Monday, July 30, 2018

MOVIE REVIEWS #151: "STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI", "THE FLORIDA PROJECT", "THE BREADWINNER", "THE INSULT", "MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND", "HUMAN FLOW", "THE DEVIL'S CANDY", "KICKS", and "GLASSLAND"!

Huh. In a particularly unique instance, I've suddenly found myself, finishing my Movie Reviews blogpost, well, relatively on schedule. (Shrugs) Not sure how that oddity happened but I'm glad it did. Give me more free time to work on my screenplay. Or, sleep. One of those two, I haven't decided yet.

(15 HOURS LATER)

Well, I slept longer than I intended there.

Alright, so much for being on time, but I'm still posting this, relatively on schedule. I've been a lot of older films lately, or at least films that are too old for me to consider spending the time writing reviews of them, anymore. So that's why I'm somewhat close to on-time despite my apparent,- well, based on how long I was asleep, coma, apparently. For instance, I'm finally gotten to the "Ip Man" series. I've seen the first of them, although it sure feels like I started it years ago. This is a series of martial arts movies from Director Wilson Yip that are based on Master Yip, the legendary Wing Chun master who taught Bruce Lee. I'm not sure why, other than that fact,- well, I guess he's a major figure in the martial arts world, but there was a run of movies about this guy. "Ip Man" was the first and now they're making a fourth in this series, which is one of two series of movies called "Ip Man", and there was also the best movie about the guy, Wong Kar-Wai's "The Grandmaster" a few years back, a movie that I really like and considering how I tend to not like Wong Kar-Wai's film, that's saying something. Mostly, these are movies that are basically excuses to make martial arts movies. (Shrugs) I guess if it's your thing, you'll be interested in them, (Oh, there's also a TV show about him too now.) I think "The Grandmaster" is the one to watch honestly. but at least these aren't terrible or anything. I just don't see the real appeal honestly.

What else? I got around to "Beneath the Harvest Sky". It's a decent coming-of-age story, a la a "Angels with Dirty Faces" kind of dynamic, I guess with the main teenagers. I also got around to "Cheap Thrills" another minor film; this one was basically that episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", "Man from the South", you know the one with Steve McQueen and Peter Lorre and they're betting on whether or not one of them can a lighter to work ten times straight, only taken to a stupid, ridiculous extreme. Did you know that Hitchcock episode was based on a Roald Dahl story, btw?! He was more twisted than anyone realized, wasn't he?

On the more fun side, I watched "Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant, Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon". That was fairly light for a documentary. I also watched "Blind" a character study from the Norweigan screenwriter Eskil Vogt; he's the guy who wrote "Oslo, August 31", "Reprise", most recently "Thelma" among other films. This was his directorial debut, eh, I mean I admire the ambition, but trying to convince blindness in a visual medium is really tough; I'm not sure it worked here.

I was also underwhelmed with two much-older films, Sydney Pollack's sprawling epic "Jeremiah Johnson" starring Robert Redford as the titular mountain man. (Shrugs) I guess that was in an American myth sort of way, but it was way too long. I also finally got around to "Chariots of Fire'. I'm honestly a bit confused as to what to make of "Chariots of Fire". I'll say, it's a very British sports movie; I literally can't imagine an American sports narrative like this, and we invented the sports narrative. It's kinda hard for me to believe that won the Best Picture Oscar over- (Checks Oscars) HOLY CHRIST! How the hell did it win over those films? It beat "Raiders of the Lost Ark", it beat "Atlantic City", it beat "Reds"! It beat "On Gold-, okay, that one's kind of an iffy nominee, but still! Really Academy? This was Best Picture good in that year? (Shrugs) I don't know, maybe I'm just looking after seeing thousands of parodies but it feels kinda, oh-kay? Wow, the Christian so nice to the Jew, he let him run in his race instead of him, after he ran earlier? Like I-, Okay, Britian, you need to get better at sports so you can have better sports movies. No wonder your biggest Olympic star after Abrahams & Liddell was Eddie the Eagle. (Okay, fine, Tom Daley. I know you have a great sporting trdition. Don't write me letters, it's just a joke. Go Team GB!)

Alright, before I get myself in any more trouble, let's get to the reviews. Let's start with


STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (2017) Director: Rian Johnson


★★★1/2


Image result for Star Wars: The last Jedi


Despite my more typical ambivalence towards the "Star Wars" franchise, there are actually a lot of parts about "Star Wars" that I like and a lot of them were in this movie. The conflict with characters like how Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) are constantly at odds with their own beliefs and religion and whether or not they're making the right decision, whichever that decision actually is. I love these conflicts, both figuratively and literally in "The Last Jedi"; to me it's what really makes the franchise and these movies, the idea that these characters are actually struggling to find their true selves, whether that means they're good or evil.

When the movie's not as interesting, is when you get to, in some cases, the literal nuts and bolts of the battle. As we're constantly switching between multiple different people and places, (And BTW, the editing of the movie is very questionable to me. I mean, I get some of the-eh, my editing lingo is a bit fuzzy, but those diagonal swipes, the Kurosawa-type ones, they kept using. Uh, I-, I think those were questionable in this film in particular) and, there's a lot going on, but there are definitely parts that more interesting. The main storyline involving Finn (John Boyega) basically involves him and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) having to sneak onto a Dark Side's ship that's in the middle of an attack on the First Order, that's being circumnavigated by Poe (Oscar Isaac) and commanded by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and basically sneak onto the ship and circumvent the system so that their to follow or track the First Order through the tracking device...- honestly, this-, I hate to use the terms "technobabble" or "Mumbojumbo", but you know, they're doing the technobabble stuff, although they do get help from an interesting rouge character named DJ (Benicio Del Toro, and boy, it's nice to see him in a good role again. Is it just me or does he not show up in enough films?)

The really interesting conflict is between Kylo Ren and Snoke (Andy Serkis) his-eh, eh, I guess the current "leader" of the Empire, I think? (You know, for something that's as simple as the light and dark, I genuinely have a lot of trouble following the politics of "Star Wars". I oughta rewatch that Lindsay Ellis video on it.) They're basically having this, bizarre relationship/disagreement about Kylo's role in the First Order that's part father/son part-mentor/mentee and meanwhile through some kind of weird Jedi magic, Ren is also trying to guide Kylo to the Force, while she is also on the other side of the Universe seeking out Luke who's supposedly "Last Jedi" and the Guardian of the Ancient Jedi texts and she's seeking his counsel and trying to get him involved in war, while he's also having a crisis of faith, not only over his past with Kylo Ren, but also over whether the Jedi, which he somewhat accurately identifies as a failed and dying art/practice/religion/whatever-the-hell-it-is, and whether or not it is. There's a little too much of all this, and the parts are better than the whole, but overall I actually enjoyed how these inner conflicts were all examined with different character and different angles and perspectives and how that leads into what happens with the climactic battle scenes.

The stuff that doesn't work for me, there's a Frank Oz which, makes sense in the story I guess but, I don't know what happened to his Yoda but it's sounding more like his Fozzy Bear than it's ever had. Laura Dern's character I think is confusing and pointless, except for one scene that writes her out of the movie basically. Personally, I've never been in love with "Star Wars" the way others have. I've appreciated them more than I liked them, still and not convinced that despite their popularity they actually have real relevance in pop culture; (Literally, everything you can point to about and with this franchise, somebody else, did first and usually better and except for the fact that "Star Wars" is popular, I really don't see why it's important.) however I never really thought there was much bad or harmful about the franchise, until recently when I saw that "Rogue One..." film, oh, and-eh, I'm finally watching the prequels, and yeah, I didn't write a review of it, "...Attack of the Clones" sucks. ("The Phantom Menace" is still okay and gets way too much crap. Haven't seen the third one yet.) I mean, I know there are some people who have recently taken umbrage with the fanbase, but like all fans and fanbases, they're utter garbage and always have been, so that's nothing new to me, and frankly, I don't give a shit about whatever-the-hell their issues are.

As to where that leads "The Last Jedi", it's the movie I probably like the most of this new group of "Star Wars" films, although "The Force Awakens" is probably technically a little better.


THE FLORIDA PROJECT (2017) Director: Sean Baker


★★★★★




So, some of you may have noticed that occasionally when I'm watching something nowadays I try to tweet out an occasional non-sequitur related to whatever I'm watching. (My Twitter is @DavidBaruffi_EV which btw, you should be following already.) Anyway, as I was watching "The Florida Project" I took a second to pause and make this observation on Twitter:

30 Minutes into "THE FLORIDA PROJECT" and I've come to one realization: KIDS who GO OUTSIDE to play all day are ASSHOLES! Seriously, kids need to stay inside and watch TV, MOVIES and play VIDEO GAMES, you'll be nicer, you might learn something and they won't be bothering others. 

So, I got some shit from that from some friends. One FB friend of mine, one who btw generally who thinks he understands what comedy is but is often sorely mistaken, responded with, "This is the worst piece of film analysis I have ever read in my entire life, congrats!" 

Well, first of all, I don't think too highly of people who think true film analysis can be accomplished in a paragraph. ([sigh] My own early work included)  Secondly, I clearly said I was only thirty minutes into the movie, so I hadn't made up my mind yet as to my thoughts and opinions on the film at the time of the tweet. Thirdly,- well, to those who have seen the movie, am I that wrong here? Maybe not with the movie in its entirety, but in general and from my experiences, this is accurate. The kids who played outside in my day, and this wasn't like back in the '30s or something when it was either go outside or do nothing, this was the '80s & '90s, when even for the poorest kids there were plenty of legitimate indoor options, it was always the ones who were always playing outside that made me the most nervous and got me in the most trouble, often by making me do things that, not only would I not think of doing, but I wouldn't even know that they were bad enough things to do that would get me in trouble, until after I was talked into doing them, usually by the outdoor kid, who was frankly, usually an asshole. And keep in mind, I grew up in Vegas, you didn't go outside to play too much, because it was too fucking hot out, so the ones who did, yeah, their might've been something wrong with them, even outside the fact that they probably didn't have the best of parents either.


The main character in this film, Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) is one of those outdoor kids, and one of the first things we see her convince her friends to do is to go across the way to a nearby monthly condo rental place and spit on one of the resident's car. Why?

(Shrugs)

They're asshole outdoor kids, they come up with stupid things to do I guess. I seriously don't know, and these kids do a few things that I genuinely don't know why exactly they did them, other then they're kinda assholes. I mean, even after they're told to clean it up from the car's owner, they act like it's not even a punishment or anything; it's just the next game they're playing. I guess that's very childlike and I'm supposed to be inspired or enchanted by this and to be fair if I was living in some run-down monthly motels, even with cable TV, I'd probably be seeking out other things to do. "The Florida Project", named after the early codename that Walt Disney gave to the project that would inevitably become DisneyWorld, takes place in Kissimmee, Florida, and begins with the song "Celebration" by Kool & the Gang, which is a much more subtle reference than people might realize, since Celebration, Florida, is the name of the famous master-plan community/town that was created by Walt Disney and the Disney Corporation and is often the home of a lot of DisneyWorld employees and is technically apart of the greater Orlando-Kissimmee area, but this movie takes place more in the run-down area of Kissimmee that is right down the road from Disney World and you may have heard of the town from those old commercials from about fifteen years ago as it promoted itself as being centered around every Central Florida tourist attractions. I've never been to Disney World but I'm told by those who have that this area is a strange, decrepit tourist trap area and it looks like it.

Moonee's mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) is difficult to explain. She's young, immature, impulsive and depending on the situation is either a hustler who whores or a whore that hustles. And yeah, she often lets Moonee basically run around the area which is populated by, what I'm told are symbolically some decrepit areas that all seem to mimic famous places in the Magic Kingdom, including Moonee's motel which is called the Magic Castle. It actually exists and is shot on location and mostly with unknown or lesser-known actors in most of the roles, many of whom are actually people who live in the area. This is very similar to Writer/Director Sean Baker's previous film, "Tangerine". That movie was also about a friendship between two young people, in that case, two transgendered sex workers. Here, it's mainly a friendship between Moonee and Jancey (Valeria Cotto) a young friend who lives at a different motel across the way. Moonee began with a third close friend, Scotty (Christopher Rivera) but after Moonee's playing got way-the-fuck out-of-hand one day, his grandmother Stacy (Josie Olivo) made sure he didn't play with her anymore, but Moonee and Jancey become and remain fast friends.

Trying to describe the film's plot is difficult 'cause there's really a subtle story that's happening at the edge's of the screen, very similar in some ways to one of my favorite movie's in recent years, Scott McGehee & David Seigel's "What Maisie Knew" which shows a movie that's mainly shown from the perspective of the titular little girl while the grownup drama, she's only vaguely aware of. There are some great sequences highlighting that in the movie like when Moonee helps her mother with, what she thinks is an innocuous bikini selfie, while she's actually putting a hooker ad on Craigslist. It's not entirely that insular though, Willem Dafoe earned an Oscar nomination as the motel's landlord and he's an interesting character as well. Oddly though, the slice-of-life film that "The Florida Project" mostly reminds me of is Terrence Malick's "Days of Heaven", a movie that's also about a young Girl's changing world and how she kinda sees it changing at the parameters, but only somewhat understands everything that's happening and it's completely out of her control.

The final scene, which has been heavily debated on, reminds me of this the most, it essentially ends the same way "Days of Heaven" did, with two young friends running off to the world that they're forever gonna know and remember. I personally loved it, and even though other symbolism probably went over my head, I love how much it represents the end of one world for Moonee and essentially the beginning of another. The more I think about "The Florida Project", the more I reflect on a lot of how brilliant it is. As somebody who's only got limited theme park experience, I didn't quite get a lot of the symbolic representations of rides that flew over my head. but I suspect the deeper I look into the film, the more I'd appreciate it. With his recent collection of films, I think it's very fair to rank Sean Baker among the best directors working today. It's not just that he's good at slice-of-life films, and is absolutely great at capturing these realistic, complex and interesting friendships, but his fascination with those who live on the outskirts, essentially places literally and figurate that we generally think of as being fairly glamorous is fascinating. He's able to spot an interesting film subject before others can, and he finds new and interesting ways to show the lives of those characters. He's quickly becoming one of those filmmakers who I can't wait to see what new project they come up with next and "The Florida Project" might be his very best yet.


THE BREADWINNER (2017) Director: Nora Twomey

★★★★1/2


Image result for The Breadwinner


So, there was a movie that came out about fifteen years ago called "Osama"; I believe it was the first Afghani movie to be made after the fall of the Taliban, the first I was aware of anyway. For the first story to tell from that country, they told a tale of a young girl in a family who has lost all the male members to death or war over the years, so she has to go out disguised as a boy in order for the family to survive Taliban-controlled Kabul. I happen to rewatch it not that long ago, it still holds up pretty well. It's an interesting choice for a first story to tell from the land, interesting, simple, predictable, and probably inevitable. I'm not surprised that it's not the only telling of it, in fact,I wouldn't be surprised if every other film that takes place in Afghanistan, especially ones taking place in the Taliban-controlled era, will have some mention, if not be based around this story.

