What makes the Emmys such an exciting award show to watch is, unlike the Oscars, the winners are not prematurely set in stone. Almost anything can happen on the big night, sometimes resulting in the greatest underdogs triumphing in victory. I’ll do my best to predict what will win on Emmy Sunday. Even if I’m wrong though, at least I can undeniably say which shows should win in each category.

Best Comedy Supporting Actress Nominees: Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory;” Julie Bowen, “Modern Family;” Kathryn Joosten, “Desperate Housewives;” Merritt Wever, “Nurse Jackie;” Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family;” and Kristen Wiig, “Saturday Night Live.”

This category will come down to the most sympathetic nominee and the funniest nominee. In one corner there’s Kathryn Joosten, a former governor of the Television Academy who sadly lost her life to lung cancer a few months ago. Ironically, Joosten’s beloved character of Karen McCluskey also died from cancer in the finale of “Desperate Housewives.” Watching this episode will undoubtedly appeal to emotions of many Emmy voters, reminding them what a wonderful person and character actress Joosten was. The fact that Joosten is no longer among us does not necessarily guarantee her the win though. John Ritter and Phil Hartman for example, were both nominated posthumously and failed to win. It also doesn’t help that the performance isn’t terribly funny and that “Desperate Housewives” has significantly declined in popularity. “Modern Family” on the other hand, is at its height of popularity and contains this category’s funniest performance in Julie Bowen. Where Claire Dunphy is usually saddled with being the strait-woman, Bowen is given the chance to demonstrate that her character has a severe wild side in the episode, “Go Bullfrogs!” Bowen’s drunken escapades as she flirts with a strait man she believes to be gay could deservedly win her a second Emmy. Since saluting Joosten one last time seems all too tempting though, the late actress will likely come out on top.

Who Will Win: Kathryn Joosten, “Desperate Housewives”

My Preference: Julie Bowen, “Modern Family”

Best Comedy Supporting Actor Nominees: Ty Burrell, “Modern Family;” Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Modern Family;” Max Greenfield, “New Girl;” Bill Hader, “Saturday Night Live;” Ed O’Neill, “Modern Family;” and Eric Stonestreet, “Modern Family.”

For the third year in a row, “Modern Family” has completely dominated this category. The Emmy’s may feel like spreading the love and finally awarding either Ferguson or O’Neill. The problem is that their characters are often observed as the voices of reason on “Modern Family.” While every great comedy team needs a strait man, it’s typically the more chaotic player that everyone remembers. For this purpose, either Burrell or Stonestreet seems poised to win again. Between the two, Stonestreet is best represented both in his submitted episode, “Treehouse,” and the three other episodes submitted by his co-stars. For my money though, the funniest performance in this camp isn’t from any of the “Modern Family” men, but Max Greenfield of “New Girl.” Greenfield’s over-the-top Schmidt solidified himself as one of the breakthrough scene-stealers of the last television season. While he has minimal odds of taking home the gold, Greenfield is truly the most commendable candidate based on his episode, “Control.” If Schmidt’s reaction to a used hutch that Jess brings off the streets doesn’t put you in stitches, then I hereby order you to put a dollar in the douchebag jar.

Who Will Win: Eric Stonestreet, “Modern Family”

My Preference: Max Greenfield, “New Girl”

Best Drama Supporting Actor Nominees: Jim Cater, “Downton Abbey;” Brendan Coyle, “Downton Abbey;” Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones;” Giancarlo Esposito, “Breaking Bad;” Jared Harris, “Mad Men;” and Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad.”

This race is undoubtedly between Jared Harris and Giancarlo Esposito, both of whom were killed off their shows last season. Harris is certainly the most empathic nominee since his character committed suicide after a season of bad luck. As strong as Harris is, Giancarlo Esposito was nothing short of phenomenal in the fourth season of “Breaking Bad.” His creation of Gus Fring is among the most spine chilling villains ever to grace either the small or big screen. In the episode, “Hermanos,” the audience is finally allowed to delve into Gus’ past and see exactly how this two-faced man got involved in the crystal meth business. Wishful thinking may be playing a role in this prediction, but I’m going with Esposito for the win.

Who Will Win: Giancarlo Esposito, “Breaking Bad”

My Preference: Giancarlo Esposito, “Breaking Bad”

Best Drama Supporting Actress Nominees: Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife;” Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey;” Anna Gunn, “Breaking Bad;” Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men;” Archie Panjabi, “The Good Wife;” and Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey.”

Even though “Mad Men” has won Best Drama Series four years in a row, it has miraculously never been able to win a single acting award. That acting curse just may be broken this year due to the supreme buzz supporting Jared Harris and especially Christina Hendricks. The mesmerizing Hendricks has the advantage of being the core focus of the most talked about episode from the last season of “Mad Men.” In “The Other Woman,” Hendricks’ Joan Harris is burdened with the dismal decision of sacrificing her body and dignity to get ahead in the workplace. It’s a painful and bold feat from Hendricks that should rightfully bring her the Emmy.

Who Will Win: Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men”

My Preference: Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men”

Best Comedy Actor Nominees: Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock;” Don Cheadle, “House of Lies;” Louis C.K., “Louie;” Jon Cryer, “Two and a Half Men;” Larry David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm;” and Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory.”

