Emmy Awards crystal-ball gazing was so much easier in the old days, circa the last few years: ABC’s “Modern Family” would be honored as best comedy series and a cable show, “Homeland” or “Mad Men” or such, would win best drama.
“Modern Family” may earn its fourth consecutive trophy at tonight’s ceremony. But the drama picture is murkier because of Netflix’s “House of Cards,” the first online program to be nominated for top series honors under a 2007 Emmy rule allowing digital contenders.
Whether “House of Cards” will actually claim the trophy is another matter. Is it possible that astute Emmy voters smacked their foreheads, realized they had yet to crown AMC’s “Breaking Bad” as TV’s best drama and made amends?
They should have, we say in unison. Here’s what else we’re predicting for tonight’s 8 p.m. ceremony on CBS hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.
Should win: “Breaking Bad.” At the height of its power, and Walter White knows where you live.
Will win: “House of Cards.” Ambitious politician trumps ambitious drug dealer in Washington-bedazzled Hollywood.
Should win: “Breaking Bad.” TV’s best drama has never won!
Will win: “Breaking Bad.” It’s going to cook up a win this time.
Should win: “Louie.” Life can be brutal, but also brutally funny in Louis C.K.’s hands.
Will win: “Modern Family.” It’s comfortably amusing and academy voters like it.
Should win: “Louie.” This comedy has continued to break ground.
Will win: “Modern Family.” Habits are hard to break.
Should win: Jon Hamm, “Mad Men.” Don Draper finally confronts his pain and what he’s done to others. Hamm’s trophy is even more overdue.
Will win: Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards.” TV is better than ever, and honoring a visiting big-screen star drives the point home.
Should win: Jon Hamm, “Mad Men.” Besides all the other reasons, his Hershey bar meditation clenched it.
Will win: Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards.” High-profile star in a high-profile series on a high-profile new channel.
Should win: Kerry Washington, “Scandal.” A powerhouse performance that keeps the madcap series spinning.
Will win: Kerry Washington, “Scandal.” She simply deserves it.
Should win: Kerry Washington, “Scandal.” Great work propelling an outrageously compelling show.
Will win: Kerry Washington, “Scandal.” Emmy voters get it, and so will Kerry.
Should win: Bobby Cannavale, “Boardwalk Empire.” He can bring a fresh spin to a gangster role.
Will win: Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad.” His character’s vulnerability is habit-forming, and he’s poised for his third consecutive win.
Should win: Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey.” Unparalleled charm, understatement, nuance and heart.
Will win: Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad.” Yet another twist on his portrayal.
Should win: Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men.” When the going got tougher ... Hendricks soared.
Will win: Anna Gunn, “Breaking Bad.” It’s the embattled Mrs. White’s turn to shine.
Should win: Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men.” Joan Harris gained extra oomph this season.
Will win: Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men.”
Should win: Don Cheadle, “House of Lies.” There was a reason for his upset Golden Globe victory over Alec Baldwin and other past winners.
Will win: Louis C.K.
Should win: Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes.” He plays himself, and then some.
Will win: Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory.” Three bids and two statues the past five seasons, but it’s been since 2011 since he last won.
Should win: Laura Dern, “Enlightened.” If you’re looking for layered humanity, she’s your woman.
Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep.” She wears power and the lunacy of ambition well.
Should win: Laura Dern, “Enlightened.” Few watched the show and it’s been axed, but her performance was perfection.
Will win: Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation.” She’s forged a character that’s the bullet train of the little engine that could.
Should win: Ed O’Neill, “Modern Family.” He’s the paterfamilias of modern TV dads.
Will win: Ed O’Neill, “Modern Family.”
Should win: Bill Hader, “Saturday Night Live.”
Will win: Ed O’Neill, “Modern Family.” It’s his turn.
Should win: Jane Krakowski, “30 Rock.” She never let down her side as the role model for self-involved TV stars.
Will win: Julie Bowen, “Modern Family.” A two-time consecutive winner for her beleaguered mom.
Should win: Jane Krakowski, “30 Rock.” Her fourth nomination as Jenna ought to be the charm.
Will win: Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family.” Her fourth nomination as Gloria will be the charm.