Monday, September 14, 2015

67th Annual Emmy Ceremony Predictions (2015)

2015 Emmys Emmy Awards Primetime FoxAfter the Creative Arts Emmy winners in the Guest Acting winners this past Saturday, I am starting to feel like predicting these winners may be a moot point.  The Guest Acting winners on the Comedy side make enough sense, while the drama winners caused me to scratch my head, a lot!  The new popular ballot could make predicting these winners tricky.

Outstanding Drama Series
“Better Call Saul”
“Downton Abbey”
“Game of Thrones”
“House of Cards”
“Mad Men”
“Orange is the New Black”

Conventional wisdom would say that this will go to Mad Men.  The final season had strong reviews, and the show ended on a high note.  The one problem is the show has not won a single Emmy in the last three ceremonies.  I think it will win a couple, just not this one.

Game of Thrones is my prediction. The show won 8 at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards this past Saturday, and will most likely break the record for most Emmy Awards won by a drama series.  The West Wing has the record with 9 wins.  With the shift to a popular vote the race is between these two shows.  Thrones win in Casting (Drama) is the biggest clue from Saturday.

Will Win: Game of Thrones 
Spoiler: Mad Men

Outstanding Comedy Series
"Modern Family"
"Parks and Recreation"
"Silicon Valley"
"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"

Modern Family will not break the record, it will have to settle for five Comedy Emmy wins.  This year there are two shows poised to de-throne this juggernaut, Veep and Transparent.  I was hoping Veep would take the prize last year, the show had its funniest season last year.  Ironically I think it will win for the weakest season.  Veep won Outstanding Casting (Comedy) on Saturday, another telling sign, especially since its rare to win that prize late in the game.

Transparent did well at the Creative Arts ceremony, winning 3 awards, including Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy. This win shows that Transparent has support, and while I think Transparent could spoil here, I think Transparent will win for Lead Actor and Comedy Directing.

Will Win: Veep 
Spoiler: Transparent

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series 
Claire Danes, “Homeland”
Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder”Taraji P. Henson, “Empire”
Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black”
Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men”
Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

I think there are three women who have strong chances to win this prize, Davis, Henson, and Wright. Davis is out front; she won the SAG  prize this past year, she is two time Oscar nominee, and her performance is stellar.  Henson's show came out late, and she had a lot of support from critics, but the Emmy Awards did not get on the Empire train.  Henson's character is larger than life, and unforgettable.  Wright should have won the trophy last year, but she submitted poorly.  This year Wright supported, correctly, and her show has way more support than the other two combined.

If Davis or Henson do win, they will make history.  No black woman has ever won this prize.  I think this historical moment will be hard to ignore, and they will pick one of these women, both deserve the prize.

Will Win: Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder”
Very Close 2nd: Robin Wright, “House of Cards”
Spoiler: Taraji P. Henson, “Empire”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series 
Kyle Chandler, “Bloodline”
Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan”
Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”

Will John Hamm follow in the foot steps of Steve Carell and Martin Sheen?  Both men never won for their iconic roles.  The fact that Hamm has not won for playing Don Draper is a crime, and I am predicting him, but watch out for two smaller suspects in this category.

I think most would say the closest competition is Kevin Spacey, but I think its Bob Odenkirk and Kyle Chandler are the bigger spoilers.  Better Call Saul appears to have lots of residual Breaking Bad love, and Odenkirk could bank roll this popularity.  Chandler is a former Emmy winner, and his tape is great.  I think both of these men could take the trophy, but my gut is Hamm.

Will Win: Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
Spoiler: Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series 
Anthony Anderson, "Black-ish"Don Cheadle, "House of Lies"
Louis C.K., "Louie"
Will Forte, "The Last Man on Earth"
Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes"
William H. Macy, "Shameless"
Jeffrey Tambor, "Transparent"

If you asked me before Saturday, I would have Tambor was a strong bet, but because the role isn't actually funny, I thought he had more competition.  I think it seems like Transparent has the most support, especially with Whitford's win.  I think the only spoiler could be past Emmy winner William H. Macy, but it's Tambor's time.

Will Win: Jeffrey Tambor, "Transparent"
Spoiler: William H. Macy, "Shameless"

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy 
Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"
Lisa Kudrow, "The Comeback"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"
Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation"
Amy Schumer, "Inside Amy Schumer"
Lily Tomlin, "Grace and Frankie"

My mind wants to think this is more competitive than it is, but my gut tells me Julia Louis-Dreyfus will take this prize again, easily.

I do think think there are other option that should be explored.  I think the strongest spoiler is Amy Schumer, but I also think they may honor her in Outstanding Variety Sketch, and think that win is enough.  Schumer like Melissa McCarthy is all over the place from movies to specials, and that helped bump McCarthy to a win.

