7:30 PM EDT, August 29, 2013
Twenty-twenty-twenty-four days to go ... who will be sedated and who will be elated at the Primetime Emmys?
Below comes my best estimate -- fun with numbers! -- of the chances each of the 70 actors and actresses in a dozen categories have at emerging triumphant on Sept. 22, with Michael Douglas the favorite of all favorites, but other races much tougher to call.
Lead drama actor
30%: Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad" -- The attention-grabbing launch of the show's final eight episodes was perfectly timed to the final voting period to showcase Cranston's brilliance.
30%: Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards" -- Though the show is a drama contender, this lead actor race is the most likely place for voters to give Netflix its moment.
25%: Damian Lewis, "Homeland" -- A proven winner with the Academy who had great moments in the past season, can he hold off Cranston and Spacey?
10%: Jon Hamm, "Mad Men" -- An undeniably challenging season for the iconic performance still seeking its first Emmy in the category, but he just seems overshadowed at this point.
4%: Jeff Daniels, "The Newsroom" -- Gives a big, charismatic performance, but without the heat of the category's favorites. The polarizing content of "Newsroom" season one is a problem.
1%: Hugh Bonneville, "Downton Abbey" -- Not sufficiently antiheroish for this mob.
Lead drama actress
33%: Claire Danes, "Homeland" -- A sure thing last year who remains this year's femme fatale to beat. The new blood in the category poses the biggest threat.
27%: Kerry Washington, "Scandal" -- Washington had a huge rise in recognition in the second season of the ABC drama, and a vote for her is an appealing one.
15%: Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men" -- Hasn't won yet, which seems a crime, but voters might think an award for "Top of the Lake" should satisfy for a year.
10%: Vera Farmiga, "Bates Motel" -- Made a strong first impression in the rookie show right out of the gate, and her feature-film celebrity could always be a lure.
5%: Robin Wright, "House of Cards" -- See Farmiga, with the qualifier that Farmiga doesn't have a Spacey type that could carry her show's flag.
3%: Connie Britton, "Nashville" -- She's become a nominations mainstay in recent years, but if a performance on a primetime soap is going to win this year, it's Washington's.
2%: Michelle Dockery, "Downton Abbey" -- I adore Dockery, but I still argue that this was really a transition season for Lady Mary -- she figures to have more to deal with in the upcoming season four. Leapfrogging Danes would be an enormous surprise.
Supporting drama actor
35%: Mandy Patinkin, "Homeland" -- He was great on the show from the start, but it seemed to take a season before people really appreciated just how great. With two "Breaking Bad" nominees at risk of splitting the vote of that show's fanbase, Patinkin has the best chance of winning â¦
25%: Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones" -- â¦ although the presence of Dinklage, the hugely charismatic actor who won the award last year, does give one pause.
20%: Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad" -- By no means do I need to imply it would be an upset if his superb work on "Breaking Bad" won. It's just a hunch that this is Patinkin's turn.
10%: Bobby Cannavale, "Boardwalk Empire" -- Made a huge (and violent) impression, and works so often in general that you can see what he brings to the role.
8%: Jonathan Banks, "Breaking Bad" -- Banks is tremendous, but it's hard to see him jumping ahead of the more showcase outings.
2%: Jim Carter, "Downton Abbey" -- No denying how nice a job he does as Carson, but it just seems all too tame in this crowd.
Supporting drama actress
41%: Anna Gunn, "Breaking Bad" -- Seems like only a fool would pick against Maggie Smith, and even Gunn acknowledges the intense likability issue, however unfortunate, with her character. But with the increased importance and intensity of per work, this is her hour.
39%: Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey" -- After two years of Emmys, neither of which she has come Stateside to accept, as well as the lack of any significant development of Lady Violet, I'm counting on just enough Academy disenchantment to open the door for Gunn.
8%: Emilia Clarke, "Game of Thrones" -- She'll have tamed her biggest dragons yet if she can topple Skyler and Violet.
7%: Christine Baranski, "The Good Wife" -- Hasn't won for this role yet, so if you're looking for an upset ...
5%: Christina Hendricks, "Mad Men" -- That she doesn't play a key part in a number of episodes, and that her biggest moments were in previous seasons, can't help.
2%: Morena Baccarin, "Homeland" -- It's more impressive work than this prediction implies, but it doesn't seem as critical to the show.
Lead comedy actor
27%: Don Cheadle, "House of Lies" -- There's a lot of talk that this could be Kerry Washington's year, but her partner in this interview, Cheadle, has an opportune moment to win as well, in a field without a clear favorite. Could be the closest vote in the Emmys -- not that we'll ever know.
23%: Louis C.K., "Louie" -- Tremendously respected in the industry, you underrate his acting skills at your own risk. But we still haven't seen the Academy give a lead comedy actor Emmy to an actor playing a version of himself: not Jerry Seinfeld, not Larry David.
22%: Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory" -- With 2012 winner Jon Cryer not nominated, Parsons is the most recent champion in the mix. And he has touching scenes from the past season in his favor.
18%: Jason Bateman, "Arrested Development" -- Another past winner. Not sure if the darker side he showed in the "Arrested" reboot will help or hurt.
9%; Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock" -- Always a nominee for "Rock" but hasn't won since 2009.
1%: Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes" -- Two nominations for LeBlanc in this role, but this is as far as he goes.
Lead comedy actress
30%: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep" -- Hard to pick against a defending champion who somehow managed to up her game in the following season. But did I say comedy lead actor was a close race? There are two HBO thesps breathing down her neck â¦
26%: Lena Dunham, "Girls" -- The ultimate conversation piece, and as polarizing as she can be, no one can question her commitment.
