2021 Emmy nominations: Vanity Fair predicts who will win

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After a year of television that has seemed more than a little unusual given the pandemic that has surrounded it, the 2021 Emmy Awards will be an opportunity to celebrate the shows that have brought us through, whether through the fantastic escape, the well-costumed romance or the upbeat wisdom of a certain football coach. Like last year, Vanity Fairpundits have their eyes on a specific trio of shows – this year it’s The Crown, Ted Lasso, and The Queen’s Gambit– to win most of the prizes, but there is also a lot of room for surprise. Will The Handmaid’s Tale to be the return child? The last season of Pose climb to the top ? Was it really Agatha from the start? Read ahead to find out and tune in to the Emmy Awards on Sunday night to see if we got it right.

DRAMATIC SERIES

The boys
Bridgerton
EXPECTED WINNER: The crown
The Handmaid’s Tale
Lovecraft Country
The Mandalorian
Pose
It’s us

At the culmination of its long and triumphant awards season, Netflix The crown is set to finally win the top prize for its acclaimed fourth season. The period drama has won all equal forerunners, from accolades from key industry guilds like the PGA and SAG to those from notable outside groups at the Critics’ Choice Awards and Golden Globes, and found a whole new audience with its rich rendering of the Charles-Diane Saga. Since its release, no serious challenger has emerged to overtake it, even with the support of Posethe last season or the sheer popularity of The Mandalorian. It’s time to The crown to finally take the, well, you know. –David Canfield

ACTOR IN A DRAMATIC SERIES

Sterling K. Brown, It’s us
Jonathan Majors, Lovecraft Country
EXPECTED WINNER: Josh O’Connor, The crown
Régé-Jean Page, Bridgerton
Billy Porter, Pose
Matthieu Rhys, Perry mason

Tighter than it seemed, this race boils down to two very different contenders. The smart money may actually be on Billy Porter, considering the overall Emmy performance of Pose for its final season – the FX drama has already won three trophies this year via the Creative Arts Awards – and the fact that Porter has already won this category. He’s nominated again for a true showcase of a season that’s hard to deny. But as Schitt Creek proven last year, the Emmys love balayage, and The crown– with its deep set and clear overall leadership status – seems tailor-made for one. Josh O’Connor entering the center of the series with his indelible Prince Charles is likely to find the embrace in the middle of the wave. –David Canfield

ACTRESS IN A DRAMATIC SERIES

Uzo Aduba, Processing
Olivia Colman, The crown
EXPECTED WINNER: Emma Corrin, The crown
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
Mr. Rodriguez, Pose
Jurnee Smollett, Lovecraft Country

Emma Corrin’s devastating breakthrough as Princess Diana sits comfortably at the top of this list, which is a bit odd to say, considering she’s surrounded by heavyweights like the Oscar-winning actress (and costar!) Olivia Colman and multiple Emmy winners Uzo Aduba and Elisabeth Moss. But so goes. And in fact, its main competitor is probably another first-time nominee, Mj Rodriguez, representing the outbreak. Pose and having already made history as the first trans nominee in the category’s existence. Will voters jump at the chance to write even more history? It’s far away, but don’t count it. –David Canfield

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMATIC SERIES

Giancarlo Esposito, The Mandalorian
OT Fagbenlé, The Handmaid’s Tale
John Lithgow, Perry mason
Tobias Menzies, The crown
Max Minghella, The Handmaid’s Tale
Chris Sullivan, It’s us
Bradley Whitford, The Handmaid’s Tale
EXPECTED WINNER: Michael K. Williams, Lovecraft Country

The vote ended before the tragic death of Michael K. Williams on September 6, but the actor, whose work included Thread and Boardwalk Empire, was previously predicted to win this award for his performance in the now-canceled HBO Lovecraft Country. The winners in this category are often highly respected veteran actors (Peter Dinklage, Ben Mendelsohn, John Lithgow) whom voters seem to honor not only for their current project, but for all of their work. And that would be the case for five-time Emmy nominee Williams this time around. It would be a bittersweet way to remember a beloved member of the acting community who created some of the most memorable and vulnerable characters on television. –Rebecca ford

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

EXPECTED WINNER: Gillian Anderson, The crown
Madeline Brewer, The Handmaid’s Tale
Hélène Bonham Carter, The crown
Anne Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale
Aunjanue Ellis, Lovecraft Country
Emerald Fennell, The crown
Yvonne Strahovski, The Handmaid’s Tale
Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale

Dowd won in 2017 for his work on The Handmaid’s Tale, but with this crowded category stacked with its series co-stars, they’ll likely share the votes. And Anderson has always been the frontrunner anyway for her transformative performance as Margaret Thatcher in the fourth season of the Netflix series. She already won the Globe earlier this year and in all likelihood will beat her own teammates to win the Emmy as well. –Rebecca ford

REALIZE FOR A DRAMATIC SERIES

Bridgerton, “Diamond of the first water”, Julie Anne Robinson
Pose, “Series finale”, Steven Canals
The crown, “Fairy tale”, Benjamin Caron
The crown, “War”, Jessica Hobbs
WINNER PREDICTED: The Handmaid’s Tale, “The Desert”, Liz Garbus
The Mandalorian, “Chapter 9: The Marshal”, Jon Favreau

There is a strong correlation between this category and Best Emmy Drama Series, which should give the drama frontman the edge. The crown, and in particular the propulsive finale of season four, “War”. But we spot some potential upsets in the beloved series finale for Pose and particularly the Handmaid’s Tale Season four finale, “The Wilderness,” directed by Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus. Given how much The Handmaid’s Tale exceeded expectations in nominations, we think this could be a place for the show to surprise again. —Katey Rich

WRITING FOR A DRAMATIC SERIES

Lovecraft Country, “Sunset”, Misha Green
Pose, “Final Series”, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals, Janet Mock, Our Lady J
The boys, “What I know”, Rebecca Sonnenshine
EXPECTED WINNER: The crown, “War”, Peter Morgan
The Handmaid’s Tale, “House”, Yahlin Chang
The Mandalorian, “Chapter 13: The Jedi”, Dave Filoni
The Mandalorian, “Chapter 16: The Rescue”, Jon Favreau


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