The 2009 Emmy Nominations were announced two days ago. Because of other commitments, I haven't gotten a chance to really think about and comment on them until now.
The Emmys have traditionally suffered in comparison to the Oscars. They're not taken as seriously (which is interesting when you consider the quality of some of the films and performances that have been honored at recent Academy Award ceremonies). A lot of this, of course, is because movies have one chance to be named Best Picture. Actors have one chance to win an Oscar for a particular performance in particular film. When L.A. Confidential lost to Titanic, it didn't get a chance to win the top award the next year. Time (and film) moved on. Whereas, with the Emmies, it sometimes seems that everyone gets another chance. If a tv series loses an Emmy to another show, it only has to wait until the next television season. Chances are that the series that previously bested it won't even be on the air anymore. As such, the Emmys have gotten a reputation for, more or less, being the same thing year after year.
This really isn't quite fair because, in recent years, the Emmys have broken out of the trap of automatically nominating the same shows and actors year after year. Yes, it is true that -- until these latest nominations -- James Spader seemed to have a bizarre lock on the Best Actor in a Drama trophy. But, on the whole, the Emmys have shown a willingness to nominate outside of the usual suspects in recent years. As much as I hate to use the term, the Emmy voters have been willing to nominate outside the box.
(Though, it should be noted, that often times these off-beat selections simply have to be content with a nomination. As much as I hate to seem critical of James Spader -- who is an excellent actor -- his winning streak serves as proof of this.)
Here's a few thoughts as I look over the major nominees.
Best Series (Drama)
This year sees seven shows nominated for best drama. Those nominees are Big Love, Breaking Bad, Damages, Dexter, House, Lost, and Mad Men. There's not a single nominee that I can really find fault with though, out of this group, the only shows that I watch on regular basis are Dexter, House, and Lost. Of those three, I'd probably give the Emmy to Lost. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has read this blog in the past. However, I can also easily understand why this previous season of Lost-- with all the time jumps and talk about free will and destiny --will probably annoy just as many viewers as it excites. So, what do I think is going to win? Hmm...let's say Big Lovebecause it gives Emmy voters a chance to feel like they've been exposed to dark underworld of religion. Which TV drama do I wish had been nominated? 24, if just because it pisses off liberals.
Best Comedy (Series)
Again, we have seven nominees. And those nominees are 30 Rock, Entourage, Family Guy, Flight of the Conchords, How I Met Your Mother, The Office, and Weeds. Out of this list, I am most excited to see that nomination for Flight of the Conchords. I would say that this nomination shows that the Emmy voters have finally become a truly cool group of people except for the fact that it is nominated alongside Family Guy. Family Guy is the epitome of a show that gets by on pretending to be funny as opposed to actually being funny. It's a show that essentially has taken every successful element of the Simpsons, King of the Hill, and South Park and has then proceeded to strip those elements of everything that made them interesting in the first place. It's dumb humor that not only pretends to be smart but, even worse, actually believes itself to be smart. But enough of that. Out of these shows, who would I give the Emmy too? Well, again, the answer is obvious to anyone who has read this blog in the past. I'm a huge Office fan and that's the show I would go with. That said, I suspect that the actual award will actually go to 30 Rock if just because Emmy voters can watch it and say, "Hey, that's me!"
Best Actor (Drama)
I'm a bit disappointed to see that Keifer Sutherland didn't receive a nomination as he actually did some of his best work on the latest season of 24. However, even more distressing is the fact that Bill Pullman's name appears nowhere on this list. As the befuddled, likable, and kinda creepy head of Big Love'sfamily, Pullman is really the key to that show's success. Unfortunately, for Pullman, his performance largely consists of providing a center for all the more far more flamboyant characters to orbit. Like almost all good television performances, it's the type of work that frequently get overshadowed and ignored.
As for the actual nominees, they are:
Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall for Dexter
Hugh Laurie for House
Gabriel Byrne for In Treatment
Jon Hamm for Mad Men
Simon Baker for The Mentalist
Honestly, I have yet to actually make it through an entire episode of The Mentalist but I would take away Baker's nomination and give it to either Sutherland or especially Pullman if just on the basis of how much Baker's character annoyed me in the commercials leading up to The Mentalist's debut episode. ("You love India but you've never been...Psychic? No, just observant." SHUT UP!)
As for the winner, there's no question in mind. Give it to Hugh Laurie or explain why not.
Best Actor (Comedy)
Our nominees are:
Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock
Tony Shalhoub for Monk
Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory
Steve Carrell for The Office
Charlie Sheen for Two and A Half Men
Jermaine Clement for Flight of the Conchords
Carrell's going to have to win the award at some point, just so Emmy observers can take bets on how many times he mentions Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert in his acceptance speech. (Seriously, these three are into each other to an almost creepy degree.) And, he certainly gave a good performance this season. He fell in love, quit his job, tried to start a new company, fought with his boss. There was a lot of pathos in his comedy and that plays well with voters everywhere. So, maybe this will be his year though I have a feeling that Baldwin will end up winning again. Just a feeling.
