They may not have the high profile of the Golden Globes or the Primetime Emmys… but that may actually be a good thing for the Critics' Choice Awards. Since they're voted on by American reviewers, members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (rather than foreign journalists or industry insiders), they can often reflect a more accurate portrait of modern American television outside of the mainstream. Last year, HBO's The Leftovers — forever snubbed by other groups — was the most-nominated drama at the ceremony, and the BFCA honored Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany as Best Actress twice before the Emmys finally got onboard earlier this year. So will take home trophies at the 2016 ceremony? These 2016 Critics' Choice Awards TV predictions might give us a clue.
On the film side of things, the battle is likely to come down to top nominees La La Land, Moonlight, and Arrival, while over on the TV side, things in the top race seem likely to boil down to a clash between a towering returning favorite and several high-profile new series. Although it won't be competing for Best Drama, the FX limited series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is the most-nominated program of the year, with six nods to its name. And with five nods each, Game Of Thrones and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt are the most-nominated drama and comedy of the year.
But will all three of those shows reign supreme in their respective categories? Or will any of them be upstaged by flashy newcomers? Let's analyze the odds, based on the presumed frontrunners, possible surprises… and my own humble opinions:
Best Drama Series
- Better Call Saul (AMC)
- The Crown (Netflix)
- Game Of Thrones (HBO)
- Mr. Robot (USA)
- Stranger Things (Netflix)
- This Is Us (NBC)
- Westworld (HBO)
Will win: Game Of Thrones, which has only won once before (in a tie with Breaking Bad), and deserves its own solo trophy for its most universally-acclaimed season yet.
Could win: Better Call Saul, if they want to follow up Breaking Bad's dual victories with a win for its equally terrific spin-off series.
Should win: Stranger Things, because no other show captured the popular imagination this year in the way that the nostalgia-tinged Netflix sci-fi horror show managed.
Best Comedy Series
- Atllanta (FX)
- black-ish (ABC)
- Fleabag (Amazon)
- Modern Family (ABC)
- Silicon Valley (HBO)
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
- Veep (HBO)
Will win: Atlanta, for being the most unique and boldest (not to mention critically-adored) new comedy on television.
Could win: Veep, which has mystifyingly never taken home the trophy, and is hot off its most politically relevant season yet.
Should win: black-ish, for pulling off the deceptively tricky task of blending typical broadcast sitcom family humor with thorny societal issues.
Best Movie Made For Television or Limited Series
- All The Way (HBO)
- Confirmation (HBO)
- Killing Reagan (National Geographic)
- The Night Manager (AMC)
- The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
- Roots (History)
Will win: The People v. O.J. Simpson
Could win: Nobody else.
Should win: The People v. O.J. Simpson… I mean, did you watch it? Then you probably don't need me to convince you.
Best Actor in a Drama Series
- Sam Heughan, Outlander
- Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
- Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
- Matthew Rhys, The Americans
- Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
- Kevin Spacey, House Of Cards
Will win: Matthew Rhys; the Emmys finally gave his show some long-awaited and well-deserved recognition this year, and it's time for other awards shows to follow suit.
Could win: Bob Odenkirk, if his series pulls of a Best Drama win; his former Breaking Bad co-star is the only other actor to pull off multiple wins in this category. (Odenkirk took home the trophy two years ago.)
Should win: Rami Malek, because last year's winner continued to be as captivating as ever in his show's sophomore season.
Best Actress in a Drama Series
- Caitriona Balfe, Outlander
- Viola Davis, How To Get Away With Murder
- Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
- Keri Russell, The Americans
- Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld
- Robin Wright, House Of Cards
Will win: Evan Rachel Wood, who didn't let the fact that she was playing an android stop her from delivering one of the most complex and believably human performances of the year.
Could win: Caitriona Balfe, because Carrie Coon's win last year (for The Leftovers) shows the BFCA isn't afraid to stray from the mainstream in this category.
