Will “Homeland” assert its dominance with another sweep of the major drama categories? Will Netflix shake up the industry with recognition for its strong original programming? Will the academy choose to send off AMC's “Breaking Bad” in proper fashion? We asked four of Digital First Media's distinguished TV critics to weigh in with predictions (and personal hopes!) for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards:
OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: “Breaking Bad” (AMC), “Downton Abbey” (PBS), “Game of Thrones” (HBO), “Homeland” (Showtime), “House of Cards” (Netflix), “Mad Men” (AMC)
Scott Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune: “Game of Thrones” - There's nothing on TV that can match this
for the huge scale of the drama that is, at the same time, character driven.
Chuck Barney, Bay Area News Group: “Breaking Bad” - TV's most buzzed-about show is also its best.
Joanne Ostrow, The Denver Post: “Breaking Bad” - “Mad Men” had an uneven season, “House of Cards” made Emmy history as the first non-broadcast series ever nominated but the show was good, not great. “Homeland,” which won last year, has some curious lags. “BB” is simply the most brilliant television being made at the moment.
Rob Lowman, Los Angeles Daily News: “Breaking Bad” - There is a lot of love for the series, which is ending this month, but I prefer “House of Cards,” which I see as more nuanced.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR (DRAMA)
Nominees: Hugh Bonneville (“Downton Abbey”) Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) Jeff Daniels (“The Newsroom”) Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) Damian Lewis (“Homeland”) Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”)
SP: Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) - He's magnificent in the role of a lifetime - Walter White, the mild-mannered teacher-turned-druglord/killer.
CB: Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) - Cranston already has three trophies and the Academy has a crush on movie stars.
JO: Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) - Five noms and no trophy? Hamm is overdue. The voters will likely have Cranston in mind for next year, after the finale.
RL: Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) - As the bent Congressman Francis Underwood, Spacey makes the most of a very showy role.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS (DRAMA)
Nominees: Claire Danes (“Homeland”), Vera Farmiga (“Bates Motel”), Michelle Dockery (“Downton Abbey”), Robin Wright (“House of Cards”), Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”), Connie Britton (“Nashville”), Kerry Washington (“Scandal”)
ABC's ‘Scandal' stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope. (Getty Images)
SP: Kerry Washington (“Scandal”) - The fact that she's so good in a show that is over-the-top crazy can't be overlooked.
CB: Kerry Washington (“Scandal”) - I'd be totally satisfied with a repeat victory for Claire Danes, but something tells me that Washington has a lot of momentum - and buzz - on her side.
JO: Claire Danes (“Homeland”) - Great to see Vera Farmiga and Kerry Washington make the list with first-time nominations. That said, Danes will take the award for her amazing turn as a CIA agent fighting both mental illness and terrorism.
RL: Claire Danes (“Homeland”) - As the bipolar CIA agent Carrie Mathison, Danes gets to run the whole gamut of emotions, but you've got to love Elizabeth Moss, too.
OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS), “Girls” (HBO), “Louie” (FX), “Modern Family” (ABC), “30 Rock” (NBC), “Veep” (HBO)
SP: “The Big Bang Theory” - Because there's nothing on TV that makes me laugh more than BBT.
CB: “Louie” - Time to jump off the “Modern Family” train and give the shiny prize to a truly offbeat, daringly brilliant and original piece of work.
JO: “Louie” - Charting a new course for comedy, this is the most inventive half hour on the list. Emmy voters will likely stick with repeat winner “Modern Family.”
RL: “Modern Family” - The networks have to get something and this is one of their categories, but “Louie,” “Veep,” and even “Girls,” which I am less fan of, are better.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR (COMEDY)
Nominees: Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”), Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development”), Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”), Matt LeBlanc (“Episodes”), Louie C.K (“Louie”), Don Cheadle (“House of Lies”)
Comedian Louis C.K. attends the George Carlin Tribute. (Getty Images)
SP: Matt LeBlanc (“Episodes”) - He's great as a parallel-universe version of himself. (And because he never got the credit he deserved on “Friends.”)
CB: Louis C.K. (“Louie”) - The hilarious do-it-yourself funnyman is in a league of his own.
JO: Louis C.K. (“Louie”) - While I was glad to see LeBlanc nominated for his work in the under-appreciated “Episodes,” this is the year for Louis C.K.'s intimate observational humor and understated delivery.
RL: Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”) - Another network category, but I'd pick everyone else before him. Jason Bateman carried “Arrested Development” and had to show more emotional range than anyone else.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS (COMEDY)
Nominees: Tina Fey (“30 Rock”), Laura Dern (“Enlightened”), Lena Dunham (“Girls”), Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”), Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”)
SP: Amy Poehler (“Parks & Recreation”) - She makes us laugh at and care about a largely unlikable character.
CB: Amy Poehler (“Parks & Recreation”) - Voters can no longer deny her brilliant turn as Leslie Knope.
JO: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) - While I'd love to see Laura Dern recognized for her serious acting chops, Louis-Dreyfus is likely to repeat for her more accessible performance on a more popular show.
