Tuesday, September 8, 2015

2015 Emmy Nominations: Limited Series/Movie, Acting

And so we come to the end of our Emmy preview. I had originally planned one more installment, but I decided that my reasoning for that piece could be covered in a different article that I'm working on. So without further ado, the acting nominees for Best Limited Series/Movie.


Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Queen Latifah, Bessie
Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman
Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
Emma Thompson, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Live from Lincoln Center)


Overview: What a fascinating category: every one of these women is an Academy Award nominee, with a total of 18 nominations and 5 wins between them. This will likely be the last time that we see Lange in this category for American Horror Story for a while, since she's sitting out this next season. However, Huffman will be coming back for another round of American Crime, so keep an eye out for her.

Biggest surprise: I don't think Thompson was on too many people's radar for this category, given that it was a concert with the New York Philharmonic that was filmed and broadcast as part of PBS' Live from Lincoln Center series. And yet the idea of Thompson as Mrs. Lovett is exciting, so I'm curious to seek this out (Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel played Todd).

Most notable exclusion: Grace of Monaco managed to be named one of the best television films of the year, and yet Nicole Kidman failed to earn a nomination? Forget whether or not she was any good, her name alone would normally be enough for Emmy voters to make her the frontrunner to win.

Who's likely to win? This one is shaping up to be Latifah versus McDormand, and really either one of them could make a strong case for themselves. I suspect this will be neck-and-neck all the way up until the envelope is opened, but I'm going to give the slight advantage to Latifah.

But watch out for... Gyllenhaal. She's received raves for this performance, and if voters are looking for a swell alternative, they could easily go for her.

Lead Actor and the supporting categories after the jump.


Timothy Hutton, American Crime
Ricky Gervais, Derek Special
Adrien Brody, Houdini
David Oyelowo, Nightingale
Richard Jenkins, Olive Kitteridge
Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall


Overview: This is a hell of a category, isn't it? Hutton, Oyelowo, Jenkins, and Rylance all gave acclaimed performances, while Gervais continues to prove his sway with the Academy and Brody overcame his film's poor reception to pull out a nomination. These are all talented actors, so it makes for a strong category.

Biggest surprise: It shouldn't be a surprise, but the voters really like Gervais and they've nominated Derek a couple of times. Yet it's still odd that he was nominated for Derek Special here.

Most notable exclusion: In the past, Kiefer Sutherland was able to pull of a nomination in this category for playing his famous Jack Bauer in the television film 24: Redemption (2009). However, his revival of the character for the miniseries 24: Live Another Day failed to earn him another nod for his performance. Given that the show missed out in every major category, the Academy maybe just doesn't care for 24 anymore.

Who's likely to win? As I stated above, this is a very competitive category this year. But Oyelowo has a significant advantage: his film is essentially a one-man show, with Oyelowo onscreen the entire time. That he's able to hold the camera for 90 minutes and make it absolutely riveting should be enough to land him the win here.

But watch out for... Jenkins and Rylance. They're Oyelowo's closest competition, and either one of them could convert their nuanced, layered performances as a patient husband and Thomas Cromwell, respectively, into a win.


Regina King, American Crime
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Angela Bassett, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Mo'Nique, Bessie
Zoe Kazan, Olive Kitteridge


Overview: Naturally, there's a trio of women from Freak Show on the list. Even if you think that American Horror Story is a baffling, frustrating show that careens from being terrifying to terrifyingly stupid within a single scene, it creates fascinating roles for its actresses. Apart from that, King is finally an Emmy nominee after a small-but-vocal contingent stumped for her work on TNT's cop show Southland for years.

Biggest surprise: Kazan wasn't mentioned in too many of the reviews for Olive Kitteridge, so it's a pleasant surprise to see her show up here.

Most notable exclusion: Every review for Wolf Hall singled out Claire Foy's performance as Anne Boylen as being among the year's best. So how is it that she managed to miss out on a nomination here?

Who's likely to win? It's beginning to look like Paulson might finally claim this prize for her performance on Freak Show. She's consistently been one of the show's best elements, so it will be a well-deserved win if it happens.

But watch out for... Mo'Nique. Ever since she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2009, she's been relatively quiet (though apparently not by choice). Performing again may be enough for the Academy to feel like honoring her here.


Richard Cabral, American Crime
Denis O'Hare, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Finn Wittrock, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Michael Kenneth Williams, Bessie
Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
Damian Lewis, Wolf Hall


Overview: Let's take a quick moment, before we begin, to recognize that Michael Kenneth Williams has finally received an Emmy nomination. He's been terrific in everything he's done, but he created two indelible characters for HBO with Omar Little in The Wire and Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire. As for the rest of the category, O'Hare is in the mix again for the first time since 2012 (the first season of AHS), Murray and Lewis make notable television appearances, and Cabral, perhaps best known for his roles in A Better Life (2011) and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014).

Biggest surprise: Wittrock received some of the show's best notices for his performance in Freak Show, yet there was uncertainty as to whether the Academy would take a liking to his work. They did, obviously.

Most notable exclusion: For as much of a deal that NBC made about it, you would think that Christopher Walken would have been able to talk-sing his way through Peter Pan Live! and onto this shortlist on name alone. That wasn't the case, and the Emmys continue to not care that much about NBC's live shows.

Who's likely to win? The general consensus agrees that this is Murray's to lose. This performance is more in line with Lost in Translation and Broken Flowers, so it's further proof of his incredible emotional range.

But watch out for... Lewis. He's playing King Henry VIII, and the reviews of Wolf Hall have noted the greatness of his performance. He could be a threat for the win.

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