Epic Em­mys feud: Bette And Joan or Big Lit­tle Lies?

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Tv - By GLENN WHIPP

IN each of the last two years, a stand­out lim­ited se­ries — HBO’s Olive Kit­teridge in 2015, The Peo­ple V. O.J. Simp­son: Amer­i­can Crime Story last Septem­ber – have steam­rolled through that cat­e­gory’s top prizes.

That’s not go­ing to hap­pen this year as the two most cel­e­brated lim­ited se­ries – FX’s Feud: Bette And Joan and HBO’s Big Lit­tle Lies (pic) – are pow­ered by women. Nei­ther has a lead ac­tor in the run­ning, though both of­fer plenty of choices in the sup­port­ing cat­e­gories. (I’d sug­gest Al­fred Molina’s sharp por­trayal of be­lea­guered di­rec­tor Robert Aldrich in Feud and Alexan­der Skars­gard’s richly nu­anced work as the abu­sive hus­band on Big Lit­tle Lies.)

But even if there’s no sweep, you have to won­der if voters will spread the love be­tween the two cel­e­brated shows or co­a­lesce be­hind one when Em­mys are handed out in Septem­ber. Here’s an early look at the cat­e­gories.

Lim­ited Se­ries

Big Lit­tle Lies

Feud: Bette And Joan

The Night Of

Fargo

Ge­nius

Prime con­tenders: Amer­i­can Crime, The Young Pope, Shots Fired, Gil­more Girls: A Year In The Life

Anal­y­sis: Big Lit­tle Lies, Feud and The Night Of are the big play­ers in th­ese cat­e­gories this year, with Fargo in play too for a sea­son that hasn’t quite mea­sured up to its pre­de­ces­sors. For the fi­nal spot, ABC’s re­cently can­celed Amer­i­can Crime could well make the cut. John Ri­d­ley’s crime drama an­thol­ogy earned nom­i­na­tions for its first two sea­sons, and its third won plenty of crit­i­cal ac­claim. But rat­ings for the show cratered in its Sun­day night time slot, so aware­ness of its re­cent run of im­pas­sioned, am­bi­tious episodes may have di­min­ished among voters too.

Whereas, thanks to a huge pro­mo­tional push, Na­tional Ge­o­graphic’s first scripted se­ries, Ge­nius, is ev­ery­where. You don’t have to be Al­bert Ein­stein to know that the for­mula ($) x($$2) = awards recog­ni­tion, though it’s worth not­ing that Emmy voters also like to stick to math they know, giv­ing Amer­i­can Crime the edge.

Bot­tom line: It’s a coin flip as to which of the two shows snags the fi­nal slot.

Lead Ac­tress, Lim­ited Se­ries Or Movie

Ni­cole Kid­man, Big Lit­tle Lies Jes­sica Lange, Feud: Bette And Joan Reese Wither­spoon, Big Lit­tle Lies

Su­san Saran­don, Feud: Bette And Joan

Oprah Win­frey, The Im­mor­tal Life Of Hen­ri­etta Lacks

Car­rie Coon, Fargo

Prime con­tenders: Felic­ity Huff­man, Amer­i­can Crime; Bryce Dal­las Howard, Black Mir­ror; Sanaa Lathan, Shots Fired; An­drea Rise­bor­ough, Agatha Christie’s The Wit­ness For The Pros­e­cu­tion; Lau­ren Gra­ham, Gil­more Girls: A Year In The Life

Anal­y­sis: The de­bate be­tween the Big Lit­tle Lies camp and the Feud fam­ily will con­tinue all the way to the Em­mys. Which is the wor­thier show? And, within each se­ries, which of its leads most mer­its recog­ni­tion? (Con­tin­u­ing with our arith­metic theme, I’d of­fer: Saran­don < Wither­spoon < Lange < Kid­man.) All four women will be nom­i­nated.

The three like­li­est con­tenders for the re­main­ing two slots are Huff­man (pre­vi­ous Emmy win­ner, four-time nom­i­nee, twice lauded for Amer­i­can Crime), Coon (boosted here by her bril­liant work in The Left­overs) and Win­frey (who is Oprah). Win­frey gave a gut-wrench­ing turn in Hen­ri­etta Lacks ,but Emmy voters have over­looked big names in the past. (An­thony Hop­kins and Ian McKellen were con­sid­ered shoo-ins last year for The Dresser.) This is go­ing to be close.

Lead Ac­tor, Lim­ited Se­ries Or Movie

Riz Ahmed, The Night Of John Tur­turro, The Night Of Ge­of­frey Rush, Ge­nius Ewan McGre­gor, Fargo Robert De Niro, The Wizard Of Lies Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch, Sher­lock: The Ly­ing De­tec­tive Prime con­tenders: Jude Law, The Young Pope; Toby Jones, Agatha Christie’s The Wit­ness For The Pros­e­cu­tion; Michael Gam­bon, Churchill’s Se­cret; Ricky Ger­vais, David Brent: Life On The Road; Ti­mothy Hut­ton, Amer­i­can Crime

Anal­y­sis: The Night Of, though im­per­fect, of­fered a pierc­ing look at the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem with stand­out work from Ahmed and Tur­turro. One of them should win this Emmy, but it’s easy to imag­ine them split­ting the vote the same way Billy Bob Thorn­ton and Martin Free­man did two years ago for the first sea­son of Fargo.

McGre­gor’s dou­ble-duty turn play­ing bat­tling brothers on Fargo will prove ir­re­sistible to his peers, as will De Niro’s cast­ing as Bernie Mad­off in Wiz­ards. The fi­nal spot will likely go to Cum­ber­batch, nom­i­nated four pre­vi­ous times (with one win) for Sher­lock.

Pos­si­ble spoiler: Gam­bon, tow­er­ing as an­other leg­endary English­man. – Los An­ge­les Times/Tri­bune News Ser­vice

Photo: HBO

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