Emmy Winner Predictions: Writing & Directing

imageWe are less than one week away from the Emmy’s, so its time for some annual predictions about the winning shows for this year. This post will cover the following categories:

  • Outstanding Writing  for a Drama Series
  • Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
  • Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
  • Outstanding Directing for a Comedy
  • Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
  • Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special.

Before we begin, its important to draw attention to The Creative Arts Emmys. These awards that celebrate the more technical aspects of creating television (cinematography, sound editing/mixing, casting, original score, etc.) were distributed last week. In some ways, these awards can be even more important than some that are given out during the ceremony, but the list of nominees is a little out of control. You can check out the vast list of nominees and winners on my Emmy Nominations page.

Lets dive in.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
The Americans– “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?”, Joshua Brand
Better Call Saul– “Five-O”, Gordon Smith
Game of Thrones– “Mother’s Mercy”, David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Mad Men– “Lost Horizon”, Semi Chellas & Matthew Weiner
Mad Men– “Person to Person”, Matthew Weiner
Could Win: Better Call Saul– “Five-O”, Gordon Smith
The Emmys are notorious for falling head over heels for a show during its first season. Coming off of the popularity of Emmy-darling Breaking Bad, I would not be surprised to see a good share of the Emmy gold being sent in Better Call Saul‘s direction.
Should Win: Mad Men– “Person to Person”, Matthew Weiner
Mad-Men-Season-7-Finale-Mad-Style-Costumes-Television-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO-1The Emmys are also notorious for playing catch up on recognizing an excellent show after its final season. Emmy prejudice aside, “Person to Person” was one of the most well written episodes of television I’ve ever seen. It was a beautiful contained episode that connected huge, series-long themes and was relatable and accessible…just brilliant.

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire– “Eldorado”, Tim Van Patten
Game of Thrones– “Mother’s Mercy”, David Nutter
Game of Thrones– “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”, Jeremy Podeswa
Homeland– “From A to B and Back Again”, Lesli Linka Glatter
The Knick– “Method and Madness”, Steven Soderbergh
Could Win: Boardwalk Empire– “Eldorado”, Tim Van Patten
Again, this is Boardwalk Empire‘s final season and final Emmy eligibility so the odds are in their favor. Critics seem to favor this show a bit more than audiences.
Should Win: The Knick– “Method and Madness”, Steven Soderbergh
knick-ftThe Knick is one of the most underrated shows that has aired in the last year. I wrote all about this last month and my enthusiasm for the show has not waned. Other than Clive Owen’s glorious, mustached mug, the best part about the show is probably the direction and editing. I am SO disappointed that The Knick was not nominated in more categories, so it would be great to see Soderbergh get a win for directing.

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Episodes– “Episode 409”, David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik
The Last Man on Earth– “Alive in Tucson (Pilot)”, Will Forte
Louie– “Bobby’s House”, Louis C.K.
Silicon Valley– “Two Days of the Condor”, Alec Berg
Transparent– “Pilot”, Jill Soloway
Veep– “Election Night”, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, & Tony Roche
Could Win: The Last Man on Earth– “Alive in Tucson (Pilot), Will Forte
This one is kind of a toss-up. I’m sticking with The Last Man on Earth because of its merit, critical acclaim, and Emmys first season prejudice. However, they seem to have a soft spot for Louie C.K. AND the Television Academy has not yet had the opportunity to gush over.
Should Win: Veep– “Election Night”, Simon Blackwell, Armando Ianucci, & Tony Roche
veep_s04e05_matt_walsh_stillI don’t understand how everyone isn’t completely enamored with this show. In my opinion there is nothing funnier on television. I found season four’s “Testimony” to be much funnier and more interesting than “Election Night” due to its departure from the standard format, but “Election Night” would be worthy of this award all the same. It won’t win, but it should.

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
The Last Man on Earth– “Alive in Tucson (Pilot)”, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Louie– “Sleepover”, Louis C.K.
Silicon Valley– “Sand Hill Shuffle”, Mike Judge
Transparent– “Best New Girl”, Jill Soloway
Veep– “Testimony”, Armando Iannucci
Could Win: The Last Man on Earth– “Alive in Tuscon (Pilot)”, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
There is a lot happening in this opening episode of The Last Man on Earth. In just 20 minutes the writers, directors, and actors need to familiarize the audience with this new world, shape the main character and his motivations, and keep us laughing enough to come back for episode two. The directors balance these competing interests beautifully.
Should Win: Veep– “Testimony”, Armondo Iannucci
maxresdefaultAs previously stated, I think “Testimony” is the strongest episode of season 4. The departure from the show’s traditional format and exclusive focus on the conflicting testimonies of Selina’s white house staffers is a perfect platform for heightened humor and interesting storytelling techniques.

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
American Crime– “Episode One”, John Ridley
Bessie, Dee Rees, Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois, Horton Foote
Hello Ladies: The Movie, Stephen Merchang Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg
Honorable Woman, Hugo Blick
Olive Kitteridge, Jane Anderson
Wolf Hall, Peter Straughan
Could Win: American Crime– “Episode One”, John Ridley
One of the strengths of American Crime is the writing, which we can thank 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley for. The first episode of the series was attention grabbing and thought provoking; not just for the sake of hooking an audience into the series, but for the audience to invest in the story while being conscious of their own dissonant opinions on the subject matter.
Should Win: American Crime– “Episode One”, John Ridley
american-crime-6Bessie was good but grossly saccharine towards the end and Olive Kitteridge and The Honourable Woman both seem to ride on the performances of their leading ladies, not the writing. I’m sticking with American Crime.

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or a Dramatic Special
American Horror Story– “Freak Show”, Ryan Murphy
Bessie, Dee Rees
The Honorable Woman, Hugo Blick
Houdini, U’ll Edel
The Missing, Tom Shankland
Olive Kitteridge, Lisa Cholodenko
Wolf Hall, Peter Kosminsky
Could Win: Bessie, Dee Rees
Bessie had it’s problems, but seemed well directed; its clear that Dee Rees really took advantage of her actors’ abilities as they carried the movie at times.
queen-latifah-bessie-smith-hbo-frank-masi_hbo-billboard-650Should Win: …to be totally honest I’m not crazy about any of these options. Some of this so super obscure and the rest of it is mediocre or just slightly above average. All I ask is that no more awards are given to American Horror Story: Freak Show because it was quite possibly the worst season of television I’ve ever seen.

My next post will cover the acting categories!

The Emmy’s are live on Fox this Sunday (September 20) at 7pm (CT). I will (hopefully) be live-tweeting during the ceremony.

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