The 63rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be airing on Sept. 18. To prepare for this event, it is time to discuss what will win and what should win in the major drama categories.

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series

The nominees are: Connie Britton for "Friday Night Lights," Julianna Margulies for "The Good Wife," Kathy Bates for "Harry's Law," Mireille Enos for "The Killing," Mariska Hargitay for "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," and Elizabeth Moss for "Mad Men."

Who will win: Margulies.

I have a gut feeling that Margulies will take home the Best Actress award after surprisingly loosing to Kyra Sedgwick last year. Margulies dominates the small screen in her episode submission, "In Sickness," in which Alicia learns that her husband has had an affair with her best friend, Kalinda. It's a deeply powerful portrayal from Margulies as she plays a broken-hearted woman who must put on a strong face as she finally kicks her husband out. As strong as the other five leading ladies are, this should be Margulies year to win.

My preference: Moss.

After watching the last three episodes of "The Good Wife," I was tempted to choose Margulies as my personal choice. However, I simply couldn't deny that the best performance in this category was from Moss, who demonstrates her finest work in the masterful episode of "Mad Men" entitled, "The Suitcase." After putting up with Don Draper for nearly four years, Moss's Peggy Olson finally tells her boss off one night when she's forced to work late. Then in a surprising turn of events, Peggy and Don end up confiding in one another during troubling stages of their lives. Moss's range goes through several stages as she plays a frustrated working girl, a drunk, and a sympathetic ear. I won't be disappointed when Margulies beats out Moss at the Emmy ceremony. But Moss pulling an upset would be one of the most memorable moments of the night.

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

The nominees are: Steve Buscemi for "Boardwalk Empire," Michael C. Hall for "Dexter," Kyle Chandler for "Friday Night Lights," Hugh Laurie for "House," Timothy Olyphant for "Justified," and Jon Hamm for "Mad Men."

Who will win: Hamm.

With Bryan Cranston out of the picture, leeway has been made for six other deserving actors to win this award. With so much buzz backing "Boardwalk Empire," a lot of award analysts are probably ready to give Buscemi the Emmy on a silver platter. While Buscemi is undeniably great as Nucky Thompson, it's going to be hard to beat out Hamm, who had an exceptional year on "Mad Men." Like Moss, Hamm wisely submitted "The Suitcase." In this episode, the audience gets to see a more sympathetic side of Don Draper as he occupies himself with work in an attempt to cope with the loss of a loved one. If Hamm can't win an Emmy for this heartbreaking episode, then he never will.

My preference: Hamm.

I think I epitomized why Hamm is the most deserving candidate in the argument above.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

The nominees are: Kelly Macdonald for "Boardwalk Empire," Archie Panjabi for "The Good Wife," Christine Baranski for "The Good Wife," Margo Martindale for "Justified," Michelle Forbes for "The Killing," and Christina Hendricks for "Mad Men."

Who will win: Martindale.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Panjabi were to win here after pulling an unbelievable upset last year in this category. Hendricks, also notable, had some of her best material ever last season on "Mad Men." But there just seems to be too much support backing Martindale for her role as a ruthless pot grower on "Justified." Although I'm personally not the biggest "Justified" fan, I cannot deny that Martindale is beyond intimidating as the arch-nemesis of the Givens family. The fact that Martindale's character died in the season two finale will also likely help her on the road to victory.

My preference: Forbes.

Forbes has been doing diverse work as a character actress for years on shows like "Battlestar Galactica" and "True Blood." I was so happy to see her finally receive some award recognition for her role as the grieving mother in "The Killing." Forbes is wonderful in the pilot episode as she sits at home, distraught over her missing daughter's whereabouts. It all works up to a gut-wrenching final five minutes as Forbes learns that her daughter has been murdered over the phone. Forbes easily gets my vote for that scene alone.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

The nominees are: Peter Dinklage for "Game of Thrones," Josh Charles for "The Good Wife," Alan Cumming for "The Good Wife," Walton Goggins for "Justified," John Slatterly for "Mad Men," and Andre Braugher for "Men Of A Certain Age."

Who will win: Slatterly.

