Emmy nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 18, and the usual suspects will likely get a few nods. But last year's Emmys featured enough surprise wins (Jon Cryer, "Homeland") along with the returning favorites ("Modern Family") that there seems to be room for some newcomers to the field this season.
Who will be nominated? Who should be nominated?
Here are some our best prognostications:
Best drama series
Last year's race was steamrolled by "Homeland," the winner of the best drama series. But its second season had moments of implausibility, even absurdity (Carrie's extended sex scene with Brody, as the CIA listens in), which hurts its chances of a second win.
Over on HBO, "Game of Thrones" found a huge new audience, who collectively gasped in shock as the series killed off two of its leads in the Red Wedding episode during this past season. The fantasy series is a stronger bet this year than it's ever been.
Other nominees on the ballot will likely be "Breaking Bad," "Mad Men," "Scandal" and "The Americans." (Although it would be nice to see "Hannibal," one of the most beautiful and brilliant shows, if underrated, also recognized).
Best actor, drama
Damian Lewis helped "Homeland" sweep last Emmys, winning best actor in a drama series despite being up against three-time winner Bryan Cranston from "Breaking Bad." But it's Mr. Claire Danes, not her "Homeland" co-star, who should be in the running this year. Hugh Dancy's performance as broken FBI agent Will Graham on "Hannibal" steals the show, as he plays both the profiler and the profiled, the hunter and the killer, empathizing as he does with the murderers he investigates.
"Sons of Anarchy" star Charlie Hunnam also ran a range of emotions this year, as his character became everything he had struggled to fight against in his bid to take over the club. Matthew Rhys on "The Americans" made us fall in love with him, as he tried to believe in his cover story of a marriage. And Ving Rhames gave such warmth to his character, even if his David E. Kelley show "Monday Mornings" was little-seen.
In the supporting category, Aaron Paul from "Breaking Bad" should go up against Mandy Patinkin from "Homeland," Bobby Cannavale from "Boardwalk Empire," Noah Emmerich from "The Americans" and David Morrissey from "The Walking Dead."
Best actress, drama
Claire Danes as Carrie on "Homeland" continues to be excellent, but she might be up against some stiff competition in the category of Best actress in a drama series. If there's any justice, she'll be facing off against Vera Farmiga from "Bates Motel," who put in a tour de force performance in the show's first season as Norma Bates, the twisted, damaged mother of future serial killer Norman Bates.
Kerry Washington on "Scandal" also found new depths to her character Olivia Pope, and Keri Russell was a revelation as an undercover Russian spy on "The Americans." And Tatiana Maslany, playing a set of clones on "Orphan Black," each with unique looks and accents, gave a whole new meaning to multiple personalities. Without her, there would be no show.
Outside of Danes, these would be first-time nominees. (In the supporting category, let's not forget Dame Maggie Smith on "Downton Abbey," but it would be interesting to have her go a round against Catelyn Stark, i.e. Michelle Fairley from "Game of Thrones").
Best comedy series
"Modern Family," as last year's winner of best comedy series, is bound to be on the ballot. But instead of just the usual contenders, they might have to face off against the Bluths, i.e. "Arrested Development," which returned to Netflix just in time to be nominated.
"30 Rock" will also have a powerful pull this time around, considering it was the show's last season, as it was for "The Office." But if any newcomers make the ballot this season, it should be "Louie" and "The Mindy Project," both of which can help shake up the slate.
Best actor, comedy
Jon Cryer from "Two and a Half Men" could easily be nominated again, but he's facing strong competition from his former co-star, Charlie Sheen, now on "Anger Management." But can either of them stand against Jason Bateman, who might get the Emmy love for "Arrested Development"? Or Jim Parsons from "The Big Bang Theory"?
A few new faces to this category could include Adam Scott from "Parks and Recreation," Joel McHale from "Community" and Andrew Rannells (ostensibly for "The New Normal," but if not here, he should be supporting for "Girls").
Also in supporting, the "Modern Family" men might cancel each other out. But Neil Patrick Harris from "How I Met Your Mother" would have a strong shot here, as would Adam Driver from "Girls" and Donald Glover and Danny Pudi from "Community." (Troy and Abed in the morning!)
Best actress, comedy
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, last year's winner for best comedy actress for "Veep," is eligible again, and she'll likely be up against Tina Fey for "30 Rock" and her pal Amy Poehler from "Parks and Recreation" once again, as well as Lena Dunham from "Girls."
There's not too much to quibble about there, but if there's room for one more, Mindy Kaling from "The Mindy Project" deserves to be here. Like Dunham and Fey, Kaling is a triple-threat -- writing, producing, and acting in her own show -- and she is as consistently funny as (if not more so) the other actresses usually in this category.