LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Please excuse the excuses, but my Emmy predictions are resting uneasily on shifting ground.
I’d like to say I’m confident that “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” will repeat as best drama and comedy series. And that I’m equally but regrettably sure there will be no “The Americans” or “black-ish” upsets.
And I am. Sort of.
The reason for the caginess: This year, the TV academy ditched a consensus approach in which nominees in each category were ranked on points to determine the winner. Instead, voters now check off their top choice and the one with the most votes wins. That change comes atop a 2015 decision to increase the voting pool beyond small blue-ribbon panels to include more academy members.
Will the two revisions combine for big surprises Sunday when the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards air at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC with host Jimmy Kimmel? Got me. But here are my best guesses and wish list for victors in the glamour categories.
Should win: “Game of Thrones.” The battles, the bravery, the betrayal _ it’s all there and grippingly cinematic as “GOT” winds its way through George R.R. Martin’s astounding kingdom.
Will win: “Game of Thrones.” Last year, it (bloodlessly!) wrested the top drama award from Emmy voters typically reluctant to reward fantasy shows. Expect it to conquer again.
Should win: “black-ish.” Old-school sitcom excellence meets new-school awareness. Can punchlines mesh effectively with troubling social issues? No sweat for creator Kenya Barris and the cast.
Will win: “Veep.” The viciously funny series was crowned in the category last year and, in a rollicking real-world election season that barely exceeds the show’s satire, voters will give it a second term.
ACTOR, DRAMA SERIES:
Should win: Matthew Rhys, “The Americans.” He exemplifies the British acting craft in a moving, nuanced performance that commands our attention.
Will win: Buzzed-about star Rami Malek of “Mr. Robot” could benefit from the expanded voting. But our ballot is marked for Kevin Spacey of “House of Cards” _ the fourth Emmy bid’s the charm for this Oscar winner’s supremely villainous politico.
ACTRESS, DRAMA SERIES:
Should win: Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder.” She lets it rip every which way as a brilliant, sexy, flawed law professor. This stellar actress is always magnetic.
Will win: Davis. She made history last year as the first African-American winner in the category and voters will reinforce their admiration with a second trophy.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA SERIES:
Should win: Kit Harington, “Game of Thrones.” His valiant Jon Snow has been a consistent standout in a sprawling cast, but he escaped Emmy notice until Snow died and then rose to fight again. That deserves a trophy, at least.
Will win: Harington. Voters will bow down before the King in the North.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA SERIES:
Should win: Lena Headey. Her wrenching portrayal of Cersei Lannister stumbling through her debasing “walk of shame” in season five inexplicably failed to bring her a trophy, so it’s past time for voters to redeem themselves.
Will win: Headey. Her third “GOT” nomination comes with Cersei back on top and Headey continuing to deepen her portrayal of the most darkly complex female character on TV. Voters will see the light _ or else.
ACTOR, COMEDY SERIES:
Should win: Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent.” It took an extraordinary role to give this journeyman actor the recognition due him. Without precedent for playing the slowly unfolding life of a transgender character, Tambor has traveled the path faultlessly.
Will win: Tambor, taking his second Emmy for the role because he’s in a class by himself.
ACTRESS, COMEDY SERIES:
Should win: Tracee Ellis Ross, “black-ish.” The comic timing, the rubber-faced expressions evocative of Lucille Ball and her fresh rendition of a modern working mother make her Emmy worthy. Maybe next year?
Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep.” The impeccably deft comic actress has owned this category since 2012 with her portrayal of vice president-to-president Selina Meyer.. She may have to bow out of contention, a la Candice Bergen in the 1990s for “Murphy Brown,” to stop winning.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY SERIES:
Should win: Louie Anderson, “Baskets.” An actor playing a woman who’s not transgender sounds old hat. But Anderson’s tone-perfect work makes this equally groundbreaking: The right actor, gender aside, got the role.
Will win: Tony Hale, “Veep.” He plays presidential assistant Gary Walsh with neurotic, clueless perfection and, after two wins for the role, has no reason to be nervous about a third trophy.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY SERIES:
Should win: Allison Janney, “Mom.” Because she’s a treasure, an actress who grounds even the show’s silliest moments and brings humanity and grace to its darker ones.
Will win: Janney. See above. And Emmy voters know it.
Lynn Elber is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. She can be reached at lelber(at)ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.