[WATCH] Emmy Awards guest acting slugfest: Will veterans overcome potential newcomers?

We are down to the wire as Emmy nominations are set to be announced Thursday morning. For some of us Emmy nuts, it is the guest acting categories that we are anticipating the most. My fellow Gold Derby editor Marcus James Dixon and I got together via webcam earlier today to preview these hotly contested drama and comedy guest actor and actress races (watch above).

Watch: Emmy nominations predictions slugfest for 16 top races

We both agree that while there are likely to be a lot of repeat nominees, Marcus still thinks that “these are the most exciting categories every year.”

I agree wholeheartedly, explaining, “you want to know why? It’s because they throw in a few names that you weren’t expecting. They usually love their celebrities so you get some really interesting big names as well, and sometimes you get a show that doesn’t get any other Emmy attention but will get a guest acting nod. And so were always keen to look at these four categories in addition to the big ones.”

“This is where an underdog like Margo Martindale (“The Americans”) can win for sitting in a cafe and drinking a cup of coffee for two minutes,” Marcus says with a grin. “But sometimes there are really deserving winners like Michael Emerson (“The Practice”).”

In the Best Drama Guest Actor derby, we agree that the favorites appear to be two-time Oscar nominee Max Von Sydow (“Game of Thrones”), 16-time Emmy nominee (and five-time winner) Michael J. Fox looking for his fifth nomination in this category for “The Good Wife,” last year’s winner Reg E. Cathey (“House of Cards”), two-time supporting actor nominee Josh Charles (“The Good Wife”) who returned for a surprise appearance in the series finale of that show, Tony nominee B.D. Wong (“Mr. Robot”) and Golden Globe nominee and Grammy winner Blair Underwood for his one-episode appearance on “The Good Wife.”

In the Best Drama Guest Actress derby, Marcus says that Emmy-magnet Ellen Burstyn is a shoo-in for her role on “House of Cards” while I say that three-time Emmy winner Laurie Metcalf (“Roseanne”) will win this if the TV Academy falls for “Horace and Pete.” Other likely contenders include Emmy darling Allison Janney (“Masters of Sex”), who has seven wins from 10 nominations, two-time Emmy winner Martindale, going for her fourth straight nod for “The Americans,” 12-time Emmy nominee (and three-time winner) Cicely Tyson, back again for “How to Get Away with Murder,” and first-timer Annett Mahendru, previously eligible as a supporting actress but now in the running for her character’s heartbreaking swansong on “The Americans” as well as her turn on “The X-Files.”

Watch: Emmy predictions slugfest over major comedy races

The Best Comedy Guest Actor race looks all sewn up for Larry David, who won a writing Emmy for “The Contest” episode of “Seinfeld” and shared the Best Comedy Series prize with Jerry Seinfeld in 1993, but more recently accumulated five acting nominations for “Curb Your Enthusiasm” without a win. He is a frontrunner for his performance as former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on “Saturday Night Live,” which was a sensation this past season. Joining him as likely contenders are fellow “SNL” hosts Tracy Morgan and previous nominee (for “Portlandia”) Fred Armisen, Emmy legend Bob Newhart (a past winner for “The Big Bang Theory”) and multiple Emmy nominee and winner Louis C.K. for his role on “Portlandia.”

Best Comedy Guest Actress also looks like a safe bet for more “SNL” hosts, with frontrunners Tina Fey and Amy Poehler submitted as a duo (the first time that has ever happened)  along with fellow “SNL” hosts Melissa McCarthy, looking for her fourth nod in this category, and Amy Schumer, who won Best Variety Sketch Series last year and was nominated in the Best Comedy Actress category for “Inside Amy Schumer.” Fey might also score a second nomination (and a return from last year) for her work on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Emmy veterans Burstyn (“Mom”) and Christine Baranski (“The Big Bang Theory) plus relative newcomer Anna Camp (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) are in the running.

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions right here. You’ll compete to win our contest prizes for best picks — $500 (first place), $300 (second place) and $200 (third place) in Amazon gift certificates — 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 Emmy nominations). Be sure to read our contest rules.

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