Thursday, September 13, 2018

'Jane,' 'Strong Island,' 'Wild Wild Country,' 'Blue Planet II,' and 'March of the Penguins 2' all winners at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards

I told my readers to "Stay tuned for the winners of awards for documentary movies, specials, and series." to conclude 'Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown' wins six posthumous Creative Arts Emmy Awards.  I begin with what I wrote yesterday about the first of two statuettes won by "Jane."Here are my predictions from 'Jane,' 'Icarus,' and 'Blue Planet II' — Nature, science, and politics in documentaries at the Creative Arts and Primetime Emmy Awards.
The nominees for Outstanding Cinematography For A Nonfiction Program pit nature against cuisine with "Jane" and two episodes of "Blue Planet II" representing nature, while one episode each of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" and "Chef's Table" competing for cuisine.  What a tough category!  I think "Blue Planet II" is the favorite based on the win for "Planet Earth II" in this category last year, but I wouldn't be surprised if "Jane" pulls out an upset.
"Jane" got this one.  I'll have more to say about that and its other Emmy tomorrow.
This partially makes up for "Jane" being the best documentary not nominated at the 2018 Oscars.  So does its win in the next category, which I handicapped in 'Jane,' 'Icarus,' and 'Blue Planet II' — Nature, science, and politics in documentaries at the Creative Arts and Primetime Emmy Awards.
Episode 8 of "The Vietnam War" by Ken Burns joins "Icarus," "Jane," "Wild Wild Country," and "The Zen Diaries of Gary Shandling" in competing for Outstanding Directing For A Documentary/Nonfiction Program.  So far, "The Vietnam War" is the only work I've seen nominated both at the Creative Arts/Primetime Emmy Awards, where it has four nominations, and at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, where it has two nominations.  Because of that, it might deserve an entry all by itself.  Tallying its wins and nominations at its IMDB page then adding the missing Emmy nominations from both television academies gives it 15 points.  That would put it behind "Jane" with 42 and "Icarus" with 17, but that might not matter, as Ken Burns is legendary and so might even be favored.  Out of the entire field, only "Icarus" earned a nomination at the DGA Awards, so I think it's the next best bet, the highest score for "Jane" not withstanding.
My head with with "The Vietnam War" and "Icarus," but my heart and the numbers were with "Jane."  I should have gone with them for a second win well deserved.  Speaking of which, Deadline Hollywood blogged part of director Brett Morgen's acceptance speech.
“You’re all in my dream right now,” says director Morgen, winning with his eighth nomination. “I have nothing prepared.” He says his team went two months over in their sound mix and other aspects of production, and Nat Geo “never called me,” saying he was grateful they let him get on with his work uninterrupted.
I wished it had won Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking, but I'm still happy that "Jane" finally got the recognition from a major awards show that it deserves.  I can now recommend the film to my students as an Emmy winner.  Congratulations!

Speaking of Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking, here is what I wrote about the nominees in that category last month.
Competing against "Jane" for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking are "City of Ghosts," "Strong Island," and "What Haunts Us."  I ranked both "City of Ghosts" and "Strong Island" as the top two political documentaries of 2017 while this seems to be the first nomination for "What Haunts Us," one that IMDB hasn't even bothered to list yet.  While "City of Ghosts" and "Jane" earned earned nominations at the BAFTA Awards and "City of Ghosts" won a Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award, both were snubbed for Best Documentary at the 2018 Academy Awards, while only "Strong Island" earned an Oscar nod.  I'm thrilled to see all three recognized together, even if it took the Television Academy to do so.