RL: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) - As blindly ambitious Vice President Selina Meyer, Louis-Dreyfus is tremendously funny, which she proved for years on “Seinfeld.”
Nominees: “American Horror Story: Asylum” (FX), “Behind the Candelabra” (HBO), “The Bible” (History), “Phil Spector” (HBO), “Political Animals” (USA), “Top of the Lake” (Sundance Channel)
SP: “Top of the Lake” - It's a great character drama.
CB: “Behind the Candelabra” - “Top of the Lake” was fantastic, but it will be hard to beat the glitter, the glitz and the star power of this Liberace saga.
JO: “Behind the Candelabra” - Although “Top of the Lake” was terrific, “Behind the Candelabra” was the splashy, star-studded, pop culture reference point of the season.
RL: “Behind the Candelabra” - The Steven Soderbergh-directed film about Liberace was funny, touching and weird with marvelous performances.
OUTSTANDING VARIETY SERIES
Nominees: “The Colbert Report” (Comedy Central), “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart”Comedy Central), “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC), “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” (NBC), “Real Time With Bill Maher” (HBO), “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
SP: “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” - This remains can't-miss TV.
CB: “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” - Gonna ride this winning horse until it breaks down.
JO: “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” - Stephen Colbert is coming on strong, but nobody hits the political, social, comedic sweet spot like Stewart.
RL: “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” - Because it always wins, but it would be nice to see a tie with its equally brilliant counterpart, “The Colbert Report.”
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR (DRAMA)
Nominees: Bobby Cannavale (“Boardwalk Empire”), Jonathan Banks (“Breaking Bad”), Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”), Jim Carter (“Downton Abbey”), Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”), Many Patinkin (“Homeland”)
SP: Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”) - Paul creates a character we love and want to protect despite all the incredibly terrible things he's done.
CB: Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”) - Mandy Patinkin was great, but the defending champ in this category raised his game even more.
JO: Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”) - Although voters may lean to Mandy Patinkin, Paul is giving the performance of a lifetime as Jesse Pinkman, as emotionally searing and nuanced display.
RL: Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”) - Mandy Patinkin, who gave “Homeland” a center, would be a good choice, but it's probably “Breaking Bad” and Paul's year.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS (DRAMA)
Nominees: Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”), Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”), Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”), Christine Baranski (“The Good Wife”), Morena Baccarin (“Homeland”), Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”)
SP: Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) - Her character, Skyler White, is all shades of gray. And that's not easy to play.
CB: Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) - Skyler has taken enough abuse (from fans, as well as Walt). Time to reward Gunn for her stellar work.
JO: Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) - Gunn deserves it, Dame Maggie Smith will likely win it. And it's tough to argue with that.
RL: Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”) - Yes, Smith is great, but she isn't called on to do a lot. She will win because she is up the voters' alley. Gunn deserves it, though.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR (COMEDY)
Nominees: Adam Driver (“Girls”), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (“Modern Family”), Ed O'Neill (“Modern Family”), Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”), Bill Hader (“SNL”), Tony Hale (“Veep”)
SP: Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”) - He makes playing Phil Dunphy look easy. And there aren't many actors out there who could pull the role off, period.
CB: Ed O'Neill (“Modern Family”) - I'd love to see Driver win here, but I think voters will stick with someone from “Modern Family” and it's O'Neill's turn.
JO: Ed O'Neill (“Modern Family”) - At long last, O'Neill will get his due. He makes it look easy.
RL: Ed O'Neill (“Modern Family”) - It's his turn.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS (COMEDY)
Nominees: Mayim Bialik (“The Big Bang Theory”), Jane Lynch (“Glee”), Sofia Vergara (“Modern Family”), Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”), Merritt Wever (“Nurse Jackie”), Jane Krakowski (“30 Rock”), Anna Chlumsky (“Veep”)
SP: Mayim Bialik (“The Big Bang Theory”) - Amy is another role that's harder than Bialik makes it look. And because I love the idea of Blossom winning an Emmy.
CB: Mayim Bialik (“The Big Bang Theory”) - Julie Bowen just might rule this category again, but I'm all for a fresh face and Bialik is a constant source of mirth.
JO: Merritt Wever (“Nurse Jackie”) - Although Julie Bowen is probably the Emmy voters' choice as the glue that holds “Modern Family” together, I'd love to see Wever get recognition for her hilarious portrayal of an eager young nurse, Jackie's sidekick.
RL: Sofia Vergara (“Modern Family”) - Other than she's on “Modern Family,” there is no real reason. It could be Julie Bowen's turn. Anna Chlumsky, though, was terrific.
• Want to cast your vote for the 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards? Use our virtual ballot and compare your predictions with the Academy on Sunday night.
• Use this interactive Bingo cardwhile you’re watching the show live Sunday for some extra fun.
• Don’t miss tomorrow’s live chat at 11 a.m. with TV critics from around the country as they discuss what’s in store for Sunday’s show.