"The Breadwinner" is a new telling of that narrative. A better one in my mind, although it is a western one, so that might annoy some but I don't have an issue with it. It's based off of a Canadian children's novel by Deborah Ellis, who wrote the screenplay, and it seems natural to me that it would be. The main character is Pavana (Saara Chaudrey) a young daughter of a poor family who's patriarch Nurullah (Ali Badshah) a former professor who lost his legs in the Soviet war, have a small blanket of stuff they're trying to sell in order to buy food. He teaches Pavana to be the storyteller in the family, or tries to, but after he's turned into the Taliban by a disgruntled former student of his, Idress (Noorim Gulamgaus) Pavana has to take over the stand at the market, disguised as a boy. She does struggle when she can to figure out a way to get her father out of prison, especially with help from Shauzia (Soma Chhaya) a former classmate of her's whose also disguised as a boy to help go out and feed her family. In the meantime, her mother Fattema (Laara Sadiq) struggles to reach other relatives, hoping they can leave Kabul as quickly as possible and go live with a male relative. When she's home, Pavana tells a story, that's shown in a slightly different animation, and entertains her little brother Zaki (Lily Erlinghauser) with a tale of the Elephant King.

Naturally, that tale has parables to the situation they're in, but in many ways "The Breadwinner" is a parable itself. It's a warning of what can happen to those who under threat of Taliban control and what was like, and it tells it in a way that I think is more powerful than it probably in any other format. Somehow, the animation makes this story seem more powerful and tangible than similar feature films I've seen that try to show or explain life under Taliban rule. The film was directed by Nora Twomey, who was a co-director on "The Secret of Kells"; I think I was the one who genuinely didn't care much for that movie or it's animation style, but I think it works effectively here. 'cause instead of telling fantasy and myth we're telling modern history through a child's eye. It's a thousand times more powerful and poignant. It's a sad common tale, so common that unfortunately one day in the future it's gonna become a classic tale, that's told really well.


THE INSULT (2017) Director: Ziad Doueiri

★★★★1/2


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There's a saying I love in Sociology, nothing happens in a vacuum. I think this is a good rule for writers and storytellers too. Basically, it means that nothing happens without something else previously happening. Generally, this is used in terms of explaining drastic major events like 9/11 for instance. Ideally, we'd like to imagine that about 20 Arabs were brainwashed by Osama Bin Laden and they decided to fly planes into buildings, but that's not the whole story. There are reasons they attacked us, things we did to them and others, which led to a situation where Bin Laden could take advantage of and thrive, and so on and so forth; at least, that's how I learned it. "The Insult" at it's core, is basically an example of this principle being played out.


At first, we think or believe that what happens is simply an isolated event, one that supposedly happens the way we'd imagine it if we read about it in a newspaper or something, in a vacuum. Two people exchange words, over a pipe installation of all things, and things got out of hand. But, is it that simple? Well, yes, and no. And yes, and no. (Sigh) So, Tony Hanna (Adel Karem), a garage owner  is annoyed at the nearby construction that's going on in and around his home and his neighborhood. He gets into an exchange of words with a worker, Yasser Salameh (Kamel El Basha) and Yasser at the end of the exchange calls him a "fucking prick". (Shrugs) Seems simple enough, but this Tony then demands that Yasser apologize for his statement. He doesn't get it, at least not at first, but Yasser's employer and family are concerned and after a few attempts, Yasser goes to apologize but instead ends up injuring Tony, after he said something that he wouldn't even tell the judge in court at his own trial over the incident. The case is eventually thrown out because it's hard to figure out who harmed who first, and Tony's gutter wasn't up to code and needed replacing and he was perfectly willing for the state to come in before and fix an electronic issue he previously had. This makes Tony even more angry, and he appeals, still demanding an apology, and after he injures himself more from working too soon after getting out of the hospital from Yasser's attack, his pregnant wife Shirine (Rita Hayek) while trying to collect her husband to the hospital, goes into premature labor, and now both her and their newborn kid are fighting for their lives.

So, what exactly did Tony say that caused Yasser to attack him? To paraphrase, (Deep sigh) "I wish Ariel Sharon had exterminated all of you."

Okay, I need to fill in some blanks up 'til now. The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language film, making it the first Lebanese movie to receive that honor. Now, my modern history of Lebanon is a bit cloudy, obviously, most are fairly aware of how volatile the area's been over the last four decades or so, basically, this started with the Lebanese Civil War. Tony is a Christian, and yes, there's a lot of Christians in Lebanon, and is a member of the Christian Party led by Bashir Gemayal who was President when the war was fought and was later killed by a car bomb. Hanna is seen watching old speeches of him. Now Lebanon, is the country currently with the highest population of refugees and Yassir is a Palestinean who's lived in the country for decades, as a refugee. The Lebanese Civil War was much more complex than this, I'm not even close to describing all of it's intricacies but for our purposes here, Gemayal's group had a lot of conflict with the P.L.O., and the movie is about how those feelings have essentially remained over the years.

The appeals trial, where both sides have lawyers this time, actually demonstrates the generational conflict by making Tony's lawyer Wadji (Camille Salemeh) a Christian who fought in the war and Yassir's lawyer Nadine (Diamand Bou Abboud) his daughter who did not grow up with the war and doesn't relate to the conflicts and pains of the past. (Although she should still have conflicts of her own; she's not that young and Lebanon hasn't exactly stopped being a war zone entirely since then, but we'll let that slide.) This is a courtroom drama essentially, one that's really over a dumb name-calling and two people who are too prideful to admit that they both overreacted and are in the wrong. I have no idea whether this was based on a real case or not, but it's a powerhouse courtroom drama that dissects both sides and their experiences and their reactions, trying to determine who's more at fault. Yeah, like anything else that's in the Middle East, it's complicated, but it's fulfilling anyway. It's painful and there are several twists and turns in this and I've left a lot out, 'cause a lot of this is about discovery as well. We get the basic situation, but as we constantly learn more of what happened, and why, we become more fascinated by it.

That's a really common theme in Doueiri's films. This is the third film of his I've seen, and they're all great movies that are fascinated with exploration of it's subject matter, discovering the secrets of what his characters don't know. The first film of his I saw, "Lila Says" is one of the most underrated coming-of-age films made this century so far, and his previous film, "The Attack" was just as devastating as it followed a husband who lost his wife in a suicide attack, only to discover that she was the bomber herself and hid a life from him that he nothing about. If there's anything positive this movie is preaching, it's empathy. Yassir and Tony are very similar characters and types and despite a large age difference, they've both come to this place having survived incredible hardships that have shaped their worldview; in another world at another time, they might've been friends. For now, however, they're a garage owner and a foreman getting into a fight over a gutter, and nothing more, except it never ever actually is, nothing more.


MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND (2017) Director: Ana Asensio


★★★


Image result for Most Beautiful Island film


The first startling thing I noticed immediately with "Most Beautiful Island" was the opening credit, an Orion logo. Anybody my age grew up with that, especially if you practically lived in a video and certainly still has several VHS tapes where that logo starts the film, but it's been awhile since I've seen that. The brand was revitalized by MGM recently as a distribution label and this film is one of the first to be distributed from them. The Samuel-Goldwyn bluescreen logo is a relic of an earlier time too, but the Orion logo is fairly jarring; it's like suddenly running into a TV show from twenty years ago that you used to watch all the time but had completely forgotten existed until that very moment when you saw it again.

The "Most Beautiful Island", of all islands is Manhattan apparently. Not my first choice, but okay. Anyway, the film is the debut directorial effort from Ana Ansensio, who also plays the lead character Luciana, a recent immigrant from Spain who's just learning the New York hustles. She works a couple jobs and lives in a run-down apartment where there's tape covering a hole in the bathroom which covers up an intrusion of cockroaches. (Literally, that's what a group of cockroaches are called, an "intrusion". Fun fact.) She then gets talked into taking a sketchy one-day job from a trusted friend of hers, Olga (Natasha Romanova) and, I'm really reluctant to describe anything else that happens in this movie. There's an obscure indy-French film it kinda reminds me of called "13 Tzameti", where the main character, unknowingly follows an invitation that was originally intended for someone else, only to find that he is a participant in a game of Russian Roulette. (Good movie if you can find it and you're interested) Now normally I wouldn't reveal that twist, but it's about thirteen years old and while there's something weird and disturbing about this job and what exactly Luciana has been tricked by her friend into joining, I will say that it's not russian roulette or anything that violent, but it is something that's very "Eyes Wide Shut" in its approach, the mysterious hidden places, and get instructions and outfits and underground doorways and stairs, and-, it's all Kafkaesque journey into the underworld.

When you find out what it is, which we don't until these young foreign women also find out...- well,- I guess it was foreshadowed and it's certainly exploitative and I'm sure a bunch of other things I could call it. I don't quite know what to make of it however; I supposed it's possible that it's based on something that probably happens in some twisted part of the backroom elite, but I guess I can't help but to think of worst. It probably also has to do with the predictable nature of it's plot. While we don't know exactly what Hell Luciana is walking into, we suspect pretty early on that she is indeed walking into it. The main crux of the movie is not what she ends up doing, it's that she was tricked into coming there to begin with one of the few people in the whole of New York City that she believed she could trust as a friend. I hate to think that that's about the only real insight and story the movie gives us, but that's honestly about it and I think it could've done more. Still, I'm gonna recommend it; for a first film it's got it's moments and is truly thrilling. I have no idea why Ana Ansensio wanted this to be her first feature, but at least she puts herself out there for it and it's clearly she wanted to tell. Maybe it's more personal and nightmarish for her than it would be for me? (Shrugs) I can only speculate on that, but I hope she's got more in her, perhaps more of this character even. I'd like to see what happens next to someone after going through something like that, and not just


HUMAN FLOW (2017): Ai Weiwei

★★★


Image result for Human Flow

I really wanted to like "Human Flow" and I do, and I appreciate what the great Ai Weiwei's trying to do, but honestly, I think he would've done better if he chose to only focus on a singular refugee crisis instead of, well, all of them. And yes, there's a lot of them, and they should be profiled and elaborated on and explained in every historical context imaginable, including the context of finding them a goddamn place to live, but doth that a compelling documentary makes.

For those unfamiliar with Ai Weiwei, he's indisputably one of the most important artists of our time. This is his first feature documentary of his I've seen, although he's made several of them it's probably the least known genre he dabbles in. On top fo the several art forms he's a master of, incuding the selfie believe it or not, he's also a human rights activist who's been threatened and arrest by the Chinese government several times over the years. He currently lives in Berlin, and there are movies made about him that I'd recommend you go see to get a brief introduction to his work and importance. He's a big influence for instance on Ye Haiyan aka  Hooligan Sparrow. In "Human Flow", which I suspect Ai knows is somewhat of a provocative title, he goes around the world showing the refugee crisis up close. The movie spans 23 countries and four continents, each one with dvery different but equally painful narratives on how these people became refugees and how the rest of the world is completely incapable of dealing with it properly. There's definitely some refugee camps that are better than others, but it's still a refugee camp, no matter how much it looks and seems like a large city.

I'm recommending the film but it's honestly either not long enough or too long. This might've worked as a docu-series where we spend like an hour in each refugee camp, or like I said, follow a particular family or character for as long as possible, but I get why he's done it this way. He's trying to show the true scope one of the biggest problems in the world today. It's ambitious and it does its job, showcases the refugee crisis. I'm just disappointed that it's not more entertaining in some way. This is a film that at 2 1/2 hours can beat you down and I don't think it needed to. It could've found more of a balance I believe.


THE DEVIL'S CANDY (2017) Director: Sean Byrne

★★1/2


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Okay, I actually have some Facebook friends who are in the Oz Indie scene, which is this indy horror scene in Australia. I don't know much about it per se, but I thought something was a little odd about "The Devil's Candy" and it was when I learned Director Sean Byrne is from that scene it kinda clicked. That scene is very gore, camp and shock heavy metal inspired and "The Devil's Candy" is definitely an attempt to a heavy metal version of a more classic horror story. "The Shining" comes most to mind because it's based around a house and the father character, Jesse (Ethan Embry) a successful painter who's a goth rocker with a rock'n'roll family, start to go a little bit insane.

Apparently, the house he buys with the help of a commission from a bank that he's working on, was cheap because of past murders that occurred. That doesn't scare them off that much, but the son of the victims of that heinous crime is still around and Ray Smile (Pruitt Taylor Vince) is coming, and is possessed by the devil to kill children. Which is unfortunate since Jesse has a daughter, Zooey (Klara Glasco). Also, Jesse's wife Astrid is played by Shiri Appleby, who I love her on "UnReal", and she's fine here.

I guess a horror movie doesn't have to have more than just a bad guy and a lot of style, but I kinda feel like "The Devil's Candy" just doesn't have much more than that. If you like gore and metal and your fears being toyed with, I guess there's nothing wrong with "The Devil's Candy", but I'll be honest, I wanted more out of the film. Basically it's set-up and a little bit of tension, a lot of bloody action leading up to a climax. I felt like I was just waiting for everything to happen instead of really getting invested. It's style over the substance, which is a shame 'cause I've heard good things about this director's previous feature, "The Loved Ones", which actually does sound unique and different and this long-delayed sophmore effort, that apparently kept getting cut after screenings until it was officially theatrically released two years later at barely a 75 minutes long, it feels like a half-thought out idea. I've been criticized at times for not liking or even getting a lot of popular modern horror, I still occasionally get a random post from people finding out that I gave "You're Next" ZERO STARS and thought it was the worst film of the year. (I stand by it) and even more recently, I'm told there's an audience for the godawful Karen Kusama's "The Invitation" that I equally panned. Admittedly, that film has a little more going for it than this one and "You're Next", and I can be lenient on horror and slashers if they're done well enough and keep me interested, but I'm also in a post-"Get Out" world when it comes to horror, and that kind of game-changer makes the mediocre look worst and the absolute shit smell nastier than I remembered. In that respects, "The Devil's Candy" is mediocre. and just because the soundtrack has favorites of mine like PJ Harvey and Metallica on the soundtrack, doesn't really change that. I mean, it's cool that it does, but I'm judging the movie.


KICKS (2016) Director: Justin Tipping

★★★


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God damn Michael fucking Jordan. Do people even know who he is now? I mean, the must know, but do they really know? I buy that Brandon (Jahking Guillory) probably knows, but he's fifteen years old and lives in modern times in the Bay Area; does he really know? So, I don't keep a secret that I am a  Philadelphia sports fan and that most of my all-time favorite players and teams are the teams I cheer for. That said, like most people who've watched and from what I can tell, covered sports, they're not so limited. If there's a player I at one point cared about as much as my personal favorite teams, it's Michael Jordan, and as for teams, the '90s Bulls are the gold standard for me. Not the Shaq & Kobe Lakers, definitely not the Patriots of the last two decades, hell, not even this past season's Vegas Golden Knights. Those Bulls teams and Jordan top them all. I watched them, I followed them; I followed Michael Jordan; if they were on TV, you didn't miss that game. LeBron, Curry, they're great, Jordan is the-, as they say now, the GOAT, Greatest of All-Time. I'm far from the only one with this sentiment, by the way and it's more impossible than people might realize to explain how Jordan impacted, not only basketball, but pop culture at large. And for this, I have to damn him, because thirty years after he played, people are fighting and even killing, over his goddamn shoes.

It's true, all the other kids in those pumped up "Kicks", would trade them for Air Jordans in a second. I don't know what the status of sneakers or shoes were before Michael Jordan, but I never heard of people getting beat up or hurt over shoes those sneakers came out; I certainly don't remember it happening before Air Jordans. Shoes weren't named after famous celebrities before then, and boy did they pick the right celebrity. Without context, this may seem strange to some that a group of kids,- not even kids, adults, would beat up and gang up on a kid, just to take his shoes, but I've seen and heard this scenario too often for me to dismiss this as fantasy. I distinctly remember an episode of "Family Matters" where a teenager got shot at her high school over her sneakers.

