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Emmy Gives a Huge Nod to Actors Over 50

Who will win awards on Sept. 17? Our critic predicts

Jessica Lange, Bob Odenkirk, Ann Dowd

FX/AMC, Everett Collection/Hulu, Everett Collection

Jessica Lange, Bob Odenkirk and Ann Dowd received Emmy nominations and are in our top list.

More than 30 actors over 50 are nominated for television Emmy awards this year, more evidence that TV is a place where veteran stars can find a place to do their best work.

Television has always been more tolerant of talent with experience (and a few crow’s feet), and its prestige is growing. Movie stars no longer worry that they’re taking a step down to try the small screen, and some of the buzziest shows of the year were driven by 50+ talent, including nine of the likely Emmy winners, the two top limited series (Big Little Lies and Feud: Bette and Joan) and three out of four TV movies (The Wizard of LiesThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors).

Here are my predictions of the final winners at the Emmys in Los Angeles on Sept. 17. Actors over 50 are in boldface.

Drama Series

  • Better Call Saul
  • The Crown
  • The Handmaid's Tale
  • Stranger Things
  • This Is Us
  • Westworld

Should win: The Crown  

Will win: The Crown. As Winston Churchill, John Lithgow, 71, steals the show, and Emmy swoons for Churchill.

'The Crown' and 'Veep'

Everett Collection, HBO

John Lithgow in "The Crown," nominated for best drama series. Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars in “Veep,” nominated for comedy series.

Comedy Series

  • Atlanta
  • Black-ish
  • Master of None
  • Modern Family
  • Silicon Valley
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Veep

Should win: Veep

Will win: Veep. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 56, will have to write her sixth consecutive winner’s speech, and the show’s producers third.

Limited Series or TV Movie

  • Big Little Lies
  • Fargo
  • Feud: Bette and Joan
  • The Night Of
  • Genius

Should win: Big Little Lies

Will win: Big Little Lies (a 50+ talent fest, as is Feud)

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  • Viola Davis, 51 — How to Get Away with Murder
  • Claire Foy, 33 — The Crown
  • Elisabeth Moss, 34 — The Handmaid's Tale
  • Keri Russell, 41 — The Americans
  • Evan Rachel Wood, 29 — Westworld
  • Robin Wright, 51 — House of Cards

Should win: Claire Foy

Will win: Claire Foy. Moss, Russell and Wright’s shows are incredibly timely, Westworld’s an Emmy hog, and Davis is genius. But Emmy genuflects to Queen Elizabeth.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series 

  • Sterling K. Brown, 41 — This Is Us
  • Anthony Hopkins, 79 — Westworld
  • Bob Odenkirk, 54 — Better Call Saul
  • Matthew Rhys, 42 — The Americans
  • Kevin Spacey, 57 — House of Cards

Should win: Bob Odenkirk. The secret of Saul’s greatness? “He thinks he’s doing the right thing when he’s absolutely doing the wrong thing,” says Odenkirk.

Will win: Sterling K. Brown

Lead Actor in a Comedy

  • Anthony Anderson, 46 — Black-ish
  • Aziz Ansari, 34 — Master of None
  • Zach Galifianakis, 47 — Baskets
  • Donald Glover, 33 — Atlanta
  • William H. Macy, 67 — Shameless
  • Jeffrey Tambor, 72 — Transparent

Should win: Jeffrey Tambor, but Emmy snubbed his show this year, so fugeddaboutit.

Will win: Anthony Anderson

Allison Janney in 'Mom' and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in 'VEEP'


Will Allison Janney or Julia Louis-Dreyfus take home the Emmy for best lead actress in a comedy?

Lead Actress in a Comedy

  • Pamela Adlon, 51 — Better Things
  • Jane Fonda, 79 — Grace and Frankie
  • Allison Janney, 57 — Mom
  • Ellie Kemper, 37 — Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 56 — Veep
  • Tracee Ellis Ross, 44 — Black-ish
  • Lily Tomlin, 77 — Grace and Frankie

Should win: Allison Janney

Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whose 2017 Peabody Award was presented by Sen. Al Franken, will be reelected in a landslide.

Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie

  • Riz Ahmed, 34 — The Night Of
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, 40 — Sherlock
  • Robert De Niro, 73 — Wizard of Lies
  • Ewan McGregor, 46 — Fargo
  • Geoffrey Rush, 65 — Genius
  • John Turturro, 55 — The Night Of

Should win: Riz Ahmed

Will win: Robert De Niro. Which would you rather watch lately, a De Niro movie or a De Niro TV show?

Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie

  • Carrie Coon, 36 — Fargo
  • Felicity Huffman, 54 — American Crime
  • Nicole Kidman, 50 — Big Little Lies
  • Jessica Lange, 68 — Feud
  • Susan Sarandon, 70 — Feud
  • Reese Witherspoon, 41 — Big Little Lies

Should win: Carrie Coon (but why not for The Leftovers? Maybe because HBO wisely went all in promoting Westworld instead)

Will win: Jessica Lange

Jonathan Banks in 'Better Call Saul' and John Lithgow in 'The Corwn'

Everett Collection

Jonathan Banks and John Lithgow are among those nominated in the category of supporting actor in a drama.

Supporting Actor in a Drama

  • Jonathan Banks, 70 — Better Call Saul
  • Ron Cephas Jones, 60 — This Is Us
  • David Harbour, 42 — Stranger Things
  • Michael Kelly, 49 — House of Cards
  • John Lithgow, 71 — The Crown
  • Mandy Patinkin, 64 — Homeland
  • Jeffrey Wright, 51 — Westworld

Should win: Jonathan Banks

Will win: John Lithgow. He’s got five Emmys, and soon a sixpack.

Supporting Actress in a Drama

  • Uzo Aduba, 36 — Orange Is the New Black
  • Millie Bobby Brown, 13 — Stranger Things
  • Ann Dowd, 61 — The Handmaid's Tale
  • Chrissy Metz, 36 — This Is Us
  • Thandie Newton, 44 — Westworld
  • Samira Wiley, 30 — The Handmaid's Tale

Should win: Ann Dowd. Her surprise nom also owes a bit to her superb work in The Leftovers, Girls, Good Behavior and Masters of Sex.

Will win: Chrissy Metz

Louie Anderson in Baskets, and Alec Baldwin on Saturday Night Live

Colleen Hayes/FX, NBC/Getty Images

It could come down to Louie Anderson or Alec Baldwin for best supporting actor in a comedy.

Supporting Actor in a Comedy

  • Louie Anderson, 64 — Baskets
  • Alec Baldwin, 59 — Saturday Night Live
  • Tituss Burgess, 38 — Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Ty Burrell, 49 (50 on Aug. 22) — Modern Family
  • Tony Hale, 46 — Veep
  • Matt Walsh, 52 — Veep

Should win: Louie Anderson (for playing older and female and never playing for laughs)

Will win: Alec Baldwin (America’s Comedian-in-Chief)

Supporting Actress in a Comedy

  • Vanessa Bayer, 35 — Saturday Night Live
  • Anna Chlumsky, 36 — Veep
  • Kathryn Hahn, 43 — Transparent
  • Leslie Jones, 49 (50 on Sept. 7) — Saturday Night Live
  • Judith Light, 68 — Transparent
  • Kate McKinnon, 33 — Saturday Night Live

Should win: Judith Light

Will win: Vanessa Bayer, because has SNL ever been better? Dimples can kill, comedywise.

Michael Kenneth Williams in 'The Night Of' and Alfred Molina in 'Feud'


Michael Kenneth Williams and Alfred Molina are up for the supporting actor in a limited series or TV movie Emmy.

Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie

  • Bill Camp, 52 — The Night Of
  • Alfred Molina, 64 — Feud
  • Alexander Skarsgard, 40 — Big Little Lies
  • David Thewlis, 54 — Fargo
  • Stanley Tucci, 56 — Feud
  • Michael Kenneth Williams, 50 — The Night Of

Should win: Michael Kenneth Williams

Will win: Alfred Molina. In 2015 Molina and Lithgow won AARP Movies for Grownups Awards, and now they’ll win Emmys. Coincidence? Don’t be naïve!