24%: Laura Dern, "Enlightened" -- Won huge praise from the critics and scored a nom despite show's cancelation. Can't rule her out.
10%: Tina Fey, "30 Rock" -- Best bet among the farewell contenders, but her last Emmy win was 2008.
7%: Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation" -- Just seems destined to be underappreciated.
3%: Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie" -- Like Alec Baldwin, she brings a big name and a long Emmy history, but hasn't won recently and there's no urgency to change that.
Supporting comedy actor
30%: Ty Burrell, "Modern Family" -- Burrell and Eric Stonestreet have alternated victories the past three years, and as much as you might hear some people voice "Modern Family" fatigue, you also hear Burrell cited as one of the biggest reasons to keep watching.
20%: Adam Driver, "Girls" -- We got to see different sides of Adam this year, along with a return to controversy. But in its past comedy supporting votes, the Academy has generally seemed to want to laugh more than gasp.
15%: Ed O'Neill, "Modern Family" -- Putting him slightly ahead of Ferguson but behind Burrell, because I'm not sure how popular last season's parenthood arc was.
14%: Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Modern Family" -- It's questionable that the same electorate that sidelined 2012 winner Stonestreet from the nominations is likely to put Ferguson over the top.
11%: Tony Hale, "Veep" -- He's great at this part, but the quiet aspects of it, the fact that it is a background role by design (not that he doesn't make his presence known), makes you wonder if voters will be compelled to honor it.
10%: Bill Hader, "Saturday Night Live" -- If Kristen Wiig didn't win for "SNL," I'm not sure how Hader does.
Supporting comedy actress
20%: Mayim Bialik, "The Big Bang Theory" -- The arrival of "Big Bang" in the comedy series nominations coincided with the season Bialik became a series regular. She has only grown more lively on the show, and among the alternatives to two-time defending champ Julie Bowen, she might have theedge.
17%: Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family" -- This is one of those actresses for whom the Academy seems to think the nomination is enough. But if "Modern Family" retains its Emmy power, it's definitely Vergara's turn.
17%: Julie Bowen, "Modern Family" -- Very possible the Academy goes with "If it ain't broke, why fix it?"
13%: Jane Krakowski, "30 Rock" -- Krakowski, who has never won, is a plausible choice to be the Academy's means of saluting "30 Rock."
13%: Anna Chlumsky, "Veep" -- Made a stronger impression in season two. A good underdog bet in a seven-person category.
12%: Jane Lynch, "Glee": The last winner in the category not named Bowen, Lynch's candidacy is complicated by the bifurcated setting of "Glee."
8%: Merritt Wever, "Nurse Jackie": Underrated, but â¦
Lead movie-mini actor
60%: Michael Douglas, "Behind The Candelabra" -- Maybe the surest thing at the Emmys, with the only hitch being ...
30%: Matt Damon, "Behind The Candelabra" -- ... after all, the title of the movie could also have been, "I'm F**king Matt Damon."
6%: Al Pacino, "Phil Spector" -- Another past winner, but this isn't his year.
2%: Toby Jones, "The Girl" -- A worthy performance that would have been a frontrunner without "Candelabra."
2%: Benedict Cumberbatch, "Parade's End" -- Ditto.
Lead movie-mini actress
33%: Elisabeth Moss, "Top of the Lake" -- Moss transcended in this Jane Campion miniseries, showing new levels even beyond her "Mad Men" work. She hasn't won yet in lead drama actress, but she should win here.
25%: Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story: Asylum" -- The Academy obviously loves her, but Lange should become a bridesmaid this time around.
15%: Laura Linney, "The Big C: Hereafter" -- The four-part finale to "The Big C" gave Linney a compelling story.
15%: Helen Mirren, "Phil Spector" -- I mean, she's Helen Mirren. You don't rule out Helen Mirren.
12%: Sigourney Weaver, "Political Animals" -- People respected her performance, but it doesn't help that it was so long ago, and that more was expected of "Animals" overall.
Supporting mini-movie actor
35%: James Cromwell, "American Horror Story: Asylum" -- People have long liked Cromwell's work, and this is an easy spot to show it.
30%: Peter Mullan, "Top of the Lake" -- Mullan has the standout performance in this category, but Cromwell will be tough to beat.
22%: Zachary Quinto, "American Horror Story: Asylum" -- A vote-split between Cromwell and Quinto is Mullan's best hope.
10%: Scott Bakula, "Behind the Candelabra" -- No offense to Bakula, but still trying to understand how Rob Lowe doesn't find his way here. A potential "Candelabra" sweep keeps him in the running, though.
3% John Benjamin Hickey, "The Big C: Hereafter" -- Great work, but not seeing this break through.
Supporting mini-movie actress
33%: Imelda Staunton, "The Girl" -- Less prominent than Mirren in "Hitchcock" and an entirely different take, but still strong.
27%: Sarah Paulson, "American Horror Story: Asylum" -- On the heels of her work in Emmy fave "Game Change," Paulson's moment has a chance of arriving here.
15%: Ellen Burstyn, "Political Animals" -- Not a huge role, not that this has stopped her from winning awards before.
15%: Alfre Woodard, "Steel Magnolias" -- Woodard can do no wrong, but the fact that this was the project's only nomination could indicate the relative lack of support.
10%: Charlotte Rampling, "Restless" -- Big name, but relatively obscure project.
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