FX's Fargo, HBO's The Normal Heart, and PBS's Sherlock: The Last Vow make up about 70% of the 4 major categories (sans Outstanding TV Movie and Outstanding Mini Series). Since those are the only three programs I've seen in these categories, those are the only ones I will be discussing. However, since they make up such a large percentage of the nominees, I feel fairly confident writing a post on this subject matter. Plus, I'd rather have this post than neglect it completely.
* I know Billy Bob Thornton is going to win this award for his work as Lester Malvo, the incredible and stoic villain on Fargo, but I think this award deserves to go to Martin Freeman instead. Thornton could just be an awesome bad ass and take a dump while he's being yelled at, but Freeman had the tougher job of being both a likable protagonist and a scummy asshole at the same time and hit it out of the park. Plus, Freeman had to do all that while speaking in a Minnesota accent for 10 episodes, something Thornton didn't have to do.
BEST LEAD ACTOR
* Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock: His Last Vow)
* Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dancing On The Edge)
* Idris Elba (Luther)
* Martin Freeman (Fargo)
* Mark Ruffalo (The Normal Heart)
* Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo)
MY THOUGHTS ON THE ACTUAL NOMINEES:
* I love Benedict Cumberbatch and the reason he's becoming so huge in Hollywood now is because of his work on the newest version of Sherlock. Cumberbatch plays Sherlock Holmes to perfection as an arrogant sonuvabitch that needs to solve the case while also caring deeply for Watson and his friends. The man with the most English name in the world can do no wrong in my book.
* Idris Elba played one of my all time favorite TV characters; he played Stringer Bell on The Wire. He's appeared all over the place including The Office, Thor, and Pacific Rim. He even got a Golden Globe nomination for playing Nelson Mandela in 2013 for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. It's a shame nobody watches Luther (not even myself) because then maybe he would be a bigger star.
* Mark Ruffalo does a lot of screaming and yelling in The Normal Heart. I mean a lot. Like a shit ton. But the best acting he does is when he's calm and collected in this film. The shouting probably got him the nomination, but if he wins it it will be because of the stuff he does when he's just having "normal" conversations. It's weird to think that Mark Ruffalo can carry a movie considering he does a lot of great work in supporting roles from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Kids Are Alright to Marvel's The Avengers, but he carries the HBO movie and puts it on his back- or as much as the horrible script will let him.
* It's a shame that there's no "halfway to EGOT" campaign for Chiwetel Ejiofor like there is for Matthew McConaughey. Ejiofor was the front runner to win the Best Actor Oscar earlier this year for his work in 12 Years A Slave before the Golden Globes. But then McConaughey won the Golden Globe and the Oscar for Best Actor, and now Billy Bob Thornton is going to beat out Ejiofor for the Emmy.
WHO WILL WIN: Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
* Alfred Molina (The Normal Heart)
* Colin Hanks (Fargo)
* Jim Parsons (The Normal Heart)
* Joe Mantello (The Normal Heart)
* Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart)
* Martin Freeman (Sherlock: His Last Vow)
SHOULD BE NOMINATED: Taylor Kitsch (The Normal Heart)
Taylor Kitsch is completely unrecognizable in this film. In fact, for the longest time, I thought Kitsch's character was played by Jonathan Groff because for some reason Groff is listed as the #2 actor from this movie on IMDB, even though Kitsch is clearly the second lead behind Mark Ruffalo. Kitsch is so damn good in this role playing the calm, level-headed "face" of the gay rights movement, and he's the complete opposite of Tim Riggins or any of his other macho roles that Kitsch has had in the past. Considering how good Taylor Kitsch is in The Normal Heat and considering background actors like Alfred Molina and Joe Mantello received a nominations, it's astonishing that Kitsch was snubbed. I guess his character should have done more screaming and yelling (although that's a Catch-22 because the reason Kitsch is so good is precisely because he acts as opposed to just screaming and yelling).
