It's a sad commentary on the Emmy Awards, given how much time I spend in front of the TV set, that I'm far more successful at picking the winners of the Academy Awards year after year.
But not surprising. The Oscars are by and large based on merit. The Emmys take their cues from a volatile mix of whimsy and folly.
Yet this time around, I'm unusually confident about my predictions. (I'm contractually obligated by the TV Critics Guild to say that every year.) So here's what to expect Sunday night (8 o'clock, CBS3) in the major categories.
Mini-series or movie
American Horror Story: Asylum
Behind the Candelabra
Top of the Lake
Having just mocked the capriciousness of the Emmys, I should point out that there is one absolute lock on Sunday: Steven Soderbergh's gloriously gaudy Liberace orgy, Behind the Candelabra. The coronation that began at last week's Creative Arts Emmys (with eight wins for Candelebra) continues.
Lead actor in a mini-series or movie
Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra
Benedict Cumberbatch, Parade's End
Toby Jones, The Girl
Al Pacino, Phil Spector
It's Douglas. Book it, Dano. And deservedly so for his towering, no-net portrayal of the discordant maestro. It's a shame, though, because I would give anything to see Pacino put on that fright wig one more time.
Lead actress in a mini-series or movie
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Asylum
Helen Mirren, Phil Spector
Sigourney Weaver, Political Animals
Laura Linney, The Big C: Hereafter
Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake
The consensus among pundits is that Lange can't lose. But I'm predicting that Weaver takes home the statue for her rich and galvanizing performance. Just as important, singling her out for playing a courageous Hillary Clinton figure is Hollywood's way of thumbing its nose at Fox News.
House of Cards
Game of Thrones
It seems preordained, right? Hand the award to Breaking Bad, the show with all the buzz and momentum as a final benediction the week before this supernal series concludes. The logic is irrefutable - which is why there'll be no joy in Albuquerque on Sunday night. Instead, look for a dark-horse winner, either House of Cards or (my personal pick) Game of Thrones.
Lead actor in a drama series
Damian Lewis, Homeland
House of Cards
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Another no-brainer. Another upset. Cranston for one of the most consistent and crafty performances in TV history? Nope, it's Spacey, trailing Oscar cachet, for his exuberant, scenery-chomping turn as the Machiavellian Francis Underwood.
Lead actress in a drama series
Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Claire Danes, Homeland
Robin Wright, House of Cards
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Connie Britton, Nashville
Kerry Washington, Scandal
The smart money is on a Danes repeat. But Kerry Washington wins for two reasons: Without her spell-binding performance as Beltway fixer Olivia Pope, Scandal is a ludicrous and unwatchable mess. And during the ceremony, Washington is scheduled to present alongside Diahann Carroll (Julia) as a way for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to celebrate its long-standing and imaginary support of African American actresses - a tradition that starts Sunday. Don't bother to go back to your seat, Kerry. The gilded eunuch is yours.
The Big Bang Theory
Can Modern Family win for a fourth year in a row, a streak previously attained only by Frasier? You bet. This dependable charmer flatters the voters' insular fantasy that the whole world looks like the more affluent sections of Los Angeles.
Lead actor in a comedy series
Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Louis C.K., Louie
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
My peers are convinced that Mr. C.K. is the top dog in this strong pack. One problem: Not since Jerry Seinfeld has a TV comic been so awful at playing himself in an eponymous sitcom. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to call this one for Parsons. Seven seasons in and his performance is still miraculous.
Lead actress in a comedy series
Laura Dern, Enlightened
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Just so you know, there is no prestige category the academy voters care less about than this one. If Louis-Dreyfus doesn't repeat out of sheer inertia, look for the most random choice: Falco. Her series isn't even a comedy.
THE 65th EMMY AWARDS
8 P.M. SUNDAY ON CBS3
Contact David Hiltbrand at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_TV. Read his blog at www.inquirer.com/daveondemand.