I think the third main contender is Amy Poehler; she has never won for this role, and Parks and Recreation was the surprise 7th nominee in Outstanding Comedy Series, which shows more popularity than expected.  I am going to go on the ledge for this one....

Will Win: Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation"
Very Close 2nd: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"
Spoiler: Amy Schumer, "Inside Amy Schumer"

Supporting Actress Drama: Uzo Aduba-Orange is the New Black
Supporting Actor Drama: Jonathan Banks-Better Call Saul
Supporting Actor Comedy: Titus Burgess-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 
Supporting Actress Comedy: Anna Chlumsky-Veep
Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series: Mother's Mercy-Game of Thrones
Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series: Person to Person-Mad Men
Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series: Best New Girl-Transparent
Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series: Election Night-Veep
Outstanding Limited Series: Olive Kitteridge
Outstanding Lead Actress Limited/Movie: Frances McDormand-Olive Kitteridge
Outstanding Lead Actor Limited/Movie: David Oyelowo-Nightengale
Outstanding Supporting Actress Limited/Movie-Sarah Paulson-Freak Show
Outstanding Supporting Actor Limited/Movie-Damien Lewis-Wolf Hall
Outstanding Directing Limited/Movie-Freak Show
Outstanding Writing Limited/Movie-Olive Kitteridge
Variety Talk Series-Late Show with David Letterman
Variety Sketch Series: Inside Amy Schumer 

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Problem with the Studio System and Comic Book Films: Was Josh Trank set-up to Fail ?

I am not on Team Trank, or Team FOX, I am on Team let's take a breather, sit back, and realize the
growing problem with comic book films. I think this problem is two fold.  The first problem is studios are manipulating stories they do not understand/don't care to understand.  The second problem is there is a loss of creativity when studios manipulate a director/writers vision.  The bottom line is that studios want a product. Kevin Feige and Marvel want to create films that fit together like a giant puzzle, and Warner Brothers, and FOX want to follow in this process.

Let's examine the box office of three comic book films from Marvel, the Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Guardians of the Galaxy.  Avengers is the highest grossing Marvel film at 623 million domestic. Avengers involved a limited cast, and the strings of what/who were involved in the Universe were simpler. You still had to see many of the other films to know and understand the back story for these characters, but Avengers, gave you some back story to flesh out the film.  The first Avengers is the best film in the cannon, in my opinion.

Iron Man 3 was next, and while the film dealt with Tony's post traumatic stress from the Avengers, it still felt like its own film.  I was not a fan of this film because I did not like the interpretation of Mandarin, but the film still focused on Tony, and should be applauded for keeping the subject matter contained.  Iron Man 3 mad 409 million domestic, and ranks third at the box office for Marvel.

Guardians of the Galaxy booted up a brand new team for Marvel, we learned about all the characters, and sure there was an Infinity Stone/Thanos tie-in, but the film did an excellent job of creating a brand new world to explore. Guardians ranks fourth, and made 333 million domestic.  I think this box office total is the most impressive, and something Marvel, and other studios should acknowledge.  Guardians is about a team most had never heard about, but because it was fun,  people showed up.  The fun element is something I will re-visit, but many comic book movies have missed this, which has and will prevent them from being successful.

Each of these films connects in a small way, they tell their own story.  The thread that connects these films is small, and audiences do not have to burdened by this connection. As studios maximize their connected universe the weight on movie goers may unravel these tent poles.  Let's take Ant-Man, many friends asked me after the movie who the characters were in the beginning of the film, their was no explanation  They also asked more about Falcon, because they had not seen Winter Soldier, and about the new Avengers base because they did not make Age of Ultron.  These connections are fun for me, but are the studios putting the cart before the horse?

DC/Warner Brothers are putting the cart before the horse in a big way.  Man of Steel was the first film in their current tent pole reboot.  Man of Steel was had mixed reviews from critics, and fans.  I am not a fan of Superman, but the tone of the movie, from director Zack Snyder was off base.  They tried to to go too serious, and missed the whimsy needed with this character.  Man of Steel did well enough at the box office, 291 million domestic, and so they studio went full steam ahead with a sequel.  The problem is the sequel doesn't seem to be a sequel, but a launching point for several DC super heroes, including Batman, Wonder Woman, and possibly more, as they move toward making a Justice League film.

The problem with this plan is while Man of Steel made 116 million its opening weekend (domestic) the film barely crossed 600 million worldwide.  With more characters, including Batman they are trying to ensure a larger audience for Batman v. Superman, but what if its another failure?  There are already other movies connected to this, and sure they make money, but look what happened when people lost faith in the Spider-Man films, the box office tapered so much, they decided to re-boot for third time.  I think DC/Warner Brothers need to be strategic rather than trying to play catch up, especially when their visionary director does not capture the right tone of the characters.

