[WATCH] Emmy Awards 2016 slugfest: Can any show stop ‘Game of Thrones’ from winning again?

My Gold Derby colleagues Marcus Dixon, Charles Bright and Ralph Galvan and I got together via webcam to dish the top drama races at the 2016 Emmy Awards (watch above). “It’s game over, ‘Game of Thrones’ is going to win,” I proclaim, explaining “after such a strong season, Emmy voters will have no choice but to give that Emmy to ‘Game of Thrones’ for a second year in a row.” Bright counters that ‘House of Cards’ is the true frontrunner in this exciting election year. “You’re wrong,” he retorts, adding “it’s going to be ‘House of Cards.’ It feels like they really hit the nail on the head this time, they have the right kind of momentum.”

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Fresh from watching the season finale of “Game of Thrones,” Dixon and Galvan agree that the HBO fantasy epic is unbeatable for Best Drama Series. “That episode was outstanding,” Galvan declares. “It was the best episode that that show has ever done, the score, the script, the direction, the cinematography, everything was just perfect. So, I love ‘House of Cards,’ it was great it was relevant, but those last two episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’ just blow everything else out of the water.”

I agree, noting, “the thing about ‘House of Cards’ is that it is a little bit of an afterthought now, and it won’t have the same heat as shows like ‘Game of Thrones’ and particularly shows like ‘Mr. Robot,’ which will be airing its second season as the nominations are announced. There’s another show really in the mix.”

Although Dixon acknowledges that “Mr. Robot” is a strong contender, he isn’t sold on it being a threat for the win just yet. “I don’t think anyone is really predicting a win,” he says. “I think Rami Malek is in, I think Christian Slater is in, but in terms of a win for the show, I don’t think it’s going to be a big winner come Emmy night.”

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The four of us do agree that the final season of Emmy favorite “Downton Abbey” and the acclaimed second season of “Better Call Saul” are almost certain returning nominees. However, it’s the final two slots in this likely field of seven where we most differ. “Orange is the New Black” had a relatively divisive third season, but according to Bright and Galvan, it still has significant support. Bright sums up what is time and again one of the strongest Emmy arguments to make when predicting the Emmys, and that is “the safer bet is to err on the side of what they have recognized before,” which would support another nod for the Netflix dramedy. “Homeland” is also touted as another safe bet, as it is usually a player in this category and has come off a popular fifth season.

Dixon and I hold out some hope for “The Americans,” which could breakthrough if the Emmys want to play catch-up after three years of inexplicable snubs and overwhelmingly positive critical acclaim. “12 of our experts are currently predicting ‘The Americans’ to get in, which is very interesting because it has never had this level of support before,” Dixon points out. “And keep in mind ‘Friday Night Lights,’ which didn’t get nominated until season five.”

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We also take a closer look at the lead acting categories, where many incumbents are expected to return. With last year’s winner Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) out of the running, expect to see frontrunner Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”), Kyle Chandler (“Bloodline”), Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”) and Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”) on the actor side and last year’s winner Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”), Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”), Claire Danes (“Homeland”), Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”), Robin Wright (“House of Cards”) and possibly a comeback for any of Michelle Dockery (“Downton Abbey”), Vera Farmiga (“Bates Motel”) and previous winner Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”) on the actress side.

Some of the new faces we say are possibilities include three-time supporting actor champ for “Breaking Bad” Aaron Paul (“The Path”), Malek (“Mr. Robot”), previous supporting actor winner for “Boardwalk Empire” Bobby Cannavale (“Vinyl”), Emmy winners Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis (“Billions”) and possibly even Emmy juggernaut Louis C.K. (“Horace and Pete”). Among new nominees on the actress side, Caitriona Balfe (“Outlander”), Shiri Appleby (“UnReal”) and Keri Russell (“The Americans”) are strong contenders.

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