2018 Emmy Nominations: My Thoughts…
Before I get in to specific categories, here are some of my broader observations:
- The great news? For the third year in a row, the amount of nominations given to people of color went up (including a first ever nominee for an actor of Asian descent, Sandra Oh). Well done, Academy! Well done!
- The “huh?” news? Well, inexplicably, every category has anywhere from six to eight nominations. EIGHT! The show will take an extra hour just to read all the extra names! What makes it even stranger is that FIVE acting categories feature three performers from the same damned show (“Handmaid’s Tale” boasts six in two categories, as does “The Assassination of Gianni Versace”). Couldn’t we cull it down just a little bit? On the positive side, it means that an extra fifteen actors or so can now ask for higher salaries due to their new status as Emmy-nominees. I’m sure producers are just elated over that.
- The bad news (and this is one of the few mentions I’ll make of the Creative Arts awards) is that women are still WOEFULLY under-represented in the production/creative award categories, including only one each in Comedy and Drama direction. The only category where some parity exists is in the writing of a comedy series (3 women and 3 men).
- Some bizarre and inexplicable anomalies exist, as usual. “The Terror” (one of the best shows of the year) did not receive so much as ONE nomination, yet “The Defenders” (quite objectively, the worst show of the year) did! Granted, the latter was nominated for its theme music, but come ON! Too ridiculous to be believed.
- The only other broad item to mention is that due to the eligibility dates for nomination, you won’t find “Veep”, “Master of None” nor “Better Call Saul” (or their performers) in any category this year, so don’t freak out. We’ve become absurdly tribal about our favorite shows and already the “how dare they!” statements are floating around out there in abundance, like discarded plastic on the Pacific (especially by fans of the show which, even at its first season best, was never much more than a guilty pleasure, “Outlander”).
Okay! On to the specific categories:
- I’d feel a whole lot better about “The Americans” getting a nomination if they weren’t handing out nominations to eight shows. That said…can the Television Academy (TA) PLEASE give that show the award it has deserved for at least three of its six seasons?
- Only one network show. ONE! I don’t mind, but you’d think with eight slots, another might have slipped in, although I couldn’t tell you which show that would be.
- No “Mr. Robot”? The third season was brilliant after a not-so-good sophomore effort. Maybe voters found it too complex? Then again, “Westworld” was nominated and nobody knows what the hell is going on in that show from week-to-week.
- Finally, and get comfy because this omission will be repeated several times, where is “The Terror”? AMC’s initial season was easily one of the most interesting, well acted and beautifully written shows of the year…by a mile. It deserved notice in several categories, and yet? My guess is AMC didn’t make enough of an effort to push it, which is surprising considering “Better Call Saul” was not eligible. Ah well.
My Top 8 would’ve been (in order of preference):
- The Americans
- The Crown
- A Handmaid’s Tale
- The Terror (not nominated)
- Game of Thrones
- Mr. Robot (not nominated)
- <insert your favorite here…in other words “This Is Us” or, heaven forbid “Outlander”>
- No “Modern Family”and no “Big Bang Theory”. It is a new day indeed. AND “Veep” was not eligible. Yet, even with all that and eight noms to fill, they still missed two of the very best comedies on television, “Brooklyn Nine Nine” and “SMILF”. Not sure what I’d switch them with. I suppose I could see losing “GLOW” from the list, as I’m not that big a fan. On the other hand, it is an ensemble comedy featuring killer roles for a dozen women. Finally, I’ve never been a huge fan of “Kimmy Schmidt”.
- So happy “Barry” made the cut. What a pleasant surprise that show was. And for those who think it paints a false picture of the struggling actor, I assure you, there is nothing in that show that I have not literally seen or experienced personally, especially as it relates to the LA acting class.
- “Silicon Valley” celebrates its fifth nomination in a row, and now that the “Veep”/”Modern Family” juggernaut is out of the mix (the only shows to win since 2010), it’s probably due. That said I’d be equally happy to see “Atlanta” or “Mrs. Maizel” get the statuette.
