Sunday, September 3, 2017

"House of Cards" leads contemporary American political dramas with six nominations

I opened and closed 'Veep' leads nominated comedies at the Primetime Emmy Awards with 17 nominations by explaining why I didn't follow through all the way with my earlier announced plans and what I intended to do about it.
I concluded Infidel 753 and I discuss zombies by telling my readers to "Stay tuned for the post about the Emmy nominees I promised in "13th" vs. "O.J.: Made in America" plus other non-fiction political programs nominated at the Primetime Emmy Awards."  It was supposed to be "a post about the scripted comedies and dramas about poliitics, including shows starring two fictional presidents, Selina Meyer and Frank Underwood," but I decided to split the comedies and dramas into to posts.  To quote "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight!"
That's it for scripted comedy.  Stay tuned for the political nominees in drama followed by the political nominees in variety.
While "Veep" may be more realistic, it's a comedy.  Today is for drama and the leading political drama that isn't also science fiction is "House of Cards," the other nominated series besides "Veep" that portrays a fictional past or present president.*  It is well behind "Veep" with only six nominations.  The other nominated drama series with political themes are "The Americans" and "Mr. Robot" with four nominations each, "Homeland" with three nominations, "Orange is the New Black" with two nominations, and "The Good Fight" with one.

Follow over the jump for the nominations of all the dramas with political or governmental themes.

I covered most of the drama nominations in 'Westworld' leads drama series with 22 Emmy nominations, followed by 'Stranger Things' with 19 and 'The Handmaid's Tale' with 13, so I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle from that post, rearranging the order to fit today's theme.  I begin with the nominated categories for "House of Cards."
Drama Series
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
“House of Cards” (Netflix)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“This Is Us” (NBC)
“Westworld” (HBO)
All three leading speculative fiction series are nominated in this category, the first of six in which they are competing with each other.  Out of all of them, I'm rooting for "Westworld," but I'd be just as happy if "Stranger Things" won and pleasantly surprised if "The Handmaid's Tale" pulled an upset.  As for which series the more conventional voters might pick, I'd say "The Crown."
My opinion hasn't changed much, except that "The Handmaid's Tale" winning two Television Critics Association Awards makes me think that its odds of winning have improved.  "House of Cards," not so much.  At least this is an open category, as "Game of Thrones" was not eligible.  Next year.
Drama Actress
Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”)
Claire Foy (“The Crown”)
Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)
Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”)
Robin Wright (“House of Cards”)
In 'The Walking Dead' vs. 'Westworld' at the 2017 Saturn Awards, I griped about the treatment of the acting nominees from "Westworld," beginning with the category in which Evan Rachel Wood was nominated.
[N]one of these are my choices for Best Actress in the television programs eligible.  Instead, I think Evan Rachel Wood should be here along with Eva Green of "Penny Dreadful" and I've be much happier trying to choose between them with the slight edge to Wood, who won the Critics' Choice Award competing against all television actresses, not just the ones in speculative fiction.
As I wrote above, I think Evan Rachel Wood should have been nominated for Best Actress instead of Best Supporting Actress.
I was hoping she and the rest of the actors from "Westworld" would be nominated in the correct categories at the Emmy Awards.  I got my wish.  As a result, Wood is competing against Elisabeth Moss from "The Handmaid's Tale" as the only two nominees from speculative fiction series in this field.  I'm rooting for Wood.  As for who else might win, I'd put my money on Viola Davis, the only former winner in the field.  Just the same, I wouldn't be surprised if any of the nominees won.  As I have been saying since last year, the actresses this year are very strong.
While I think "The Handmaid's Tale" has a greater chance to win more awards, I suspect Elizabeth Moss didn't do herself any favors when she defended Scientology.

