The 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards airs this Sunday (17 September), unofficially signaling the start of awards season.
Some categories have no obvious standout, so in those instances, we’re choosing to cheerlead for our favorites, including Sir Anthony Hopkins (Westworld) and Matthew Rhys (The Americans), who are both up for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama, and Thandie Newton, whose performance in Westworld led her to being nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
Some categories, though, will be fiercely contested, and in some cases, we’ll be forced to watch as one of our faves is vanquished by another. Talk about conflicted! Here are five of the most contentious categories we’ll have to get our head around.
1. Claire Foy vs. Elisabeth Moss for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama
If the Golden Globes are any indication, then Claire Foy will walk away with this for her wonderfully buttoned-up portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown. One actress not up against her then, however, was Elisabeth Moss, whose brooding performance in The Handmaid’s Tale was still a twinkle in Hulu’s eye in January. Could the eight times-nominated Mad Men alumna nab the trophy from under Claire’s nose? Or will outsider Evan Rachel Wood surprise both of them with her performance in Westworld as the big-eyed prairie ‘bot who morphs into Dolores the lawless?
2. Riz Ahmed vs. Benedict Cumberbatch for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie
Plucky newcomer Riz Ahmed and fan favorite Benedict Cumberbatch are nominated in the same category this year, meaning we’ve got a veritable “Sophie’s Choice” when it comes to choosing a winner. Should Riz win for his critically acclaimed performance in HBO’s The Night Of? Or how about Benners for Season 4 of Sherlock? It’s irrelevant, of course, because both of them are up against Robert bloody de Niro.
3. The Crown vs. Stranger Things for Outstanding Drama Series
Could this be the first year a streaming service bags the biggest drama Emmy? It certainly looks possible, with Netflix and Hulu both nominated for The Crown, House of Cards and Stranger Things, and The Handmaid’s Tale respectively. If it does, then our money’s on a face-off between The Crown, which swept the board at the Golden Globes, and Stranger Things, which captured the nation’s imagination with a terrifying underworld mixed with 1980s nostalgia. The networks might have the last laugh, however: HBO’s Westworld has the biggest number of Emmys noms this year with no fewer than 22 mentions, and is also nominated in this category.
4. Jessica Lange vs. Susan Sarandon for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie
Feud dramatized how Joan Crawford and Bette Davis were at each other’s throats over the 1963 Oscar for Baby Jane, so it is a delicious occasion that the actresses who play them have been nominated in this category. Jessica Lange is the bookie favorite, but Susan Sarandon might just scratch her eyes out for it.
5. James Corden vs. John Oliver for Outstanding Variety Talk Series
Emmy host Stephen Colbert is nominated in this category, along with Samantha Bee, Bill Maher, and Jimmy Kimmel, but all eyes will be on these two Brits fighting to make late-night TV their own. Will it be The Late Late Show with James Corden, home of the “Carpool Karaoke” phenomenon? Or will last year’s winner Last Week Tonight With John Oliver pip James to the post once again? Oh! We can’t watch.
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