Let me repeat that last part, 'cause you might've skimmed over that, "FAMILY MATTERS", has an episode, where a character gets SHOT at SCHOOL, because of her SNEAKERS. Yes, the one with Steve Urkel! Look it up if you don't believe me, but, that happened! That was in the '90s, and sneakers are probably three times bigger now than in some areas of the country. Brandon saves his money to buy the Air Jordans, out of the back of a van. He then gets jumped by a gang led by Flaco (Kofi Siriboe) some big shot, drug dealer I suspect, although his house looks like any other in the neighborhood except there's some pretty X-rated parties going on in the kitchen while his toddler son watches TV in the living room. Brandon wants thos shoes back. He's a short kid and he knows that those shoes make him somebody, and if nothing else, they'll be good to run in, someone he believes he'll be doing for awhile. (Probably accurate) He recruits his friends Rico (Christopher Meyer) and Albert (Christopher Jordan Wallace) and together they put the word out he's looking for Flacco and begin the journey to find him, which requires a trip into the depths of Oakland and they begin matriculating through the area searching for him.

This includes a couple visits with Brandon's Uncle Marlon (Mahershala Ali) an ex-con who's essentially the spiritual guide of the film, although he does give a good performance the little he's seen onscreen. "Kicks" is from first-time writer/director Joshua Tipping and you can tell how personal the film is to him. The film does veer into some strange bits of surrealism, like the astronaut that seems to follow Brandon around, as well as the inner monologue throughout the movie. I-, I don't hate all these ideas, but it's clear that it's a first-time filmmaker with these, but still, there's a lot to "Kicks" I like. It's a personal unique vision and I hope he's got more in him.

Goddammit Jordan, why did it gotta be the shoes.


GLASSLAND (2016) Director: Gerard Barrett

★★★


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I've been looking through the reviews of Gerard Barrett's film "Glassland" that are out there, I keep re-reading Matt Zoller Seitz's on rogerebert.com. Not because I'm in agreement or disagreement, but because it's written in a way that's-, well, I don't want to call out a critic for being too autobiographical in their review of a movie, but if I were to bet, I'd say a lot of what he's saying sure sounds like he's writing from the experience of having had a close personal relationship with somebody who's an alcoholic, or at least somebody with a similar addiction problem. I don't want to say it's a negative to have some personal connection to a film either and lord knows it's not like I don't use my autobiography in my reviews and writings; I use a lot more of my backgrounds than I think most people ever realize, and I certainly don't think it's a negative here.

I get it, I know a few people with issues who at times I can be uncomfortable being around despite how much I love them. (I mean, it doesn't help that I'm generally the most straight-edged of my friends out there.) "Glassland' is mostly about a relationship between an alcoholic mother, Jean (Toni Collette) and her grown son John (Jack Reynor) a Dublin cab driver who periodically has to drag her lifeless overdosed body to the hospital to get revived, only for her to go back to her manic-aggressive drunken self. Most of the rest of the movie basically could be leftover scenes from a Eugene O'Neill or Sam Shephard play.  It's all good character kitchen sink drama stuff, as John has to first convince her mother that actually needs help and then has to figure out how to give it to her, if it's possible. That part, which involves him using his taxi driving to help some criminal underworld people do, something; it's not entirely clear, is kinda brushed aside except for the fact that it's what helps him fund the rehab he wants his mother to go.

I actually kinda wonder if this was an abandoned play at one point and they just didn't really have enough for a full play so it sorta extended into a barely ninety-minute movie. Again, I don't this is a bad thing; if anything that's a smart choice, but it does show the story's weaknesses. But the movie is about the acting and this is well-acted. No surprise of course, Collette and Reynor are great actors and Will Poulter also has an extended character here and Collette in particular is strong, although I think she struggled a little bit with a Dublin accent. Honestly, the fact that the film is Irish is fairly inconsequential, which-, I'll go for the easy joke, is a bit surprising considering the subject matter is drinking. (Rimshot) Honestly though, this story could've taken place anywhere. It's also one of the very rare examples of a film being about the perils of alcoholism that's not primary told through the perspective of the alcoholic. That's enough to recommend it; I wish there was story, sure, but let's be fair, when it comes to alcoholism, there generally isn't more to the story, not in real life anyway.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

CANON OF FILM: "DEAR AMERICA: LETTERS HOME FROM VIETNAM"

DEAR AMERICA: LETTERS HOME FROM VIETNAM (1987)

Director: Bill Couturie
Screenplay: Bill Couturie and Richard Dewhurst



Somewhere on the back of my Netflix queue is that Ken Burns docuseries "The Vietnam War". Yeah, I am purposefully putting it off; I know I shouldn't and it does interest me as both a Ken Burns fan and a fan of history, however, the Vietnam War is,- well,- well, let me put it this way, when my Mom was in high school, this would've been the early-to-mid '80s, they didn't Vietnam in the History classes, because for some weird reason, the teachers all thought they knew all about it, because it was-, while they were alive, I guess, even though it would've been about ten years ago, when they were like six or seven-year-old and what kids were paying attention to War as current events at that age. (Well, me, but other than that, probably nobody else.) My generation however, we-, well, we made sure to learn it, and through pop culture and art, we've learned about it several times over. I'm not saying we know everything and that we don't have more to learn about it, but we are worn out by it, and that says nothing about how tiresome and beaten down with modern global affairs, especially as Americans lately.

Still though, we do need to explore it every so often.  There's plenty of great films out there, some I've talked about before, some I'll talk about at some other point, but I've been thinking a bit about Bill Couturie's documentary "Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam" lately, a film I've seen on my own once or twice, but I've seen multiple times over in classes, usually history ones. One of the most high-profile docs of its days, after a brief theatrical release, the film found it's way to HBO where it won two Emmys after airing on television. Some have listed the movie as one of the first true anti-war movies, Roger Ebert most notably mentioned in his review the quote that made about it being impossible to make an anti-war movie because no matter the message, the film would be exhilarating, and that Truffaut never lived to see "Dear America...". (He also wrote that in his review of "Platoon" a film I might talk about some day that some would argue "Dear America..." is the alternative side of.)

"Dear America...", does nothing but simply and directly chronicle the Vietnam War. Director Bill Couturie has actors, mostly famous names, and they read from actual letters written by soldiers in Vietnam, all of whom died in battle, and then plays that over extensive, many never-before-seen clips and footage of the War which he got from coming NBC archives and the Library of Congress. The opening sequences show soldiers surfing off of the South China Sea as they begin to pile in, listening to The Beach Boys and being completely unaware, as we all were of what was to come. (The scene will obviously make people remember Robert Duvall's Kilgore character from "Apocalypse Now") Every word in the film is directly taken from a letter a soldier wrote, and only occasionally will any extra commentary be added, and even then it’s only something like a death count rising. A few soldiers are profiled, even finding actual footage of some soldiers whose letters they’re reading off. There isn’t much here for story or plot or even a greater message or a call to peace. It doesn’t teach us much other than what we’d find in a history book other than a lot of young people died during a War in Vietnam, and many young people die, in essentially all wars.

After being blasted with real war footage paired with emotionally gripping voice-overs paired with a soundtrack of the era's music of most of the most inevitable if not obvious rock songs of the era about 70+ minutes,  the film ends with Ellen Burstyn reading a letter written by a mother of a soldier William R. Stocks. It's a famous letter that was left under his name at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It reads as follows:

Dear Bill, 

Today is Feb. 13, 1984. I came to this black wall again to see and touch your name, William R. Stocks, and as I do i wonder if anyone ever stops to realize that next to your name, on this black wall, is your mother's heart. A heart broken 15 years ago today, when you lost your life in Vietnam. 

They tell me the letters I write to you and leave here at this memorial are waking others up to the fact that there is still much pain left, after all these years from the Vietnam War. 

This I know, I would rather have had you for 21 years, and all the pain that goes with losing you than never to have had you at all these years. 

Mom.

Afterwards played over shots of the American Flag, the single anachronistic song on the soundtrack that was recorded after the War ended, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”, a song which is often misrepresented as a song about the joys of being born in America, but here, it’s true nature and context are revealed. No joyous ending, no glory, no breaks, just the hells of war. Few movies are as truthfully sad as this one.

Note: Couturie also did an HBO documentary, “Last Letters Home,” which shows interviews of families of American Soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, as they read some of their relatives letters. You may watch that film and wonder why he doesn’t show footage of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and there’s a reason. The U.S. Gov’t won’t allow the press to show images of the war, unlike in Vietnam, where TV reports of the war with photos were shown daily in people’s homes. If you ever wondered why we got so upset at that illegal war and not others so much..., well, that's why; it was on TV every day while our last few wars,.... 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

CONSIDERING FANFICTION: THE AWAKENING OF MY, VERY SLIGHT, SEMI-INTEREST (Sorta) IN NON-CANONICAL WRITINGS



So, eh, um-, hmm... Fan fiction. (Shrugs) It's a thing? I guess.

So, something that some of you readers may have picked up but might not realize entirely is that, while I am working in a creative medium, I have a film degree, I work as a writer here and outside of this, and I certainly have inventive and creative friends and not to toot my own horn, but I do think I have some original, different and creative approaches to my work, but I came into the idea of devoting my life to writing and creating, essentially, very late. Like, by the time I entered film school, I was already, like two and a half years into college, and frankly was planning to go into other things, and while I was usually looked upon by others as creative, or "different" as some would say, my focus, wasn't really on any medium that involved storytelling. It's not that I avoided it specifically, I kinda avoided everything. My lone, real afterschool activity growing up was Varsity Quiz, which was basically "Jeopardy!" between schools. I was the smart kid with loads of useless information; I still am in fact, but there wasn't a film program at my school, and believe it or not, I'm not a natural reader. There was a theater program at my high school, but it never dawned on me to join something like that, even though the few times I watched the stage show in class, I rather enjoyed it and had great respect for those who did-.... Anyway, it wasn't so surreal that I would go into a creative medium, not as strange as one would think at least, but as one of my former classmates from film school, one whose main goal was to be an agent or manager or some point, would say to me, "Dude, why aren't you in law school?" (Shrugs)

I mean, it's not like he's wrong, but for one reason or another, I took a road less traveled, but here's the thing, a lot of things that others in my profession, probably grew up with and was totally natural to them, not only did I miss those things, growing up, but in some cases I had a complete blind spot to the fact that they existed at all. Some of you might remember that one earliest pieces on this blog was about the fact that I didn't know comic books were actually a real thing until like my Senior year of high school, and never saw a comic book store-, or come to think of it a comic book, until college when I'm acting in a friend's short film cast as an employee of a comic book store. (That article got republished by Age of the Nerd if you're interested, it's at the link below)

http://www.ageofthenerd.com/2017/10/comic-books-actually-exist-and-other-things-ive-found-out-about-comic-books-and-comic-book-movies-in-my-lifetime/

Well, kinda in that same vein, I-, I totally, totally did not realize that fanfiction was a thing. I know, being a writer/critic that studies story and art, you'd think that this was something that I'd be aware of, but I'd listen to my favorite critics and Youtubers and whatnot, many of them around my age and they'd casually mention meeting some of their lifelong friends, coworkers or confidants on fanfiction websites and I would just think, (Huh, that's odd; I guess they grew out of that.) or I'd even hear about critics who'd review fanfiction of certain kinds, and I'd think "Oh-kay, that's- that's really-, well, I don't like fans anyway, so who cares what they write...", or I'd hear about how "Fifty Shades of Grey" started as "Twilight" fanfiction, which,- I read "Fifty Shades..." I didn't read "Twilight", so I wouldn't have known or noticed anything fan-ficky about that,- I mean I heard all the words and they made sense in my head, but I never really got what that meant.

I mean, as a writer, I get being influenced by, and I get being inspired by things, and there's only so many stories, so sure, maybe E.L. James saw or-, (Mutters under breath, "saw"), read "Twilight", so she maybe took the idea of a popular romance and maybe borrowed the story arc and graphed out the plot points, but then created this, poorly-written but entertaining-to-read-in-a-fun-way Harlequin-like romance with an S&M center way, revolving around supposedly taboo sexuality...- and you know, that's okay, right? But then, I saw Dan Olson's Youtube video about the original manuscript, actually being "Twilight" fanfiction, and then, it was sorta like, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-kay, that's-eh,- so-eh, this isn't quite that, is it?

(Olson's video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzk9N7dJBec)

So-eh, yeah, a bit of eye-opener for me. And I'll be blunt, a lot of this post, is just, me, trying to grasp this idea of fanfiction. Part of it is that I never grew up with this idea, part of it is, I wasn't aware of how big this is, part of it is that it's an admittedly very gray area of legality in many instances and I'm not exactly sure which side I'm on in that regards (Well, probably the original's authors honestly) but mostly it's just me trying to figure out if this is even a good thing, in general. I mean, since my craft is in screenwriting, I'm very astute to the idea that, unless you're paid to adapt something, or you bought the rights to something, you just, don't adapt a story or use a character or whatever, ever, unless you count spec scripts for a TV show, which I don't.... (Although, you know, I keep meaning to write one but I suck at those. Like I have ideas for a "Family Guy" one occasionally and like, I know I should be able to do it, but there is something that holds me back with that, blah, blah, blah, that doesn't matter.)

So, I think at one point during my schooling, I remember this, it was middle school, I want to say either 7th or 8th grade and we were supposed to write a "Hero in a Hat" story. Basically, the teacher had some hats filled with heroes, villains, locations and I believe objectives, what the hero was doing it for, and you had to pick one from each hat and you had to create a story with those things. I remember I got Bugs Bunny for the hero, Siberia for the place, $10,000 or some dollar amount for the objective and I originally drew Lex Luthor for the villain, but I legitimately didn't know who he was, despite watching "Lois & Clark, the New Adventures of Superman" all the time, because I forgot he was even in it since he never was a memorable villain, (Fine, perhaps that was my comic book blindspot, I still stand by that though, Lex Luthor sucks!) so I redrew and got The Abominable Snowman, which I felt I could at least work with. I realize now, that this assignment was meant for us to create our own fanfiction, basically to reconceptualize and rethink about characters that we know already and put them in a different, more whimsically and more free-spirited narrative.

Ummmm-, so I didn't get that memo, however, and I was mostly just pissed that I couldn't figure out why all these characters would be in the same place, and be after money,  of all things? So because I was different and weird at that time, I did remember that there was that whole season of "Dallas" that was a dream, and to me, that was the only thing that sorta made sense, but instead of making it a dream, (which, may have been against the rules anyway, I don't remember now) I made it a video game.

Basically, the story opened with Bugs being informed of his goal of collecting money as he was out to destroy the Abominable Snowman, and he had to pick a weapon (Oh yeah, I think there was a weapon hat too, I think it was a sword or something) and then went off to defeat the Snowman. I remember my teacher, Mr. Allister on my paper, wrote a note that said, "Why is he just choosing a weapon?" which he clearly wrote before he finished reading the whole story, because at the end of this long journey as Bugs is about to succeed in getting the money and defeating the Snowman, everything goes black for a few seconds, and then everything comes back up, and we're back at the beginning of the story and we pull back to see a kid really pissed off that the electricity just flickered and all his game was lost. (This was back before games that saved were as common or easy as they are now.) So, yeah, in a video game, you do often pick a weapon, so it makes sense...- Anyway, I got an A, but I know I completely screwed up his intentions for the assignment. In fact, I'm not sure he ever gave that assignment again after that. Basically, we were supposed to come with a fantastical world where all these characters came in and this was the battle, go nuts with your imagination and instead, I decided to simply find a route where all these disparate fantastical parts, would make sense in the real world. I mean, I wasn't intending to create a big middle finger to this assignment, but even with getting an A on the assignment, it did kinda end up that way. Well, at least I think I got an A on it; I forget now; I never paid attention to my grades, but I was proud of it at least.