As for which will win, note that only "Jane" has more than one nomination at the Emmy Awards; all the rest only earned single nominations for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking.  To establish a ranking, I'll let the points system I've used before tell the tale.  Adding one point for each of the seven nominations and two points for the EMA Award to the 29 points "Jane" had as of March 3rd yields 38 points, while adding the EMA Award and four missing nominations to the awards I count listed on the documentary's IMDB page yields 42 points.  Before this nomination, "City of Ghosts" had 25 points from awards programs other than film festivals.  With the Emmy nomination, it has 26.  "Strong Island" had 16 points in March; it now has 21.  "What Haunts Us" only has one, although I suspect this will change, as the film was released in 2018 and is eligible for awards for this year's documentaries.  Just the same, the numbers support my personal preference, which is for "Jane" to win.
The Oscar nominee won, so the Motion Picture Academy's opinion ended up counting.  Besides, out of all the nominees, it was the one that could be interpreted as having the most anti-Trump theme with its Black Lives Matter (or at least one African-American's life mattered) message.  That helped propel "Icarus" to an Oscar for Best Documentary and I think it helped "Strong Island" at the Emmy Awards.  That couldn't be said about "Jane," as I doubt its environmental theme would have sent the same message.  That written, congratulations to "Strong Island" and Yance Ford, who "made history as the first openly trans man to be nominated for an Academy Award and tonight he made history once again for being the first openly trans man — a trans man of color for that matter — to win Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking."

Unfortunately for "Icarus," that same anti-Putin and anti-Trump sentiment did not transfer its Oscar win into an Emmy, which didn't surprise me.
"Icarus" has already won Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards.  Now the movie has a chance at three Emmy Awards — Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special, Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program, and Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program, the latter two in direct competition with "Jane."  Despite its winning an Oscar, I'm not sure that "Icarus" is the favorite to win Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special, as its competition consists of "Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring A Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention Of Tony Clifton," "Mister Rogers: It's You I Like," "Spielberg," and "The Zen Diaries Of Garry Shandling," four nominees about show business, three of them about Hollywood.  As I mentioned for "Birdman" and Meryl Streep narrating "Five Came Back" last year and "Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405," a film about Hollywood "is enough to get the Motion Picture Academy members to vote for it if all other factors are equal" and "Never underestimate the power of Hollywood voting for a good film or show about itself."  The best hope for "Icarus" lies in the films about Hollywood splitting the vote and the same anti-Trump sentiment that led to "The Handmaid's Tale" sweeping the last night of the Emmys to win five awards last year combines with the continued anti-Russian sentiment that helped it win an Oscar inducing people to vote for it instead of "Mister Rogers: It's You I Like," the other nominee that anti-Trump sentiment in Hollwood might rally around.  I'm not optimistic, but then I didn't think "Icarus" would win the Academy Award, either.

The number of Emmy nominations for each nominee supports my uncertainty about "Icarus" winning.  "The Zen Diaries Of Garry Shandling" ties "Icarus" with three nominations, "Mister Rogers: It's You I Like" has two nominations, while "Spielberg" and "Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring A Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention Of Tony Clifton" appear to be the weakest competition with just the one nomination each for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special.  On the other hand, the point system I use awards "Icarus" 17 points for its wins and nominations, "Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring A Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention Of Tony Clifton" six, "The Zen Diaries Of Garry Shandling" and "Spielberg" tie at three each, and "Mister Rogers: It's You I Like" has only two.  "Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring A Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention Of Tony Clifton" and "The Zen Diaries Of Garry Shandling" seem like the best Hollywood choices to win.
I was right to not be optimistic about the likelihood of "Icarus" and think that "The Zen Diaries Of Garry Shandling" had one of the best chances of winning, as the former ended up being one of the also-rans while that latter won the award.  Not only was it about Hollywood, it was about a beloved dead celebrity.  That worked really well for Anthony Bourdain and it worked for Garry Shandling, something Deadline Hollywood noted.
This is turning into a night of tributes with the victory for the documentary about the late and great Garry Shandling. “I’d like to thank my wife Leslie,” director Judd Apatow says. “I’d like to not thank my two children Maude and Iris,” he added, after chiding them earlier in the show for not coming with him tonight. “I won — it would have been fun to be here. Never again.”

Follow over the jump for the winners in the rest of the categories where documentaries were nominated.

