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the winners
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Matthew McConaughey, left, and Woody Harrelson are nominated for best actor in a drama series for “True Detective” tonight.

Emmy Awards sure to keep us all guessing

Truth be told, we are both perplexed about which Emmy nominees will carry trophies home from tonight’s ceremony.

Allow us to explain. There was so much great TV last season that standout prime-time shows, including “The Good Wife” and “Scandal” and stars Michael Sheen (“Masters of Sex”) and James Spader (“The Blacklist”), didn’t even make the cut as nominees.

Those who did are, for the most part, richly deserving. But now how to choose among them?

Then there’s this year’s notable trend of shape-shifting, with programs squeezed into categories that could give them better odds of winning – even if the fit might raise viewers’ eyebrows.

Cases in point: Netflix’s prison-set “Orange Is the New Black,” which despite its dark content is vying with the likes of “Modern Family” for comedy laurels, and HBO’s “True Detective,” which looks for all the world like a miniseries yet is gunning for “Mad Men” and other open-ended dramas.

Thanks, TV academy, for keeping us all guessing.

Even so, this pair of TV devotees are game to try to read the minds of Emmy voters and, in a bit of bravado, offer our choices for the best of the best.

Here are the contenders and our own sometimes clashing, sometimes matching picks for seven major categories:

Drama series

Lynn Elber

Should win: “Game of Thrones.” An epic series from epic novels. Drop the anti-fantasy bias, Emmy.

Will win: “True Detective.” Such a brilliant miniseries. But we quibble, and voters won’t.

Frazier Moore

Should win: “True Detective.” Grim, gritty, wickedly addictive.

Will win: “True Detective.” How could Emmy snub this true masterpiece?

Comedy series


Should win: “Louie.” Honesty is the best policy – and so brutally funny.

Will win: “Modern Family.” It’s big-hearted and on broadcast TV. Old school wins one.


Should win: “Louie.” Emmy needs to kick the “Modern Family” habit.

Will win: “Veep.” Emmy will kick the habit – by rewarding the wrong show.

Drama actor


Should win: Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad.” His deserving swan song, powerful to the end.

Will win: Matthew McConaughey. Impeccable performance. Plus he seduced Oscar, so how can Emmy resist?


Should win: Matthew McConaughey, “True Detective.” Edges out co-star Woody Harrelson only because he got to play two roles – not just one – brilliantly.

Will win: Jon Hamm, “Mad Men.” Enhanced his character’s palette with new colors this season. With time running out for him, the Susan Lucci tease will end.

Drama actress


Should win: Kerry Washington, “Scandal.” Carries a mad, mad world on her shoulders with aplomb.

Will win: Robin Wright, “House of Cards.” Goes beat-for-beat with Kevin Spacey. That’s impressive power.


Should win: Kerry Washington, “Scandal.” Fiery, fearsome, outrageous and yet lovable.

Will win: Robin Wright, “House of Cards.” She plays a chilly, not blazing, D.C. powerbroker. Her cool will rule.

Comedy actor


Should win: Don Cheadle, “House of Lies.” Comedy is hard? Not in the hands of this supremely versatile actor.

Will win: William H. Macy, “Shameless.” Emmy feels better saluting his depraved dad for comedy than drama.


Should win: William H. Macy, “Shameless.” A great actor in a go-for-broke performance. Plus, a great head of hair.

Will win: Louis C.K., “Louie.” More comedy, more soul than his rivals in this unique artist’s portrait of himself.

Comedy actress


Should win: Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation.” Wittily brings can-do perkiness back to TV.

Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep,” HBO. But let’s get real: a me-first politician rules again with voters.


Should win: Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation.” Her performance radiates sunshine that even Emmy snubs can’t dim.

Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep.” But she’s pressing reasonable term limits for Emmy’s largesse.



Should win: “Fargo.” A glorious movie made new by TV’s narrative form.

Will win: “Fargo.” Emmy won’t miss a chance to remind all that drama’s heyday is on the small screen.


Should win: “Fargo.” A Tiffany egg of a miniseries in its painstaking perfection. Plus it’s bitterly hilarious.

Will win: “Fargo.” Emmy has moments of myopia, but it ain’t blind.

Lynn Elber and Frazier Moore are national television columnists for The Associated Press.