john slattery mad men portrait Emmys 2011: Watch out for these potential upsetsNow that we’re getting down to the last few weeks before the Sept. 18 Emmy broadcast, you’ll start seeing a whole bunch of experts (including us) try to predict who will win each of the major awards. You’ll likely hear a lot of the same names.

But, as we saw last year, the voters in the television academy like to throw a curveball now and again, especially in the supporting categories. Here are a few people who might surprise everyone by taking home the statuette on Emmy night.

Louis C.K. (lead actor in a comedy): For a cable show with a tiny budget and seems to spring completely from the mind of its creator, “Louie” is getting a heck of a lot of attention from critics. The performance of Louis C.K., playing a not-so-enhanced version of himself, is part of that. Steve Carell is getting all the press, but Louie is right behind him, and with the show’s so-far excellent second season in many voters’ minds, he may get rewarded for the first season.

Melissa McCarthy (lead actress in a comedy): McCarthy has a shot because of one word: “Bridesmaids.” She grabbed so much attention in the summer gross-out hit that she’s becoming the hot property of the moment, with a “Saturday Night Live” hosting gig and a bunch of movie roles coming in her near future. Not that she doesn’t deserve it, of course; she was the best part of “Mike & Molly,” and if “Gilmore Girls” ever got any attention from the academy, she would have likely had at least one Emmy by now.

timothy olyphant justified s2 320 Emmys 2011: Watch out for these potential upsetsTimothy Olyphant (lead actor in a drama): Why is Olyphant considered a dark horse? Because most people think Jon Hamm has this award locked up tight, and most of the other sentiment goes toward either Golden Globe winner Steve Buscemi or perennial nominee Hugh Laurie. But Olyphant’s performance in “Justified” got a lot of buzz this year, so the academy might go in that direction. A lesser longshot is Kyle Chandler, if the academy wants to send “Friday Night Lights” off with some awards.

Mireille Enos (lead actress in a drama): You could say that giving Kathy Bates the award here would be a real upset, but the nomination itself — from a lighter-in-tone show that critics generally savaged — is enough of an upset. Enos, on the other hand, actually has a small shot, mainly because, with all the silliness and chaos going on during “The Killing,” Enos was the show’s rock as conflicted detective Sarah Linden. If the academy wants to recognize this controversial show, there’s no better way to do that than to give Enos the hardware.

Kristen Wiig (supporting actress in a comedy): While there is no real dark horse in the supporting actor in a comedy category, Wiig definitely has that label on the women’s side. No one from “SNL” has ever won an acting Emmy in the major categories, but the “Bridesmaids” effect may come into play here once again. Besides, Wiig has been carrying the show ever since Amy Poehler left; there’s got to be an award for that, right?

John Slattery (supporting actor in a drama): In the drama area, the opposite holds true: there aren’t any real dark horses on the women’s side. Sentiment has gone toward every nominee, with the majority of good vibes going to Margo Martindale of “Justified.” And the supporting actor category is equally wide open. But Slattery’s always underappreciated performance as the quickly-being-left-behind Roger Sterling on “Mad Men” was painful to watch this past season, in all the right ways. If any academy voters are paying attention, he’ll win.

Who do you think is poised to make a surprise grab for an Emmy?

Posted by:Joel Keller