Should win: Keri Russell, who deserves every bit as much recognition as her male co-star. (Although I won't shed a tear if Wood wins.)
Best Actor in a Comedy Series
- Anthony Anderson, black-ish
- Will Forte, The Last Man On Earth
- Donald Glover, Atlanta
- Bill Hader, Documentary Now!
- Patrick Stewart, Blunt Talk
- Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Will win: Donald Glover, for whom a win here would recognize not just his terrific performance, but also his work creating, writing, and directing the acclaimed new series.
Could win: Jeffrey Tambor, because this is one category where the BFCA doesn't shy away from repeat wins (Tambor, Louis C.K., and Jim Parsons have all won twice), and his performance as Maura Pfefferman remains as insightful as ever in Season 3.
Should win: Jeffrey Tambor, because nobody else is doing such transformative work in any category.
Best Actress in a Comedy Series
- Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
- Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
- Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish
- Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag
- Constance Wu, Fresh Off The Boat
Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, since her strangle-hold on the category isn't as fierce as it is at the Emmys (she's only won twice before), and it'll be impossible to resist awarding her performance as a female POTUS.
Could win: Kate McKinnon, speaking of female POTUSES; which other nominee in this category has been in the zeitgeist as much this year than the woman who so memorably portrayed Hillary Clinton on SNL throughout the interminable election cycle.
Should win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus. No one on television is funnier than her, full stop.
Best Actor in a Movie Made For Television or Limited Series
- Bryan Cranston, All The Way
- Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
- Cuba Gooding, Jr., The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
- Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager
- Tim Matheson, Killing Reagan
- Courtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Will win: Courtney B. Vance, who already took home a well-deserved Emmy for his portrayal of infamous lawyer Johnnie Cochran.
Could win: Nobody else, hopefully — but if god forbid Vance and Gooding, Jr. were to somehow split the People v. O.J. vote, then perhaps former CCA winner and Oscar nominee Bryan Cranston would be the one to sneak through.
Should win: Courtney B. Vance. The role fit him like a glove… pun intended.
Best Actress in a Movie Made For Television or Limited Series
- Olivia Colman, The Night Manager
- Felicity Huffman, American Crime
- Cynthia Nixon, Killing Reagan
- Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
- Lili Taylor, American Crime
- Kerry Washington, Confirmation
Will win: Sarah Paulson, also a recent Emmy winner for her potrayal of prosecutor Marcia Clark.
Could win: Nobody else, especially since Paulson won't be competing against a fellow cast member.
Should win: Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
- Peter Dinklage, Game Of Thrones
- Kit Harington, Game Of Thrones
- John Lithgow, The Crown
- Michael McKean, Better Call Saul
- Christian Slater, Mr. Robot
- Jon Voight, Ray Donovan
Will win: John Lithgow, who is almost unrecognizable as Winston Churchill on the British period piece.
Could win: Michael McKean; even though he's a replacement nominee (after Homeland 's Mandy Patinkin was deemed ineligible), there's no denying the terrific work he does on a show the BFCA clearly loves.
Should win: John Lithgow, whose grotesque portrayal of Churchill is perhaps the scariest thing on television since the Trinity Killer.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
- Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
- Emilia Clarke, Game Of Thrones
- Lena Headey, Game Of Thrones
- Thandie Newton, Westworld
- Maura Tierney, The Affair
- Constance Zimmer, UnREAL
Will will: Lena Headey, because what voter would dare face the fiery wrath of Cersei Lannister?
Could win: Thandie Newton, whose rousing performance as a rebellious robot was arguably the single best thing about Westworld Season 1.
Should win: It's a tie! It's impossible to pick between Headey — who has consistently delivered perhaps the greatest un-awarded performance of the last half-decade — and Newton, who truly was a joy to watch.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
- Louie Anderson, Baskets
- Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
- Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
- Ty Burrell, Modern Family
- Tony Hale, Veep
- T.J. Miller, Silicon Valley
Will win: Tituss Burgess, since his show is the most-nominated comedy of the year, and this is its best chance at actually taking home a trophy.
