Emmy Nominations 2021: Vanity Fair Predicts Who Will Win

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After a year of television that felt more than a little unusual given the pandemic that surrounded it, the 2021 Emmy Awards will be an opportunity to celebrate the shows that got us through, whether via fantastical escapism, well-costumed romance, or the optimistic wisdom of a certain football coach. Just like last year, Vanity Fair’s experts have their eyes on a specific trio of shows—this year it’s The Crown, Ted Lasso, and The Queen’s Gambit—to take home the bulk of the prizes, but there is also plenty of room for surprise. Will The Handmaid’s Tale be the comeback kid? Will the final season of Pose soar to the top? Was it really Agatha all along? Read ahead to find out, and tune in to the Emmy Awards on Sunday night to see if we got it right.


The Boys
The Handmaid’s Tale
Lovecraft Country
The Mandalorian
This Is Us

In the culmination of its long, triumphant awards season, Netflix’s The Crown should finally win the top prize for its acclaimed fourth season. The period drama has won every equivalent precursor, from awards given by key industry guilds like the PGA and SAG to those given by notable outside groups at the Critics’ Choice Awards and Golden Globes, and found an entirely new audience with its rich rendering of the Charles-Diana saga. In the time since its airing, a serious challenger has not emerged to overtake it, even with the support for Pose’s final season or the sheer popularity of The Mandalorian. It’s time for The Crown to finally take the, well, you know. —David Canfield


Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Jonathan Majors, Lovecraft Country
PREDICTED WINNER: Josh O’Connor, The Crown
Regé-Jean Page, Bridgerton
Billy Porter, Pose
Matthew Rhys, Perry Mason 

Tighter than it first appeared, this race comes down to two very different contenders. The smart money may actually be on Billy Porter, considering the overall Emmy performance of Pose for its final season—the FX drama has already won three trophies this year via the Creative Arts awards—and the fact that Porter has already won this category. He’s nominated again for a true showcase of a season that’s hard to deny. But as Schitt’s Creek proved last year, the Emmys love a sweep, and The Crown—with its deep ensemble and clear overall front-runner status—looks tailor-made for one. Josh O’Connor stepping into the series’ center with his indelible Prince Charles is likely to find embrace amid the wave. —David Canfield


Uzo Aduba, In Treatment
Olivia Colman, The Crown
PREDICTED WINNER: Emma Corrin, The Crown
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
Mj Rodriguez, Pose
Jurnee Smollett, Lovecraft Country

Emma Corrin’s devastating breakout turn as Princess Diana sits comfortably atop this list—which feels a bit strange to say, given that she’s surrounded by awards heavyweights like Oscar winner (and costar!) Olivia Colman and multi-Emmy winners Uzo Aduba and Elisabeth Moss. But so it goes. And in fact, her chief competition is probably another first-time nominee—Mj Rodriguez, repping the surging Pose and having already made history as the first trans nominee in the category’s existence. Will voters jump at the opportunity to make even more history? It’s a long shot, but don’t count her out. —David Canfield


Giancarlo Esposito, The Mandalorian
O-T Fagbenle, The Handmaid’s Tale
John Lithgow, Perry Mason
Tobias Menzies, The Crown
Max Minghella, The Handmaid’s Tale
Chris Sullivan, This Is Us
Bradley Whitford, The Handmaid’s Tale
PREDICTED WINNER: Michael K. Williams, Lovecraft Country

Voting closed before the tragic passing of Michael K. Williams on September 6, but the actor, whose work included The Wire and Boardwalk Empire, was already predicted to win this award for his performance in HBO’s now canceled Lovecraft Country. Winners of this category are often well-respected veteran actors (Peter Dinklage, Ben Mendelsohn, John Lithgow) who voters seem to be honoring not only for their current project, but their entire body of work. And that would be the case for Williams—a five-time Emmy nominee—this time around. It would be a bittersweet way to remember a beloved member of the acting community who created some of TV’s most memorable and vulnerable characters. —Rebecca Ford


PREDICTED WINNER: Gillian Anderson, The Crown
Madeline Brewer, The Handmaid’s Tale
Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown
Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale
Aunjanue Ellis, Lovecraft Country
Emerald Fennell, The Crown
Yvonne Strahovski, The Handmaid’s Tale
Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale

Dowd won in 2017 for her work on The Handmaid’s Tale, but with this crowded category stacked with her costars from the show, they’ll likely split the votes. And Anderson has always been the front-runner anyway for her transformative performance as Margaret Thatcher in the fourth season of the Netflix series. She already won the Globe earlier this year, and in all likelihood will beat out her own costars to take the Emmy as well. —Rebecca Ford


Bridgerton, “Diamond of the First Water,” Julie Anne Robinson
Pose, “Series Finale,” Steven Canals
The Crown, “Fairytale,” Benjamin Caron
The Crown, “War,” Jessica Hobbs
PREDICTED WINNER: The Handmaid’s Tale, “The Wilderness,” Liz Garbus
The Mandalorian, “Chapter 9: The Marshal,” Jon Favreau

There’s a strong correlation between this category and the best-drama-series Emmy, which should give the edge to drama front-runner The Crown, and particularly the propulsive season four finale, “War.” But we’re spotting potential upsets in the beloved series finale for Pose and particularly the Handmaid’s Tale season four finale, “The Wilderness,” directed by Oscar-nominated documentarian Liz Garbus. Given how much The Handmaid’s Tale outperformed expectations in the nominations, we suspect this might be a place for the show to surprise again. —Katey Rich


Lovecraft Country, “Sundown,” Misha Green
Pose, “Series Finale,” Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals, Janet Mock, Our Lady J
The Boys, “What I Know,” Rebecca Sonnenshine
PREDICTED WINNER: The Crown, “War,” Peter Morgan
The Handmaid’s Tale, “Home,” Yahlin Chang
The Mandalorian, “Chapter 13: The Jedi,” Dave Filoni
The Mandalorian, “Chapter 16: The Rescue,” Jon Favreau

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