Elisabeth Moss has spoken up about a subject on which she normally keeps quiet: her religion. On Tuesday, the “Handmaid’s Tale” star addressed a fan’s question about Scientology via her Instagram account. One Instagram userposed an interesting question comparing Scientology to the dictatorship in Handmaid's Tale. Moss offered the following response: “That’s actually not true at all about Scientology. Religious freedom and tolerance and understanding the truth and equal rights for every race, religion and creed are extremely important to me."
That may not help returning nominees Keri Russell or Robin Wright, who are the nominees from modern American political dramas, and may be a wash for Viola Davis, also a returning nominee and past winner, if not the returning winner.  Instead, I think it might help Claire Foy, the star of a period drama about British politics and government.**
Drama Actor
Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”)
Anthony Hopkins (“Westworld”)
Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”)
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)
Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”)
Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”)
Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”)
I also complained about the miscategorization of Anthony Hopkins, writing "I think Anthony Hopkins, like Evan Rachel Wood, is misplaced.  He's present in every episode and he's actually the only candidate for male lead I'd accept."  Again, I got my wish, as he's nominated in the proper category at the Emmys.  While he's certainly the most distinguished actor nominated and my favorite, he's not a lock.  Bob Odenkirk, Liev Schreiber, and Kevin Spacey have all been nominated at least three years in a row.  Of that group, I'd say Spacey is Hopkins' stiffest competition.
I failed to note that this is an open category, as Rami Malek of "Mr. Robot" was eligible, but not renominated.  Darn.  However, Matthew Rhys of "The Americans" was renominated, so political dramas have two nominees and Anthony Hopkins has more worthy competitors.
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
John Lithgow (“The Crown”)
Jonathan Banks (“Better Call Saul”)
Mandy Patinkin (“Homeland”)
Michael Kelly (“House of Cards”)
David Harbour (“Stranger Things”)
Ron Cephas Jones (“This Is Us”)
Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld”)
While I thought the nominees from "Westworld" for Best Supporting Actor were appropriate, I was a bit disappointed by the winner.
I voted for Jeffrey Wright because "his performance was more nuanced than Ed Harris, who is the more established actor."  That should have been a giveaway.  Nuanced and subtle are synonyms and as I wrote yesterday, "the Saturn voters are not about subtle."
The Emmy voters, on the other hand, are, so Wright was nominated while Harris was not.  Good -- the better performance is being rewarded.  Maybe two years from now, Harris will be nominated for supporting actor and Wright for lead.  As for David Harbour, I'm happy he's here, but I think he should just be happy to be nominated.  While I'm rooting for Wright, I think either John Lithgow or Mandy Patinkin are better bets.
I forgot to mention Jonathon Banks and Michael Kelly as the only returning nominees.  That might help "House of Cards" earn an award.
Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour)
Larry Benjamin, Kevin Valentine, Philip W. Palmer (“Better Call Saul” — “Witness”)
Nathan Nance, Scott R. Lewis, Lorenzo Milan (“House of Cards” — “Chapter 53”)
John W. Cook II, Bill Freesh, William Sarokin, Paul Drenning (“Mr. Robot” — “eps2.8_h1dden-pr0cess.axx”)
Joe Barnett, Adam Jenkins, Chris Durfy, Bill Higley (“Stranger Things” — “Chapter Eight: The Upside Down”)
Keith Rogers, Scott Weber, Roger Stevenson, Kyle O’Neal (“Westworld” — “The Bicameral Mind”)
Again, I expect "Stranger Things" to win this.
In defense of "House of Cards," it won this category in 2014 and has been nominated every year since.  In addition, "Mr. Robot" and "Better Call Saul" have been nominated every year of each show's existance.  As much as I like "Stranger Things" and "Westworld," both show are up against stiff competition.