MY THOUGHTS ON THE NOMINEES:
* Let's start with actors from The Normal Heart considering they obviously dominate this category. The Normal Heart is full of great actors who do some pretty good work. I should rephrase that, The Normal Heart is 2 hours and 12 minutes long, and there are a shit ton of scenes where actors yell at each other / yell at Mark Ruffalo's character. Joe Mantello and Alfred Molina each have scenes in which they yell at Mark Ruffalo and essentially do nothing else for the entire film. Two actors (and not coincidentally two openly homosexual actors) who do actually deserve to be in this category are Jim Parsons and Matt Bomer. Bomer plays Ruffalo's lover who ends up contacting AIDS, and his slow devolution is heartbreaking. Bomer's character is one of the few characters we actually care about thanks to his gut-wrenching performance. Parsons' performance on the other hand is surprisingly subtle and he let's his emotions rise to the surface only when they need to. He doesn't need to shout at the top of his lungs to show his emotions, and actually acts.
* There are a lot of great performances from big name actors on Fargo, but Colin Hanks is one of the four main actors on the show, so he's the one who gets the nomination here. Colin Hanks seems to play the same character in every role he plays, but that specific style of acting works well for his Gus Grimly character. Personally, I think Bob Odenkirk should have gotten this nomination considering he was one of the most prominent ancillary characters on the show and because the complete difference between Odenkirk's work on Breaking Bad and on Fargo shows the man can act a little bit.
* Martin Freeman has that charming "it" factor. It's so weird to see where Martin Freeman and John Krasiniski are at in their careers right now considering both played the same character on different versions of The Office. Freeman uses that same charisma and likability to deservingly get great parts in things like The Hobbit, Fargo, and Sherlock, while Krasiniski is relegated to doing voice-overs on E-surance commercials.
WHO WILL WIN: Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart)
* Adam Bernstein "The Crocodile's Dilemma" (Fargo)
* Alfonso Gomez-Rejon "Bitchcraft" (American Horror Story: Coven)
* Colin Bucksey "Buridan's Ass" (Fargo)
* Nick Hurron (Sherlock: His Last Vow)
* Ryan Murphy (The Normal Heart)
* Stephen Frears (Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fights)
MY THOUGHTS ON THE ACTUAL NOMINEES:
* I'm going to start with the good, before I get to the utterly atrocious. Fargo was one of my favorite television programs of 2014, and it sucked me in from the get go. Adam Bernstein's direction, storytelling, and introduction of these characters that he shows us from Fargo's first episode are superb. A lot of the script to "The Crocodile's Dilemma" is almost identical to the plot of the 1996 movie of the same name, but Bernstein managed to make this mini-series it's own thing while still staying true to the movie in spirit. However, the best episode of Fargo was Colin Bucksey's "Burdian's Ass". That episode was so violent, bloody, and suspenseful, that Bucksey deserves to win this category.
* Now we move on to the truly horrific. Ryan Murphy deserves a lot of credit for finally being able to make The Normal Heart after gaining power in Hollywood after Glee and Nip/Tuck, but he did such a terrible job that I wished it stayed in obscurity. Murphy's storytelling is so bad, that 9th grade English students could give him pointers on what he did wrong. The introduction to these characters and this movement is almost non-existent, the pacing is inconsistent, and scenes are strung together with no little to no transitions. The directing of The Normal Heart is so utterly repellent, that it's an insult to all director's everywhere that Murphy earned an Emmy nomination for this work.
* Nick Hurron does a lot of nifty and interesting visual work during the third episode of Sherlock, that it tricks the viewer while also telling a cohesive story. This episode is mainly seen through the eyes of the television audience as opposed to either Sherlock or Watson, and that vantage point allows Hurron to manipulate us- in a good way.
* Considering how odd and out-there American Horror Story is, and considering how it managed to scare the ever-loving shit out of me the few episodes I've seen, I wouldn't be surprises if Alfonso Gomez-Rejon does some interesting things with the camera that was worthy of a nomination. However, since AHS is a Ryan Murphy project, the show is off the rails by this point so the show is not worth watching.
* Stephen Frears has been nominated for two Oscars for his work directing The Grifters and The Queen. He's also directed High Fidelty, Philomena, and Dangerous Liasons. You know, I think Frears might have this whole directing thing figured out.
WHO WILL WIN: Adam Bernstein (Fargo)
I know The Normal Heart is a huge favorite among a large portion of Emmy voters and even if voters do love Fargo (which they do), it seems obvious that Bernstein and Bucksey will split any votes making Ryan Murphy the winner. However, The Normal Heart was even slightly well directed then I'd predict this award to go to Murphy. But that being said, Murphy's directing is laughably bad, and I just can't imagine Emmy voters being *this* stupid.
