Friday, July 11, 2014

2014 Emmy Nominations: Full Analysis

So I got these up a day late, and I apologize, but it actually helped because I got more time to really absorb these nominees and look through all the lists and nominees. As always, there are some shockers, some huge snubs, and some really excellent picks by the Television Academy voters.

I am actually proud to say that I got all six Drama Series nominations right! Of course in such a tough race, it really is luck of the draw (or so it seems), because most likely a few voters going the other way could have completely changed the game. I would have loved to have seen The Good Wife get back in for its rejuvenated season, or Masters of Sex make it in for a stellar first round. But I knew better than to discount the power of Mad Men and Downton Abbey. Mad Men is the perennial favorite that will most likely end its run with a nomination for every season. And Downton is the show that a lot of these older voters cling to. They don't want to watch shows like Breaking Bad and House of Cards, when they can watch the elegant alternative. In Drama Actor, I made the mistake of underestimating Jeff Daniels. We see time and time again previous years' winners get snubbed the next, and with so many contenders, especially so many Emmy and Oscar recognized contenders, I didn't know if Daniels could continue to get in for a show that otherwise was largely ignored. But he is an actor's actor, and they clearly love is liberal-slanted (I love them too by the way) rants on The Newsroom. But I really do feel bad for guys like James Spader, Matthew Rhys, and Michael Sheen who were incredibly deserving, but fell victim to too much competition. Especially, in my opinion, Spader. I was one of those that cursed his name when he kept winning Emmys for The Practice and Boston Legal, but I love his character on The Blacklist, and I love that show, one of the best things on broadcast this year. It was just too populist for these voters, and in fact the show only earned a stunt nomination, a real disappointment for such an entertaining and well-developed program. Then there is actress, and yes for the Orphan Black fanatics, I know that it is a jaw-dropper how Tatiana Maslany was left off. But I actually didn't think it would happen. The show earned a total of zero nominations across the board, and despite its ratings boost, it is clear that the industry is just not watching Orphan Black. Or, and I'm sure this opinion will rile folks up, they are watching it, and just don't love it as much as viewers and critics, or can't get past its genre trappings. But Maslany was not the only snub, as perennial favorite Elisabeth Moss was finally left off the list (showing the age of Mad Men), last year's nominees Connie Britton and Vera Farmiga, and potential upsets like Keri Russell. But honestly, like most of the drama races this year, this was a tough category all around. I was kind of surprised to see Michelle Dockery get in again. Yes, I know that I predicted her, but I genuinely thought that of the major Downton stars (besides Bonneville, who was out the second True Detective switched to Drama) she was the most vulnerable. Her nomination is just proof though that voters still love Downton. But the one that really stood out for me was Lizzy Caplan. It was one of my favorite nominations of the morning, and while her slightly subdued performance means he most likely will not win up against the titans that are Robin Wright, Kerry Washington, and Julianna Margulies, it was nice to see her get a well-deserved nomination. The supporting actor race looked like a seven-way race. Surprisingly, despite the buzz for Breaking Bad, it was Dean Norris that missed the cut, although I kind of felt like Jim Carter was going to get in again. Not only had he surprised us all with nominations the last two years, but this year, he had some real material to back up another one. I was especially thrilled for Josh Charles, who ends his excellent run on The Good Wife with one final Emmy nomination. Most people believe (and rightfully so) that this is a battle between Aaron Paul and Peter Dinklage, but watch out for Charles, he has some explosive episodes to deal with. In the Supporting Actress race, I only missed Emilia Clarke for Lena Headey. I love both on Game of Thrones, but I was actually really happy, because it means that Emmy voters weren't just falling in line, but actually watching the shows. Headey had much more to do this season than Clarke, and voters responded. The one that I really wish had broke through was Bellamy Young. She knocked it out of the park this year on Scandal, and deserved to get some recognition for it. I also would have liked to have seen a goodbye nod to Sandra Oh, who had one hell of final season on Grey's Anatomy. In terms of winning, most folks are sticking with Anna Gunn, but the one to watch out for is Christine Baranski, who really could show some muscle here and take home another Emmy herself.