What about the director?  I wonder if Josh Trank felt so powerless as the reviews started to come online?  Before Fantastic Four Trank, had one major film under his belt, Chronicle.  Not a hefty resume, but FOX entrusted this man to start a major tent pole, Marvel has been doing the same thing.  Jame Gunn directed Guardians of the Galaxy, and priort to that he had credits directing two independent films, Slither, and Super. Peyton Reed who directed Ant-Man, had mostly schlocky romantic comedies in his repertoire, Bring it On, The Break-Up, Down with Love, and Yes, Man.  FOX's Deadpool is being directed by Tim Miller, who has no major credits, I could go on an on.  This is not to say that experience is everything because Zack Snyder ruined Superman, but I think when studios take the director out of the equation, or try to manipulate their work you get disjointed work.

Joss Whedon's experience with Marvel on Avengers: Age of Ultron is a a great example of pushing a great director to side, and trying to manipulate the material.  Whedon talked about fighting fighting for Scarlett Witch induced dreams, and the scenes in the farmhouse in an Empire Film podcast “The dreams were not an executive favorite — the dreams, the farmhouse, these were things I fought to keep,” Whedon fought against the mildly confusing scenes with Thor in the cave, and how Marvel manipulated him to keep this material in the film, even after test audiences hated these scenes. “With the cave, it really turned into: they pointed a gun at the farm’s head and said, ‘Give us the cave, or we’ll take out the farm,’ — in a civilized way. I respect these guys, they’re artists, but that’s when it got really, really unpleasant.” 

Whedon talked about being beaten down, and feeling "defeated" by the system.  While I liked Age of Ultron, you can feel the gaps, based on his interview, the film is has its strong moments, but you can tell Whedon had a direction, but studio interference hindered this film's quality.

Whedon and Trank are not the first to cite studio intervention being problematic in these films.  Edgar Wright worked on Ant-Man for a long time, and while he got screenplay and story credits, he left the project under still unknown differences with Marvel. Michelle MacLaren was set to be the first female to direct a super hero film; she was going to direct Wonder Woman, but she left the project over "creative differences." Ava DuVernay was rumored to directed Black Panther but did not take the project stating "I'm not signing on to direct Black Panther. I think I’ll just say we had different ideas about what the story would be. Marvel has a certain way of doing things and I think they’re fantastic and a lot of people love what they do. I loved that they reached out to me.  In the end, it comes down to story and perspective. And we just didn't see eye to eye. Better for me to realize that now than cite creative differences later."  Yet I liked Ant-Man, I am excited for a Wonder Woman film, and for Black Panther, but can these companies do right by these characters moving forward?

I have not seen the Fantastic Four yet, and probably won't.  I know they changed one the characters back stories, and its maddening.  Sue Storm doesn't go with the boys on their mission, it's "bro-time" according to one review.  Not only do I hate this concept, but its a slap in the face to the legacy of these characters. Talking about gender, or any form of diversity in comic book films is another ball of wax, and one another way the studios, and the powers that be are messing with the creative processes.

From no Black Widow movie announced to Trank's alleged changed creative direction for the Fantastic Four, the down and dirty of the situation is that studios want to make money, but they do not realize they are hurting their brand.  Trank's tweet is childish, and there was probably a better way to handle his film being ripped to shreds by critics.  On the other hand what do you expect when this is a director's first "major" film, and the studio potentially chops your film to shreds? Trank can bounce back, but having a well known creative flop on a resume, and nasty tweet to a studio is not a good start. If I were a director on the rise, I would not sign on to a work on one of these films.  Trank was set up to fail, any director who signs on to major studio project will soon learn its not about them, and the studio will have no problem ditching people, and moving forward without a second thought.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Emmy Predictions 2015 (Let's hope they they change some things)

The Emmy Award nominations are less than a week away.  There are some rule changes, for the nomination process, please refer to my piece at for these changes.

One of the bigger changes was defining a comedy as 30 minutes; there was a clause which allowed a series to petition this rule.  Shameless, Glee, and Jane the Virgin won their petition, and were allowed to compete in the comedy categories, while Orange is the New Black lost their petition and will compete in the drama series categories this year, which is different from last year.

Last year’s Guest Actor in a Drama series winner Joe Morton, who plays Poppa Pope in Scandal, is no longer eligible in the category because he showed up in too many episodes; he is now competing in the Supporting Actor in a Drama.

These are just some examples of how those rule changes will impact the Emmy nominations, the nomination process remains the same, voters will check their top ten series choices, and this will be narrowed down to seven nominees in Drama and Comedy series.  Voters will check 6 nominees for acting categories, and five for every other category.  There is a chance for more nominees in any category based on the percentage of votes they receive, so don’t be shocked if there are 8 nominees in Comedy or Drama Actress, the most competitive categories.  Here goes my own predicting!