Since Jim Parsons was able to come out on top last year when Steve Carrel looked like an unbeatable frontrunner, he’ll likely win again this year since there’s virtually no major competition. But I implore Emmy voters to think outside the box in this category and give the award to Larry David. While David is usually recognized as just being a writer, he’s really emerged as a gifted comedic actor these past few years on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” David is at his best in the hilarious “Palestinian Chicken” episode in which he is split between choosing to join his Jewish people or eating the food he loves.

Who Will Win: Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”

My Preference: Larry David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

Best Comedy Actress Nominees: Zooey Deschanel, “New Girl;” Lena Dunham, “Girls;” Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie;” Tina Fey, “30 Rock;” Julia Luis-Dreyfus, “Veep;” Melissa McCarthy, “Mike and Molly;” and Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation.”

In this highly competitive category, Julia Luis-Dreyfus has a substantial chance at winning her third Emmy for “Veep.” But I’m going to go out on a limb and predict the rising talent of Lena Dunham, who has been gaining ongoing acclaim for acting as the primary director, writer and star of “Girls.” Even though I’m personally not a huge fan of “Girls,” the relentless popularity of the show just might be enough to propel Dunham to victory.

In a fair world though, this year’s winner would be Amy Poehler for “Parks and Recreation.” In her submitted episode, “Win, Lose or Draw,” Poehler reminds us more than ever that Leslie Knope is much more than the female Michael Scott cynics initially pegged her as. She’s a strong, smart and hardworking career woman and one of the most huggable female characters this side of Lucy Ricardo. Just as Leslie justly won her campaign for City Council, Poehler deserves to win here.

Who Will Win: Lena Dunham, “Girls”

My Preference: Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”

Best Drama Actor Nominees: Hugh Bonneville, “Downton Abbey;” Steve Buscemi, “Boardwalk Empire;” Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad;” Michael C. Hall, “Dexter;” Jon Hamm, “Mad Men;” and Damian Lewis, “Homeland.”

Damien Lewis has a good shot at upsetting here for his powerfully episode of “Homeland” where he almost blows up the vice president. But it’s hard to imagine anyone beating out Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad.” While it may be repetitive to see him win a fourth Emmy for this role, anyone who watches all of the nominated men will know that Cranston has the most electrifying episode submission with the haunting “Crawl Space.” Cranston will chill you to the core in this episode’s final minutes as he breaks down in hysterical laughter.

Who Will Win: Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”

My Preference: Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”

Best Drama Actress Nominees: Kathy Bates, “Harry’s Law;” Glenn Close, “Damages;” Claire Danes, “Homeland;” Michelle Dockery, “Downton Abbey;” Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife;” and Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men.”

Among the eight chief acting categories, Claire Danes winning for “Homeland” is the closest thing there is to a lock. I don’t see how the Emmys will deny the respected Danes this award for her captivating work as Carrie Mathison, a bipolar homeland security agent who may be losing her mind or could be the only person able to see the truth. It’s a performance with Emmy written all over it, and for good reason.

Who Will Win: Claire Danes, “Homeland”

My Preference: Claire Danes, “Homeland”

Best Comedy Series Nominees: “The Big Bang Theory,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Girls,” “Modern Family,” “30 Rock,” and “Veep.”

Following in the footsteps of “30 Rock,” “Modern Family” will almost certainly win the Best Comedy series award for the third year in a row. None of the other five shows seem to have enough support to defeat “Modern Family.” But nothing would make me happier than to see “Curb your Enthusiasm” win after eight seasons of being one of the most consistently hilarious comedies on television.

What Will Win: “Modern Family”

My Preference: “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

Best Drama Series Nominees: “Boardwalk Empire,” “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” “Homeland,” and “Mad Men.”

Where the Best Comedy Series race is pretty much a done deal, just about anything could happen in Best Drama Series. “Boardwalk Empire” and “Game of Thrones” probably have the weakest chance of winning due to a lack of overwhelming buzz. If it were up to me, “Breaking Bad” would be the victor here. Regrettably, it’s unlikely the Emmys will give its top honor to such a dark show about crystal meth makers.

“Homeland” appeared to be a foremost awards player when it premiered a year ago. Similar to many other shows during their first seasons though, momentum for “Homeland” has somewhat gone down as of late. While it’s certainly not out of this race, “Homeland” may not be as undefeatable as some awards annalists initially thought. It doesn’t help that “Homeland” has to go up against the stiff competition of “Mad Men” and “Downton Abbey.” If “Mad Men” wins for the fifth year in a row, it will set an all-time Emmy record. As much as I love “Mad Men,” I’m personally sick of playing it safe and predicting it to win every year. Therefore, I’m going against my better judgment and forecasting “Downton Abbey,” which won the Best Miniseries award last year, received nominations across the board this year, and is irrefutably one of the most engagingly written dramas of this generation. Plus, the Emmy voters love to award British series.

What Will Win: “Downton Abbey”

My Preference: “Breaking Bad”

See if the Emmys make the correct choices beginning at 5 p.m. this Sunday, Sept. 23 on ABC, Channel 15. Red carpet coverage begins at 4 p.m.

• Ahwatukee native and Desert Vista graduate Nick Spake is a student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at nspake@asu.edu.

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