I completely blew my prediction for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series.
"Blue Planet II" earned the nomination for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series and two nominations for Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program that I predicted.  It also earned a nomination for Sir David Attenborough as Outstanding Narrator and another for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera).  I'll take the Outstanding Narrator nomination in place of a music composition nomination.
That ended up being a prescient sentiment, about which I'll write more later.  Back to my analysis about the relevant program category nominees.
However, the BBC nature documentary series does not stand alone as the most nominated show competing for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series.  It shares that honor with "The Defiant Ones" about the role of Dr. Dre in rap and hip-hop and "Wild Wild Country" about the Rajneesh Movement and especially Rajneeshpuram, each also with five nominations.  The other nominees in the category, "American Masters" and "The Fourth Estate," only have the one nomination for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series.  The nominee I expected in addition to "Blue Planet II" was "The Defiant Ones," which won Best Music Film at the Grammy Awards.  I wrote then "I expect to blog about it again, as it will be eligible for this year's Emmy Awards" and, sure enough, I am.  As a show business entry with a message of African-American struggle and empowerment as well as cross-racial friendship, themes that would attract an anti-Trump Hollywood electorate, it would be the nominee I think would be favored if all things were equal.  I don't think they are, as the team behind "Blue Planet II" is the same one behind "Planet Earth II," which won two Emmy Awards last year, so I think it's still the favorite.  The other nominee that might attract votes based on anti-Trump sentiment is "The Fourth Estate," which follows the reporters of the New York Times.  That didn't help "The Post" win any Oscars despite its nominations, so I don't think it will push "The Fourth Estate" onto the podium next month.
It didn't.
Just the same, my analysis is not complete without looking at the numbers.  Again, using my points system of one point for a nomination and two for a win, "Blue Planet II" has 22 points, "The Defiant Ones" has 20, "Wild Wild Country" has five, "American Masters" has three for the current season, and "The Fourth Estate" has one.  By this measure, "The Defiant Ones" is indeed the strongest competition for "Blue Planet II."
"Wild Wild Country" completely surprised me by walking away with the Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series, while "The Defiant Ones" went away completely empty-handed.

"Blue Planet II" managed one victory for Outstanding Narrator, which I hoped for but didn't predict.
Nature documentaries and series compose a majority of the nominees for Outstanding Narrator.  In addition to Sir David for "Blue Planet II," Morgan Freeman earned a nomination for "March Of The Penguins 2: The Next Step" and Charles Dance for "Savage Kingdom."  Joining them are Carl Reiner for "If You're Not In The Obit, Eat Breakfast" and Liev Schreiber for "24/7."  As much as I'm rooting for Sir David, I think Morgan Freeman, the voice of God, is the favorite.
Despite my reservations, I got my wish.  Deadline Hollywood gave me even more by including the acceptance speech for the award.
Blue Planet EP James Honeyborne is accepting on behalf of Sir David, whom he says will be “absolutely thrilled.” He says the whole team grew up being inspired by Attenborough, “and we’re still learning from him today.” Carl Reiner might have been the sentimental favorite in this category, but can’t go wrong with a fellow legend here.
I'm happy.  Congratulations to Sir David!

I concluded my analysis with a cliffhanger.
Speaking of "March Of The Penguins 2: The Next Step," it is also nominated for Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score).  I plan on writing about that category either when I write about music nominees or when I write about limited series like "Black Mirror" or "Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams" when I cover speculative fiction nominees.
In Failures and abuses of government and adult leadership unite Outstanding Television Movie nominees at the 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards, I indicated that I liked Daniel Pemberton's music for "Black Mirror: USS Callister" better, although I did embed the trailer at the end of Crime and punishment a major theme of Limited Series nominees at the Emmy Awards for National Wildlife Day.  Just the same, "March Of The Penguins 2: The Next Step" won Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score).  Deadline Hollywood reported on its acceptance speech.
This is the first nomination and win for Cyrille Aufort. He says a few words in French for his ”little kids and wife” as well as thanking the team he’s worked with for years.

I am now done with stand-alone entries about the Creative Arts Emmy winners.  I'll save the rest for prediction and analysis entries about the comedies and dramas and final winners entries about the categories being awarded next Monday, when the Primetime Emmy Awards will be aired.  Stay tuned.

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