Not that you shouldn’t watch all the performances, but it’s difficult, at best, to find the time. As a rule, I don’t sleep, so…here are my observations of the nominated performances.
PART 2: TELEVISION DRAMA
Millie Bobby Brown – “Stranger Things”
Last year I wrote: “As a rule (a rule that many tell me verges on idiocy) I don’t think child actors should win awards. My reasons for that would take too long to explain and I won’t bore you with it here. However, for Ms. Brown, I could be convinced to make an exception. Fascinating, earnest and so very human, this great show would merely be good if not for her performance. I hope her handlers make smart choices in the future, so we can enjoy her work without wistfully saying “remember how good she was in ‘Stranger Things'”?
Same goes for this year.
Claire Foy – “The Crown” (SHE HAS MY VOTE)
I thought she should have won last year, and nothing has changed for me. Foy’s Elizabeth has aged with astonishing grace and honesty. There is a lovely scene where she simply sits in a chair, the camera lingering on her for some time, and the mix of what’s going on in her life with the weight of who she represents is so present without a word of dialogue. I think it’s a masterful performance. I know you’ll all vote for Moss. Me? I’ll give mine to Foy.
Laura Linney – “Ozark”
I’ve never been a huge Linney fan. I always feel like she’s playing the same thing. But if ever a performance was going to change my mind it would be this one. In a role much like Anna Gunn’s from “Breaking Bad”, Linney takes her version of Skyler to a much darker, fuller and more three-dimensional place. She must be a protective and caring mother, a conniving genius, and an emotional survivor. Terrific all around. Wouldn’t mind at all if she won.
Elizabeth Moss – “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Well, you’ve all seen it. She’s going to win. What can I add? She’s always great, and especially so here in one of the most difficult series to watch in some time. I avoided it for as long as possible, since the book so wrecked me when I read it years ago.
Robin Wright – “House of Cards“
This was her best season, and, gratefully, instead of cancelling the show in the wake of the Spacey revelations, the show will become hers. That said, her version of constant controlled and cold rage, by its nature, doesn’t really match Moss, Linney or Foy. Not your year, Ms. Wright. It’s okay. We’re all big fans, regardless.
Jason Bateman – “Ozark”
EASILY Bateman’s greatest overall performance to date, you can practically hear the gears in the mind of his character working throughout. The only thing holding him back is that, in “Ozark”, I think Linney and the brilliant Julia Garner carry the lion’s share of the emotional weight. Nonetheless, he’s terrific and if you haven’t seen it yet, at some point, you really should.
Sterling K. Brown – “This Is Us”
Well, you’ve all seen it. He’s going to win. What can I add? He’s always great, and especially so here in one of the more difficult series to watch. I have avoided it for as long as possible, since the promos for the show DRIVE ME NUTS! Let ME decide if it’s the “most important episode yet”! Oy vey.
Peter Dinklage – “Game of Thrones”(HE GETS MY VOTE)
We all love Peter Dinklage in “GoT”. The problem is that, this season, everything moved so fast, we didn’t get any of the juicy slow-burning moments or scenes that made him the star he is now. Doesn’t mean he wasn’t great, just means he doesn’t deserve it this year.
David Harbour – “Stranger Things”
I don’t know. I don’t think his role has the emotional heft to warrant the award. Certainly the writing is more three-dimensional when it comes to his character, but he mostly reacts to plot points, instead of revealing an emotional core. Then again, I was not a big fan of the second season of the show, so…
Bob Odenkirk – “Better Call Saul”
It would be great to see Odenkirk win. He’s been at it for so long, and he’s obviously makes the show zig whenever it might zag. Regardless, many (myself included) feel it’s just this side of caricature. Charming, effective and easy to watch, for sure, but…
Besides, Sterling Brown is going to win, anyway.
“The Crown” (THIS GETS MY VOTE)
This season, the cast is somehow even more uniformly brilliant than its first. In addition to Foy, the INCREDIBLE Vanessa Kirby, the consistent and, this season, scary good Matt Smith, Victoria Hamilton, Pip Torrens (playing the opposite of his “Preacher” character with grace), Mike Parker, the BRILLIANT Michael Adeen, the brief but amazing performance of Alex Jennings, an amazing child performance from Finn Elliott as the young Prince Philip in episode nine, and this year’s replacement for John Lithgow, the impossible not to watch Matthew Goode (hot!). HOWEVER, they lose points for their casting of Michael C. Hall as JFK. Oof. THAT was a misstep – yet, even still, a tissue-required episode. MAN, I love this show. And next season Olivia Colman (“Broadchurch”) takes over the Crown. Can not wait!
“Game of Thrones”
For the first time, the cast was COMPLETELY obliterated by the production, plot and writing. This is not to say they weren’t phenomenal, as ever, but the other nominated casts rely so much more on their performers to make it go. And this season GoT was more about our CONNECTION to these characters and their storylines than to their performances. I suppose it eventually had to happen…they only had thirteen episodes to wrap the slowest moving, yet most fascinating tale in television history. Now with only SIX left…alas, I expect more of the same.
“The Handmaid’s Tale”
So, in addition to Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Samira Wiley, Amanda Brugel, Madeline Brewer, Alexis Bledel, O-T Fagbenie, Max Minghella, and, of course, Joseph Fiennes make this thing everything Game of Thrones was not in terms of how heavily the show relies on its performances. Not a weak link in the bunch, it’s going to win. And, in spite of my belief that “The Crown” should edge it out, it will be well a deserved trophy.
And, again, as I wrote last year…”There were some real winners in this cast (Ryder, Brown, David Harbour). On the whole, the cast was quite convincing and committed. But top to bottom, it just doesn’t match…” …any of the others. Any of them.
“This Is Us”
Have I mentioned how distasteful the NBC promos for this show are? In SPITE of that, I forced myself to watch a few episodes of this season. It is really outstanding network television…even if it makes me long for the best family dramas ever, “Friday Night Lights” and “Six Feet Under”. But this failing is certainly not the fault of the ridiculously brilliant cast…Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K Brown, Chrissy Metz(!), Mandy Moore, Justin Hartley, Ron Cephas Jones(!), Susan Kelechi Watson, and on and on. Give casting directors Tiffany Little Canfield, and theatrical casting genius, Bernie Telsey, their due. They did a magnificent job placing the right actors in a show that COULD have been every bit as milquetoast as the promos for it.
To sum up…WATCH “THE CROWN” fer cryin’ out loud!