Outstanding Drama Series
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men
Orange is the New Black

There locks in this category are, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Mad Men.  These shows are locks because of their history with the Emmy Awards.

Downton scores consistent nomination numbers. Game of Thrones has been the highest nominated series for many years, and the finale had tons of buzz.  House of Cards has the political prestige, plus Spacey and Wright.  Mad Men’s series finale had lots of buzz and the show has won here 4 times.

I would say Orange would rank five it score the most Comedy nominations last year, had big SAG and PGA wins, and is well liked.  It should be able to translate here; it is just in new territory as a drama.

Next in line is Empire, it has acclaim, and was one of the strongest network shows this past year, which is something I could see the Academy rewarding.  This category often lack diversity, and could fill that spot.  Empire had huge Nielsen ratings, all big things.

The hard spot to predict is the 7th slot, there a lot of directions I could see voters picking.

The Affair won two Globes, and had some critical buzz, but it seems to have lost its buzz and traction.  No one is talking about this show in the same light as they did last September and January.

The Americans won the big prize at the Critics’ Choice awards, and is coming off its most acclaimed season.  The problem is the show has only received three nominations in its previous two years.  Two of those three nominations were for veteran Emmy winner Margo Martindale, in Guest Actress in a Drama, and one was for Original Main Title Theme Music.  The show has not even received a Casting nomination. You could compare this to Friday Night Lights, critically acclaimed early, but Lights received consistent Casting nominations, and a Directing nomination for its first season before its final two seasons.

Better Call Saul could benefit from Breaking Bad love, and while I think it could get a Writing nomination or Directing nomination, and nominations for Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks, I think it may be in 8th place here.

I think the real threat is previous winner and two time nominee Homeland.  Homeland won this honor in its first season, was nominated in season two, and dropped last year.  The Emmy Awards like repetition, but the show only received two nominations last year.  The third season had a tremendous drop in quality, while the fourth season has been well received and the show has shown up at the guild awards.  

I think the last spot is between Homeland and Saul, namely because the Emmy Awards like tradition, and these two nominees would be in line with checking this box.  I think are both seen as prestige shows.

Outstanding Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
Silicon Valley
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

There are five shows I see as locks in this category, Big Bang, Louie, Modern Family, Valley, and Veep.  All of these shows were nominated in Comedy Series last year, and the Emmy Awards have a massive rubber stamper in the Comedy categories, more than the drama categories.  All of these shows performed well last year, and will continue to perform well this year.

Orange is the New Black was the sixth nominee last year, and that leaves two spots wide open in this category.  Unlike Brooklyn Nine-Nine last year, which won Best Comedy Series at the Golden Globes, I think Transparent is a lock at a nomination.  The show has massive critical acclaim, and performed well at many guild awards.  I think you can safely predict these six

Picking the seventh spot is tricky.  The majority or the pundits predicting have Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in the seventh slot, as do I, but I could see it going to any series.  I have Kimmy in the seventh spot because of the Tina Fey factor, and it’s the strongest contender from Netflix, now that Orange is out in Comedy.  These are strong enough for me to keep it in seventh, but it could go in any direction.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine could bounce back from a bad showing last year; it did have a SAG ensemble nomination, but doubtful, since it’s fallen off everywhere. 

Black-ish has an accessibility factor, and seems like the strongest contender of these other potential nominees, but it does not sound like people are talking about it in the same way they did Modern Family.

Grace and Frankie has the traditional sitcom feel, and four legends of stage and screen, but reviews were mixed.

Jane the Virgin has the critical support, everyone love Gina Rodriguez, but it was nowhere at the guilds, and has the CW factor, meaning the network has never received a major nomination.

Parks and Recreation has been nominated once before, has had writing nominations, and Amy Poehler has been nominated many times, the show could get a final hug, but unlikely.

I will stick with Kimmy Schmidt for number seven.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama
Jeff Daniels-The Newsroom
John Hamm-Mad Men
Terrence Howard-Empire
Bob Odenkirk-Better Call Saul
Clive Owen-The Knick
Kevin Spacey-House of Cards

The biggest locks are Spacey and Hamm, they are also the front runners without episode submissions. After that it gets tricky.

From the new series, I think Bob Odenkirk will get in because he is well liked, and has a strong history in the industry.  I think many respect the way he has turned from his comedy background to a more dramatic role.  I would rank Terrence Howard fourth; he is a past Oscar nominee, which helps, although he is not the best liked in the industry which could hurt him.  I think he will ride the Empire wave.

