Emmy Preview: The Little Guys
With the Emmys airing on ABC this Sunday, GFBRobot presents this three-part preview of the major categories. As we all know, half of the fun of these various award shows is disagreeing with the nominations and winners. So we’ll take a brief look at the most deserving nominees. They might not get the statue, but we can throw a little recognition their way.
Even if critics had serious problems with American Horror Story, they had to admit Ryan Murphy’s series took advantage of a big opening. Downton Abbey (its third season debuted in the United Kingdom last Sunday) was finally shown the definition of “miniseries” and moved to the drama categories, so American Horror Story stepped in to take over with 17 nominations to match Mad Men as the most nominated series this year. On Sunday we’ll see if being the big fish in a little pond was enough to carry over into wins.
Neil Cross (Luther) — Bill Kerby, Ted Mann & Ronald Parker (Hatfields & McCoys) — Steven Moffat (Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia) — Abi Morgan (The Hour) — Danny Strong (Game Change)
Luther and The Hour followed the British tradition of submitting as miniseries, but even here they aren’t strong enough. Credit to the Hatfield & McCoy gang for actually making a miniseries (and a damn entertaining one at that), but the series’ best strength was the performances, not the script. Jonathan Levinson no more, Strong improved as a writer with Game Change. It was a big step forward for him after a weak debut HBO movie debut with Recount. As a pure hour of television, A Scandal in Belgravia was a fantastic modern day interpretation of Sherlock Holmes and rivaled Steven Moffat’s best work on some other British show about a physician of some sort. Should win: Steven Moffat.
Philip Kaufman (Hemingway & Gellhorn) — Paul McGuigan (Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia) — Sam Miller (Luther) — Kevin Reynolds (Hatfields & McCoys) — Jay Roach (Game Change)
Besides Kaufman’s horrendous Hemingway & Gellhorn, which I felt was just a terrible effort from top to bottom, all the nominees would make worthy winners. Reynolds had two advantages with a full miniseries set in a picturesque location, plus he had the finances and setting to stretch his wings a bit. Reynolds easily made his most enjoyable work since 1991′s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Should win: Kevin Reynolds
Connie Britton (American Horror Story) — Ashley Judd (Missing) — Nicole Kidman (Hemingway & Gellhorn) — Julianne Moore (Game Change) — Emma Thompson (The Song of Lunch)
If I was going to give any love to American Horror Story it would be here, where five years of Friday Night Lights and countless “ya’ll’s” endeared Britton to me like few others. Judd was the worst of the nominees (Nicole Kidman says thanks) in a terrible small screen action series. But Moore actually managed to add some depth to a political figure that few people knew beyond the media blurbs. Should win: Julianne Moore
Kevin Costner (Hatfields & McCoys) — Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia) — Idris Elba (Luther) — Woody Harrelson (Game Change) — Clive Owen (Hemingway & Gellhorn) — Bill Paxton (Hatfields & McCoys)
Costner and Paxton were both terrific and Cumberbatch really came into his own and was comfortable in Sherlock’s skin. But the defending champion Elba not only managed to fit the second season of Luther into his schedule of starring in virtually all films and television series, he stepped up his game as the tortured DCI John Luther. If anything, it’s that Elba truly carries the weight of his show on his own shoulders that gives him the edge here. Should win: Idris Elba
Outstanding Miniseries or Movie
American Horror Story — Game Change — Hatfields & McCoys — Hemingway & Gellhorn — Luther — Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia
All of Ryan Murphy’s bad habits were readily available in American Horror Story, from terrible plotting to insane character actions to feed the plot monsters, though I certainly see how some could enjoy it as a guilty pleasure. The best thing I can say about Game Change is that is was very watchable, putting it leagues ahead of Hemingway & Gellhorn. Luther is a great showcase for its star, but not as strong overall. While I’m an enormous fan of Moffat’s modern day Sherlock, they did choose to submit only the first of this season’s three episodes. If I had to judge that against an epic and entertaining miniseries, I went with the equally enjoyable, but more substantive choice. Should win: Hatfields & McCoys