Sunday, August 12, 2018

The 8th Annual Awards Psychic Television Award Winners

Best Drama Series
Winner - (TIE) The Americans and Westworld
Runners Up - Stranger Things 2, This is Us, The Handmaid's Tale
Commentary - The Americans may not win the Best Drama Series Emmy this year. In fact, there is a pretty good chance that it won't win. That doesn't diminish its legacy by any means, but I wanted to make sure that I personally rewarded one of my favorite television shows of the last decade. The Americans was a brilliant Cold War-era drama that beautifully mixed the spy caper and the personal enigma, and it will truly be missed on television. I also though have been personally obsessed with the second season of Westworld. The Internet and blogosphere are still debating the merits of the story line, and whether the show is actually good or just a completely ridiculous puzzle with no completion. I think that this kind of debate showcases a work of art that challenges. I may not have always known what was going on episode to episode, but I knew it didn't matter. Westworld was enthralling this season, and the pieces of the puzzle did slowly start to put themselves together. In the intermissions of clarity, it was a brilliant look at the human mind, the struggle for dominance, and the fact that nothing in this world is as it seems. It also presented some of the best episodes of its two-season run, and some of the best episodes in recent television memory. My personal favorites being Akane No Mai and Kiksuya, both absolutely brilliant. For that, along with its brilliant cast and impeccable production value, Westword is worthy of recognition. 

Best Comedy Series
Winner - Insecure
Runners Up - Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Atlanta, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Will & Grace
Commentary - The return of Will & Grace was welcome, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was marvelous indeed, Atlanta was darkly brilliant, and thank God NBC saved the wacky Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But as a twenty-something in this ever-changing and horrifying society, no show spoke to me the way Insecure did this past year. Insecure is a basic design. It is the story of a group of twenty and thirty-somethings trying to balance love, friendship, and career. In so many ways, Insecure could have been a traditional television comedy. But in so many ways, it has defied every single one of those classic stereotypes. Insecure is everything that Girls wanted to be, but manages to actually do it right this time around. Don't get me wrong, Girls had its moments of brilliance and deserves the praise. But it also tended to ignore its white privilege, its often unbelievable circumstances, and its wholly obnoxious characters. By contrast, Insecure is as real as it gets. Its characters are funny, well-constructed, and completely believable. Insecure succeeds because it comes from the mind of the brilliant Issa Rae, who brings her own humor, her own passion, and her own unique voice to the television landscape, and we cannot thank her enough for doing so. 

Best Actor in a Drama Series
Winner -  Jeffrey Wright "Westworld"
Runners Up - Sterling K. Brown "This is Us", Ed Harris "Westworld", Matthew Rhys "The Americans", and Dan Stevens "Legion"
Commentary - HBO took some gambles this year moving up Kit Harrington and Emilia Clarke to lead. Surprisingly this did not pay off as both missed out on Emmy nominations. They also took a chance moving Ed Harris and Jeffrey Wright to lead. I did not expect both to make it in, but when they did, it was recognition of the brilliant work of two of our best actors working today. Of the two though, Jeffrey Wright clearly rose to the top. A lot of the time-bending parts of this season revolve around the confused memories of Wright's Bernard. He balanced confusion, passion, anger, and the chaos of his world, often having to come to grips with the events around him. He was brilliant and compelling. 

Best Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - Evan Rachel Wood "Westworld" 
Runners Up - Elisabeth Moss "The Handmaid's Tale", Sandra Oh "Killing Eve", and Keri Russell "The Americans"
Commentary - Moss was intriguing as always, Russell finished strong, and Sandra Oh was fantastic. But Evan Rachel Wood's character of Delores easily became one of the most intriguing transformations this season. We knew there was something special about Delories throughout Season 1, and its ending proved she was even more awesome than we thought. This season, she became a leader, at times brutal, always compelling, and always magnetic. That is because of Evan Rachel Wood, and her towering performance.

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - David Harbour "Stranger Things 2"
Runners Up - Zahn McClarnon "Westworld", Nikolaj Coster-Waldau "Game of Thrones", and Peter Dinklage "Game of Thrones"
Commentary - Stranger Things 2 proved that its first season was no fluke, and I think that it gave David Harbour even more material to chew on. I was compelled by his performance from early on, but the longer we know Hopper, the more intriguing his character, and David Harbour's performance, gets. Of the bunch, he is the one that stands out to me, and hopefully an Emmy will follow.