* David Simon & Eric Overmyer "... To Miss New Orleans" (Treme)
* Larry Kramer (The Normal Heart)
* Neil Cross (Luther)
* Noah Hawley "The Crocodile's Dilemma" (Fargo)
* Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk "Bitchcraft" (American Horror Story: Coven)
* Stevan Moffat (Sherlock: His Last Vow)
MY THOUGHTS ON THE ACTUAL NOMINATIONS:
* It's incredible how Noah Hawley wrote such a brilliant television series based off of a Coen Brothers movie (a concept that should not have worked on paper) when he missed a fundamental aspect of the original movie. In the 1996 film, Francis McDormand's character has lunch with a friend of her's- Mike Yanagita- in the middle of her murder investigation. It's a scene that's extremely out of place, but it has some fundamental and deeper meaning because the Coen Brothers aren't idiots and a scene like that means something. For some reason though, Hawley interpreted that scene as the Coen Brothers were just reinforcing the notion that what we were watching was a "true story". I think that's a naive and silly way to read that scene (and also incredibly wrong as the scene was meant to show McDormand's character that people lie and it made her go back and question William H. Macy's character again) but it's the whole lynch pin to why Fargo is a phenomenal television program. His own version of the Mike Yanagita, "real life" aspects is what made Fargo so outstanding. Hawley's specific Emmy submission episode, the show's first episode, is a great representation of the FX program in general. It is its own show and its own thing while still keeping in line with the spirit of the movie.
* Larry Kramer may have written one helluva play, but his screenplay needs work. The whole first act is clumsy and unnecessary, every other scene seems like just an excuse for Mark Ruffalo to yell, and very few characters actually have deep connections or relationship. The Normal Heart is a political drama without showing us any meaningful impact of the world at large.
* Stevan Moffat is the man responsible for updating Sherlock, and bringing him into the 21st century. Moffat and his team did exceptional work during Seasons 1 and 2 of the show. Season 3, this show's eligible "season" though? Not so much. A lot of the material from this past season, especially from his Emmy submission "episode" is a retread of past seasons and story lines. A lot of what occurred during The Last Vow seemed like the show had already done it before. Although, considering how thin the TV Movies and Mini Series categories are, I don't know who else is more deserving than Moffat.
* It boggles my mind that David Simon, the man responsible for The Wire, Generation Kill. Homicide: Life on the Streets, and Treme only has 7 Emmy nominations. Tiny Fey has 33. Simon earns his first Primetime Emmy nomination for his work on Treme with his nomination here. HBO only gave Simon a limited budget to shoot the show's final season, and the amount of episodes Simon was able to stretch that budget into meant Treme didn't produce enough episodes to be considered a full on television program in 2014. So while it was relegated to being considered a mini series as opposed to the television show that it actually was, it worked in its benefit come nomination time.
* I've never seen Luther so I can not judge the work of Neil Cross.
* Ryan Murphy gets another Emmy nomination he doesn't deserve for writing American Horror Story: Coven. It's not possible for a Ryan Murphy show to last three seasons and still be watchable and coherent, yet Americans still watch his shit so he gets to keep making pet projects.
WHO WILL WIN: Noah Hawley (Fargo)
The conventional wisdom is that The Normal Heart is going to win BOTH Outstanding Screenplay and Outstanding Direction. Even if I thought The Normal Heart was any good, I'd still believe that Fargo wins at least one of those awards. Now that I can confirm The Normal Heart is a pile of garbage, Fargo will win both.
BRIEF NOTES ON THE LADIES
* Allison Tolman is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie and she's going to win it because she's fucking awesome as Deputy Molly Solverson on Fargo.
* Julia Roberts is comically bad as Dr. Emma Brookner on The Normal Heart, but she gets to yell just as loud as the boys, so she earned an Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie nomination. Last year, I wrote that anything Julia Roberts can do Sandra Bullock can do better. This role is easily proof of that.
* If I watched the terrible American Horror Story: Coven then I would have seen 5/12 or 42% of the female acting nominees in the Lead Actress and Supporting Actress categories. But because I don't, I haven't seen any nominees in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie category and I've only seen Tolman and Roberts in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie category. \
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