The final nomination for "House of Cards" is one I should have mentioned in Nature and science at the Primetime Emmy Awards as it was nominated in the same category as "Planet Earth II."  From The Entertainment Factor blog:
Music Composition For A Series (Original Dramatic Score)

Rupert Gregson-Williams (“The Crown” — “Hyde Park Corner”)
Jeff Beal (“House of Cards” — “Chapter 63”)
Jacob Shea, Jasha Klebe (“Planet Earth II” — “Islands”)
James Newton Howard (“A Series of Unfortunate Events” — “A Bad Beginning”)
Max Richter (“Taboo” — “Episode 1”)
Martin Phipps, Ruth Barrett, Natalie Holt (“Victoria (Masterpiece)” — “Doll 123”)
I'm still rooting for Jacob Shea, Jasha Klebe for “Planet Earth II,” but Jeff Beal won this category for "House of Cards" in 2015.  Along with "Mr. Robot" not being renominated, that gives Beal and "Houst of Cards" an advantage.

Now to the categories in which "The Americans" is the lead nominated political drama, which I'm again recycling from 'Westworld' leads drama series with 22 Emmy nominations, followed by 'Stranger Things' with 19 and 'The Handmaid's Tale' with 13.
Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Alison Wright ("The Americans" - "The Soviet Division")
Alexis Bledel ("The Handmaid's Tale" - "Late")
Cicely Tyson ("How to Get Away with Murder" - "Go Cry Somewhere Else")
Ann Dowd ("The Leftovers" - "The Most Powerful Man In The World (And His Identical Twin Brother)")
Laverne Cox ("Orange is the New Black" - "Doctor Psycho")
Shannon Purser ("Stranger Things" - "Chapter Three: Jolly, Holly")
In the final acting category, "Stranger Things" and "The Handmaid's Tale" duke it out with the sole nomination for "The Leftovers" taking the place of "Westworld."  Out of all of them, I'm rooting for Ann Dowd, who has always been gripping as Patti Levin.  Besides, it's the only nomination for "The Leftovers" -- ever.  The show deserves some love.
Usually, Margo Martindale gets the nomination for "The Americans," but not this year.  I'm not sure Alison Wright is at her level.  The other political/government show nominee is Laverne Cox for "Orange is the New Black."  Normally, I'd file this under crime and punishment except that this season, like the two before it, have been exploring the impact of privatized prisons, a hot political topic, and government officials above and beyond the Prisons Bureau were involved in the current season.  As for which I think is actually favored, as opposed to who I want to win, I'd say Cicely Tyson.  She's been nominated for this role before in this category and she delivered a strong performance.

Now, the last of the four categories in which "The Americans" earned a nomination.
Writing for a Drama Series
Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields (“The Americans”)
Gordon Smith (“Better Call Saul”)
Peter Morgan (“The Crown”)
Bruce Miller (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
The Duffer Brothers (“Stranger Things”)
Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan (“Westworld”)
Again, all three leading speculative fiction drama series compete against each other, this time for writing, the fourth category out of six in which they do.  I'm rooting for "Westworld."  As I told Infidel 753 in the comments to Thanks to Infidel 753, I describe how 'Westworld' is like 'Jurassic Park'.
My wife and I are quite impressed at the depth of the ideas explored in the show. The creators have also done their research. Every time they mention something about evolution in Ford's dialog, they're right. This is especially true about the more disturbing concepts mentioned, like sexual selection contributing to the development of the human mind and what humans did to our nearest relatives. As someone who knows the field, that's both gratifying and unsettling.
Just the same, the writing is as strong as the direction and acting, particularly by the actresses, so I wouldn't be surprised if any of the shows win.
My opinion about the likelihood of any of these shows winning has not changed.  I will add that "The Americans" has been nominated three years in a row and "Better Call Saul" was nominated for its initial season, so they might have a slight advantage if all things are equal.  I'm biased in favor of "Westworld," so I don't think they are.