I think Jeff Daniels is in fifth; he won for this role two years ago, and was even nominated last year after the show continued to get much less attention.   My sixth spot is a shot in the dark, and it was a toss-up between past winner Kyle Chandler in Bloodline, and Clive Owen in the Knick.  I flipped a coin and went with Owen.  Do not count out Hugh Bonneville!

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama
Claire Danes-Homeland
Viola Davis-How to Get Away with Murder
Taraji P. Henson-Empire
Juliana Margulies-The Good Wife
Kerry Washington-Scandal
Robin Wright-House of Cards

There are so many contenders in Drama and Comedy Actress, and I am truly happy about that, it just makes them the two hardest categories to predict. 

My biggest long shot is Kerry Washington for Scandal; she is a big name and Scandal still scores in the acting categories.  I think she could be taken down by Michelle Dockery for Downton Abbey, Vera Farmiga in Bate’s Motel, Ruth Wilson in The Affair, or Elisbaeth Moss in Mad Men, in that order.

With that said, I think the other five nominees seem solid.  I could also see this as a category where there are seven nominees, it happened two years ago.  Davis and Henson are the frontunners, but you can never count out Robin Wright.

Outstanding Lead Actor in Comedy Series
Don Cheadle-House of Lies
Billy Crystal-The Comedians
Louis C.K.-Louie
William H. Macy-Shameless
Jim Parsons-The Big Bang Theory
Jeffrey Tambor-Transparent

This category has been one of the most boring categories for a long time, lots of repeat nominees, with lots of Parsons winning.  There is some new blood that has a shot here, like Anthony Anderson in Black-ish, and Thomas Middleditch in Silicon Valley, but unfortunately I do not think they will make the cut.

I would look for many previous nominees to repeat here, Cheadle, Louis C.K., Parsons, and Macy will be back.  I think Macy will dethrone Parsons; he won the SAG, and while his role is dramatic, it has some good comedic tones.  Watch out for perennial nominee Matt LeBlanc from Episodes as a spoiler, the show gets writing nominations; he would replace Cheadle.

The two new additions to this category will likely be comedic legends, Billy Crystal for The Comedians and Jeffrey Tambor for Transparent, both seem like sure bets.

Outstanding Lead Actress in Comedy Series
Edie Falco-Nurse Jackie
Lisa Kudrow-The Comeback
Julia Louis-Dreyfus-Veep
Amy Poehler-Parks and Recreation
Amy Schumer-Inside Amy Schumer
Lily Tomlin-Grace and Frankie

The hardest category to predict, beyond Julia Louis Dreyfus I could make an argument for five other women to be nominated here.  I could make an argument for 10 nominees in this category, and I will attempt to start with the five besides Louis-Dreyfus, because she is a lock!

I have Poehler ranked at number 2, namely because she has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards, and while she has never won, they seem to like her a lot.  This is split between two shows too.  I could see her being snubbed too because Emmys have never warmed to Parks and Recreation.

My person in third place is Lil Tomlin.  My initial gut was reaction was that both of the women from Grace and Frankie would make the cut, in the last moments I changed my train of thought, and only went with one. Tomlin is a living comedic genius, on the Board of Governors for Emmys, so it seems logical that she would make the cut. 

I have Lisa Kudrow in fourth place for The Comeback.  Kudrow has nine Emmy nominations including one for this role back at the 2006 ceremony; the show also received a writing nomination that year, which shows great support.  The show is about the industry, and I think many actors relate to the brave performance Kudrow gives. 

Amy Schumer is the “It Girl” of the moment, the way Melissa McCarthy was after Bridesmaids, her show and presence has gotten a lot of industry attention from critics; she even got a Peabody Award for her show.  I think she it will be hard to ignore her strength.

On my sixth spot I was torn between three women, Edie Falco for Nurse Jackie, Gina Rodriguez for Jane the Virgin, and Melissa McCarthy for Mike and Molly.

Falco has been nominated every year for her show, and the show receives 3 plus nominations every year, it would seem like she is the most likely of these nominees.
 With statistics many would argue McCarthy is next. Like Falco she has won this award, she was not nominated two years ago, but was nominated last year, so she has the “comeback factor. 

Then there is Gina Rodriguez, another star on the rise; she won the Globe, and has been all over the press, but will this be enough to break the CW/WB/UPN curse.  It seems ridiculous that Emmy voters are snobby about not nominating shows/performers in major categories from those three networks but will nominate shows on Netflix and Amazon.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer score a writing nomination, and that is the highest category for any of those networks. 

I will go with statistics and pick Falco.  Jane Fonda seems likely, and should could ride a wave if Grace and Frankie is well liked; the same could be said for Ellie Kemper and Kimmy Schmidt.