(Also, P.S.; if you've ever wondered why I tend to not like any film that has what I call a "Video game plot", "Sucker Punch", "The Raid" movies, "Scott Pilgrim...," why I genuinely think they all suck, well, part of it is that it's a bad narrative for films, sure, but another part of it is that, "I came up with that idea in like, 1998, motherfuckers this is not impressive or unique to me.)

And I'll be honest, I can think of other creative writing assignments that I had over the years, where I was also very reluctant to write something fictional when it didn't make sense to me, some were good, most weren't, but this isn't entirely an isolated incident, my reaction to writing fanfiction. Admittedly, this was a trend in my early writing attempts in general, this- rejection or subversion of the expectations and rules I was given, however, there's obviously a natural instinct I have against, even some really basic concepts of fanfiction, apparently. The thing is, I'm not entirely sure why I have that visceral of a reaction to it, 'cause logically I can understand why people would write fanfiction, it's basically practice writing, in very much the same way that say painters would practice their craft by trying to recreate paintings from the old masters. I mean, you're not forging or recreating someone's work, or even trying to, but you do practice the craft and skills and tools that created the original work, and if you're going to learn how to do your own way, you have to know how it was done and how it was successful in the past; that makes sense. I'm a bit skeptical about how long people should be doing that, but, still, it makes some sense.

I can only think of one instance of when I wrote fanfiction, back when I was, eight years old-, was it second grade? Yeah, I was in second grade when "Cheers" ended. I didn't realize I was writing fanfiction at the time, but "Cheers" ended and it was a big deal, so when asked to write something in 2nd Grade, I wrote a sequel series called "Cheers II". I wrote about, I don't know seven or eight of what we'll very generously call, "episodes". they took place after the first series ended and basically, Sam loses the bar for some reason I don't think I ever gave, Diane still has this money from that novel and screenplay she won the Cable Ace Award for and she purchases and owns the bar now and everything else continues on as before. Actually, when I write it out here, now, it actually sounds somewhat decent as a premise, but that's about the best thing I can say about any of these works of mine. They were all, maybe half a scene, poorly-written about half a page long each, maybe some were a little longer.... Maybe 10% of the original ideas in that mix were somewhat inspired, like Robin coming back after Rebecca's happily married, well, supposedly happily, and the rest of it was me stealing bad jokes from like "All That" or "The Simpsons" or,- I think I devoted a whole episode as a crossover to some now-obscure 7-11 ads that had some of the bigger stand-ups of the day in them. Yeah, I wasn't even smart enough to steal good material back then unless I was telling an old Gabe Kaplan joke for personal use; it was all just horribly bad, half-assed ideas, that are basically the kind of half-ass ideas eight-year-olds have, and the next Fall "Frasier" went on the air, and that's when I gave up and said, "Oh, fuck this; that show's gonna win the Emmy for like the next decade; I'm not topping that."

And that's about it; I swore I'd never try that again, and you know, maybe, maybe, in my head, I wrote a Mary Sue self-insert episode of "Gilmore Girls" or two where I'm an odd, troubled stranger kid who comes into town and becomes Rory's best friend,but, only in my head; I never wrote anything like that down again. I think that's why I'm confused by this fanfiction trend; like I have trouble seeing it as anything more than, not even a positive step for a young writer, but, like a stepping stone for when you're really young and still learning to have ideas and write them out. Not something that I would ever voluntarily share on giant message and hope that this would be something that would be interesting to others-, it flat-out would not occur to me to even do that-, and hell, in '93, that wouldn't have even been a scenario. The internet didn't really hit, 'til like the next few years and even then I think this took a little while before the fanfiction boom, started in the late '90s, (as I'm informed by wikipedia) hit.

And I have to stress "young" writers. Like, this is for kids, to me. This isn't something that I understand in older kids and especially not adults, at all. Maybe when you're first beginning and you started late, but I know that when I was in high school that if somebody was old enough to drive and they told me they were still writing fanfiction, I would be a little bit concerned for them, no matter what it was. Yet, I know there are grown-ups who participate in this thing too, and hell, this form of writing has picked up enough steam that people are actually looking into it to publish fanfiction, and it becomes hits and for long-running series, especially in comics, people seek out fanfiction writers to join their staff all the time. I mean, I do kinda get that with the latter because we do have those aforementioned spec scripts for TV shows that we send out when submitting material, although again, I have always struggled with that practice (Sigh) and generally, those aren't written with the intention of ever being produced as a television episode; they're usually only created in order for the producers or head writers to show that you can write for the series. I mean, I guess that's technically fanfiction, but- the way I always had it described to me was, "If the sitcom's about the sexual tension between the two characters, don't write the episode where they end up together for your spec script." In other words, write an average episode of the show you're writing for. They just want to see if you can do it, not if you've come up with this brilliant, new, different idea for the show.

So, here's what kinda made me really think about this and why I'm kinda interested in discussing it. So, I've been watching some old "Adam Ruins Everything" clips on Youtube lately. I never watched him much until now; I for some reason never thought to get around to him until recently, but I don't know, I watched one or two of them and I got in a mood, and I happen to catch his thing on how the Public Domain.



I'll be honest; I never really thought about it the way he explained it before, that we have all these created, historically and culturally important literary characters, partly because of the old Public Domain laws that Disney, in an effort to protect Mickey Mouse, fought and lobbied Congress to extend the Public Domain waiting to 95 years. Which,- well, I remember when that ruling went down and how disappointed we were that we couldn't use Mickey Mouse without paying for him yet, but I honestly never thought about how Public Domain has led to all those characters becoming so ingrained in our culture. And I guess, that's essentially fanfiction as well, everything between "Sherlock" and "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein", so, in that sense, I guess I shouldn't be so quick to dismiss fanfiction. Also, the Public Domain timeline is coming up, barring some new development, many works are going to enter the Public Domain in less than six months, for the first time in decades. It's actually kinda exciting, we're getting some major films, some novels, a lot of big art. Not Mickey Mouse, he's a few years away but still....

That said, the idea of the Public Domain is almost trivial because of the world of the internet and there now existing thousands and thousands of all these...- I don't even know. (I mean, some authors do fight it, and I don't disagree with them actually.) Like, I understand satire and re-imagining, but I just don't understand fanfiction, especially as an adult it seems so foreign to me that I'm mostly just befuddled by it.

I think it's because I do have a power of the artist belief. I know, especially film and television are always collaborative efforts, but my general rule is to never get in the way of artists work. If they want something to be that way, you can criticize and critique their decisions and choices, but you can't alter them. Now, sure that's bullshit, obviously, people alter them all the time, and I'm not even talking fanfiction here, that's in real life, but it does feel really strange to take someone else's work and then add-on and create from there. I mean, if you're creative enough to take someone else's work and construct elaborate fantasies and alternative universes of how things could've gone in their world, then why not create an entire world of your own? It can be inspired by this other world, a different take, an homage, or in some cases, sure retell the story in a way that's completely different than how it originated, but it is really different for me to say that you just took someone's work and tried to just carve out this own idea into the side of it that's entirely yours. This is basically the same reason why I still take Roger Ebert's side on whether video games aren't a higher art than movies, people claim that the freedom of the player to make choices in the world and create their own ideas inside someone else's world is what makes video games more encompassing as a creative art-form, but that's not creative, that's literal derivativeness. You've taken from somebody else's work and now you're trying to say it's your own creative spark to it? If the option wasn't built into the game, then you wouldn't be able to create this unique world of your own in the game, and that's the same for hacks of games too, that's literally changing someone else's work. The option of choice by the audience makes it inherently less valuable as a piece of art. That's not to say it isn't art or can't be fun, but like fanfiction, it's just, taking from someone else's work.

Others don't see it that way, others are more "Death of the author" than I am,... (Shrugs). I guess it all boils down to why something's created and with fanfiction, I see, mainly a lot of twiddling one's thumbs, or twiddling one's, nether-regions. (Based on the fanfiction I'm finding, literally both of those [God, every piece of fanfiction I find on "The West Wing" is about Josh & Donna.]) Art is full of taking inspiration from something to create something different, so who the hell knows what constitutes fanfiction; I heard somebody recently calls "Dante's Inferno" Biblical fanfiction the other day, and you know-, what can you say; it technically kinda is. It was also a unique and original work at the time though. Maybe it's all promotion; maybe it's just that the selling point is that people seek out and create material that's fanfiction and they don't try to hide it or anything and they sell it to others as fanfiction. I mean, not sell, but promote, I guess? Maybe it just seems like too small of an audience for me to say the things that I would want to say, the things I say when I create stories anyway. I mean, I understand that I have a niche, but even still you don't just want to create for that niche, you want to hope that what you create will help effect as many people as possible, while I think mostly fanfiction is created for a niche of a niche and I guess the only objective in aiming for stuff that specific is to hopefully express your love and admiration for something and find other fans who can appreciate it. (Sigh)

And you know how I have no affection or respect for fans, but I guess,- I guess fan-fiction isn't the worst thing about them, and hell, it actually can lead to creativity and if artwork can inspire...- well, I guess that's not a horrible thing. Just don't expect to see me participating or reading any of it; I think I'm done with that. Although if something perhaps better than "Fifty Shades..." get made that originated from fanfiction and gets published and captures the Public's imagination; (Shrugs) at least for me anyway, I and several others would probably not recognize it as fanfiction unless you tell me it is, and even then, it'd still probably have to be a fanfic of something that I just never read before. to fully get it, so... be good and creative enough to be able to fool people into thinking it isn't. You know, just like, how regular writers do.

Friday, July 13, 2018

70TH ANNUAL PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS NOMINATIONS ANALYSIS!



I've had a weird feeling about television lately, at least going into this year's Emmys. Not sure entirely why, but I've had this growing sense that it's mostly been an overall, odd year. It's almost like it's an off-year election, it's critically important and major we're not quite betting on the biggest players or names so it doesn't seem like it's major. That said, it is actually a big year, there's a lot of shows that are off, but a lot that came back. And it's not that clear whether the biggest show around or the newest show is the one that's still as big as they used to be. I've watched more television at this point than I normally have, so I'm more interested than I have been in the past, but I still have a lot to get to as well... and this year, at least based on the Gold Derby odds, and my personal predictions, there were some upsets in the nominations. (Aka, really, "Stranger Things" is back?!)

As always though, I am more thorough than everybody else, and I'm gonna go through every major category, that I suspect all of the laymen, as well as the more astute and knowledgeable viewer, will have some interest in. I mean, sure we're gonna do the top sheet stuff first, but, there's a lot of other Creative Arts categories that I think more people would like the Emmys if they profiled them a little more, I will go over them as well. I'm not predicting anything just yet, way too early, and still fresh off the presses, and there's a lot to take in. That said, let's go through the categories. We'll start with the Comedy Series categories.


COMEDY SERIES

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta-FX Networks
Barry-HBO
black-ish-ABC
Curb Your Enthusiasm-HBO
GLOW-Netflix
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel-Prime Video
Silicon Valley-HBO
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt-Netflix

The 2% rule came into effect here as a record eight shows got nominated this year. The only network show was poor "black-ish', which actually had it's best year with five nominations; it got into costumes, but still is a real longshot, and HBO, dominating as three series got in this year, and remember, their perennial winner, "Veep", wasn't even eligible this year. "Barry" is the big newcomer from them, and it overperformed expectations, with 13 nods, but "Atlanta" way over-performed from last year, getting 16, and this could be important for FX which has never won a Series Award outside of Limited Series. The other big newcomer is "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", from Amazon, (And I still don't get why they're calling themselves Prime Video) which got 14 of their own. The other newcomer "GLOW", had a weird morning, where it got ten nominations, but missed in a few categories they thought they'd get into and got surprising nominations were they weren't expecting. As to the expected show revivals of "Will & Grace", "Roseanne" or my favorite-even-though-it's-never-a-revival, "One Day at a Time", they-eh, didn't do so well. However, "Curb Your Enthusiasm", came back in.
(Bum-bum-bum, Ba, ba-bum, ba,ba-ba,bop, bum, ba-dum....)

I kid, I like "Curb..."


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Anthony Anderson-"black-ish"-ABC
Ted Danson-"The Good Place"-NBC
Larry David-"Curb Your Enthusiasm"-HBO
Donald Glover-"Atlanta"-FX Networks
Bill Hader-"Barry"-HBO
William H. Macy-"Shameless"-Showtime

Boy, "Shameless" really has a devoted following in the acting branch, doesn't it? I mean, I love Bill Macy, but man...- Still though, the old names are the new ones here. For all you "The Good Place" fans, Ted Danson got in this year. I do like that show; I don't think it's the greatest thing ever to be honest, but he is really good in it, and let's be fair, he's Ted Danson. BTW, Ted Danson is now the most nominated person in this category, ever; this being his 12th total nomination and his first since "Cheers". (Which means he somehow never got nominated for "Becker"? Man, he really should have more!). Anyway, with Larry David coming in, I think Zach Galifianakis is the odd one out this year, but and of course, Aziz Ansari wasn't eligible this year from last, and Jeffrey Tambor...- (sigh) oh well. Anyway, most suspect it's a two-way race between Donald Glover and Bill Hader, and there are a few two-way races with them btw, if they're named as producers on their show, that means they will be competing head-to-head with each other, in five different categories, which I won't look up personally, but I have to believe that's a record.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Pamela Adlon-"Better Things"-FX Networks
Rachel Brosnahan-"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"-Prime Video
Allison Janney-"Mom"
Tracee Ellis Ross-"black-ish"-ABC
Issa Rae-"Insecure"-HBO
Lily Tomlin-"Grace and Frankie"-Netflix

Big snubs here, Ellie Kemper, missed out for the first time in a couple years, Alison Brie, who was a SAG nominee, very shocking omission to me; I thought she had a decent shot at winning. Of course, the big person missing is Julia Louis-Dreyfus 'cause "Veep" is ineligible, and thank God for that. I know, I'm not the biggest "Veep" guy, but even without that, this was ridiculous. I hope Candice Bergan comes back and takes it from her next year. I'd get it if she absolutely was like, the only reasonable choice and there no possible way the award couldn't or shouldn't have honored others over that time, that was so, not the situation, however. Anyway, Rachel Brosnaham is the heavy favorite, although Issa Rae's nomination is a bit of a surprise. She was someone, everyone thought would get in last year, but she got in this year instead. Good for her, I like that show, and now I have an excuse to catch up on it. Glad to see Pamela Adlon get in, without having the Louis C.K. thing affect her as well. No other surprises, no seventh spot for Jane Fonda to sneak in, but Lily Tomlin's there though; she's always there.