Now to the next political drama with four nominations, "Mr. Robot," as only one of its nominations has been mentioned so far.
Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour)
Adriano Goldman (“The Crown”)
Colin Watkinson (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
James Hawkinson (“The Man in the High Castle”)
Tod Campbell (“Mr. Robot”)
John Toll (“Sense8”)
Tim Ives (“Stranger Things”)
Paul Cameron (“Westworld”)
In the final category that has all three featured shows nominated, speculative fiction domiminates.  The only show not in or adjacent to the genre is "The Crown."  This says that speculative fiction shows are, if nothing else, beautifully photographed.  By that standard, I hope the broad Western vistas of "Westworld" give it an advantage.
I should have noted that "The Man in the High Castle" won the equivalent award last year, so it's the essentially the returning winner and favorite.**  "Mr. Robot," on the other hand, was not nominated, so I'm not sure about its chances.  I just hope "The Crown" doesn't win.
Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Within a Scripted Program
Mike Benson, Bob Bowen, Brianna Lopez, Brian Burton & Campfire (“The Man in the High Castle: Resistance Radio”)
USA Network, Universal Cable Productions, Here Be Dragons, Esmail Corp. & Anonymous Content (“The Mr. Robot Virtual Reality Experience”)
James L. Brooks, Al Jean, Matt Groening, David Silverman & Google Spotlight Stories (“The Simpsons – Planet of the Couches”)
Netflix & CBS Digital (“Stranger Things VR Experience”)
HBO, Kilter Films & Bad Robot (“Westworld”)
All of the nominees are or adjacent to speculative fiction.  By the way, this is where the discrepancy between the 18 nominations for "Stranger Things" in the video and news accounts and the 19 nominations I count.  "Stranger Things VR Experience" is counted as a different show than "Stranger Things."  Meanwhile, the nomination for "Westworld" is counted as one for the show itself.  That doesn't seem fair, does it?  On a personal note, I should root for "The Simpsons" because I marched in the UCLA Band with David Silverman (we're both tuba players).  I think that's a good enough reason.
“The Mr. Robot Virtual Reality Experience” is the political entry here.

It turned out that I failed to mention an entire acting category because it wasn't mentioned in any of the speculative fiction series I examined.  "Mr. Robot" just happens to have a nomination in it, which is its final nominated category.  Again, from The Entertainment Factor blog.
Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Ben Mendelsohn (“Bloodline” — “Part 32”)
BD Wong (“Mr. Robot” — “eps2.3_logic-b0mb.hc”)
Hank Azaria (“Ray Donovan” — “Norman Saves the World”)
Denis O’Hare (“This Is Us” — “Last Christmas”)
Brian Tyree Henry (“This Is Us” — “Memphis”)
Gerald McRaney (“This Is Us” — “The Big Day”)
Oh, BD Wong!  I'm a big fan of his work as Hugo Strange in "Gotham."  I'm glad to see him nominated for "Mr. Robot."  As for who is favored, not who I like, Ben Mendelsohn won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Supporting Role for the same part in the same show last year.  On the other hand, Hank Azaria won this same category for this same role last year, so he's the returning winner.  I think it will be a photo finish between these two, so Wong should just feel lucky to be nominated.  Maybe next year.

