Emmy predictions: Viola Davis has 4-to-7 odds to make history with win for ‘How to Get Away with Murder’

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Viola Davis is predicted to make history at this Sunday’s Emmys as the first African American to win Best Drama Actress. Our exclusive Gold Derby odds have her out front at 4/7 to prevail for the first season of the ABC legal thriller “How to Get Away with Murder.” 

Emmy episode analysis: Viola Davis on the warpath in ‘How to Get Away with Murder

We know how much the TV academy loves to reward movie stars. in recent years, this category has gone to two-time Oscar champ Sally Field (“Brothers and Sisters,” 2007) and six-time nominee Glenn Close (“Damages,” 2008-2009). Davis, a two-time Oscar nominee, has that cachet voters embrace.

Davis, who won the SAG Award for this role back in January, submitted the episode “Freakin’ Whack-aMole.” in which her character, defense attorney Annalise Keating, works on the appeal of a former client, an innocent man sentenced to death row years ago. The search for evidence leads them to a slippery Senator, whom Annalise theatrically attacks on the stand. It works and her client is allowed to go free.

But Davis isn’t the only Oscar-nominee in the running. Ranked a close second in our predictions is Taraji P. Henson for “Empire.” She reaped an Oscar bid for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008), and now has 13/2 odds to win her first Emmy for playing Cookie Lyon, the matriarch of a powerful music family. Henson contended for Best Movie/Mini Actress for “Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story” (2011); she lost to Kate Winslet (“Mildred Pierce“). She submitted the pilot episode of “Empire” in which Cookie, just released from prison after a 17-year sentence, demands her rightful place in the company.

Third in our predictions with 12/1 odds is Robin Wright (“House of Cards“), nominated for the third straight year as Claire Underwood, the ruthless wife of an unscrupulous politico (Kevin Spacey) who schemed his way into the presidency. She has yet to win, but “House of Cards” has 11 nominations in all this year, indicating strong overall support. She submitted the episode “Chapter 32,” in which Claire condemns Russia and clashes with her husband after the suicide of a jailed LGBT activist.

Tatiana Maslany contends for the first time at the Emmys for playing multiple roles in BBC America’s sci-fi series “Orphan Black.” Hers is the only nomination for the series, and she gets 14/1 odds to prevail. The TV academy loves to reward actors playing multiple roles (for instance, Toni Collette won Comedy Actress in 2009 as a woman with multiple personalities in “United States of Tara”), and Maslany submitted the episode “Certain Agony of the Battlefield,” in which she gets to play six of her roles and adopts English, North American and Eastern European accents in storylines including an escape from a prison camp, a lighthearted money laundering operation and a tentative new romance.

Ranked fifth with 16/1 odds is perennial also-ran Elisabeth Moss for “Mad Men.” This is her sixth nomination for playing Peggy Olson in the AMC period drama, and she earned one other bid for Best Movie/Mini Actress in the miniseries “Top of the Lake,” but she has yet to win an Emmy. She hopes to change that with her episode submission, the series finale “Person to Person,” in which she has an emotional heart-to-heart with Don Draper (Jon Hamm) over the phone and then gets a romantic happy ending with colleague Stan (Jay R. Ferguson).

Claire Danes (“Homeland“) ranks last in our predictions with 50/1 odds, which is ironic as she’s this category’s only previous winner. She won this award in both 2012 and 2013 as CIA analyst Carrie Mathison in the Showtime spy drama, and she also won Best Movie/Mini Actress in 2011 as the title character in HBO’s biopic “Temple Grandin.” This year she submitted the episode “From A to B and Back Again,” which is also up for Best Drama Directing. In it, Carrie manipulates an asset into leading the CIA to a terrorist, but is shocked to discover that the terrorist has taken her mentor Saul (Mandy Patinkin) hostage. Enraged, she orders a deadly drone strike but is talked down by colleague Quinn (Rupert Friend).

Emmy episode analysis: Will Taraji P. Henson make history for iconic ‘Empire’ role?

Who do you think will win? Make your own Emmys picks now to the right or at the bottom of this post, and you could win one of our three prizes ($500, $300 and $200 Amazon gift certificates) as well as a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s Emmys line-up).

Last year, our Experts had an accuracy rate of 58.62% when it came to predicting the Emmy winners. That score tied them with both Gold Derby’s Editors and the Top 24 Users (those two dozen folks who did the best at predicting last year’s Emmys). Our Users scored  51.72% (Click on any of these groups to see what they got right and wrong last year.)

Which group will be victorious this year? Meet the guy who won our contest to predict the Emmys last year — and learn how he did it and how you can be our next Gold Derby superstar.

As some of our Users turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, it’s important that you give us your predictions. Your picks influence our Users racetrack odds, which also factor into our official combined odds.

Photo: Viola Davis in “How to Get Away with Murder.” Credit: ABC

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