Return to Cranford
Miniseries aren't what they used to be, are they? This is the second straight year that this category has had only two nominees; one is the unanimous favorite, the other is an also-ran. It makes you wonder why there aren't more miniseries made.
BEST MADE-FOR-TELEVISION MOVIE
The Special Relationship
You Don't Know Jack
This is an interesting mix this year. You have a movie about the end of apartheid in South Africa (Endgame), one about one of America's most famous artists (Georgia O'Keeffe), one about the first lunar landing (Moonshot), one about the friendship between Bill Clinton and Tony Blair (The Special Relationship), one about an autistic woman who made huge changes in veterinary practices (Temple Grandin), and one about Jack Kevorkian, aka Dr. Death (You Don't Know Jack). Having not seen any of these, I don't know how good they are. But at least there's a variety of ideas here.
BEST ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE
Jeff Bridges, A Dog Year
Sir Ian McKellen, The Prisoner
Michael Sheen, The Special Relationship
Dennis Quaid, The Special Relationship
Al Pacino, You Don't Know Jack
Here's how I see it: Bridges managed to coast into this category off the strength of his Oscar win, though being unfamiliar with A Dog Year, he may very well be good in it. Both leads from The Special Relationship picked up nominations, which makes me wonder two things: 1) why is Quaid only good on the small screen and 2) when will Sheen stop playing Tony Blair (by my count, this is his third time in the role)? Pacino won this category a few years ago for Angels in America, and from what I've heard he did excellent work in this film.
BEST ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE
Maggie Smith, Capturing Mary
Joan Allen, Georgia O'Keeffe
Dame Judi Dench, Return to Cranford
Hope Davis, The Special Relationship
Claire Danes, Temple Grandin
I've heard many wonderful things about Danes, and Davis played Hillary Clinton, which I'm sure was a meaty role. The other three are past Oscar nominees; though Smith and Dench have managed to stay busy, you don't see Allen as much as you really should nowadays. She was Golden Globe and SAG Award nominated for this role, so we'll see if she can win an Emmy.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE
Michael Gambon, Emma
Patrick Stewart, Hamlet
Jonathan Pryce, Return to Cranford
David Strathairn, Temple Grandin
John Goodman, You Don't Know Jack
I actually had the good fortune to catch Hamlet on PBS this year, when David Tennant was playing the title role (he is sorely missing from these nominations). Stewart, as the ghost and Claudius, gave a riveting supporting turn though. Otherwise, it's good to see Strathairn working again in something that's not crappy horror. I should also mention here that despite it's Emmy-leading 24 nominations, The Pacific did not have a single acting nomination. I'm not sure if that means that the competition was too intense or if the performances just weren't worthy; does anybody know?
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE
Kathy Bates, Alice
Julia Ormond, Temple Grandin
Catherine O'Hara, Temple Grandin
Brenda Vaccaro, You Don't Know Jack
Susan Sarandon, You Don't Know Jack
Bates' Alice is not to be confused with Burton's failed Alice in Wonderland, but rather Syfy's failed miniseries about Alice's adventures in Wonderland. Apart from her, its all Temple Grandin and You Don't Know Jack, with performances from some very reliable actresses.
BEST DIRECTOR OF A MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE
Bob Balaban, Georgia O'Keeffe
David Nutter and Jeremy Podesawa; The Pacific, "Part Eight"
Tim Van Patten; The Pacific, "Part Nine"
Mick Jackson, Temple Grandin
Barry Levinson, You Don't Know Jack
The Pacific managed to sneak the directors of two of its installments into this race, where they'll face Balaban, who's better known for acting in Christopher Guest movies, and Oscar-winner Barry Levinson (Rain Man). Jackson has mostly worked in television, but he did bring us The Bodyguard back in 1992, so there's that.
BEST WRITING FOR A MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE
Michelle Ashford and Robert Schenkkan; The Pacific, "Part Eight"
Bruce C. McKenna and Robert Schenkkan; The Pacific, "Part Ten"
Peter Morgan, The Special Relationship
Christopher Monger and William Merritt Johnson, Temple Grandin
Adam Mazer, You Don't Know Jack
Yes, that is the same Peter Morgan who brought us The Queen and Frost/Nixon, both of which also starred Michael Sheen. Maybe the actor is Morgan's good-luck charm?
BEST DIRECTION OF A COMEDY SERIES
Ryan Murphy; Glee, "Pilot"
Paris Barclay; Glee, "Wheels"
Jason Winer; Modern Family, "Pilot"
Allen Coulter; Nurse Jackie, "Pilot"
Don Scardino; 30 Rock, "I Do Do"
Pretty much what you'd expect. Though I'm sure Coulter is happy to be back in television since his theatrical debut landed with a mighty thud.
BEST DIRECTION OF A DRAMA SERIES
Michelle MacLaren; Breaking Bad, "One Minute"
Steve Shill; Dexter, "The Getaway"
Jack Bender; Lost, "The End"
Lesli Linka Glatter; Mad Men, "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency"
Agnieszka Holland; Treme, "Do You Know What it Means (Pilot)"
Two things to note here: first, all five directors come from different shows rather than just Mad Men, so hooray for variety, and secondly, three of these five directors are women, the most ever for this category, so hooray for diversity.
BEST REALITY SERIES
Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List
The biggest surprise here is that last year's champion, Intervention, failed to be nominated. Does that make Kathy Griffin the favorite?
BEST REALITY COMPETITION SERIES
The Amazing Race
Dancing with the Stars
For the most part, I'm against reality competition series; its all scripted, and no matter what the network says, the winner is always predetermined (notice how for the last five years the Idol finale favorite lost to the schmuck who will never see his career take off, just for the sake of being "shocking?"). Besides, The Amazing Race wins this thing every year. Bleh.
BEST VARIETY/MUSIC/COMEDY SERIES
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
The Colbert Report
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien
The real surprise is that O'Brien's now-cancelled version of The Tonight Show was nominated, but Jay Leno's was not (also: for the first time in years, The Late Show with David Letterman missed the cut as well). It's actually interesting to see that only two prime-time network shows were nominated, while two more come from cable (specifically Comedy Central) and one from pay-per-view (perennial loser Bill Maher). The Daily Show's had a tight grip on this category in the past, though I wonder if Colbert or Maher or even O'Brien can top it.
BEST VARIETY/MUSIC/COMEDY SPECIAL
Bill Maher "...But I'm Not Wrong"
Hope for Haiti Now
The Kennedy Center Honors
The 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert
Wanda Sykes: I'ma Be Me
The usual mix of benefits and stand-up specials. I don't know what else to say.
BEST ANIMATED PROGRAM
Disney's Prep & Landing
The Ricky Gervais Show
The Simpsons and South Park are perennial favorites, and that probably won't be changed by Gervais' HBO comedy, Disney's Christmas special, or a National Geographic program. The important thing to note: since Family Guy (unsuccessfully) bid for Best Comedy Series, it's nowhere to be seen this time around (except in Best Original Music & Lyric).
BEST SHORT-FORMAT ANIMATED PROGRAM
Disney's Kick Buttowski
The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack
The only thing I've seen in here is Robot Chicken, and the rest I've avoided on purpose. But aparantly this is a new category, since someone must have deemed it unfair for shows that tell their stories in 15 minutes to compete with half-hour shows. Who really knows, right?