Please see below for the rest of my predictions in the Supporting categories of Drama/Comedy.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks-Better Call Saul
Jim Carter-Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage-Game of Thrones
Kit Harrington-Game of Thrones
Mandy Patinkin-Homeland
Jon Voight-Ray Donovan

This category is running neck and neck with Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, for the most boring category, although we will most likely see a new winner.  With no more Aaron Paul in the mix, who won three times, and I doubt Peter Dinklage will win, he had no tapes this season.  With Aaron Paul out, it seems as though another person from the Breaking Bad world will score a win.

Even though Dinklage has no tapes I feel as though he is the only lock in this category, as far as guaranteed nominees.  After Dinklage, I think Patinkin is also fairly safe; he has a solid pedigree, and could also be the winner.  I would place Banks and and Carter as third and fourth respectively.  If voters use the tapes Banks has this locked up.

Voight could get a second nomination if they check off the box for an Oscar winner, but does anyone watch this show?  Kit Harrington is my biggest long shot in this category, and I am putting him down because of everything that went down in the finale.

There are tons of spoilers to watch out for in this category, Michael Kelly in House of Cards, Joe Morton in Scandal, and Ben Mendelsohn in Bloodline.  Never count out big surprises in supporting.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Uzo Aduba-Orange is the New Black
Christine Baranski-The Good Wife
Lena Headey-Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks-Mad Men
Maggie Smith-Downton Abbey
Lorraine Toussaint-Orange is the New Black

I think the biggest lock is Maggie Smith, she could sneeze and they would nominate her at the Emmy Awards.  Predicting the next five is tricky, but there seems to be some good safe bets.  Uzo won the SAG over heavy weights, while that was in comedy, I think she is a very safe bet.  I think Lena Headey will be back again too, her walk in the last episode was highly praised.  Hendricks was nominated last year when Mad Men was at its lowest so its safe to predict her to be back.  

Baranski is another person who always scores multiple nominations, and has been nominated for her show every year, but I would rank her fifth.  Orange score two supporting actress nominations last year, and three in guest.  I think they will do well in acting categories again, and will have two here two.  I think the second will be Toussaint, but it could be Kate Mulgrew, or any number of the other fabulous women in this show.

I do think there will be two Orange women in this category, so watch out for Joanne Frogatt to be a spoiler here, but she has been nominated when her material was on point most.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell-Modern Family
Andre Braugher-Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Titus Burgess-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tony Hale-Veep
TJ Miller-Silicon Valley
Chris Pratt-Parks and Recreation

I think there will only be one Modern Family man present, the shows acting nominations have gone down every year, and I think it will go down one more this year.  I think Burrell is the safest bet.  I think the only other lock in this category is Tony Hale for Veep.

Braugher is a safe bet, he did well with Men of Certain Age, and is a past Emmy winner, it makes sense for him to return. 

My next three picks are long shots, ranked Miller, Burgess, then Pratt.  I think Valley will get an acting nomination, and that's critics choice winner TJ Miller, it makes sense.  I think Burgess is next, because I think he is hard to ignore and is one of the breakout stars from a hyped show.  Pratt may be my biggest long shot in any category.  I have him in sixth because of the success of Guardians of the Galaxy and Juarrsic World (this one right around voting); he is a big box office star, and well liked.

Major Spoilers, are all over the place in this category.  As Modern's support weakens, I think Veep's has surged, and there are tons of viable options from this show for Veep, like Hugh Laurie, Gary Cole, and Kevin Dunn.  I could see any of those men nominated.

If the voters like Grace and Frankie they could pick past nominees Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, neither of whom won for their most popular roles on television, this could be their chance to make-up for those losses.  

Never count out last year's nominee Fred Armisen either, although I think he would have been smarter to switch to Lead Actor in a Comedy.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Mayim Bialik-The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen-Modern Family
Anna Chlumsky-Veep
Allison Janney-Mom
Carol Kane-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Judith Light-Transparent

I could write up a lot ofr this category, but I think four of last years nominees are safe bets/locks to return, Bialik, Bown, Chlumsky, and Janney.  

I think Judith Light who has recently won two Tony Awards and has had an amazing career resurgence will take a spot.  I think the last spot is between last year's nominee Kate McKinnon, who has a strong chance, and living legend Carol Kane.  I think Kimmy Schmidt is a strong enough vehicle to get her back at the Emmy Awards, and she will edge out McKinnon. 

