Emmys 2014 Editors' Picks: Who We Think Should Win in This Year's Drama Categories

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Somehow, the Emmys are already upon us. The telecast is airing nearly a month earlier than usual this year, and on a Monday (August 25 at 8pm on NBC), to boot. Although many of the nominees didn't quite satisfy our dream choices, we here at TV.com are still committed to making sure the best possible people and shows take home the shiny trophies. After working through the miniseries and comedy races, we're bringing it home with the drama categories. Will Breaking Bad finish strong, or will HBO's risky decision to enter True Detective as a drama instead of a miniseries actually pay off? Regardless of the outcome, here's who we believe deserves some new hardware.


SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

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THE NOMINEES:

Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), Josh Charles (The Good Wife), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), and Jon Voight (Ray Donovan)

RECENT WINNERS:

Bobby Cannavale (2013), Aaron Paul (2012), and Peter Dinklage (2011)

OUR PICKS:

Andy: Josh Charles | Cory: Josh Charles | Jen: Peter Dinklage | Kaitlin: Aaron Paul

Nick: Peter Dinklage | Noel: Josh Charles | Tim: Peter Dinklage

WHY JOSH CHARLES SHOULD WIN: At first I thought Charles submitting "Hitting the Fan" was an odd choice, but after a re-watch focused on his performance, doing so was a smart move. Charles mixes up an emotional cocktail, combining Will Gardner's feelings of shock, betrayal, outrage, and heartbreak into a performance that never goes big, but instead goes just big enough; no one does sad, doleful, near-teary eyes like Charles. After firing Alicia, Will shifts into "commando" mode, and so does Charles. There are no emotional pauses or stumbles. It's tour de force performance in a tour de force season for him. Noel Kirkpatrick

WHY AARON PAUL SHOULD WIN: Peter Dinklage or Josh Charles could just as easily walk away with this award, but Aaron Paul is a two-time winner and four-time nominee whose show is in its final year of eligibility. Breaking Bad's final season was heart-stopping and intense, fulfilling in all the right ways, and one of the series' best outings. Paul might not have had as much to do in Season 5B as he did in seasons past, but he maximized the screen time he did get as the broken and beaten Jesse Pinkman, especially in "Confessions," when he played Jesse as haggard, despairing, and angry. You could feel the pain seeping from his performance, bitch. —Kaitlin Thomas


SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

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THE NOMINEES: Christine Baranski (The Good Wife), Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), and Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)

RECENT WINNERS:

Anna Gunn (2013), Maggie Smith (2012), and Margo Martindale (2011)

OUR PICKS:

Andy: Christine Baranski | Cory: Anna Gunn | Jen: Anna Gunn | Kaitlin: Anna Gunn

Nick: Anna Gunn | Noel: Christine Baranski | Tim: Anna Gunn

WHY ANNA GUNN SHOULD WIN: For all the terrible remarks, insensitive blathering, and misguided hatred for the dynamic and layered Skyler White, Anna Gunn should win Emmys until 2017 even though Breaking Bad has been off the air for a year already. It's only fair. Nick Campbell

WHY CHRISTINE BARANSKI SHOULD WIN: In The Good Wife's fifth season, everyone and everything associated with the series raised its already high-flying game. And throughout a run that saw Diane Lockhart weathering a blindside betrayal from two colleagues, the grisly death of her professional partner, and repeated blows to her career ambitions, Baranski remained an island of poise. Whether steeling herself against assaults from without or within the firm, or letting her guard down to begin reconnecting with Alicia over drinks, Baranski invests Diane with the quiet resolve that make her both a person to admire and a force to be reckoned with. —Andy Daglas


LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

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THE NOMINEES:

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Woody Harrelson (True Detective), Matthew McConaughey (True Detective), and Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)

RECENT WINNERS:

Jeff Daniels (2013), Damian Lewis (2012), and Kyle Chandler (2011)

OUR PICKS:

Andy: Jon Hamm | Cory: Matthew McConaughey | Jen: Matthew McConaughey

Kaitlin: Matthew McConaughey | Nick: Bryan Cranston | Noel: Bryan Cranston

Tim: Bryan Cranston

WHY MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY SHOULD WIN: While HBO's decision to submit True Detective as a drama instead of a miniseries was a ballsy one, I would've had an equally difficult time choosing between Matthew McConaughey, Martin Freeman, and Billy Bob Thornton if McConaughey had entered the "lesser" race. Fargo, True Detective, and Breaking Bad's final half-season showcased so much skill and talent that I almost wish they'd been separated by a year or two in order to spread the awards love around—but hey, that's a good problem to have, right? Bryan Cranston's work on Breaking Bad was, of course, amazing... but so was McConaughey's on True Detective. His Rust Cohle was captivating, even if you didn't care for the series itself, and he deserves to walk away with an Emmy to show for it. —Jen Trolio

WHY BRYAN CRANSTON SHOULD WIN: If you don't know, you need to call somebody. Maybe Saul. —Nick Campbell


LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

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THE NOMINEES:

Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Claire Danes (Homeland), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Kerry Washington (Scandal), and Robin Wright (House of Cards)

RECENT WINNERS:

Claire Danes (2012 and 2013) and Julianna Margulies (2011)

OUR PICKS:

Andy: Julianna Margulies | Cory: Robin Wright | Jen: Lizzy Caplan

Kaitlin: Julianna Margulies | Nick: Lizzy Caplan | Noel: Julianna Margulies

Tim: Lizzy Caplan

WHY ROBIN WRIGHT SHOULD WIN: It's a little harder to choose Wright once you learn that she didn't submit the fourth episode of House of Cards' second season, which was simply one of the best performances on all of TV (or the internet) in the last calendar year. Instead, the actress went with the still-solid season finale that gave her character a couple out-of-the-ordinary emotional moments. Wright's performance is not the kind that really shines in one episode, but in a crowded field, she still stands out quite a bit. —Cory Barker

WHY LIZZY CAPLAN SHOULD WIN: Even though Masters of Sex didn't make a huge splash in its first season, it quietly became one of the best shows of 2013, and Lizzy Caplan was (and continues to be) outstanding at its center. She's infused Virginia Johnson with poise, wit, a palpable sense of curiosity and purpose, and an incredible range of emotion; even though she's an underdog in this crowded race, there's no one who I'd like to see win it more. —Jen Trolio


OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES

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THE NOMINEES:

Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Mad Men, and True Detective

RECENT WINNERS:

Breaking Bad (2013), Homeland (2012), and Mad Men (2008 through 2011)

OUR PICKS:

Andy: Breaking Bad | Cory: Breaking Bad | Jen: Breaking Bad |Kaitlin: Breaking Bad

Nick: Breaking Bad | Noel: Breaking Bad | Tim: Breaking Bad

WHY BREAKING BAD SHOULD WIN: You'd be hard-pressed to find a series as finely tuned as Breaking Bad was from start to finish. The final half-season, which began with Walt's warning to Hank to "tread lightly" and culminated with his lifeless body on the floor of Jack's meth lab, was perfectly and meticulously plotted. It hit every note, it answered every question, and it did so by raising the stakes and demanding we pay attention, dammit. Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, and Betsy Brandt turned in what will probably be the best performances of their careers, and behind the scenes, Vince Gilligan and his entire creative team delivered equally admirable work, particularly in "Ozymandias," which is probably one of the finest hours of television in the history of the medium. And since this is the show's last chance to win it, the Emmy is theirs to lose. —Kaitlin Thomas


Who do you think should win in this year's drama races?


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