My Top 8 would’ve been (in order of preference):
- Marvelous Mrs. Maizel
- Silicon Valley
- SMILF (not nominated)
- Brooklyn Nine Nine (not nominated)
- Curb Your Enthusiasm
- ‘The Alienist”?! Really?! I watched every second of that poorly paced, terribly acted and over-written show and, beyond the opening credits, thought it was quite awful. Other than the fact that movie stars are in it, I have no idea what the Academy was thinking. Now, a show about the same period that was much better, lasted five seasons and remains woefully underappreciated, was “Ripper Street”, which didn’t receive bubkus from The Academy.
- And how was “The Alienist” nominated and “The Looming Tower” wasn’t?! What is going on here?! Listen, “The Looming Tower,” like “The Alienist,” has some terrible performances (looking right at you Peter Sarsgaard), but it also has some great ones (the nominated Jeff Daniels, for instance), terrific writing and a fascinating subject.
- And, not for nothing, how about “A Very British Scandal”? See above…
- However, I’m elated “Godless” made the cut. One of the better Western series we’ve had, featuring the fantastic Merritt Weaver and a second nominated performance from Jeff Daniels.
- What is the craze of “Assassination”? It has about a million acting nominations, yet I found it to be filled with gloss and scenery burning.
My Top 5 would’ve been (in order of preference):
- The Looming Tower (not nominated)
- A Very British Scandal (not nominated)
- Patrick Melrose
Best Actor in a Drama:
I’ll make this quick. Two actors from “Westworld” and two from “This Is Us”, which means no room for the following who could/should have been given consideration:
- Jared Harris (“The Terror”), who was utterly brilliant in a show filled with remarkable performances. He might get my winning vote if I had one…nah…see my last comment in this section.
- Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”) has his best season yet as a man in a depression so deep he can’t see beyond his own grief.
- Scoot McNairy (“Halt and Catch Fire”). I know no one watched the show except about twelve of us, but, MAN, he deserves some recognition for his work and a nomination now that the show just finished up, would’ve been fitting.
- JK Simmons (“Counterpart”) keeps you hypnotized by an otherwise mediocre show as he plays two versions of the same person.
- Rami Malik (“Mr. Robot”), like Schreiber, has his best season showing us a whole, feeling person trapped inside the creepy, unfeeling, geek.
That said, it’s lovely to see Jason Bateman rewarded for the risks he takes in “Ozark”.
But, let’s face it, Matthew Rhys deserves an award for the garage scene alone in the series finale of the Americans. I’ve now watched that scene over a dozen times and I’m still struck by his subtle mix of exhaustion, sorrow and love. It’s simply the best scene performance of the year by anyone in any show.
Best Actress in a Drama:
Not much to complain about here, except that Claire Foy nor Keri Russell will win (I’d be happy with either). No, this is Ms. Moss’ award to lose. Certainly deserving, even if I put her in a very close third to those other two.
- The first Asian woman in the category to get a nomination (Sandra Oh for “Killing Eve”)! What took so long? It’s the 70th Emmys?!
- Like Scoot McNairy, I’d have loved to see some love given to Kerry Bishe From “Halt and Catch Fire.”
- Wouldn’t have minded if Jenna Coleman (“Victoria”) or Nicola Walker (“The Split” – if eligible) might have also been considered.
Best Actor in a Comedy:
Nice group. Only a couple possible omissions, but certainly no quibbles with the choices (although I think thirty seven nominations for Mr. Macy is probably enough). I think it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to add Hank Azaria (“Brockmire”) and Andy Samberg (“Brooklyn Nine Nine”) to the mix.
Best Actress in a Comedy:
Okay. So, I love Lily Tomlin as much as the next person, but…really? That “Grace and Frankie” show connects about once an episode. In the meantime can I interest you in Ms. Frankie Shaw?! Please?! I don’t understand how “SMILF” was so roundly rejected. Shaw’s work is effortless in its explanation of life as a single mom in the real world. Without a doubt my favorite comic performance of the year.