It's truly absurd that "Mad Men" has never won an acting Emmy despite winning the Best Drama award three years in a row. The Emmy's will likely set matters right this year by awarding Slatterly, along with Hamm. In addition to having a strong tape, Slatterly has seniority over the other nominees, who are almost all newcomers to this category. The only returning nominee is Braugher, who stands no chance at winning here. With no Aaron Paul of "Breaking Bad" or actors from "Lost" in the mix, this should be Slatterly's year.

My preference: Cumming.

As great as it would be to see Slatterly win here, my vote is for Cumming in "The Good Wife." After receiving a Best Guest Actor nomination last year, Cumming was upgraded to a full-time cast member. This year, Cumming stole every scene he was in as the hilariously blunt Eli Gold. If there's one character on television that deserves their very own spin-off, it's him.

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series

The nomineesa are: "Boardwalk Empire" for "Boardwalk Empire," "Boardwalk Empire" for "Anastasia," "The Borgias" for "The Poisoned Chalice/The Assassin," "Game of Thrones" for "Winter is Coming," and "The Killing" for "Pilot."

What will win: "Boardwalk Empire" for "Boardwalk Empire."

Directed by Martin Scorsese. I think that's all that needs to be said.

My preference: "The Killing" for "Pilot."

While "Boardwalk Empire" and "Game of Thrones" developed into the best new dramas of the year, I think that "The Killing" had the best pilot episode. This is a hauntingly shot and lingering first episode with essence of films like "Mystic River" and "Silence of the Lambs" and even the cult show, "Twin Peaks." Although the audience already suspects Rosie Larsen has been murdered, the episode completely entrances you as it builds up to the inevitable. The ending in which the police find Rosie's body in a sunken car is a particular emotional juggernaut.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

The nominees are: "Friday Night Lights" for "Always," Game of Thrones" for "Baelor," "The Killing" for "Pilot," "Mad Men" for "The Suitcase," and "Mad Men" for "Blowing Smoke."

What will win: "Mad Men" for "The Suitcase."

"Mad Men" has won this award every year. It will be hard to imagine the Emmys not awarding it for what is arguably the show's strongest episode ever.

My preference: "Mad Men" for "The Suitcase."

I feel like I've already talked about this episode to death in the Best Actor and Actress categories. Let me just add that if "The Suitcase" doesn't win, it will be a grave injustice. This is not only the single best episode of any show this year, but one of the 10 greatest television episodes of all time.

Outstanding Drama Series

The nominees are: "Boardwalk Empire," "Dexter," "Friday Night Lights," "Game of Thrones," "The Good Wife" and "Mad Men."

What will win: "Mad Men."

This is another category where any nominee could win and I wouldn't be surprised. Although I loved season five of "Dexter," a lot of other people seemed disappointed with it. For that reason, the show probably has the least likely chance at winning. "Friday Night Lights" has a wide following of devoted fans that would love to see it win for its final season. But since it's a fairly small show that took awhile to break into this category, a nomination is probably its win. Emmy voters will likely be reluctant to award "Game of Thrones" seeing how it's a fantasy series. Then you have "The Good Wife," one of the smartest shows currently on television. While the show might pull an upset and bring the Emmy back to a commercial broadcast network, it doesn't seem to have enough buzz or additional nominations to support it. That leaves us with "Boardwalk Empire" and "Mad Men." "Boardwalk Empire" certainly has the buzz factor going for it. But believe it or not, HBO dramas have had a tough time winning the Emmy's top honor. The only HBO show that's ever won this award was "The Sopranos," which didn't even win until its fifth season. Due to HBO's track record, I'm having a tough time believing that they'll award "Boardwalk Empire" for its freshman season. Therefore, "Mad Men" will win for the fourth year in a row, joining the ranks of "The West Wing."

My preference: "Mad Men."

It might be repetitive to see "Mad Men" win the Best Drama Series award for the fourth year in a row. But the show truly deserves nothing less than television's highest honor for its best season yet. This season of "Mad Men" was fresh, stimulating, surprisingly funny, and even ended with a left-field twist.

• Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, Reach him at

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