I've already mentioned one of the three nominations earned by "Homeland," Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.  I mentioned the other two in 'Westworld' leads drama series with 22 Emmy nominations, followed by 'Stranger Things' with 19 and 'The Handmaid's Tale' with 13.
Directing for a Drama Series
Vince Gilligan (“Better Call Saul”)
Stephen Daldry (“The Crown”)
Reed Morano (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Kate Dennis (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Lesli Linka Glatter (“Homeland”)
The Duffer Brothers (“Stranger Things”)
Jonathan Nolan (“Westworld”)
Moving from in front of the camera to behind the camera, all three shows have been nominated for Direction of a Drama Series, the third category in which they are all competing.  "The Handmaid's Tale" was nominated twice for two of its directors, so speculative fiction series have four out of seven nominations, just as they do in Supporting Actress in a Drama.  I'm rooting for Jonathon Nolan, but I'd be happy with the Duffer Brothers as well.  Just the same, any of the nominees could win.
In terms of favorites, I note that Lesli Linka Glatter has been nominated for “Homeland” three of the past four years and this is her fourth nomination, while none of the rest of this year's nominees has been nominated once.  All things being equal, that would make her the favorite.  I'm not sure all things are equal.
Sound Editing for a Series
Benjamin Cook, Stefan Henrix, Mike Szakmeister, Shaugnessy Hare, Tim Tuchrello, Brett Voss, Michael Baber, Jeffrey Wilhoit & Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit (“Black Sails”)
George Haddad, Chad J. Hughes, Dale Chaloukian, David Barbee, Julie Altus, Ashley Revell, Joey Sabella & Joanie Rowe (“Gotham”)
Craig A. Dellinger, Ryne Gierke, Eric Raber, Shawn Kennelly, Jeff Charbonneau, Melissa Kennelly & Vince Nicastro (“Homeland”)
Bradley North, Craig Henighan, Jordan Wilby, Jonathan Golodner, Tiffany S. Griffth, Sam Munoz, Sam Munoz, David Klotz, Noel Vought & Ginger Geary (“Stranger Things”)
Thomas E. deGorter, Matthew Sawelson, Brian Armstrong, Fred Paragano, Mark Allen, Marc Glassman, Sebastian Visconti, Geordy Sincavage, Michael Head, Christopher Kaller, Rick Owens & Tara Blume Norton (“Westworld”)
Look, one of three nominations for "Gotham!"  Cool, but I expect either "Westworld" or "Stranger Things" will win.
There's only one flaw with my prediction; "Black Sails" is the returning winner.  Also, "Gotham" has been nominated three years in a row.  As for "Homeland," this is its first nomination in this category.

Now for the other category in which "Orange is the New Black" has a nomination.
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Ann Dowd (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Samira Wiley (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Uzo Aduba (“Orange Is the New Black”)
Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”)
Chrissy Metz (“This Is Us”)
Thandie Newton (“Westworld”)
In this, the second of six categories in which the top three speculative fiction dramas contend with each other, I'm rooting for Thandie Newton, as I think she gave the best performance in a supporting role among the Saturn nominees (she lost to Candice Patton).  However, I also voted for Millie Bobby Brown, so I would be pleasantly surprised by her winning.  Finally, Samira Wiley and Ann Dowd, who I know from "Orange is the New Black" and "The Leftovers," would also be good choices.  Speaking of "Orange is the New Black," Uzo Aduba is one of only two nominations the prison drama earned this year.  Oh, my, I have lots of actresses I like.  Well, it is that strong a field, particularly with four nominees from speculative fiction series.
I have one more thing to say about Uzo Aduba; she's the only previous winner of this award in this field.

Now for the last category and the last show.
Original Main Title Theme Music
Mac Quayle (“FEUD: Bette and Joan”)
Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe (“Genius”)
John David Buckley (“The Good Fight”)
Michael Stein, Kyle Dixon (“Stranger Things”)
Martin Phipps (“Victoria (Masterpiece)”)
Ramin Djawadi (“Westworld”)
My other prediction that both "Stranger Things" and "Westworld" would have their outstanding theme songs nominated also came true.  Joining them is the theme to "The Good Fight," the streaming series' only nomination.
To conclude this entry, I'm sharing the theme from "The Good Fight."

I found watching all the items from a law office blow up cathartic.  Did you?

That's it for scripted dramas.  Stay tuned for a combination Labor Day/Wildlife Day entry tomorrow and at least one post about variety shows later this week.

*Three other shows, "Designated Survivor," "Madam Secretary," and "Scandal," also have fictional presidents as regular characters.  However, none of them are nominated this year, although "Scandal" has been nominated for five awards, winning two of them.

**This is why I didn't include "The Crown" among the shows for which I'm listing all nominations.  I'm interested in American politics and government other than crime dramas from the 30 years ago until today.  That's among the reasons I'm not examining "The Handmaid's Tale," "The Leftovers," or "The Man in the High Castle" here; all are science fiction.  It's also why I'm not writing about "Fargo" today; it's a crime drama.  I might examine crime (excluding "Orange is the New Black") and legal shows later -- maybe.  I have an image for that.



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    1. Your spam is like Kevin Spacey, removed from public display.