The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
DAVID: I’m going to try not to spend all of these categories complaining about the absence of AMC’s The Terror — Genius? The Alienist? SERIOUSLY? — but I want it clear on the record that this is a travesty. Not even for Production Design? Cinematography? Special Effects? Are you kidding??? I guess I have to pick Versace, but I couldn’t be less interested. (And yeah, I know Twin Peaks was left out here too, but at least it got nominated for something.)
CHASE: I can’t believe The Alienist was nominated. It could have won this award 20 years ago when the book came out, but its moment was long passed by the time it actually got made. I watched one episode and quit, and I actually like the book. It’s like if FX decided to remake Shogun or something….what’s that? *checks notes* That’s actually happening? Sigh…….Versace.
SEAN: Versace was a fascinating piece of television. It was often a mess, but it defied expectations in both structure and subject matter. As polarizing as it was, the other nominees don’t come close in terms of ambition. Plus, Ryan Murphy can do no wrong in Emmy’s eyes.
Black Mirror: USS Callister
DAVID: The “USS Callister” episode of Black Mirror is buzzy, entertaining, and topical, though it’s still something like category fraud for individual episodes to keep getting nods in the Movie categories. The critics’ choice is the Laura Dern-led The Tale, which got attention at Sundance before HBO picked it up. It could go either way. But Mirror won last year, and the Academy may want to go with the more “prestige” pick this time.
CHASE: I see it’s time for my yearly complaint that Black Mirror isn’t actually a good show! That said, it’s the only one of these I’ve actually seen. I actually think Paterno has a decent shot considering Pacino’s involvement and the recent Larry Nasser trial, but I’ll pick The Tale as well. This one is a roll of the dice.
SEAN: The Tale has both the reviews and the timeliness. Nothing else can win here.
LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Jessica Biel, The Sinner
Laura Dern, The Tale
Michelle Dockery, Godless
Edie Falco, The Menendez Murders
Regina King, Seven Seconds
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Cult
DAVID: Whether The Tale wins for Movie or not, Laura Dern — who won last year for Big Little Lies –is going to do it again. If you’re looking for a dark horse, Jessica Biel.
CHASE: I can’t find any reason to pick against Dern here.
SEAN: Dern can’t lose.
LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Antonio Banderas, Genius: Picasso
Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick Melrose
Jeff Daniels, The Looming Tower
John Legend, Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert
Jesse Plemons, Black Mirror: USS Callister
DAVID: This one is surprisingly tight. The Emmys love Benedict Cumberbatch, who’s been nominated five times and won once. Plemons got a surprise nomination for Fargo a few years back and got another one here (his Shatner-style space captain performance is memorable, but it boggles the mind that he got a nomination and Cristin Miloti did not). Since it seems voters loved Versace more than most viewers and many critics, Criss has a great chance. But I’m going to go somewhat out on a limb and pick new EGOT John Legend in a very different type of broadcast, a sensational live performance that won over cynics and even Andrew Lloyd Webber haters across the country.
CHASE: I think Emmy wants to throw laurels at Cumberbatch whether he deserves them or not. Remember when he stole this same award from Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton in the first season of Fargo a few years ago? I expect him to do it again.
SEAN: Jesus Christ Superstar was an event and for all of its live performance quirks the show really worked and most of that was due to the magnetism of John Legend. He should get another acceptance speech ready.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Sara Bareilles, Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert
Penelope Cruz, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Judith Light, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Adına Porter, American Horror Story: Cult
Merritt Wever, Godless
Letitia Wright, Black Mirror: Black Museum
DAVID: I have to start by saying that the only reason Letitia Wright is here is affection for Black Panther, because she doesn’t have much to do in her Black Mirror role. (Maybe voters were confused by the titles?) This is another three-way race between the critically adored Wever and the actresses from Versace, but I’m expecting the movie star wattage of Penelope Cruz to win out.
CHASE: Look, Cruz was not good in Versace. She’s a great actress, but her accent-from-Mars performance was one of Versace‘s myriad problems. She’s nominated because of star power, but I can’t pick her to win. It’s got to be Merritt Wever.
SEAN: Sara Bareilles was the best thing about Jesus Christ Superstar, but nobody gave a better supporting performance this year than Judith Light in Versace. I think she beats out Cruz’s star power.
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Jeff Daniels, Godless
Brandon Victor Dixon, Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert
John Leguizamo, Waco
Finn Wittrock, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Ricky Martin, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Edgar Ramirez, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Michael Stuhlbarg, The Looming Tower
DAVID: Instead of three nominations for Versace (Ricky Martin???), why not Tobias Menzies, Paul Ready, Adam Nagaitis, or Ciarán Hinds from The Terror? I don’t know how to let that go. Sorry. I guess I’ll pick Jeff Daniels, who shouldn’t win for The Looming Tower but could get the consolation prize here. However, if John Legend could win his category, watch out for Brandon Victor Dixon, every bit his electrifying equal as Judas.
CHASE: In a weird turn of events I actually thought Ricky Martin was quite good on Verace (I know, this is some sort of Bizarro world). Godless gave Jeff Daniels the chance to give the kind of blustery performance that I think wins this category especially considering how many nominees there are. My theory is that the more nominees there are the easier it is to pick the big name or previous winner.
SEAN: Wouldn’t it be a trip if all three of the Jesus Christ Superstar actors won? It’s certainly a possibility. Brandon Victor Dixon for the win.
DIRECTING IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Scott Frank, Godless
David Leveaux & Alex Rudzinski, Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert
Barry Levinson, Paterno
Edward Berger, Patrick Melrose
Ryan Murphy, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story: “The Man Who Would Be Vogue”
Craig Zisk, The Looming Tower: “9/11”
David Lynch, Twin Peaks
DAVID: I know a whole lot of people will be rooting for David Lynch and Twin Peaks. It would be a happy surprise, but it would absolutely be a surprise. The safest bet is to simply look at the totality of nominations and pencil in Ryan Murphy.
CHASE: David Lynch is going to be too much for voters to pass up. the original Twin Peaks essentially wrote the playbook for how serialized dramatic television works now, and he did not win for the original run. Twin Peaks did not get many nominations, but even someone who didn’t watch it could look at the critical praise around it, Lynch’s name, and the way he transformed television and put a check next to his name.
SEAN: I think this will be the consolation prize for Twin Peaks being largely passed over. It’s a way to honor Lynch‘s artistry without actually having to like it.
WRITING IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Kevin McManus & Matthew McManus, American Vandal: “Clean Up”
Scott Frank, Godless
David Nicholls, Patrick Melrose
Tom Rob Smith, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story: “House By the Lake”
David Lynch & Mark Frost, Twin Peaks
William Bridgers & Charlie Brooker, Black Mirror: USS Callister
DAVID: I’m still in shock that American Vandal — a Netflix mock-doc about high school journalists investigating who spray-painted dicks onto cars — is in this group. Boy, would I love for it to win, because the series ultimately proved to be much more fascinating and nuanced than its crude logline. But while Versace could run the table, this is USS Calister’s best chance to win a prize, and I think it will.
CHASE: Nothing here screams “vote for me” which means its probably a battle of names. That means Lynch vs Brooker, and I expect Lynch is far more respected as a director than a writer. Even Twin Peaks fans struggle to describe what happens in the show considering how ethereal it’s supposed to be. Contrast that with Brooker who identifies himself as a professional satirist and I think the choice is easy.
SEAN: Lynch could double up awards on Sunday. Maybe they like the work more than they were letting on. Intellectually, at least.
The Emmys are Monday night on NBC.