Could win: Louie Anderson, whose performance as the main character's mother subverts expectations — and already earned the comedian an Emmy award earlier this year.
Should win: Tituss Burgess, because "Mr. Sassafras Jeans" is a dumb name for how fierce I'm being right now.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
- Julie Bowen, Modern Family
- Anna Chlumsky, Veep
- Allison Janney, Mom
- Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
- Judith Light, Transparent
- Allison Williams, Girls
Will win: Judith Light; her heartbreaking and rousing rendition of one-woman show "To Shell And Back" in the Transparent Season 3 finale alone should clinch it for her.
Could win: Allison Janney, because the reigning Queen of Television (see: The West Wing, Masters Of Sex, and now Mom) should never be underestimated.
Should win: Anna Chlumsky, who may be forced to play second fiddle to President Selina Meyer on the show, but should be recognized for her own terrific work in real life.
Best Supporting Actor in a Made For Television Movie or Limited Series
- Sterling K. Brown, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
- Lane Garrison, Roots
- Frank Langella, All The Way
- Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager
- John Travolta, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
- Forest Whitaker, Roots
Will win: Sterling K. Brown, because not only did he already win this category at the Emmys, he's also now starring in This Is Us, a Best Drama Series nominee and the hottest new show on broadcast television.
Could win: Hugh Laurie, but once again, only if a unexpected vote split between Brown and Travolta occurs.
Should win: Brown, whose performance as Christopher Darden was often the subtle, human heart of the tragic series.
Best Supporting Actress in a Made for Television Movie or Limited Series
- Elizabeth Debicki, The Night Manager
- Regina King, American Crime
- Sarah Lancashire, The Dresser
- Melissa Leo, All The Way
- Anna Paquin, Roots
- Emily Watson, The Dresser
Will win: Regina King, who was somehow overlooked by the BFCA for her Emmy-winning performance in Season 1 of the ABC anthology series (she wasn't even nominated), so expect them to make it up to her this time around.
Could win: Elizabeth Debicki, because with five nominations to People v. O.J.'s six, her show is also clearly beloved by the BFCA — and this may be their one chance to honor it.
Should win: Regina King, who continued her impressive simultaneous run on both American Crime and The Leftovers with yet another character who was wholly different from the rest, and yet equally as captivating.
Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series
- Mahershala Ali, House Of Cards
- Lisa Bonet, Ray Donovan
- Ellen Burstyn, House Of Cards
- Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife
- Jared Harris, The Crown
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan, The Walking Dead
Will win: Mahershala Ali, because not only is he the reining Emmy champ in this category, but he's the favorite to win the Supporting Actor category on the film side of things thanks to his subversively gentle portrayal of a drug dealer in Oscar frontrunner Moonlight.
Could win: Jared Harris, whose performance as King George VI — especially in a scene where he teared up with singing with Christmas carollers — was one of the most quietly devastating of the year.
Should win: Jared Harris; watch the aforementioned scene for yourself (if you haven't already) and try to deny his worthiness.
Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series
- Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live
- Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory
- Larry David, Saturday Night Live
- Lisa Kudrow, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
- Liam Neeson, Inside Amy Schumer
Will win: Lisa Kudrow, since she's a big name in a popular show, and provided both laughter and poignance in her brief role as (spoiler alert!) the title character's estranged mother.
Could win: Christine Baranski, who has been nominated for four Emmys for her role on the CBS sitcom, but has yet to win. The BFCA could get one-up on the HFPA be handing her a trophy this year.
Should win: Lisa Kudrow, who delivered on the long-gestating build-up to the revelation of Kimmy's mom… and then some.
Find out who actually takes the gold when the Critics' Choice Awards air this Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. ET on A&E, hosted by Silicon Valley star (and CCA nominee) T.J. Miller.
Images: Ray Mickshaw/FX; Giphy (17)