That said, I applaud the Academy for the repeat nom of Pamela Adlon and inclusion of newcomers Issa Rae and Rachel Brosnahan, the latter of whom I feel fairly certain will win (unless they decide they’d rather give it to an Oscar winner).
I wonder who would’ve been left out if “Veep” had been eligible.
Best Actor in a Limited Series or Television Movie:
- Jeff Daniels for his work in “The Looming Tower”
- Daniel Plemons (“Black Mirror”), long overdue for “Friday Night Lights” and about a million other things (and how about his surprise comedy chops in “Game Night”?!)
- Thank god you didn’t burden me with explaining Daniel Bruhl’s utterly wooden, Ambien-tinged performance in “The Alienist”
- Umm…no Al Pacino (“Paterno”)?
- Umm…no Hugh Grant (“A Very British Scandal”)?
- Umm…no Tahar Rahim (“The Looming Tower”)?
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama:
Mandy Patinkin…huh. Is anybody still watching that show? Well, good for him, I suppose. That said, and here we go again, he could have EASILY been replaced by either Ian Hart or Adam Nagaitis from “The Terror”. If my Union fails to nominate them for a SAG Award for Best Ensemble, it’ll be a shame. But the Academy should have noticed at least ONE of these fine performances.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama:
I love that they got it right with Vanessa Kirby – the yin to Foy’s yang in “The Crown”. But my issue with the rest is simple; if you’re going to nominate THREE actors from one show (“Handmaid’s”) at the expense of the brilliance of Ellen Barkin (“Animal Kingdom”) or Portia Doubleday (“Mr. Robot”), then you’re just being lazy.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy:
So three spots opened up from “Veep” and the now done-for “Modern Family”. Kudos for including Brian Tyree Henry, Tony Shalhoub, and ESPECIALLY, Henry Winkler! And mazel tov to Kenan Thompson’s nom, proving if you can just wait long enough…
But, I don’t know when Andre Braugher was dropped from regular contention…and if not him, why not Joe Lo Truglio from the same show, or even David Cross as the lone nominee from the latest season of “Arrested Development”? Just give him ANUSTART®…
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy:
Okay…<sigh>…THREE from SNL (just lazy). And while I’m ecstatic you acknowledged Ms. Borstein, Ms. Beetz and Ms. Metcalf, I really think Rosie O’Donnell (“SMILF”) deserved one of the eight slots. She’s fearless and amazing and about as human as it gets. And some day, maybe let Melissa Fumero (“Brooklyn Nine Nine”) know she’s on a par with the rest, because she is.
Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Television Movie:
Room for THREE from “Versace”, but no room for the INCREDIBLE Bill Camp in “The Looming Tower”?!?! I mean, I love me some Michael Stuhlbarg, but he doesn’t touch Camp in the show. #Fail
Guest Actor in a Drama:
Two more from “This Is Us”. <eyeroll> Sure, why not? Glad you asked. Here’s why:
- Ciaran Hinds (“The Terror”)
- Jeremy Northam (“The Crown”)
- BD Wong (“Mr. Robot”)
Guest Actress in a Drama:
Three more from “Handmaid’s Tale”. <smaller eyeroll> Whatever. I give up.
Guest Actor in a Comedy:
Sterling K. Brown barely scratched the surface of the Brooklyn Nine Nine ensemble, yet somehow he was given a nod in this category.
Me? I’d have given the nod to Luke Kirby, whose Lenny Bruce is imperative in “Marvelous Mrs. Maizel”
That’s it for me. Sure, I have quibbles with the documentary race. WHERE’S Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War”, fer crissakes?!?! Toughest, yet most important ten hours of television in 2017!! But you don’t give a crap about that, so I’ll stop.
Tell me why I’m an idiot for not loving “This Is Us”…