Sunday, September 22, 2013

Politics and fantasy at the Emmy Awards: Dramas

In the spirit of Oscar hype, with emphasis on science fiction, fantasy, and local subjects, it's time to go through the nominees for tonight's show as well as the winners of last week's awards ceremony to pick out the political and fantasy films in each category, along with other nominees I like.

Among the nominated drama series, the only two series I've watched this season have been "Game of Thrones" and "House of Cards."  Of the two, my wife and I preferred "House of Cards."  The sex and violence in "Game of Thrones" becomes excessive at times.  Then again, it's HBO; sex and violence is what they do best.  There is one more political series among the nominees, "Homeland," but I doubt it's better than "House of Cards."  I suspect neither of the shows we've watched will beat "Breaking Bad," which should edge out "Downton Abbey" and "Mad Men."

The political shows starred actors and actresses who were nominated for leading roles in dramas; "Game of Thrones" had no leading roles in these categories.  "House of Cards" featured both Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.  Both Damian Lewis and Claire Danes earned nominations for their work in "Homeland."  Jeff Daniels was the lone lead nominated from "The Newsroom," while Kerry Washington balanced out the sexes among political series for "Scandal."  Of all the above, I preferred Kevin Spacey, while my wife preferred Jeff Daniels.  I think Spacey did a better job of acting, while Daniels protrayed the much more sympathetic character.  That written, I doubt it will matter, as I'd put money on Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad."  As for the actresses, I have my doubts about Wright winning.  She wasn't even the most compelling actress in the series; Kate Mara who played Zoe Barnes was, and she wasn't even nominated for a supporting role.  As for who will win, honestly I don't know; my intuition says Elisabeth Moss of "Mad Men," but I'm not invested in that prediction in the slightest.

The supporting acting nominations were much more balanced in their representation of fantasy and politics, as both "Game of Thrones" and "Homeland" had two nominations each.  Of Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, I think Dinklage has the better shot.  After all, he has won for that role before, while I think Clarke and her role still have their best days ahead of them.  Mandy Patinkin and Morena Baccarin got the nods for "Homeland."  Patinkin is the better known actor, but I still think he'll lose out to Dinklage.  On the other hand, I'd put money on Maggie Smith for her role in "Downton Abbey."

Guest acting nominations also show less balance between fantasy and politics, with Diana Rigg nominated for a guest role in "Game of Thrones," while Jane Fonda and Margo Lessendale round out the nominees for guest roles in "The Newsroom" and "The Americans."  On the men's side, it's all politics, with Bobby Cannavale in "Boardwalk Empire," Rupert Friend in "Homeland," Dan Bucatinsky in "Scandal."  I'm rooting for Diana Rigg just because she's Diana Rigg, but I'd also be happy with Fonda.  On the men's side, I like Nathan Lane in "The Good Wife," but he's primarily a comic actor, so I don't know if he's that good in a drama.

"Game of Thrones" and "Homeland" both earned nominations for writing, but I'd favor one of the two "Breaking Bad" episodes instead.  The political shows nearly swept the directing nominations, with Tim Van Patten for "Boardwalk Empire", Lesli Linka Glatter for "Homeland," and David Fincher for"House of Cards" all earning nods.  Fincher is a ringer, but as far as I'm concerned, he should win in a walk.  Whether he will is another matter.

Looking at the drama nominations, I may be rooting for "House of Cards," but I'm impressed by how strong "Homeland" is, with nominees in eight of nine categories, more categories than any other series, including "Breaking Bad."  It may just be the best show on this season that my wife and I are not watching.  That may change.

Stay tuned for my thoughts on the comedies, variety shows, and reality shows.  Until then, enjoy the  Main Title Theme to House of Cards by Jeff Beal.

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