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - Thandie Newton "Westworld"
Runners Up - Ann Dowd "The Handmaid's Tale", Millie Bobby Brown "Stranger Things 2", Alexis Bledel "The Handmaid's Tale"
Commentary - Thandie Newton was mesmerizing this season on Westworld. Her abilities this season, her determination, and ultimately, the love of her daughter made her story one of the most intriguing and interesting to watch. A perfect example of how good she is: there is an episode in which her character speaks almost entirely in Japanese. That is but one of many examples of just how damn good she was this season. 

Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - Cameron Britton "Mindhunter"
Runners Up - Gerald McRaney "This is Us" and Bradley Whitford "The Handmaid's Tale"
Commentary - Cameron Britton is the big surprise star of this Emmy season, and there is a very good reason why. Playing a serial killer, Britton steals every scene he is in, and is psychologically brilliant, managing to be both creepy, frightening, and yet compelling. I hope this is not a one-hit wonder, and we see more of what this talented actor has to offer.

Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - Diana Rigg "Game of Thrones"
Runners Up - Rinko Kikuchi "Westworld" and Samira Wiley "The Handmaid's Tale"
Commentary - Diana Rigg's Olenna Tyrell has been a force of nature on Game of Thrones for years now, and has always managed to steal every single scene she is in. Her final season on Game of Thrones was no exception. She was making alliances, fighting for her pride, and even in her final moments, took one last chance to destroy her enemies with her wicked tongue. The great Diana Rigg, whose screen career now spans almost six decades, took on this character with gusto, and her energy, her passion, and her sass have earned her a well overdue recognition. 

Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Donald Glover "Atlanta"
Runners Up - Andy Samberg "Brooklyn Nine-Nine", Bill Hader "Barry", and Anthony Anderson "black-ish"
Commentary - A great lineup this year of guys, but Donald Glover once again reigns supreme. Not just for his brilliant, unrecognizable episode Teddy Perkins, but for the entire season of this brilliant, weird, and darkly funny show. Glover's performance is probably the most subtle of the bunch, and yet it is the most compelling.

Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - Issa Rae "Insecure"
Runners Up - Rachel Brosnahan "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", Debra Messing "Will & Grace", and Justina Machado "One Day at a Time"
Commentary - Rachel Brosnahan is a breath of fresh air, Justina Machado beautifully balances humor and heart, and I loved seeing Debra Messing returning to Grace Adler. But none of them could beat Issa Rae, at least in my book. Her Emmy nomination was my single favorite of the bunch, and I literally screamed when I heard her name called. The fierce energy she brings to every scene, as a producer, a writer, and an magnificent actor is incredible to watch. Her character is flawed, incredibly interesting, vulnerable, and yet stronger than most. She has created a genuine character and story line that to any of us who are in that age group, feels about as real as it gets. That kind of authenticity can only come from an artist who is at the top of their game.

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Sean Hayes "Will & Grace"
Runners Up - Tony Shalhoub "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", Tituss Burgess "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt", and Brian Tyree Henry "Atlanta"
Commentary - Dying is easy, comedy is hard. Sean Hayes has made farcical comedy look easy for decades now. In this new incantation of Will & Grace, he has not lost one ounce of his hilarity, spontaneity, and ability to steal a scene. This time around, we got to see him struggle with a grandson he did not know, who was sent to a gay conversion therapy camp. It added a layer of depth to a character we all love, and proved why Sean Hayes is still one of the best. Emmy voters, you missed the mark when you failed to nominate him.

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - (TIE) Alex Borstein "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and Megan Mullaly "Will & Grace"
Runners Up - Yvonne Orji "Insecure", Rita Moreno "One Day at a Time", and Kate McKinnon "Saturday Night Live"
Commentary - This race is so tough, that Emmy voters had eight nominees, and could have had twelve or fifteen to accommodate all of the talented actresses that deserve recognition. Yvonne Orji has incredible chemistry with Issa Rae, and is just freaking awesome in Insecure, Rita Moreno cements her legendary status, and Kate McKinnon is a comedy goddess as always. But I narrowed it down to two, and couldn't narrow it down any further. Megan Mullaly returned to her iconic role of Karen Walker with gusto, and had one of the best episodes of any actress on television this year when she said goodbye to her beloved Rosario. Like her co-star Hayes, she got the chance to prove that not only is she one of the funniest and best comedic actresses working today, but she has incredible range. I also adored Alex Borstein in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. As the plucky, hilarious, and scene-stealing sidekick/manager, she got a chance to shine as a comedic actress, and is finally getting some overdue recognition for her incredible talent. 

Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Bill Hader "Saturday Night Live"
Runners Up - Donald Glover "Saturday Night Live", Leslie Jordan "Will & Grace", and Chance the Rapper "Saturday Night Live"
Commentary - Bill Hader was always amazing on Saturday Night Live, but he easily had one of the best episodes of the season that really showed his talent for sketch and physical comedy. He is getting a lot of recognition for Barry, and rightfully so, but I actually prefer him on SNL, and his unique, weird, and always hilarious brand of comedy. 

Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - Tiffany Haddish "Saturday Night Live"
Runners Up - Tina Fey "Saturday Night Live", Molly Shannon "Will & Grace", and Lisa Kudrow "Grace & Frankie"
Commentary - Tiffany Haddish has been a breath of fresh air on the comedy scene this last year. She is raw, hilarious, and honest. She hasn't been sucked into the boring Hollywood comedy machine. She has maintained the type of energy that made her a star to begin with. Look no further than her awesome turn hosting SNL. Her monologue was spot on, and her sketches had audiences rolling. She is just amazing, and I cannot wait to see what she does next. 

Best Limited Series
Winner - American Vandal
Runners Up - American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Patrick Melrose, Twin Peaks, and The Looming Tower
Commentary - I thought Gianni Versace was good, especially the acting, but it paled in comparison to OJ. Patrick Melrose was not that interesting past Benedict Cumberbatch, Twin Peaks was classic David Lynch, which meant it was too much, and I really like The Looming Tower, in second place. This was just not a great year overall for long form television, but of the bunch, it was Netflix's American Vandal that I enjoyed the most. It felt timely, darkly satirical, and spot on in its assessment of high school ridiculousness. It was the most clever and best executed of the bunch. 

Best Made for Television Movie
Winner - Black Mirror: U.S.S. Callister
Runners Up - The Tale and Notes from the Field
Commentary - HBO had two really great productions this year, they were just not the two everyone expected. I liked both The Tale and Notes from the Field, but neither were strong enough to beat Black Mirror. U.S.S. Callister was a brilliant, and shocking riff that showed just why Black Mirror is one of the most clever shows on television. 

Best Actor in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Kevin Kline "BroadwayHD Presents: Noël Coward's Present Laughter"
Runners Up -  Darren Criss "American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace"and Benedict Cumberbatch "The Child in Time" and "Patrick Melrose"
Commentary - Criss proved he has dramatic chops, and Benedict Cumberbatch gave us two great performances on television this year. But as a theater junkie, I was enraptured by the filmed version of Noel Coward's Present Laughter. I know it was just the play filmed, but as someone who loves theater, it was so nice to see it brought into our living rooms. At the center was the Tony-winning performance of the great Kevin Kline. He was magnetic, riotously hilarious, and definitely earned all of the praise and awards that were showered on him.

Best Actress in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Laura Dern "The Tale"
Runners Up - Anna Deveare Smith "Notes from the Field", and Elisabeth Moss "Top of the Lake: China Girl"
Commentary - A film about sexual assault is not the type of film you expect to be nuanced and subtle, but that is exactly what you got with HBO's The Tale. At its center is an incredibly nuanced, yet beautifully haunting performance from the great Laura Dern. All of the performances are fantastic in this film, but Dern's really is the standout. 

Best Supporting Actor in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Cody Fern "American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace"
Runners Up - Jason Ritter "The Tale", Callum Worthy "American Vandal", and Edgar Ramirez "American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace"
Commentary - All of those Versace guys that got in, and voters missed the best one of the bunch. As David Madson, newcomer Cody Fern, who is set to also appear in the upcoming American Horror Story, was the standout among the supporting cast. The conflicted lover, haunted by his past, he chooses to remain with the man he knows will kill him, because even that is better than being left with nothing. His role is not the biggest or the flashiest, but it is one that I remembered long after the final credits rolled.

Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Penelope Cruz "American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace"
Runners Up - Judith Light "American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace" and Nicole Kidman "Top of the Lake: China Girl"
Commentary - Cruz is always a ball of energy on screen, and her role in Versace was no different. She completely embodies her role, she steals every scene she is in, and could easily win her first, well-deserved Emmy Award.

Best Variety Series
Winner - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Runners Up - The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Commentary - John Oliver has quickly become the awards go-to for Last Week Tonight, and yet I have never given him an award. That is a crying shame, and it is long overdue. His show is hilarious, with just the right amount of anger, and is a voice we need in our current political climate.

Best Animated Series
Winner - BoJack Horseman
Runners Up - Archer and Bob's Burgers
Commentary - BoJack Horseman is a show that should not work. It is a ridiculous show about a horse man. Literally, a horse that is a man. But over the last four seasons, this show has evolved from a silly cartoon, to an incredibly dark, intelligent, insightful animated series that at times can be hard to watch in its own humorous brutality. Yet we keep watching because it is so good. 

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