuVernay has got this.


Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special

Chernobyl (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

Will Win: Craig Mazin Chernobyl: Miniseries (2019) 95%
Upset Candidate: Teleplay & story by Ava DuVernay and teleplay by Michael
Starrbury When They See Us: Season 1 (2019) 96%

Maybe it’s the technical challenge of telling Chernobyl‘s story that gives Mazin the edge here, but he’s seen as the favorite over DuVernay and Starrbury.


Outstanding Variety Talk Series

John Oliver March 3, 2019. photo: Lloyd Bishop/HBO
(Photo by Lloyd Bishop/HBO)

Will Win: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver: Season 6 (2019)
Upset Candidate: Full Frontal With Samantha Bee: Season 4 (2019)

Both RT staff and industry observers agree: If it’s not John Oliver, it’ll be Samantha Bee.


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