So when I sense that Girls was weak, I was on to something, but I did kind of feel like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, despite being a bit silly, would be the one to take the slot. But it turns out that despite the obvious nomination for Andre Braugher, that the Television Academy wasn't that big of a fan of the show. Instead they replaced one Millennial HBO show for another, Silicon Valley. It must have been a tight vote considering that it didn't manage any acting nominations, but Mike Judge wields a lot of influence, and the show dethrones Girls. I would have loved to have seen Parks and Recreation or The Mindy Project get in, but overall, this was a solid list of nominees. So now that the nominations have been revealed, the question still remains, can anything beat Modern Family? The answer is, yes! It still can win, but its nominations are starting to fall, missing Eric Stonestreet, Ed O'Neill, and Sofia Vergara, and it is clear that there is Modern Family fatigue. So there are two shows that are fighting for this top spot. Veep finally got a writing nomination, finally putting it in a position to win, plus four acting nods under its belt. And Orange is the New Black broke through with tons of key nominations, including a butt load of acting nods. I think that this year's race is between these two. The Actor race had one of the biggest shocks of the morning when Ricky Gervais was announced for Derek. Gervais surprised us all when he won the Emmy, and he continues to surprise us, and prove that Emmy voters love him. I was kind of mad that Don Cheadle and Matt Leblanc continued to get love, because the picks of William H. Macy and Gervais (along with the usual, but deserved Parsons and C.K.) were really brilliant and outside the box. A nod for Andy Samberg instead would have been refreshing. In the Best Actress race, I think the voters just played it a bit too safe. Yes, they got fresh blood in with Taylor Schilling for Orange is the New Black, but continuing to nod Melissa McCarthy and Edie Falco (both of whom are great, but have already earned their Emmys) over newer, fresher contenders like Anna Faris and Mindy Kaling was a bit disappointing. The supporting races really shook themselves up this year. In Supporting Actor, last year's nominees Ty Burrell, Tony Hale, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Adam Driver all returned, but the other two Modern Family guys are left off. Andre Braugher wasn't a big surprise, but the inclusion of Fred Armisen was absolutely shocking, and brilliant. Armisen never managed to make it for SNL, and I never thought that Portlandia had enough support. But, despite missing out in Variety Series, Portlandia had a real strong showing, and Armisen could actually win this category, as he is basically a lead performance, and has the kind of episodes that win SNL Hosts Emmys all the time over in Guest. I would have loved to have seen Christopher Evan Welch, Nick Offerman, or some of the other Brooklyn Nine-Nine guys, but overall I thought this was a strong six. The Supporting Actress race was also full of surprises as well. No Sofia Vergara, no Merritt Wever, despite winning last year, and some welcomed nods for scene-stealing veterans Allison Janney and Kate Mulgrew. But the best nomination of the bunch was Kate McKinnon. Everyone agrees that SNL had a rough season this year. But week in and week out, Kate McKinnon was the best part, and she elevated every sketch she was in. This was probably my favorite nomination in the comedy categories. I will also say this. The Emmy voters clearly love The Big Bang Theory, and for years now, Penny has been the heart and soul of that show. I just don't know what Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting has to do get a nod from voters. For the record, I will dive into the Guest categories later with a different post, they are always such a fascinating group of nominees, they deserve a little more time to set in.

TV Movie/Miniseries
For years, Emmy voters ignored Treme in the Drama categories, and while it missed out on some deserving acting nods, I was so thrilled to see it finally get some recognition from voters. But lets me honest, in the miniseries race, this is a battle between Fargo and American Horror Story, both of whom overperformed, knocked it out of the park in terms of overall nominations, and will make for an interesting battle as we approach the big night. I hate to say it, because it seems so boring, but The Normal Heart has its category in the bag. The acting nominations had its share of snubs and surprises. Actually, the actor race went exactly as I predicted, but the actress race threw a curve ball with the inclusion of Kristen Wiig over the likes of Whoopi Goldberg and Rebecca Ferguson. Just further proof that Wiig is beloved by Emmy voters (so give her one already!!). In the end though, this will be a battle of the legends Jessica Lange and Cicely Tyson, and I personally think Tyson was the best of the bunch, and will take home the gold. Back to the actor race for a moment, most folks are leaning towards Billy Bob Thornton. But I know Emmy voters, and the loud and brash speeches, and the emotional weight of Mark Ruffalo in The Normal Heart, will most likely beat out the subdued and quiet vengeance of Thornton. I was surprised across the border at how badly Dancing on the Edge did, especially when John Goodman and Jacqueline Bissett were left off in the supporting races. Instead, in the Supporting Actor race, The Normal Heart guys swept four of the six slots, with presumed nominees Colin Hanks and Martin Freeman filling out the other two. I still think Bomer is the in lead, with the biggest of the story lines, and the most emotional impact of the bunch. Now we come of the mother of all categories this year, the Supporting Actress race. My personal favorite Allison Tolman got in, but unfortunately she looks like she is going to be drowned out by the divas of the night. First there are the American Horror Story ladies. Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett have scenery-chewing roles that are pure Emmy bait, as does Ellen Burstyn, who could win back to back Emmys in this category, this year for Flowers in the Attic. Frances Conroy was a filler nomination for a veteran Emmy favorite, but the one to really look out for is Julia Roberts. Her performance is probably the least impressive of the bunch, but she is Julia Roberts. The last time she appeared on television as a actor (and got an Emmy nod) was in 1999, fifteen years ago. Voters love to rubber stamp Oscar-winning movie stars, and this could easily play in her favorite up against some stiff competition. I would also like to point out that for the first time, American Horror Story got writing and directing nods, so those that think I am crazy for thinking it could actually beat Fargo, beware your underestimation.

I will not even get into he ridiculousness that there are now fifteen reality program slots and still only six for comedy and drama. In terms of the Competition Program, as well as Variety, the same twelve got in again. The voters in these categories have run out of imagination it seems. They did include one nomination that I was happy got in, and happy that I predicted correctly. Hollywood Game Night is a fun show, and Jane Lynch is a charming host. I was glad she broke through here over staler competition and got a well-earned Emmy nomination. Otherwise, these nods have a been there, done that, feel.

The winner predictions will start soon, and further discussions of the writing, directing, and guest categories should pop up within the next couple of days.

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