Friday, August 15, 2014

2014 Emmy Preview - Miniseries/Movie

Thanks to "True Detective's" drama push, "Fargo" will be winning a lot of awards

It’s NBC’s year to host the Emmys, which means it’s time once against for the broadcast to air in August.  Additionally, thanks to the network’s Sunday Night Football contract – and the primetime preseason game that comes with it – the awards are also bound for a Monday night.  So with the ceremony just over a week away - airing on Monday, August 25th, I figured that I would take a look at the nominees and lay out my hopes and predictions.  Granted, most of this won’t matter because the Emmys are usually a crapshoot (I mean, Jeff Daniels), but I like writing about the Emmys and I hope you like reading about them.  So today we’ll start by looking at the miniseries and movie nominations (though I’m saving the acting nominations for later next week).

Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Dramatic Special
American Horror Story: Coven (“Bitchcraft”) – Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk
Fargo (“The Crocodile’s Dilemma”) – Noah Hawley
Luther – Neil Cross
The Normal Heart – Larry Kramer
Sherlock: His Last Vow – Steven Moffat
Treme (“…To Miss New Orleans”) – David Simon & Eric Overmeyer

Hope: You’re going to see a theme develop throughout this piece, but Fargo should win this award.  I’ve made my feelings about Luther perfectly clear, which mostly boil down to the fact that I thought the writing was usually the weakest aspect of the last season.  Similarly, Sherlock submitted its weakest installment.  I haven’t seen Treme or American Horror Story, though I’m willing to accept the critical consensus that this was by far the weakest season of AHS.  Fargo, meanwhile, was nominated for its pilot (the episode the series’s lone writer Noah Hawley submitted) which, while perhaps not the best episode of the season, perfectly encapsulates what the show would become in a single hour.

Prediction:  Another recurring theme you’ll see in these miniseries predictions is the specter of True Detective, which many expected would commit a bit of category fraud and enter as a miniseries.  It decided not to, however, and decided to go head-to-head against the juggernaut that is Breaking Bad.  In its absence, I expect to see Fargo take home the crown, though The Normal Heart could play spoiler.  Luther and Sherlock have both been nominated before without winning and American Horror Story has been eligible but not nominated.  This is Treme’s first, and only, year in the miniseries category, but I think it’s just too obscure and odd for Emmy voters.  I wouldn’t bet any money on this category, but I would expect Noah Hawley to be getting odds.

Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
American Horror Story: Coven (“Bitchcraft”) – Alfonso Gomez-Rejoin
Fargo (“Buridan’s Ass”) – Colin Bucksey
Fargo (“The Crocodile’s Dilemma”) – Adam Bernstein
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight – Stephen Frears
The Normal Heart – Ryan Murphy
Sherlock: His Last Vow – Nick Hurran

Hope:  Pretty much everything I wrote above applies here, with the exception being that there are now two Fargo episodes to choose from.  Colin Bucksey’s work in the pilot is, again, quintessential of the series as a whole.  Bernstein’s episode, on the other hand, has the flashiest, most memorable scene of the season, in the blizzard shootout.  There really isn’t a loser here, but that whiteout shootout might have been my favorite scene of the television season, so I’m going to go with Bernstein’s Fargo.

Prediction:  Again, True Detective would be a shoo-in here, with Cary Fukunaga’s six-minute tracking shot in the show’s fourth episode burning down the house.  But more on that later.  I’d like to think that Fargo will win here again, but this is an award that generally goes to movies, especially HBO films, with the network taking home six awards in the last eight years for its films.  I guess this is a long-winded way of saying that I think The Normal Heart will win.  A Fargo sweep is certainly possible, but when you have a trend like that (and the possibility of the two Fargo episodes splitting votes), it’s hard to ignore.

Outstanding Television Movie
Killing Kennedy
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight
The Normal Heart
Sherlock: His Last Vow
The Trip to Bountiful

Hope:  I’ll be honest, of these films I’ve only seen The Normal Heart and Sherlock.  If the latter had submitted its second episode, “The Sign of Three,” I would probably vote for that here.  But “His Last Vow” was a weak conclusion to an overall weak season, so I’m going to have to vote for The Normal Heart.  It isn’t the best of HBO’s recent films, but it is good, and it is important, and I don’t think anybody will be sad to see it win.

Prediction:  I think The Normal Heart is the prediction here again.  There has been some speculation that the academy’s separation of the movies and miniseries into separate categories this year was a naked attempt to get both The Normal Heart and True Detective Emmys.  I doubt that was the case, but even if it was, it will ultimately go for naught, though Heart will likely end up winning anyway.

Outstanding Miniseries
American Horror Story: Coven
Bonnie & Clyde
The White Queen

Hope:  It’s Fargo and it’s not even that close.  Fargo was one of the best pieces of television this year, period.  It could easily have cracked my choices among Outstanding Dramas had the producers decided to go that way.  The performances were all impressive and writer Noah Hawley managed to effectively capture the feeling of the film without ever creating bad pastiche.  Fargo could have gone very, very poorly but it ultimately succeeded in pretty much every measure.

Prediction:  This is where the movie/miniseries split becomes the most damaging.  Not only is Miniseries filled with category frauds,* but a lot of them weren’t particularly good.  Treme and Fargo pretty clearly stand above the others, but I can’t imagine that Treme is going to finally get recognized after all this time.  For that reason, I think Fargo will walk away with this award and, if they don’t, FX needs to seriously rethink its Emmy strategy, because HBO’s decision to move True Detective to drama leaves this category wide open for them.

* American Horror Story and Luther are both nominated for their third seasons, while Treme is nominated for its fourth (though the five-episode order is what disqualifies it from drama contention).  Fargo has already been renewed for a second season and Starz is trying to figure out how to get more of The White Queen after the BBC decided not to produce any further episodes.

Tyler Williams is a professional librarian and an amateur television critic.  You can reach him at TyTalksTV AT gmail DOT com or on Twitter @TyTalksTV.

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