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Louie Anderson-"Baskets"-FX Networks
Tituss Burgess-"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-Netflix
Alec Baldwin-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Brian Tyree Henry-"Atlanta"-FX Networks
Tony Shalhoub-"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"
Kenan Thompson-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Henry Winkler-"Barry"-HBO

Ty Burrell finally left the category, and "Modern Family" in general, missed everything; thank God for that too. I know; I like the show, but it's another example of a show just winning and winning, when in reality there were other, often more deserving shows out there and they sometimes didn't even get nominated, much less win. (Not to mention, actors on "Modern Family" who kept getting snubbed for Ty Burrell or Eric Stonestreet) Glad to see Kenan Thompson break-in, he actually holds the record for most years on Television as a regular performer doing sketch comedy. Seriously, like, it's like, him and Carol Burnett, and I think he passed her. (Those of you old enough to remember "All That"....) Brian Tyree Henry was a snub last year, he's in this year, glad to see that, and also Henry Winkler, welcome back for him. Last nominated, almost two decades ago for Guest Actor on "The Practice" and has never won btw, was nominated, of course, three times for "Happy Days", and also had a nomination stripped from him, years ago, because of a rule technicality for a Guest spot on a very short-lived series called "Battery Park", it was so short it was canceled before they aired his episode, which they burned off so late it didn't air in the eligibility period, so.... Glad to see him back. The Defending winner is Alec Baldwin though-, look I love Alec Baldwin, I'm glad to see him in again, but we do have to figure something out with these sketch shows in the comedy categories. Until they figure that out though... Oh and 2% rule applied, seven nominations, glad to see Tony Shalhoub back, although you still stole that Emmy that Steve Carell should have. Yeah, I'm still bitter about that. You're really great on "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", but seriously you robbed Steve Carell that year. Congrats on your Tony btw, on and you too Laurie Metcalf Congrats on that Tony. Speaking of her...


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Zazie Beetz-"Atlanta"-FX Networks
Alex Borstein-"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"-Prime Video
Aidy Bryant-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Betty Gilpin-"GLOW"-Netflix
Leslie Jones-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Kate McKinnon-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Laurie Metcalf-"Roseanne"-ABC
Megan Mullally-"Will & Grace"-NBC

Eh, what were those talks about this not being a strong "SNL" year? it certainly doesn't seem like it in this category. Jesus Christ, 2% rule applied, we have eight in this category, 3 "SNL", for the second year in a row, this time Aidy Bryant replaces Vanessa Bayer's nomination-, Christ, remember when they were the "Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players", can we go back to that?! McKinnon and Jones are the only returning nominees btw,-, well, from last year. Megan Mullally broke in for "Will & Grace" which by some standards underperformed, Sean Hayes's snub, for instance, is particularly noticeable. A surprise return however for Laurie Metcalf, I say surprise, 'cause despite her career renaissance in recent years..., eh,- do I have to say anything else other than "Roseanne"? No? Yeah, just "Roseanne". I did actually seek out an episode of the revival, (Shrugs) it's by no means the worst thing I ever saw or anything but I had a hard time sitting through it. Alex Borstein finally gets some recognition though, and she could win this with her role in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel". Now, I'm one of the few who actually did predict, Betty Gilpin to get in, (You can find my predictions on my GoldDerby ballot, which I published on the Facebook page, which you should all be following... at the link below:)

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1778807808879178&id=602692689824035

The only name I technically missed was Rita Moreno for "One Day at a Time"- which wth hasn't she been nominated for that yet....- but-eh, if you told me that Gilpin would get in but Alison Brie wouldn't I would've probably slapped you silly. Marc Maron also got snubbed for Supporting Actor too-, how did that happen? Wow. Do they really like "GLOW" or not; I can't tell. So weird.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta-"FUBU"-Donald Glover-FX Networks
Atlanta-"Teddy Perkins"-Hiro Murai-FX Networks
Barry-"Chapter One: Make Your Mark"-Bill Hader-HBO
The Big Bang Theory-"The Bow Tie Asymmetry"-Mark Cendrowski-CBS
GLOW-"Pilot"-Jesse Peretz-Netflix
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel-"Pilot"-Amy Sherman-Palladino-Prime Video
Silicon Valley-"Initial Coin Offering"-Mike Judge-HBO

Well, this is a little more unpredictable than it has in the past. No "Veep" eating up half the nominations, but still two "Atlanta", that's probably a big clue for Series. All the nominees are from nominated series, so this is probably a decent predictor and Donald Glover won this category last year, although I suspect the "Teddy Perkins" episode is a little more preferred overall. That said, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" is probably the heavy favorite, especially if there's a push for Amy Sherman-Palladino to get an Emmy; she's been around forever and before this, her most noted work was "Gilmore Girls" and there are definitely some fans from that show around, including myself. It's one of the few good shows I ever liked on WB/CW, at least until the last few years with "My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" and "Penn & Teller: Fool Us" came around. (Oh, and sure, I'll throw in that new revival of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", but it's not as good as the UK or earlier US versions.) "GLOW"'s an interesting alternative but I don't see it. Oh, and-eh, they nominated Mike Judge again. I-eh, honestly I never got "Silicon Valley" either.

ADDENDUM: The Academy announced after I originally posted that they left off Mark Cendrowski's nomination for "The Big Bang Theory". This is apart of a new rule they've implemented in this category requiring at least one nominee for Comedy Series Directing, be from a multi-camera series. Cendrowski, one of the heads of the DGA, is actually the main guy who insisted the Academy implement this rule, so that's a particularly glaring error by them in that regard.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta-"Alligator Man"-Donald Glover-FX Networks
Atlanta-"Barbershop"-Stefani Robinson-FX Networks
Barry-"Chapter One: Make Your Mark"-Alec Berg and Bill Hader-HBO
Barry-"Chapter Seven: Loud, Fast and Keep Going"-Liz Sarnoff-HBO
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel-"Pilot"-Amy Sherman-Palladino-Prime Video
Silicon Valley-"Fifty-One Percent'-Alec Berg-HBO

Oh, this is rare, Alec Berg is actually competing against himself in this category. That doesn't happen too often in this category; the last person to do that was Garry Shandling in '93, and that was for two episodes of the same show, "The Larry Sanders Show'; I don't think it's ever happened with someone getting nominated for two different shows; even Norman Lear never pulled that off, and.... yeah, I'm double-checking, but I think he's the first to do this in the Comedy Series category. Still, two "Atlanta"'s two "Barry"'s, the "...Mrs. Maisel" episode that could also win here, and the arbitrary "Silicon Valley episode. It's a bit interesting that "Atlanta" got different episodes than the Directing nominations into Writing, that to me tells me, people are watching the show and they like the show a lot to distinguish multiple episodes. They also like "Barry" a lot too though. Not every show can submit multiple episodes and get multiple ones in, some shows barely can get in only putting up one, so, it's gonna be a tight race. Curious how Netflix got nothing in this category though. Netflix actually outdid HBO in nominations this year, even with "Game of Thrones" coming back on the Drama side, but I'm not sure how those nominations will lead to wins, especially with goose-eggs in major categories like this.


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Sterling K. Brown-"Brooklyn Nine-Nine"-FOX
Bryan Cranston-"Curb Your Enthusiasm"-HBO
Donald Glover-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Bill Hader-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Lin-Manuel Miranda-"Curb Your Enthusiasm"-HBO
Katt Williams-"Atlanta"-FX Networks

Wow, Sterling K. Brown is so beloved, they can remember to nominate him for "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and do it in a year where they forget to nominate Andre Braugher. (That's another show that the Emmys seem to inexplicably not particularly like; not sure why on that one.)Well, if anybody can win for it... That said, two "Curb..."'s in, and two SNL hosts,- oh, there's Glover and Hader again. I kinda thought Lin-Manuel Miranda was deserving last year for "SNL", so, part of me would like to see him win this. Katt Williams is an interesting wild card too here; Dave Chappelle won last year, so if they want to give it to a famous but troubled stand-up again, that might be the place, although Chappelle was due from not winning for "Chappelle's Show" years ago; I'm not sure you can say the same about Katt  Williams.


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Tina Fey-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Tiffany Haddish-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Jane Lynch-"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"-Prime Video
Maya Rudolph-"The Good Place"-NBC
Molly Shannon-"Will & Grace"-NBC
Wanda Sykes-"black-ish"-ABC

Okay, this is actually a little interesting since "SNL" actually didn't submit Tiffany Haddish, she submitted that episode on her own, which-, is typically a big no-no, you're never supposed to submit yourself it's usually either the network or the show that does, and there are rules and regulations regarding that practice as well, but once in a blue while it actually works, and I think "SNL" might've missed on that one, 'cause she's got a good shot at winning. Only two "SNL" people, with Tina Fey getting in, who can't seem to ever get into writing for "UKS" (or for that matter that really good episode of "Great News" that she wrote which should've gotten into Writing this year, despite the show getting canceled.)  Molly Shannon got in for reprising an old memorable role on "Will & Grace" that I originally thought she would've been nominated for previously but I guess she wasn't. Wanda Sykes returns for "black-ish", nice to see here,-, how half the nominees are African-American with Maya Rudolph getting in for "The Good Place. Cool. Eh, Jane Lynch has won this award a few times too and she's an Emmy favorite, and she's got a helluva of an episode;, so she's somebody I'm looking at as a favorite, but you can never count out SNL hosts in this category. (Which we should really be re-thinking, btw.)


DRAMA SERIES

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
The Americans-FX Networks
The Crown-Netflix
Game of Thrones-HBO
The Handmaid's Tale-Hulu
Stranger Things-Netflix
This is Us-NBC
Westworld-HBO

Oddly, this is actually a rather boring category this year as there's no new nominee this year. Well, no first time nominee this year, "House of Cards" and "Better Call Saul" were on hiatus this year and "Game of Thrones" was on hiatus last year, and "The Americans" got brought back, for only it's second time ever, for its final season, pulling a "Parks and Recreation", although this was a little more predictable than when "Parks..." did it. I've actually seen all these shows. Not, all their new seasons, yet, I'm behind on "The Crown", "Stranger Things", "Westworld" and "Game of Thrones", and technically I'm not finished with "The Handmaid's Tale" yet, I'm halfway through it though. And I've only seen one season of "The Americans". (Shrugs) I hear it gets better; I thought it was mostly average to be honest, although I thought Keri Russell was great in it. I've got some catching up to do I guess. I'll get right on it, for most of these...- (Shrugs)


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jason Bateman-"Ozark"-Netflix
Sterling K. Brown-"This is Us"-NBC
Ed Harris-"Westworld"-HBO
Matthew Rhys-"The Americans"-FX Networks
Milo Ventimiglia-"This is Us"-NBC
Jeffrey Wright-"Westworld"-HBO

So, Kit Harrington actually submitted into Lead Actor this year, instead of Supporting, his "Game of Thrones" co-star Emilia Clarke also did this btw, and both of them got snubbed strangely enough, and in Harrington's case, he got snubbed by two "Westworld" nominations. Don't feel too bad, "Game of Thrones" lead all shows with 22 total nominations, but it was close this year. "Westworld" had 21 total, tied with "Saturday Night Live" among all shows, but before you think this is a two-way race, "The Handmaid's Tale" got 20 and it way overperformed, compared to both "G.O.T." and "Westworld"'s previous eligible seasons. "The Handmaid's Tale" has a lack of Leading Actor, so "This is Us" steps up in that regard, even though, it shockingly under-performed in a lot of places, Writing and Directing most notably. That was weird. Speaking of Directing nominations, add Jason Bateman's name to the list of actors who also got nominated for directing at the Emmys as he directed "Ozark". Fun fact, he still holds the record for being the youngest person to ever be inducted into the Directors Guild of America. I bet you're wondering how I know that; remember, I did that damn post on "The Hogan Family" a little while ago...- which still haunts me....- Grrrr..... Anyway, it's a seven-race field last year, "Westworld" only got Anthony Hopkins in last year, they took him out but replaced him with Ed Harris, and Jeffrey Wright switched from Supporting to Lead this year and he pulled an Allison Janney and made the rare jump successful, unlike his fellow network's other stars. With Matthew Rhys playing the Kyle Chandler spot of finale season nomination here, this is gonna be an interesting category that could go either way.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Claire Foy-"The Crown"-Netflix
Tatiana Maslany-"Orphan Black"-BBC America
Elisabeth Moss-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Sandra Oh-"Killing Eve"-BBC America
Keri Russell-"The Americans"-FX Networks
Evan Rachel Wood-"Westworld"-HBO

Congratulations to Sandra Oh, for becoming the first percent of Asian descent to be nominated in this category, and she can win this. "Killing Eve" caught on really late, but caught on strong enough for her to get in. This is a strong field though, mostly returning names, including two returning winners with Elisabeth Moss for "The Handmaid's Tale" and BBC America's other crossover hit, Tatiana Maslany coming back in for her final season; she won two years ago and wasn't eligible last year. Meanwhile, it's Keri Russell's last year for "The Americans" and she's had a long TV career that some might see due. However it's Claire Foy's last season on "The Crown"; Olivia Colman will be taking her place next season as they age the characters up a bit, so this her last chance, and she did win SAG, so she's got some momentum. And Evan Rachel Wood's back, and I know there were some who thought she came damn close to winning last year-, Jesus, this is tough category this year. And next year, it's gonna look completely different. By that, I mean Mandy Moore better fucking get in next year! (Seriously, Actors, were you not watching the show after the Super Bowl last year!?!?!? What the hell!?)

(Bites candy bar)

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Peter Dinklage-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Joseph Fiennes-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
David Harbour-"Stranger Things"-Netflix
Mandy Patinkin-"Homeland"-Showtime
Matt Smith-"The Crown"-Netflix

Jesus Christ, somebody's still watching "Homeland" in the Academy?! (Sigh)... Anyway, with his seventh nomination, this makes Peter Dinklage, wow, the most nominated person ever, in this category. He broke a five-way tie at six Supporting Actor in a Drama Series nomination between, Ed Begley, Jr. who got six nominations for "St. Elsewhere", Will Geer, who was nominated six for "The Waltons"- holy fuck! Somebody got nominated six times for "The Waltons"!-um, sorry, eh Jimmy Smits, who was nominated six times for "L.A. Law"-, really, just-, just for "L.A. Law" in this category? (IMDB search) oh, okay he submitted in Lead for "NYPD Blue" and they counted him as Guest that one year on "Dexter", okay, and Bruce Weitz, who was nominated six times also, all for "Hill Street Blues"-, okay that one's not surprising. Wow, Peter Dinklage passed all of them, congratulations to him. He's up against his co-star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who's got his first nomination this year, so he has a lot of catching up to do. Matt Smith, switched categories the other way this year going from Lead to Supporting for "The Crown" and it worked out, although it helps that John Lithgow wasn't eligible from the show this year. David Harbour is back, the only repeat from last year, besides Patinkin that stayed in the category. The extra room left a spot for Joseph Fiennes to finally breakthrough, a male nominee for "The Handmaid's Tale", ouch. That's not a good sign for Series if you're a "Game of Thrones" or a Westworld" fan.