As for me, I'd give the award to Jermaine Clement just because I want to hear his acceptance speech.
Best Actress (Drama)
This is actually a bit close to a usual suspects list. Not many surprises to be found and, to be honest, it's a bit of a dull list. Our nominees:
Sally Field in Brothers & Sisters
Glenn Close in Damages
Mariska Hargitay for Law and Order: SVU
Holly Hunter in Saving Grace
Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer
Elisabeth Moss in Mad Men
And the winner is .... oh, how about Holly Hunter?
Myself, I'd give the award to Kyra Sedgwick for ably proving herself to be the American version of Helen Mirren.
Best Actress (Comedy)
Tina Fey for 30 Rock
Christina Applegate for Samantha Who?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus for The New Adventures of Old Christine
Sarah Silverman for The Sarah Silverman Program
Mary-Louise Parker for Weeds
Toni Collette for The United States of Tara
Personally, I hope Collette wins if just because it will cause a lot of people to say, "What show is she on?" at the same time. Indeed, it speaks well for the Emmys that this category is almost equally divided between actresses on "traditional" sitcoms (Applegate and Louis-Dreyfus) and those on more quirky (and more unconventional) shows. While I think either Parker or Silverman deserves the award, I imagine that the winner will be Fey as she is the only actress on the list to appear on a show that is both traditional and quirky.
And now, let's move on to the supporting nominees. This is where things get fun since the supporting actors are usually the main reason why we choose to watch one show over another.
Best Supporting Actor (Drama)
William Shatner for Boston Legal
Christian Clemenson for Boston Legal
Aaron Paul for Breaking Bad
Michael Emerson for Lost
John Slattery for Mad Men
William Hurt for Damages
Out of this list, I'd probably go with either Emerson or Slattery. If I really had to choose, it would be Emerson is just because I've only occasionally caught Mad Men whereas I saw every episode of Lost last season.
Speaking of Lost, it's a bit of disappointment (though not a shock) to see that it only scored one acting nomination. If anyone from the show deserved a nomination this season, it was Josh Holloway whose criminally underrated performance as Sawyer really proved to the heart and soul of the show.
Speaking of criminally underrated, Carlos Bernard has never gotten the credit he deserves for his performance as Tony Almeida on 24. If he deserved a nomination for any season, it was this one.
Who will win? Shatner for being Bill Shatner? Let's hope not. I'm going to flip a coin and go with John Slattery.
Best Supporting Actress (Drama)
Rose Byrne for Damages
Hope Davis for In Treatment
Chandra Wilson for Grey's Anatomy
Sandra Oh for Grey's Anatomy
Dianne Weist for In Treatment
Cherry Jones for 24
Honestly, as much as I enjoyed 24 this season, I never really bought Cherry Jones as the president of the United States. Indeed, I felt she was perhaps the weakest President since Wayne Palmer.
None of these nominees really inspire me, to be honest. Indeed, the Grey's Anatomy nominees seem to be the equivalent of the Boston Legal nominees. But a winner must be selected! So, the Emmy goes to ... Elizabeth Mitchell for Lost. How good was her performance? So good that she doesn't even need a nomination to take the award.
Best Supporting Actor (Comedy)
Kevin Dillon for Entourage
Tracy Morgan for 30 Rock
Neil Patrick Harris for How I Met Your Mother
Rainn Wilson for The Office
Jon Cryer for Two And A Half Men
Jack MacBryar for 30 Rock
Let me make one thing clear. Rainn Wilson is a genius. Every week, he manages to make Dwight Shrute not only insane but oddly poignant as well. However, at times, so much praise is given to Wilson that equally deserving performances are overlooked. Case in point: John Krasinski and especially Ed Helms. I could easily give the award to any three of these performers.
I have a feeling Neil Patrick Harris might win this year. Why? Everyone seems to love Neil Patrick Harris and, quite frankly, he deserves an Emmy for managing to overcome being typecast as Doogie Howser, M.D.
(Remember that episode where Doogie first had sex? *Shudder*)
Best Supporting Actress (Comedy)
Our nominees are:
Kristin Chenoweth for Pushing Daisies
Kristen Wiig for Saturday Night Live
Amy Poelher for Saturday Night Live
Jane Krakowski for 30 Rock
Vanessa Williams for Ugly Betty
Elizabeth Perkins for Weeds
And the winner is ... Mindy Kalling for The Office! For the exact same reason that Elizabeth Mitchell won Best Supporting Actress (Drama).