by Lori Melton

The 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards live ceremony is just around the corner and will air live Sunday, Sept. 17 on CBS. With “Game of Thrones” missing the cutoff this time, the door is wide open for a large crop of amazing Best Drama Series contenders. Will there be another sweep of the top prize with the sci-fi splendor of “Westworld?” Or will heartfelt family drama “This Is Us” take home the trophy? Check out our 2017 Emmy Awards predictions in the major drama categories below.

Best Drama Series

Two-time reigning champ “Game of Thrones” is out of the running this year. But “Westworld” will serve as a suitable replacement garnering 22 Emmy nods in all. “Stranger Things” follows with 18 nominations; then sweeping period drama, “The Crown,” with 13; “The Handmaid’s Tale” ties with 13; “This is Us” follows with 10; then “Better Call Saul” with 9; and “House of Cards” has 7.

Winning the Golden Globe Award for Best TV Drama Series could give “The Crown” the edge, but it’s never a guarantee. Its stars, Clair Foy and John Lithgow, are up for Best Drama Actress and Best Drama Supporting Actor, respectively. “Westworld” is a real heavyweight contender, leading the overall Emmy race (in a tie with SNL) with 22 nods, including one in all four of the major acting categories.

Still yet, “This Is Us” is a uniquely-told family drama with relatable characters and stories that hit close to home with viewers. The series claimed seven acting nods across all categories. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a show with so much “heart” on television.

Prediction: “The Crown”
Best Chance For An Upset Pick: “Westworld”

Best Drama Actor

This list is packed full of amazing performances this year. The 2017 Best Drama Actor nominees are Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us), Anthony Hopkins (“Westworld”), Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”), Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”), Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”), Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) and Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”).

What an amazing list of men this year! This is Matthew Rhys’ second consecutive nod in the category for his complex, secret-spy role opposite his on and off-screen love Keri Russell. Kevin Spacey has racked up 10 nods in all for his work on “House of Cards,” including five for Best Drama Actor. Could this be the versatile Oscar winner’s year to win? Sir Anthony Hopkins plays Dr. Robert Ford to “Westworld” grand wizard perfection. Milo Ventimiglia delivers heartbreaking work as Pearson patriarch, Jack, on “This Is Us.” So does Sterling K. Brown as Jack’s troubled on-screen adopted brother, Randall.

Prediction: Sterling K. Brown
Best Chance For An Upset Pick: Anthony Hopkins

Best Drama Actress

All the leading ladies have delivered exceptional work this year. The 2017 Best Drama Actress nominees are: Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”), Claire Foy (“The Crown”), Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Keri Russell (“The Americans”), Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”) and Robin Wright (“House of Cards”).

Viola Davis notably snagged an Emmy in 2015 for her role as brilliantly-flawed lawyer Annalise Keating on “How To Get Away With Murder.” Claire Foy already won the Golden Globe and SAG Best TV Drama Actress for her work as young, conflicted Queen Elizabeth II. Meanwhile, Moss delivers a searing portrayal of enslaved handmaid Offred on “Handmaid’s Tale.” This nomination mark’s Moss’s career eighth nod. Russell picks up her second career Emmy nod for her portrayal of devious wife, mother, and spy Elizabeth on “The Americans.” Wood won the Critics’ Choice Award for her “Westworld” role and Wright picks up her fifth consecutive for her work as Vice-President Claire Underwood. Who will win?

Prediction: Claire Foy
Best Chance for an Upset Pick: Elisabeth Moss

Best Drama Supporting Actor

This is another crowded category teeming with amazing talent. The 2017 Best Drama Supporting Actor nominees are: Jonathan Banks (“Better Call Saul”), David Harbour (“Stranger Things”), Ron Cephas Jones (“This Is Us”), Michael Kelly (“House of Cards”), John Lithgow (“The Crown”), Mandy Patinkin (“Homeland”), and Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld”).

Banks has earned multiple Best Drama Supporting Actor Nods for his work on “Better Call Saul,” “Breaking Bad” and “Wiseguy.” John Lithgow won the SAG Award for his painstaking portrayal of Sir Winston Churchill on “The Crown.” He’s also a five-time Emmy Award winner. David Harbour’s Emmy nomination for “Stranger Things” marks his first and is well-deserved for his multi-layer portrayal of Police Chief Jim Hopper. Ron Cephas Jones has been acting for decades. His Emmy nod for playing Randall’s terminally-ill bio dad William was heartbreaking and inspiring. Michael Kelly is a two-time nominee for “House of Cards.” Mandy Patinkin grabs his third Emmy nod for his “Homeland” role and Jeffrey Wright has won an Emmy and Golden Globe for previous roles.

Prediction: John Lithgow
Best Chance For An Upset Pick: Ron Cephas Jones

Best Drama Supporting Actress

These ladies are killing it in this category this year. The 2017 Best Drama Supporting Actress nominees are: Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black”), Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”), Ann Dowd (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Chrissy Metz (“This Is Us”), Thandie Newton (“Westworld”) and Samira Wiley (“The Handmaid’s Tale”).

Aduba won the Emmy twice for this category in 2015 and as Guest Comedy Actress in 2014. She’s got a lot of competition this year. A win for TV breakout star Millie Bobby Brown would make her one of the youngest winners of this honor in TV history. Dowd picks up her first Emmy nod for her “Handmaid’s Tale” role and it is one of two. She’s also nominated for Best Drama Guest Actress for “The Leftovers.”

Fans and critics alike are buzzing about breakout actress Chrissy Metz’s extraordinary portrayal of Kate Pearson on “This Is Us.” She also received a Golden Globe nod for the role. Thandie Newton has her work cut out for her as “Westworld’s” complex robot brothel madam, Maeve. Finally, Samira Wiley shines as Offred’s BFF Moira in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” This one is a tough call.

Prediction: Thandie Newton
Best Chance For An Upset Pick: Chrissy Metz

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