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Alexis Bledel-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Millie Bobby Brown-"Stranger Things"-Netflix
Ann Dowd-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Lena Headey-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Vanessa Kirby-"The Crown"-Netflix
Thandie Newton-"Westworld"-HBO
Yvonne Strahovski-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu

Three nominees for "The Handmaid's Tale" in the category, and not all expected ones either, although I did call Yvonne Strahovski in my predictions. Alexis Bledel won last year for Guest Actor, she's moved up to Supporting this season, and Ann Dowd's last year's winner. 2% rule got Vanessa Kirby in for "The Crown" which, were kinda dismissing offhandedly, but it did get 13 nominations. which is an improvement from last year, and it's in Writing and Directing, so don't immediately overlook it as an also-ran show. Millie Bobby Brown and Thandie Newton return from last year, Newton was a threat to win last year, so a split vote might help her in some scenarios, Lena Headey's back from the year before. This might be a prognosticator category this year for Series.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
The Crown-"Paterfamilias"-Stephen Daldry-Netflix
Game of Thrones-"Beyond the Wall"-Alan Taylor-HBO
Game of Thrones-"The Dragon and the Wolf"-Jeremy Podeswa-HBO
The Handmaid's Tale-"After"-Kari Skogland-Hulu
Ozark-"The Toll"-Jason Bateman-Netflix
Ozark-"Tonight We Improvise"-Daniel Sackhelm-Netflix
Stranger Things-"Chapter nine: The Gate"-The Duffer Brothers-Netflix

Wow, two nominations for "Ozark"? You gotta go back to the sixties to see a show get two nominations for Drama Series Directing and not have that show get into Series; and even then, that was "CBS Playhouse" that was a Movie of the Week show, that doesn't count; it didn't submit in Drama Series and the rules were all weirder back then; the didn't separate Drama Series from Miniseries or TV Movies or Dramatic Specials or whatever...- anyway, that's really weird.  (BTW, Wikipedia's wrong on that, "Sirens" didn't get two Directing nominations in '93, one of them is for an episode of "Sisters". I don't know why I'm mentioning that; most of you are too young to remember either of those shows.) The big name of course is Stephen Daldry for "The Crown", he's a three-time Oscar nominee behind "Billy Elliot," "The Hours", "The Reader", among others, he's also a big stage director. Two "Game of Thrones" in, I think both have a decent shot here. This might be the best shot to honor "Stranger Things" if they wanted to though, but I think it's a loaded field and "The Crown", "Game of Thrones" and "The Handmaid's Tale" are gonna be fighting it out on this one. Still freaked out that "Ozark" got two in, even with seven nominees.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
The Americans-"Start"-Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg-FX Networks
The Crown-"Mystery Man"-Peter Morgan-Netflix
Game of Thrones-"The Dragon and the Wolf"-David Benioff and D.B. Weiss-HBO
The Handmaid's Tale-"June"-Bruce Miller-Hulu
Killing Eve-"Nice Face"-Phoebe Waller-Bridge-BBC America
Stranger Things-"Chapter Nine: The Gate"-The Duffer Brothers-Netflix

Oh, so that's what Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been doing since "Fleabag". Huh. I'm still not sure I liked that series, but it's promising that it got into here. Most of these shows, I think only submitted one or two episodes: I figured "This is Us" would get in since they corrected that mistake last year, but apparently the writers or directors aren't crazy about that show. Not sure why, but anyway, there's some big names here, but nothing overly surprising, Peter Morgan, David Benioff, etc. Look out for the finale of "The Americans" here though, that could be an upset; but I think gut instinct, it's between "Game of Thrones" and "The Handmaid's Tale".


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
F. Murray Abraham-"Homeland"-Showtime
Cameron Britton-"Mindhunter"-Netflix
Matthew Goode-"The Crown"-Netflix
Ron Cephas Jones-"This is Us"-NBC
Gerald McRaney-"This is Us"-NBC
Jimmi Simpson-"Westworld"-HBO

Hey, Showtime; I know this isn't really relevant to the category that much, and I know you're sneaking into some of these acting categories and whatnot, but you had 21 nominations, total this year. "Game of Thrones" beat you! Seriously, I know you're HBO's little brother, but c'mon; you should be better than that. Your big new sitcom, "SMILF" got nothing! Completely shutout! You're lucky, "Twin Peaks", bailed you out the technical side; sure it got screwed over in the major categories that it was supposed to get into (Well, some thought it was supposed to get into those.), but still,  Hulu has one show that matters and it still got six more nominations than you. You're getting killed by Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Amazon, The Big 3, and look who's behind you with 17 nominations. The NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL, and it's not just documentaries they're getting in with anymore either. Somebody in promotion and development better be fired over this. Fine, I like F. Murray Abraham, he's good on that show, but you guys have been stagnant for way too long, and your parent company CBS/Viacom thinks the CBS brand might be good enough to have an internet only Access option, for things that could and should easily be available on your channel instead. Seriously how is "Star Trek: Discovery" not on your channel?

(Sigh) Uh, sorry about that. Anyway, Cameron Britton is a big surprise here, "Mindhunter" was one of Netflix's under the radar shows, although it's got David Fincher's name on it, it never quite caught on until now. It's the only nomination it got, but it's something; it broke into a crowded field that Michael C. Hall couldn't get in for playing JFK. Jimmi Simpson, who I thought should've been up for "Westworld" last year. Ron Cephas Jones and Gerald McRaney are back from "This is Us", although Jones was in Supporting last year. McRaney won last year, although he's got a shot to repeat. I'm not really sure who's the favorite here, this is an interesting category.


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Viola Davis-"Scandal"-ABC
Kelly Jenrette-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Cherry Jones-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Diana Rigg-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Cicely Tyson-"How to Get Away with Murder"-ABC
Samira Wiley-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu

So, Viola Davis is in here because "Scandal" had a crossover with "How to Get Away with Murder", which apparently Viola Davis is still good enough in that she can play that part anywhere and get nominated for something. Meanwhile "The Handmaid's Tale" is so big that Kelly Jenrette got nominated; I had to look her up too, she played June's husband's ex-wife, she's barely in the episode she submitted, and she somehow took the nomination for the show that I think most people thought Marisa Tomei was gonna get. Other than that, no surprised, Cicely Tyson's back in, because she's Cicely Tyson, and Diana Rigg's back in because she's Diana Rigg. I'm thinking somebody from "The Handmaid's Tale" is gonna take this, just not sure who yet, although considering Cherry Jones is an Emmy favorite, I think she's the favorite right now, but this category's up in the air.


VARIETY

OUTSTANDING VARIETY TALK SERIES
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah-Comedy Central
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee-TBS
Jimmy Kimmel Live!-ABC
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-HBO
The Late Late Show with James Corden-CBS
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert-CBS

Welcome back, "The Daily Show"! It took a couple years but I think we finally got used to Trevor Noah and you know what, it's overdue. He's been good for awhile, and I guess he took "Real Time with Bill Maher"'s place. That's unfortunate: I thought Bill Maher was great this year, but he is polarizing. Other than that, nothing unusual or new; I thought Seth Meyers had a shot at breaking in, but we're back to the expected group here, and don't be too surprised if John Oliver's the expected winner. That said, this might be the year Samantha Bee could pull off the win here; I think they're closer to John Oliver than we think. Although she's up again in some of the other Variety categories like she was a couple years ago, so if they don't want to give it to her here,...


OUTSTANDING VARIETY SKETCH SERIES
At Home with Amy Sedaris-truTV
Drunk History-Comedy Central
I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman-Hulu
Portlandia-IFC
Saturday Night Live-NBC
Tracey Ullman's Show-HBO

Two of last year's nominees, "Billy on the Street" and "Documentary Now" were ineligible this year, I think most everybody had Sarah Silverman's show was getting in an ever-weaker field, but I'm surprised that truTV still managed to hang around in this category with "At Home with Amy Sedaris"; I had "Nathan for You" sneaking in, 'cause they were on a helluva promotional campaign, although personally, I've always found that show a bit iffy myself; I've never really sure who the joke is supposed to be on with that one. It's unique, but it's hard to describe, it's like Borat was not trying to find a deeper side to America? I don't know; I don't get it. Nobody else is new, but all joking aside, despite the big nomination count, I do suspect that "SNL" is vulnerable this year. "Portlandia" is in its last season and they've never won, and "Drunk History" is popular, although I'm more of a take-it-or-leave-it guy with that series too. Boy, this category can use some new blood coming into it next year.


OUTSTANDING VARIETY SPECIAL (PRE-RECORDED)
Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special-CBS
Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2018-CBS
Dave Chappelle: Equanimity-Netflix
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents: The Great American* Puerto Rico (*It's Complicated)-TBS
Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening you Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life-Netflix

Goddamn, "Carpool Karaoke", again! God, it's just a clip! Christ-, anyway, uh, don't worry about the weird new parentheticals in the category name; they just decided for whatever reason to change "Special Class Program" to "Variety Special (Live)"-, I- guess "Special Class" is kinda vague, and considering how negatively we always used the term "Special Class" in school, yeah, probably not a bad idea to change its name honestly. Well, this is an interesting mix this year. A Carol Burnett special, that's awesome, a Dave Chappelle standup, that's nice to see, especially considering how much the stand-ups have overtaken the Variety Special Writing category in recent years. A Steve Martin and Martin Short evening, that sounds cool, the two good Amigos. (I'll pause to let that one sink in.) Plus, "Full Frontal..."'s got a major special revolving around Puerto Rico-, yeah, that's probably the favorite, and I hope it does win, or at least that that "Carpool Karaoke Special" doesn't. I like the bit too, but it's great the first time on Corden, we shouldn't be honoring it when they're just collecting the clips and putting them on Primetime for a night.


OUTSTANDING VARIETY SPECIAL (LIVE)
The 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards-NBC
60th Annual Grammy Awards-CBS
Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert-NBC
Night of Too Many Stars: America Unites for Autism Programs-HBO
The Oscars-ABC

Okay, somebody tell the damn Oscars to stop trying to be cool and tell them to submit under their real name, "90th Annual Academy Awards"!  You're fucking 90! Okay, one of the big over-performers this year was "Jesus Christ Superstar" which got a surprising 13 nominations overall, including several acting nominations that'll show up in the Limited Series/TV Movie categories. Because it's a live broadcast, it's not eligible for that category, but it makes it eligible here with the three Award shows and the "Night of Too Many Stars..." special. (Sigh) Have I ever talked about how much I hate "Jesus Christ Superstar" on here? No? Well, maybe I will some other time. (Sorry, short version of the story, I have a low Andrew Lloyd Webber tolerance, and "JSC" is my limit.)


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee-"Episode 2061"-Andre Allen-TBS
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-"Episode 421"-Paul Pennolino-HBO
The Late Late Show with James Corden-"Episode 0416"-Tim Mancinelli-CBS
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert-"Episode 438"-Jim Hoskinson-CBS
Portlandia-"Riot Spray"-Carrie Brownstein-IFC
Saturday Night Live-"Host: Donald Glover"-Don Roy King-NBC

Just as a general rule, unless there's a reason to go against Don Roy King here, got with Don Roy King. Although it should be noted that the "Full Frontal" episode that's nominated is the one where Samantha Bee calls Ivanka Trump a cunt, which was awesome and true, and she shouldn't have apologized for that.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
Dave Chappelle: Equanimity-Stan Lathan-Netflix
Jerry Seinfeld: Jerry Before Seinfeld-Michael Bonfiglio-Netflix
The Oscars-Glenn Weiss-ABC
Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Wil Forget for the Rest of Your Life-Marcus Raboy-Netflix
Super Bowl LII Halftime Show Starring Justin Timberlake-Hamish Hamilton-NBC

I don't remember if this is a year they put this on the main show or not, but it's interesting to see three Stand-Up special get in here. I mean Glenn Weiss always gets in and he's good too. Still, the Standup category is usually Writing, nice to see Directing getting honored here.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee-Head Writer: Melinda Taub; Writer Supervisors: Ashley Nicole Black and Joe Grossman; Writers: Samantha Bee; et. al.-TBS
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-Writers: John Oliver, Tim Carvell,... et. al.-HBO
Late Night with Seth Meyers-Writers: Seth Meyers, Jermain Affonso,... et. al.-NBC
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert-Head Writers: Jay Katsir and Opus Moreschi; Writers: Stephen Colbert,... et. al.-CBS
Saturday Night Live-Head Writer: Michael Che, Colin Jost, Kent Sublette and Bryan Tucker; Writers: Lorne Michaels..., et. al.-NBC

Well, no other sketch shows go in, so this makes "SNL" the favorite for sure in Sketch Comedy Series, and Seth Meyers got in for the second straight year, which is interesting considering how he can't seem to get into Series. I suspect it's between Samantha Bee and John Oliver. You know, traditionally this category doesn't always match with Series, so upset are possible here.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents: The Great American*: Puerto Rico (*It's Complicated)-Head Writer: Melinda Taub; Writer Supervisors: Ashley Nicole Black and Joe Grossman; Writers: Samantha Bee; et. al.-TBS
John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City-John Mulaney-Netflix
Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady-Michelle Wolf-HBO
Patton Oswalt: Annihilation-Patto Oswalt-Netflix
Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life-Steve Martin and Martin Short

Totally forgot this category when I originally posted. Sorry about that. Eh, tough category too this year. Glad to see Michelle Wolf got in, Patton Oswalt and John Mulaney are returning, Oswalt had a surprise win in this category a couple years ago, Steve Martin & Martin Short are both overdue for Emmys; I know Steve Martin hasn't won since he was a writer on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour", and Martin Short-eh, well he won a couple years ago as a producer for "AFI Lifetime Achievement Award" special, the one they gave to Mel Brooks, and he's won as a writer for "SCTV" a couple times. I don't know, for as long as they've been around, you'd think they would more Emmys than they have. It's gonna be how much do they love "Full Frontal..." let's be blunt. If they really love it, I mean, there's four stand-up performances here and none of them got into Variety Special, and the one that did didn't sneak into Writing shockingly, so unless they really love one of these names, it's probably gonna be how much do they love Samantha Bee.  If there's an upset, probably Martin & Short.


REALITY PROGRAMMING

OUTSTANDING REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
The Amazing Race-CBS
American Ninja Warrior-NBC
Project Runway-Lifetime
RuPaul's Drag Race-VH1
Top Chef-Bravo
The Voice-NBC

Eh, nothing too surprising here, it's the same six as last year, although this might the last chance they get to honor "Project Runway". See, that show was owned by The Weinstein Corporation and-, well, let's talk business side of it, for now, basically, the sale is mostly cleared, but more than that, all of their projects are in limbo at the moment. It is technically coming back, and coming back to Bravo btw, so, that's a whole new part of that story, but-eh, this would be a good time to finally, long overdue honor it Academy! Seriously, long overdue! Oh also, I'm not gonna put it on here, but the finally created a Casting Emmy for Reality shows, which includes "RuPaul's Drag Race", "Project Runway", and "The Voice" as well as "Born This Way" and the new revival of "Queer Eye". It's worth noting I think.


OUTSTANDING STRUCTURED-REALITY PROGRAM
Antiques Roadshow-PBS
Fixer Upper-HGTV
Lip Sync Battle-Paramount Network
Queer Eye-Netflix
Shark Tank-ABC
Who Do You Think You Are?-TLC

I actually like this category and there are some interesting names among the Producers that are worth noting. Little surprised "Fixer Upper' came back, but other than that...- BTW, this is "Antiques Roadshow" sixteenth nomination, and they've yet to win; I don't know why there's a holdup on that. I mean, it's about time, isn't it? The original "Queer Eye" won years ago, "Lip Sync Battle"'s too new, "Who Do You Think You Are?"-, um actually that's never won either and it's a great show but I think I prefer "Finding Your Roots" a bit more; why not "Antiques Roadshow" one year? I don't get it. Did "Finding Your Roots" get anything? No. Ahhh. :(


OUTSTANDING UNSTRUCTURED REALITY PROGRAM
Born this Way-A&E
Deadliest Catch-Discovery Channel
Intervention-A&E
Naked and Afraid-Discovery Channel
RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked-VH1
United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell-CNN

"Naked and Afraid" has come back into the category after "GayCation with Ellen Page" was in last year. Little afraid of "Naked and Afraid" being in this, but, oh-kay. I think 'United Shades of America..." got the Host nomination so they could seem a bit like a favorite here, but "Born This Way" has won this every year so far it's been up. Never rule out "Intervention" or "Deadliest Catch". It's actually interesting seeing A&E and Discovery Channel, they've both taken some strange routes into branding their channels into reality dens lately, and they've done pretty good jobs overall I must say. VH1 has been a reality den for awhile, it's just finally got something good, and even that originated on Logo, but you know what I mean.