Dream Emmy Ballot 2015: Outstanding Drama Series & Comedy Series

Outstanding Drama Series

The Americans (F/X)

Empire (FOX)

Game of Thrones (HBO)

The Good Wife (CBS)

Mad Men (AMC)

Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

Transparent (Amazon)

Outstanding Comedy Series

Broad City (Comedy Central)

The Comeback (HBO)

Getting On (HBO)

Jane the Virgin (CW)

Looking (HBO) 

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Dream Emmy Ballot 2015: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter in Marvel's Agent Carter

The more I think about this character, the more I respect the performance from Atwell in Agent Carter.  Peggy Carter's character was further developed from the original Captain America film in the perfect way.  Atwell not only proved she was a bad ass agent, and super hero in her own right, but that she could tackle the gender dynamics of her time without letting it knock her down.  Watching Peggy finally let go of the memory of Steve was also touching, you got to to see this woman navigate every aspect of herself, which is rare in the comic book world.  Atwell's performance is a strong reminder Marvel needs to let more women take charge in their material.

Viola Davis as Annalise Keating in How to get Away with Murder

If you think you knew everything before or about Annalise you were wrong.  Davis is bombastic as this attorney who is navigating a troubled marriage on top of her stakes career. Sounds like silly concept, and in the wrong hands Annalise and this show could have been just another run of the mill procedural with a through line, but Davis is fantastic in this role; she yells, cries, but you also find that she is not one note, and its Davis' performance that give her the dimension she needs.

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful

I just finished season one of Penny Dreadful in one week, and that's because Eva Green.  While I liked season one, Vanessa Ives is the reason to love this show.  The show is at times an over the top exploration of characters from literature in navigating "reality." Watching Green as she is possesed by the devil was impressive, there was no pea soup, but Green is haunting in these moments; she truly frightens you under your covers at times.  Outside of these moments you get to see her back story with her friend Mina, and her falling in love with Dorian Grey.  These moments create balanced well formed character and Green is a phenomenal in this role.

Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyons in Empire

Can a character be deemed iconic after just one season of television?  Henson has certainly created one of the most memorable women in dramatic television in recent years.  Cookie is trying to make up for time behind bars with her children and with her ex-husband's record label.  The thing I appreciate most about this character is the way Henson owns every aspect; she is funny, dynamic, a mother, a fighter, and someone who will own your ass in a second.  Like with Davis Henson turns a character who could be considered campy into a fully fleshed out person; she is not just throwing a drink in someone's face, but she is protecting her family, and Henson sells every moment.  Cookie Lyons is the character creators dream about, but it's Henson's performance that makes her iconic,

Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings in The Americans 

In the first two season's I would argue that the that Rhys stole the show, but in the third season it was Russell who knocked everyone out, sometimes literally.  I have always enjoyed the dynamic between Elizabeth and her daughter Paige, one of the most interesting mother daughter relationships in television history.  This season Paige traveling with Elizabeth to the Soviet Union so Elizabeth could bid adieu to her mother gave even more context to their relationship, and provided some amazing scenes for Russell. Russell navigating their outing as Soviet spies to Paige also provided numerous excellent moments where Russell proved why she is one of the strongest actresses on television today.  Russell was the best part of this season.

Ruth Wilson as Alison Lockhart in The Affair

I always had an idea what was going on in Noah's head, he was more obvious in his actions.  I could not say the same thing about Alison.  Wilson did a fantastic job navigating her crumbling marriage, and the loss of her son.  Many of those moments were heartbreaking.  Watching Alison navigate her tempestuous relationship with her mother, and her affair with Noah showed there were more layers to this character, and things which did not reach the surface.  Wilson is a terrific actress, and its no surprise she won the Golden Globe for this role; she is raw so emotional, but so guarded in her portrayal of this broken woman, you get lost in her character.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Dream Emmy Ballot 2015: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

John Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men 

Don Draper's final days felt like an escape from the normal; he left his job, and tried to find his true self.  In the final episode Person to Person you see Don break down as he sit through a group therapy session, and watch him become more vulnerable than he has ever been.  Hamm has always been iconic in this role, but in this final season you get to see him open up, breathe, and fully understand himself and the connections to others.

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill in Better Call Saul 
I was not sure what to expect from this prequel to Breaking Bad. Would this be a carbon copy, or wear its own skin in developing this central character?  The first episodes explored Jimmy McGill not Saul Goodman, and while these are the same man, divided by a name, this show explores more of Jimmy, and how he gets to become Saul.  Odenkirk is known for his comedic chops, which he gets to flex at times, but there is something special about the layers and depth he adds to this man, and its a wonderful performance.

Matthew Rhys as Phillip Jennings in The Americans 

Rhys is steadfast, and one of the most consistant actors, who should have three nominations (including this one) in this category.  Rhys best moments were when he was working to help protect his cover with Martha, and also trying to protect Paige from knowing about his secret life.  As Rhys lies unraveled with both women there was an heir of vulnerability that always shines through with Phillip, but Rhys took this performance to a new level this year; he remains one of the best actors on television.

Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman in Transparent
I am not sure what words be suffice enough to describe Tambor's brave performance as Maura Pfefferman.  Watching Maura navigate her experiences of coming out to her family, exploring her Trans identity in secret, and feeling as though she belongs is beyond impeccably acted.  Jeffrey Tambor like Odenkirk has always been known for his overt comedic timing, but this performance show Tambor has the ability to transform and take on any role; he is a brilliant actor, 

Aden Young as Daniel Young in Rectify 

Playing Daniel Young has to be an emotionally draining experience.  No show explores the repercussions or after math of the criminal justice system, and how it not only impacts the person convicted, but the family involved.  Young is a revelation in this role, there is not much yelling but a quiet brilliance as he continues to explore the society he has missed, and tries to connect with his family.  Daniel's arc of finding out about his rape in prison in episode one to owning what he did to Teddy was well acted, and its why he carries this show.

Dominic West as Noah Solloway in The Affair 

From Noah's perspective, he is a man following the intrigue, caught up in passion, falling in love.  Is that who Noah is, or is he lascivious, selfish, and someone who can't come to grips with himself.  I like getting to explore this man through his own eyes, and the eyes of others, it provides multiple lenses, and context for this man.  West is great in this role, he makes a man who should be unlikable, seem human, and gives you a great understanding of what you might have missed.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Dream Emmy Ballot 2015: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

broad cityIlana Glazer as Ilana Wexler in Broad City  Ilana Glazer plays the more overtly funny of this comedic duo; she is the woman who usurps people working to make her more money at her job while she sits back and does nothing.  Ilana is the person who goes on the hunt with her mother for fake hand bags, and gets a bag over her head; she is also the person who Skypes her best friend while she is having sex because her FOMO is off the charts.  Glazer is fantastic in this role, and trying to pin point one episode is impossible; she is simple one of the funniest women on television.

Abbi Jacobson as Abbi Abrams in Broad City

Abbi Jacobson is the straight woman in the duo, but boy do her facial expressions sell every awkward moment she encounters.  Whether she was tackling her first class as a trainer because she saw her boss do solo porn, or having her play off Kelly Ripa getting drunk and throwing things out her window.  Jacobson has tons of talent, and I would argue is under appreciated in this role.  My favorite Abbi moment is her drunken cabaret performance, or as her drunker alter ego Val, a la a Judy Garland.  Jacobson is a true comedic genius.

Ellie Kemper in Unbreakable Kimmy SchmidtEllie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt  No one could play Kimmy the way Ellie Kemper plays this character.Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  Kemper is fantastic as the women trapped into the world of a cult for many years who is trying to navigate her return to the world.  No actress has the can play up the growth from child like innocence to further developing this stronger sense of self like Kemper.  I have not enjoyed a new character in this way since Amy Poehler took on the role of Leslie Knope, Kemper is fantastic.

Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish in The Comeback
The Comeback

Just watch "Valerie gets What she really Wants" and you understand why Kudrow deserves an Emmy nomination.  Kudrow is fantastic in this role, and the evolution of this character this season was nothing short of genius.  In the last episode you get the best of the funny, and the most depth from Valerie.  Kudrow has put her all into this character, and this season proves Valerie Cherish is one of the most important television characters of all time, and namely because of Kudrow.

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation
"Parks and Recreation" Season 7 Amy PoehlerPoehler has created one of the most iconic television characters of all time, and in her final go around as Leslie Knope she gave viewers everything they wanted.  Poehler's best performance this season was easily "Leslie and Ron" and episode where her feud with Nick Offerman's Ron came to a head and they were locked in a room together to figure out their beef.  Poehler hit it it out of the park in this episode, she made you laugh and cry as these two different people were trapped together in one office.   Leslie Knope was a magical character that injected positivty in every breath she took, and I can only hope that she went on to be President.  

Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva in Jane the Virgin
Gina Rodriguez Jane The Virgin
Gina Rodriguez is the new kid on the block, not to be confused with the boy band, of course.  My first encounter with Rodriguez was as Rita, Penny's assistant in the now cancelled Happy Endings, after that episode I knew she was bound for more things; she was just too damn funny.  Rodriguez gets to flex every muscle in Jane the Virgin.  The telenovela style shows off her humor when she has different versions of herself weighing in on a decision about confronting an old bully or dealing with an issue at work.  Rodriguez also has some serious dramatic chops, especially when it comes to the importance of her family, her battle for love, and her child.  Rodriguez may be new to the game, but she acts like a pro, and is easily the breakout star of this television season.

Runner Ups: Tracee Eliss Ross as Rainbow Johnson in Black-ish, and Constance Wu as Jessica Huang in Fresh off the Boat