by Julian Spivey
10. Lily Tomlin (Grace & Frankie)
Lily Tomlin has been nominated four times now for her lovably kooky Frankie in Netflix’s underrated “Grace & Frankie,” but hasn’t been able to crack the winning streak that has been Julia Louis-Dreyfus for “Veep.” Well, Julia Louis-Dreyfus isn’t eligible for an Emmy this year so maybe it’ll be Tomlin’s best opportunity so far. I just wish that her terrific castmate Jane Fonda had been nominated alongside her again this year.
9. Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live)
Kenan Thompson is the longest-serving cast member in the illustrious history of “Saturday Night Live” with 15 seasons and counting and with his first ever Emmy nomination this year for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series he might be the consensus favorite nominee this year. Thompson is one of those ‘SNL’ players that will frequently make you laugh with just a look or the certain connotation he puts on a word, even when a sketch just absolutely is not working. He’s that good.
8. Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish)
Over the last few years Tracee Ellis Ross’s performance as Rainbow Johnson on ABC’s “Black-ish” has been the second best performance on television by a comedic actress behind Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ turn on HBO’s “Veep.” With Julia Louis-Dreyfus not in the running this year maybe it’s time Ross gets the Emmy she deserves to go next to the Golden Globe she won in 2017.
7. Ted Danson (The Good Place)
Ted Danson is a television legend and a previous Emmy-winner for his iconic Sam Malone on “Cheers,” but maybe his greatest work on television is being done right now on NBC’s “The Good Place” as Michael, a demon turned good who’s helping people he believes shouldn’t be in “the bad place” find their way in the afterlife. It’s a performance played with wide-eyed glee by Danson, who received his 16th Emmy nomination.
6. Milo Ventimiglia & Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Milo Ventimiglia and Sterling K. Brown are giving two of the most honest and realistic performances on television, especially network TV on NBC’s terrific “This Is Us.” Brown won Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series last year, so maybe his castmate Ventimiglia will take the honor home this year?
5. Donald Glover & Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta)
Donald Glover, who is the defending winner for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series, and Brian Tyree Henry are quite the dynamic one-two punch on FX’s stellar “Atlanta.” I’m particularly thrilled to see Henry receive his first nomination in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy category as Paper Boi, an up-and-coming rapper struggling with budding fame. The performances in season two from Glover and Henry were top notch and I believe both should be considered front-runners in their respective categories.
4. Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert got off to a bit of a slow start as host of the ‘Late Show’ after taking over for David Letterman in the fall of 2015, but he’s really gotten into his stride in the time of Trump bringing a fiercely humorous political mind to the show that allows him to be himself and not a character like he portrayed in the Emmy-winning “Colbert Report” for Comedy Central.
3. Late Night with Seth Meyers writing staff
I’ve been salty for a few years now that NBC’s fantastic “Late Night with Seth Meyers” hasn’t been able to garner a nomination in the Outstanding Variety Series – Talk category, as I believe it’s been the best late night talk show on television over the last few years. But, where ‘Late Night’ really excels is in its writing of jokes, particularly political jokes with Meyers’ “A Closer Look” segment, and it’s nice to see that writing staff recognized for Outstanding Writing in a Variety Series.
2. This Is Us
“This Is Us” is the finest show on network television and I’m glad to see it gets its due against maybe more prestigious fare like “The Handmaid’s Tale” or “Game of Thrones” on streaming and premium networks. I don’t think it has much of a chance at becoming the first network drama to win Outstanding Drama Series since “24” in 2006, but I sure hope it does.
FX’s “Atlanta” is the best show I’ve seen on television this year and is frequently the weirdest and most unique show on TV, as well. The show simply does whatever it wants and whatever odd things pop into creator Donald Glover’s mind and it works perfectly. It’s a comedy, but with great dramatic moments and as the second season proved could even do horror better than most. I think “Atlanta” is definitely the front-runner to win Outstanding Comedy Series with “Veep,” the reigning three-time winner, not eligible this year.