OUTSTANDING HOST OF A REALITY OR REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
W. Kamau Bell-"United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell"-CNN
Ellen DeGeneres-"Ellen's Game of Games"-NBC
Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn-"Project Runway"-Lifetime
Jane Lynch-"Hollywood Game Night"-NBC
RuPaul-"RuPaul's Drag Race"-VH1

Jane Lynch wasn't eligible last year, although she won the two previous years, and she's an Emmy favorite and she's probably gonna win for Guest Actress in a Comedy, (Exhale) however, RuPaul won last year and "RuPaul's Drag Race" has done really well overall. W. Kamau Bell was nominated last year as well, and his show is a favorite too. Heidi & Tim have won before as well, no Alec Baldwin or Gordon Ramsay or Martha & Snoop this year, unfortunately. That said, eh, Ellen DeGeneres, hmm. Now, she's won a ton of Emmys, but she hasn't won a Primetime Emmy in a while though; you gotta go back for when she won for her sitcom, and that was for Writing, she's won never won as a performer of any kind, so she could be a big wild card here. They do love her too, and the Television Academy, they do owe her one. She had to host two of these, including the Emmys after 9/11 that was delayed twice, so ehhhh, fine, you turned that awkward playing game bit on your talk show into a game show, (Which shouldn't be in reality shows 'cause there's a difference between game shows and reality shows,  same goes for you Jane Lynch) but-eh, I can kinda see where they might be tempted to give it to her this year.


LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIE

OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES
The Alienist-TNT
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story-FX Networks
Genius: Picasso-National Geographic
Godless-Netflix
Patrick Melrose-Showtime

Well, "Patrick Melrose" did a lot better than I thought it would. Overall this is a bit of an odd year in the Limited Series categories. Mostly though, it's gonna be "The Assassination of Gianni Versace", which leads the pack of Limited Series with 18 nominations. "Godless" came in second with 12, and "Twin Peaks" got nine, but got snubbed in Series and acting. I'd feel more sympathy for that, but I thought "Twin Peaks' sucked the first time, so...- Eh, it's Gianni Versace in most of these categories I suspect.


OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE
Fahrenheit 451-HBO
Flint-Lifetime
Paterno-HBO
The Tale-HBO
USS Callister (Black Mirror)-Netflix

Well, "Black Mirror" won this last year, and it overperformed this year getting seven nominations. Everything else is filling out the category. (Shrugs) There might be some possibility of "The tale" being in the mix though, but the Emmys have loved their technically-series-but-submitted-in-Movies series lately.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Antonio Banderas-"Genius: Picasso"-National Geographic
Darren Criss-"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story"-FX Networks
Benedict Cumberbatch-"Patrick Melrose"-Showtime
Jeff Daniels-"The Looming Tower"-Hulu
John Legend-"Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert"-NBC
Jesse Plemons-"USS Callister (Black Mirror)"-Netflix

Even without a "Sherlock" Benedict Cumberbatch found a way in here. (BTW, what the hell was all that with the last season of that show? Boy did that thing jump the shark. I mean, sure it was on shaky ground for a bit there and Watson's wife being a spy was weird, but that should've been able to recover, right? Boy did they go in a weird direction instead? Also, "Coupling" is still Steven Moffat's best show.) Also, if John Legend wins, and he very well could, he'sd become the latest EGOT winner. He already has 10 Grammys, he won an Oscar for the song from "Glory" and he has a Tony Award for being a producer of "Jitney". He'd become the first African-American male to win it, and only second African-American overall after Whoopi Goldberg, and he'd break Robert Lopez's record for being the youngest to win it. There are other interesting names her too though. Darren Criss has to be a favorite as well, and if "Black Mirror" is really strong, it might sneak in a win for an actor like Jesse Plemons, who's a bit overdue on the TV side actually.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Jessica Biel-"The Sinner"-USA
Laura Dern-"The Tale"-HBO
Michelle Dockery-"Godless"-Netflix
Edie Falco-"Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders"-NBC
Regina King-"Seven Seconds"-Netflix
Sarah Paulson-"American Horror Story: Cult"-FX Networks

Somehow they managed to nominate Benedict Cumberbatch and Regina King again in these categories; how do you get lazy in Limited Series or Movie, but they're finding a way. Jessica Biel's a nice surprise that I actually predicted, although I did have Elisabeth Moss coming back, and apparently, I'm the only one who has affection for "Howards End". (I thought the movie was great, I'm sure the miniseries can't be too bad.Man, STARZ just cannot break in) Nice to see Sarah Paulson back; little surprised "American Horror Story" is still a thing, but okay. Really shouldn't have been that surprised that Edie Falco is still an Emmys favorite, but yeah, I'm a little surprised-, I thought we all kinda agreed to try to forget that "Law & Order True Crime" idea, as much as I had been trying to forget the Menendez Murders ever happened. Michelle Dockery's owed, for never winning for "Downton Abbey" and "Godless" seems like a decent second choice, although "The Tale" is the strong second choice for TV Movie, or they can give it to Regina King again. (Shrugs) It might be the only nomination that "Seven Seconds" got, but it is about racist cops injuring an African-American kid, so timely?


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Jeff Daniels-"Godless"-Netflix
Brandon Victor Dixon-"Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert"-NBC
John Leguizamo-"Waco"-Paramount Network
Ricky Martin-"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story"-FX Networks
Edgar Ramirez-"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story"-FX Networks
Michael Stuhlbarg-"The Looming Tower"-Hulu
Finn Wittrock-"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story"-FX Networks

I don't know how I pulled John Leguizamo out of my ass in my predictions, but somehow I got that 100-1 shot right on my ballot, so I'm partying on that one. (Don't worry, I predicted 9 100-1 shots, not including a flyer on Edward James Olson for "Narcos" that wasn't on Gold Derby's board, and I got one right. Hypothetically, if I really gambling I may have come out ahead because of it, but let's be clear, I didn't break the bank or anything.) Anyway, 2% rule applied and Jeff Daniels is nominated twice for two miniseries. A second "Jesus Christ Superstar..." nomination in acting, a second "The Looming Tower" nomination despite that not breaking into Series, curiously enough, and three Gianni Vercase nominees and all three would make interesting winners, although I gotta suspect Edgar Ramirez is both due and owed for not winning for "Carlos" and he's playing Gianni Versace. I mean it didn't help Cuba Gooding, Jr. playing the title character, but his character didn't have a death scene, so...


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Sara Bareilles-"Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert"-NBC
Penelope Cruz-"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story: "-FX Networks
Judith Light-"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story: "-FX Networks
Adina Porter-"American Horror Story: Cult"-FX Networks
Merritt Wever-"Godless"-Netflix
Letitia Wright-"Black Museum (Black Mirror)"-Netflix

It's been awhile since "American Horror Story" got two into acting. Also glad to see Merritt Wever back in something, and I don't remember the last time a movie series got two nominations for two different movies in the same year. They're only allowed to submit one for Series, but "Black Mirror' got an actor in for two movies. I'm not even sure we can go back far enough to figure that out; these genre revivals really recent and you'd probably have to go back to like a "Columbo" or something and I'm not even sure the records are kept on what episodes each actor was up for from back then. Anyway, Judith Light is due, and unfortunately "Transparent"'s not really a viable option for her now, but a win here would be interesting. Sara Bareilles could be the apple in the bag of oranges here too. It's so weird these live revivals had never gotten nominations in before, at least the network ones, some of the PBS ones got people in, but this could be over nothing if Gianni Versace overtakes everything.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story-"The Man Who Would Be Vogue"-Ryan Muphy-FX Networks
Godless-Scott Frank
Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert-David Leveaux; Live Television Director: Alex Rudzinski-NBC
The Looming Tower-"9/11"-Craig Zisk-Hulu
Paterno-Barry Levinson-HBO
Patrick Melrose-Edward Berger-Showtime
Twin Peaks-David Lynch

There's some interesting names here and a very intriguing mix of directing genres as well. 2% rule applied, and I'm a little surprised Gianni Versace only got one in here. "Jesus Christ Superstar..." getting in is interesting though; this is the Variety Series Directing scenario where "Saturday Night Live" wins all the time, are they gonna give more credit to the accomplishment of directing live television over something like multi-part miniseries like "Twin Peaks", "Godless" or "Patrick Melrose" that are directed entirely by one guy? I think Barry Levinson is just in for name recognition for "Paterno"; I can't imagine that's popular enough to get in here on it's own. (Unlike the writing categories, which omits the names of the writers, the director's ballots always have the director's name on them. I think this category is up for grabs and is one of the most interesting in the bunch, and there have been recent upsets in this category here. I wouldn't be shocked if this is the category that goes away from Versace.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
American Vandal-"Clean Up"-Kevin McManus & Matthew McManus-Netflix
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story"-"House By the Lake"-Tom Rob Smith-FX Networks
Godless-Scott Frank-Netflix
Patrick Melrose-David Nicholls-Showtime
Twin Peaks-David Lynch and Mark Frost-Showtime
USS Callister (Black Mirror)-William Bridges and Charlie Brooker-Netflix

Kinda the same issues here, although somehow "American Vandal" ended up of in here. It's the parts or the whole, writing the whole thing vs. writing parts. Last year, "Black Mirror" won the category in an upset and they're here again. Names like Scott Frank and David Lynch though, on the other side. We'll see...


ANIMATION

OUTSTANDING ANIMATED PROGRAM
Baymax Returns (Big Hero 6: The Series)-Disney XD
Bob's Burgers-"V for Valentine-detta"-FOX
Rick and Morty-"Pickle Rick"-Adult Swim
The Simpsons-"Gone Boy"-FOX
South Park-"Put It Down"-Comedy Central

Interesting sidenote her, "Family Guy' has decided to start submitting in Animation again, instead of Comedy Series. (You're only allowed one technically.) Didn't help them this time here, but I thought that was worth noting. "Rick & Morty" returns, which knocked out "Archer", which I found surprising 'cause that did win a couple years ago, and that weird nomination that usually goes to some weird animation special usually, went to "Baymax Returns". (Shrugs) Apparently, I'm the one who didn't outright love "Big Hero 6", but it might work better there. Eh, "Bob's Burgers" won last year, "Rick & Morty" might play spoiler. I know I-, look I like it better than some of Dan Harmon's other projects, but I can only take so much of "Rick & Morty" myself. "The Simpsons" and "South Park", of course, they're "The Simpsons" and "South Park", you know they're around. Sorry "BoJack Horseman" fans, again.


OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORM ANIMATED PROGRAM
Adventure Time-"Ring of Fire"-Cartoon Network
Robot Chicken-"Freshly Baked: The Robot Chicken Santa Claus Pot Cookie Freakout Special: Special Edition"-Adult Swim
Steven Universe-"Jungle Moon"-Cartoon Network
Teen Titans Go!-"The Self-Indulgent 200th Episode Spectacular! Parts 1 and 2"-Cartoon Network
We Bare Bears-"Hurricane Hal"-Cartoon Network

I really do have to catch up on some of these. I never even heard of "We Bare Bears" until now. That said, based on what little I've seen of these, "Steven Universe" is the one I'm most interested in. "Robot Chicken" I always liked too though. That won two years ago, wasn't eligible last year and "Adventure Time" won that. Not sure if this'll be a split for like "Steven Universe" or "Teen Titans" to sneak in or not-. It's a bit unpredictable this category this year.


OUTSTANDING CHARACTER VOICE-OVER PERFORMANCE
Alex Borstein-"Family Guy"-FOX
Dan Castellaneta-"The Simpsons"-FOX
Seth MacFarlane-"American Dad!"-TBS
Seth MacFarlane-"Family Guy"-FOX
Russi Taylor-"The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular"-Disney channel

Congratulations Seth MacFarlane, he's the first person to ever be nominated twice in this category in the same year. Although, remember this category's only been competitive for like, less than ten years, previously it was awarded, and not even every year, only if an Academy committee deemed it so. Also, Seth MacFarlane won this category the last two years and since they separated Narrator and Character Voice-Over into separate categories, the winner has either been from "The Simpsons" or from "Family Guy", and that's 3/5 of the nominees. The 4th is MacFarlane again. (Shrugs) Anybody know if that Mickey Mouse Halloween thing is any good.


SHORT-FORM LIVE ACTION

OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORM COMEDY OR DRAMA SERIES
aka Wyatt Cenac-TOPIC.com
An Emmy for Megan-anemmyformegan.com
Grey's Anatomy: B Team-ABC (abc.go.com)
James Corden's Next James Corden-CBS (CBS on Snapchat)
The Walking Dead: Red Machete-AMC (amc.com)

Well, I'll give James Corden this, he knows how to work modern media. I thought Wyatt Cenac had a shot at sneaking into Variety Series with his HBO show, but that's a loaded category and he's in his first year. I guess I'm not surprised more things like "An Emmy for Megan" don't show up, in that I mean not network programs, but it would be a little nice to see. BTW, what the hell happened to AMC? Man, after "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" the Emmys have just decided to blow that network off. Wow. Hulu should be taking notes.


OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A SHORT FORM COMEDY OR DRAMA SERIES
James Corden-"James Corden's Next James Corden"-CBS (CBS on Snapchat)
Alexis Denisof-"I Love Bekka & Lucy"-Stage13.com
Melvin Jackson Jr.-"The Eddie Murphy Role is Mine, Not Yours"-Youtube
DeStorm Power-"Caught the Series"-YouTube
Miles Tagtmeyer-"Broken"-Vimeo

Huh, a guy named Alexis, that's weird. Well, I think James Corden is the favorite but I think Melvin Jackson Jr. is probably in the running on this. Actually, it's interesting how Corden is really the only big name in this category; everybody else is an up-and-comer; it was the complete opposite last year with six nominees who's IMDB page I didn't have to look up to know who they were. I like that, these are short-forms and sure, there's some who you can argue can and should make a career in this medium, I like the idea of this category being a showcase for names trying to get their earliest breaks instead. Congrats on getting Emmy nominee on your resume guys!


OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A SHORT FORM COMEDY OR DRAMA SERIES

Megan Amram-"An Emmy for Megan"-anemmyformegan.com
Lee Garlington-"Broken"-Vimeo
Naomi Grossman-"Ctrl Alt Delete"-Facebook.com
Diarra Kilpatrick-"American Koko"-ABC (abc.go.com)
Kelli O'Hara-"The Accidental Wolf"-theaccidentalwolf.com
Christina Pickles-"Break a Hip"-Vimeo

Same thing basically applies to the actress category, well, mostly, but it is nice to see Christina Pickles back here; (Wow, she was only nominated once for "Friends"! Wow, she was so good in that.) Oh, and Kelli O'Hara too, I know that name. I'm sure I've seen Diarra Kilpatrick's somewhere before. Okay, I'm probably just unaware of a lot of these names and I'm way past my deadline so I'm not looking them up properly; forget everything I said about the actors; congratulations on all you guys' long overdue and overlooked industry recognition 'til now! (Shrugs) It's the Short-Form categories, I'll learn about them in the weeks to come, okay!


OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORM VARIETY SERIES
Between the Scenes-The Daily Show-Comedy Central (thedailyshow.com)
Carpool Karaoke: The Series-Apple Music
Creating Saturday Night Live-NBC (nbc.com)
Gay of Thrones-FunnyorDie
Honest Trailers-YouTube
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon-Cover Room-NBC (nbc.com)

Really, "Carpool Karaoke: The Series" got in, even. Well, last year, YouTube dominated this category, this year, everybody else got in on it. Trevor Noah, James Corden, Lorne Michaels is a nominee here, Jimmy Fallon is in as well...- and they're up against "FunnyOrDie"'s "Gay of Thrones" and "Honest Trailers" comes back again. I like "Honest Trailers" but I wish some of the Youtubers I like more would submit their names for these; I'm sure a lot of them are big enough now to get in. Hell, Angry Video Game Nerd's on Amazon now, they should submit him next year here. Although he hasn't been short-form in a while, I guess....- (Shrugs)


OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORM NONFICTION OR REALITY SERIES
The Americans: The Final Season-FX Networks
Anthony Bourdain: Explore Parts Unknown-CNN (cnn.com)
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story: America's Obsessions-FX Networks
Jay Leno's Garage-NBC (nbc.com)
Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen-Bravo (bravotv.com)

I'm honestly surprised "Last Chance Kitchen" came back in, considering this season was a bit of a weird one on "Top Chef". (This last season of 'Top Chef" in general actually was a bit of-, not a dud, but maybe a bit of a trip, literally, like missing a step, trip, but still landing, on your feet, but not gracefully, kinda thing?) Nothing too surprising here, a bunch of shows on network-affiliate shows. (Sigh) Anthony Bourdain's name is gonna pop up a few times here, it's gonna be sad every time and there's not much I can do about that.


DOCUMENTARY/NONFICTION/INFORMATIVE/et.al.

OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION SERIES
American Masters-PBS
Blue Planet II-BBC America
The Defiant Ones-HBO
The Fourth Estate-Showtime
Wild Wild Country-Netflix

I don't think I reviewed it, but I did see "The Defiant Ones"; that was quite an elaborate series. I could see that winning. "American Masters" is, of course, one of my favorites, and it's the only returning nominee here, although "Planet Earth II" won last year and now it's sister series "Blue Planet II" is up here. The Emmys seem to love these planet documentaries but honestly, something about them just rubs me the wrong way; I can figure out quite what it is especially since I normally like a lot of stuff like that. but something kinda-... I don't know, maybe I just grew up on too much "Wild Kingdom" or something. There are a few interesting names attached to these, Allen Hughes is a producer on "The Defiant Ones"  and The Duplass Brothers are EPs for "Wild West Country". There could be an upset or two, but I suspect "Blue Planet" vs. "American Masters". is the expected battle here.


OUTSTANDING INFORMATIONAL SERIES OR SPECIAL
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown-CNN
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath-A&E
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman-Netflix
StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson-National Geographic
Vice-HBO

Welcome back, Dave! We missed you. Last year, Leah Remini took the category from Anthony Bourdain which was a bit of an upset as we weren't quite sure how Hollywood would take to an anti-Scientology series. I'm glad they accepted it 'cause it's an amazingly addicted series, even though it is painful as Hell to sit through. I'm not sure how this'll go. "Vice" has won in the past, Bourdain's got the sentimentality vote, Leah Remini's back and the second season, Neil deGrasse Tyson's always a possibility, and Letterman's back. This category is really strong and includes some of the best television has to offer at the moment.


EXCEPTION MERIT IN DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING
City of Ghosts-A&E
Jane-National Geographic
Strong Island-Netflix
What Haunts Us-Starz

"Strong Island" was an Oscar nominee this past year and "City of Ghosts" and "Jane" were major Oscar contenders. (As per usual, the two Academies have figure out how to deal with this at some point.) Anyway, I've seen two of these, "City of Ghosts" and "Strong Island" and I'm getting to "Jane" shortly. This is a weird category- as far as I can tell it's basically the category for documentaries that are technically theatrically released but backed by a TV network. Unless it isn't. (Sigh)


OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION SPECIAL
Icarus-Netflix
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring A Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton-Netflix
Mister Rogers: It's You I Like-PBS
Spielberg-HBO
The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling-HBO

"Icarus" is the film that won the Documentary Oscar last year, and it's a good movie, but yeah- this should not keep happening the Oscar and Emmy crossover stuff, and I'll keep complaining about it 'til it does stop btw. I also saw "Jim & Andy...", which is eye-opening- I had rumors about Jim Carrey's behavior on the set of "Man on the Moon" for years, it's really amazing to see some of it now. He definitely was a little bit too out there. Those two Netflix ones or up against Mister Rogers and Steven Spielberg, so-eh, good luck with that! Oh, and Garry Shandling as well. Judd Apatow's associated with that, as is Sheila Nevins who's recently retired from her role as head of HBO Documentary Films, it is legitimately hard to keep up with how many Emmys and Emmy nominations she has, on top of several, several, several, sev-er-al other awards. I think with this latest one, it's her 76th which is second only to Lorne Michaels all-time, with his nominations, he's up, I believe 82, and Nevins has a lot more wins btw. She is a legend.

Speaking of legends, also, Tony Clifton is nominated as a producer on "Jim & Andy...". (Shrugs) Make of that what you will.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION PROGRAM
Icarus-Bryan Fogel-Netflix
Jane-Brett Morgan-National Geographic
The Vietnam War-"Episode 8: The History of the World (April 1969-May 1970)-Ken Burns and Lynn Novick-PBS
Wild Wild Country-"Part 3"-Chapman & Maclain Way-Netflix
The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling-Judd Apatow-HBO

"Icarus" the Oscar winner, up against "Jane", and the great documentarian Brett Morgan, which I don't think it ever beat in competition during the Oscar precursors, Ken Burns, that Duplass Brothers "Wild Wild Country" project that I have to look, and Judd Apatow directing a love letter to Garry Shandling. This is why I showcase these categories; there are some great interesting races here and television is so much more than just sitcoms that people are snarky about an overrated drama series that everybody thinks are the greatest things ever.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A NONFICTION PROGRAM
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown-"Southern Italy"-Anthony Bourdain-CNN
The Defiant Ones-"Episode 1"-Allen Hughes, Lasse Jarvi and Doug Pray-HBO
Icarus-Bryan Fogel, Mark Monroe, and Jon Bertain-Netflix
Jane-Brett Morgan-PBS
Mister Rogers: It's You I Like"-JoAnn Young-PBS
The Vietnam War-"Episode 8: The History of the World (April 1969-May 1970)-Geoffrey C. Ward-PBS

Another loaded category. I've often called Anthony Bourdain one of the best writers on television and that was totally true. (Sigh) I already talked about him; I have no idea if he's gonna win here, or what's gonna win here. I can see a scenario where people think this Mister Rogers documentary is the same one that's in theaters now and they vote for that. Actually, I remember a great Mister Rogers documentary years ago called "Mr. Rogers & Me" which I really liked as well. People love Mr. Rogers, what can I say?


INTERACTIVE

OUTSTANDING INTERACTIVE PROGRAM
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah-Comedy Central
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee-TBS
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-HBO
The Late Late Show with James Corden-CBS
Saturday Night Live-NBC

So the joke is that I don't what the hell this "Interactive category even is, but here's the thing, whatever it is, they last year they found reasons to add new categories to it this year.


OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL INTERACTIVE PROGRAM
Back to the Moon-Google Spotlight Stories App
Blade Runner 2049: Memory Lab-Oculus
Coco VR-Oculus
NASA JPL: Cassini's Grand Finale-YouTube
Spider-Man Homecoming VR Experience-Playstation VR App

I don't know how original "Blade Runner" and Spider-Man" can be but I guess they're interactive. Ha-ha-ha, ha, ha, kill me, kill me now.


OUTSTANDING CREATIVE ACHIEVEMENT IN INTERACTIVE MEDIA WITHIN A SCRIPTED PROGRAM
13 Reasons Why-"Talk to the Reasons"-Netflix
Mr. Robot-"Ecoin"-USA
Rick and Morty-"Virtual Rick-ality"-Adult Swim
Silicon Valley-"Interactive World: not Hotdow, VR & Twitter-Powered Pizza Drones"-HBO
Westworld-"Chaos Takes Control Interactive Experience"-HBO

At this point, I'm just posting this award here to show "Mr. Robot" and "13 Reasons Why" fans that yes indeed, they actually do remember/know your shows exist at the Academy, some part of the Academy does anyway?


OUTSTANDING CREATIVE ACHIEVEMENT IN INTERACTIVE MEDIA WITHIN AN UNSCRIPTED PROGRAM
CONAN Without Borders-TBS
The Oscars-"All Access"-ABC
RuPaul's Drag Race-"Season 10 RuVeal"-VH1
Watch What Happens Live! With Andy Cohen-Bravo

I'm not sure I'm going to include these categories in next year's post, or for that matter make any predictions on them when it's time for that to happen. Glad to see Conan got something though.


MISCELLANEOUS

OUTSTANDING NARRATION
Sir David Attenborough-"Blue Planet II"-"One Ocean"-BBC America
Charles Dance-"Savage Kingdom"-"Uprising: First Blood"-Nat Geo WILD
Morgan Freeman-"March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step"-Hulu
Carl Reiner-"If You're Not In The Obit, Eat Breakfast"-HBO
Liev Schreiber-"24/7"-"Canelo-Golovkin"-HBO

Morgan Freeman got into Narration...- Awk-ward. (BTW, did you know there was a "March of the Penguins 2...?") Liev Schreiber is the only returning nominee and they seem to like him, but he's up against Attenborough, Dance, Freeman, and TV legend Carl Reiner. This can go any way. Although, I can't help but notice the lack of female nominees here; that's conspicuous, and the second time that's happened in the category. Also, where's Ron Howard? In fact, "Arrested Development" didn't get anything, wow. Wonder if that means that we should be skeptical of bringing back series that have been canceled or ended?


OUTSTANDING CHILDREN'S PROGRAM
Alexa & Katie-Netflix
Fuller House-Netflix
The Magical Wand Chase: A Sesame Street Special-HBO
A Series of Unfortunate Events-Netflix
Star Wars Rebels-Disney XD

Is that what we're actually calling "Fuller House", a "Children's Program"? Seriously? I mean, it's not for anybody, but does that mean you say it's for children? (Sigh) Well, at least they're not trying to call the Macy's Parade as a Children's Program again. (Seriously, that was nominated last year in this category) BTW, I'm not sure how this would be fixed or anything, but these "Children's Program", all the actors in them submit their names for the Comedy or Drama Emmys; hell, Neil Patrick Harris is often listed as having an outside shot at a nomination. I guess I'm not against it in theory, but I do think this is probably clogging up more ballots than we think? Would it be that wrong to have a Children's Program Performer category or two? They do it with the Daytime Emmys, why not with the Primetime ones, especially since there are more outlets for Primetime Children's series than ever before?


OUTSTANDING MAIN TITLE DESIGN
The Alienist-TNT
Altered Carbon-Netflix
Counterpart-Starz
GLOW-Netflix
Westworld-HBO

I got into some debate with people over whether "GLOW" should be in here since they only use their Main Title Design for one or two episodes a season. I'm okay with it, especially since, they put things in here half the time that I'm amazed even have Main Title Designs  I mean, one of the first winners of this category was "NBC: The First Fifty Years-A Closer Look". I mean, they've given this category to Information specials, seriously. The Oscars have won this category before and relatively recently. So, yeah, "GLOW", is definitely in. Although up against "Westworld" again is gonna make this interesting.


OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MAIN TITLE THEME MUSIC
Godless-Carlos Rafael Rivera-Netflix
The Last Tycoon-Mychael Danna-Prime Video
Marvel's The Defenders-John Paesano-Netflix
The Putin Interviews-Jeff Beal-Showtime
Somebody Feed Phil-Mike S. Olson, Bridget Ellen Kearney, Michael Calabrese and Rachael Price-Netflix
The Tick-Chris Bacon-Prime Video

Eh, there's a couple interesting names here like Mychael Danna, the Oscar-nominated composer, but mostly this isn't a particularly compelling field. People seem to care more about Original Songs nowadays instead of the Main Title Theme's anymore; if shows even have these sometimes.


OUTSTANDING MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A SERIES (ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE)
Game of Thrones-"The Dragon and the Wolf"-Ramin Djawadi-HBO
Marvel's Jessica Jones-"AKA Playland"-Sean Callery-Netflix
Once Upon a Time-"Leaving Storybrooke"-Mark Isham, Cindy O'Connor, and Michael Simon-ABC
SEAL Team-"Pattern of Life"-W.G. Snuffy Walden and A. Patrick Rose-CBS
Star Wars Rebels-"Family Reunion -- And Farewell"-Kevin Kiner-Disney XD
Westworld-"Akane No Mai"-Ramin Djawadi-HBO

I'm actually kinda amazed shows actually go out and get composition anymore; it's a lot cheaper to just use stock music. Anyway, Ramin Djawadi's got the rare title of competing against himself this year. There are a few other interesting names here, Mark Isham, Snuffy Walden for instance. Not sure why "Star Wars Rebels" needs to find new music scoring, but okay.


OUTSTANDING MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR SPECIAL (ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE)
Alias Grace-"Part 1"-Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna-Netflix
The Commuter (Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams)-Harry Gregson-Williams-Prime Video
Crazy Diamond (Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams)-Cristobal De Veer-Prime Video
Godless-"Homecoming"-Carlos Rafael Rivera-Netflix
March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step-Cyril Aufort-Hul
USS Callister (Black Mirror)-Daniel Pemberton-Netflix

Wow, there are some big names here. Harry Gregson-Williams, Mychael Danna, Carlos Rafael Rivera..., this could be interesting. I wonder what that "Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams" thing is. Guess it's another anthology series of some kind.


OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MUSIC AND LYRICS
"Totally Gay"-Big Mouth-Music & Lyrics: Mark Rivers-Netflix
"In the Market for a Miracle"-A Christmas Story Live-Music & Lyrics: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul
"High Crimes and Misdemeanors"-The Good Fight-Music & Lyrics: Jonathan Coultron-CBS (CBS All Access)
"Just Getting Started"-If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast-Music: Dave Grusin; Lyrics: Alan Berman & Marilyn Bergman-HBO
"Come Back Barack"-Saturday Night Live-Music: Eli Brueggermann-NBC
"The Buddy Song"-Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Life-Music & Lyrics: Steve Martin-Netflix

Man, I didn't even know the Bergman's were still around making music. They've been writing songs for films for decades. Interesting to see an actual live production get in here, and it not be "Jesus Christ Superstar", thank god, that thing doesn't need more music. I suspect "Come Back Barack" is gonna be big, but I wouldn't put it past the Academy to honor Steve Martin here either.


OUTSTANDING COMMERCIALS
Alexa Loses Her Voice-Amazon
Earth: Shot on iPhone-iPhone
In Real Life-Monica Lewinsky/Anti-Bullying
It's a Tide Ad-Tide
The Talk-P&G/My Black is Beautiful

I'm a little surprised the Tide ad got in, I didn't particularly like that ad. Yeah, Monica Lewinsky got in here, make your jokes, and then go see the anti-bullying ad, it's absolutely horrifying. That said, I actually am leaning towards the Alexa ad; I thought that was funny and clever.


Alright, pretty much everything left is a craft award of some kind. Cinematography, Lighting, Makeup, Costumes, Editing, etc. If you're really interested, check out the full list for those categories. Me, I'm got some TV to watch, and I'm already way late with this. Well, the Emmys are,- Oh Christ, it's NBC's year to host it, Mon-Day, September 17th, and the Creative Arts are the weekend before, I recommend watching GoldDerby's live streaming of them. Alright, I need a break, and I need to voluntarily fall asleep, preferably on a bed and not my keyboard.