This year's Emmy nominations just came out, and it's a great day if you're into Game of Thrones (or just about anything on HBO) but maybe a little less exciting if you're a fan of the line-up on Showtime or Cinemax, or especially if you work in network television. Read our full coverage of the Emmy nominations here. The Television Academy does a good job of recognizing a lot of really fine work, but we always see blind spots in their picks. Here are some nominations we were hoping we'd see today, but didn't.
Penny Dreadful star Eva Green
This was always a longshot, as Showtime's period potboiler never had the kind of pedigree that Emmy voters look for. But nobody in the cheerfully lurid American Horror Story has a leg up on Eva Green's utterly committed, frighteningly physical performance as the mysterious Vanessa Ives, a clairvoyant vampire hunter with a bit of the devil inside her. Perhaps because she isn't fussy or apologetic about specializing in genre titles, Green (who made her screen debut in a Bertolucci film, for crying out loud) has yet to earn recognition from either the motion picture or the television academy — though one day, with the right role, it may yet come.
Game of Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik
It might seem like a quibble to complain that this program didn't get enough nominations this year. But the episode "Hardhome" culminated with an army of reanimated wights descended on a woefully ill-equipped fishing village in a nightmarish brawl that was more than a visual effects triumph. The episode's explosive final third was not just impeccably conceived, but immaculately directed—a high point not just for this season, but for the entire series. Director Miguel Sapochnik's work orchestrating the chaos on set deserved a nod.
Everyone on Justifed
We know Emmy voters get FX in their cable package, as they reliably shower American Horror Story and Louie with plaudits year after year. So what's with the lack of love for Justified, one of the most reliably intelligent shows in terms of both craft and content? Sure, Season 5 was a little shaky. But it came back in a big way this year. Still, with the exception of a single 2014 nomination for art direction, Justified hasn't gotten a single Emmy nod since Jeremy Davies won for Outstanding Guest Actor in 2012. Direction, script, cinematography, editing, not to mention a fantastic turn by a villainous Sam Elliott — this shows final season earned a boatload of Emmys that it won't receive.
Steven Soderbergh, et al, on The Knick
True, The Knick did receive an Emmy nomination for Steven Soderbergh's direction of this 10-episode Cinemax series about a troubled hospital in lower Manhattan in the early 1900s, as well as plaudits for art direction, make-up and hairstyling. And yet it also deserved nominations for Soderbergh's fantastically atmospheric cinematography and editorial work. The man's status as a triple threat may have made voters reluctant to give him shout-outs in multiple categories. Who else should have been named? Star Clive Owen's portrayal of the heroin-addicted Dr. John W. Thackery is a performance for the ages. André Holland was equally fine as Dr. Algernon Edwards, struggling with the ever-present but largely unspoken racism underlying his every interaction with colleagues. And the thrumming, electronic score by Cliff Martinez is a bold, atypical move for a period piece. That far from obvious but entirely successful creative choice deserves a trophy of its own.
The Same Old Same Old
You could make a case that any one of a number of critically admired titles — FX's The Americans, CBS's The Good Wife, Showtime's Masters of Sex or The Affair — deserve a shot at the award for Outstanding Drama. Clearly, Emmy voters just aren't that into those programs, which is OK. The problem is, Emmy voters are into the same programs, year after year, which must be as dull for awards-show viewers as it is discouraging for hot new shows eager for recognition and encouragement. At The Film Experience, blogger Nathaniel R breaks down how resistant to change Emmy voters really are — of the seven titles nominated for Outstanding Drama this year, only one, Better Call Saul, is a newcomer, and even that is a Breaking Bad spin-off. We get it; we love Mad Men, too. But the Emmys go stale when they honor exactly the same programs every time out. An inability to make room for exciting new work? That's the biggest oversight of all.
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