Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Personal Ballot: The 2012 Emmy Awards

I don't spend nearly as much time writing about TV on this site, which is odd considering the ludicrous number of shows that I try and keep up with. So, instead of merely commenting on just the Emmy winners and the show itself, I figured that this year I could spend a little more time on TV's biggest awards show, namely by offering up my picks for some of the main categories, along with my winner(s). Also, my friend Patrick has done this exact same thing over on his wonderful blog (link), and I'm once again tempted to steal his format again, just like I did for my Best of the Year/Oscar ballot a few months ago.

A quick word on the awards though. I'm generally trying to follow where shows are placed, which means that something like Sherlock will be left out (it was submitted as a miniseries). However, Downton Abbey, previously submitted as a miniseries, was submitted under drama series for its second season. Now, despite the amount of TV that I watch, I'm a little surprised at the categories that I'm unable to fill (the Emmys have 6 nominees in major categories, as opposed to the award show standard of 5). So, for certain categories, there may be a slot (or two...though I hope not) with a series of dashes. Clearly I'm still not watching enough TV, at least now when it comes to certain categories. Finally, as with my Oscars post, my picks are listed alphabetically, with the winner in bold/italics.

Outstanding Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Game of Thrones
Mad Men

This was painfully close, especially because Breaking Bad's fourth season had so many breathtaking moments (remember the end of "Crawl Space?"). However, I'm giving it to Showtime's Homeland for starting off with such a stellar first season. The mystery, intrigue, and tension were handled in a way that many shows can only dream of doing in their first runs.

Outstanding Comedy Series
Happy Endings
Parks and Recreation

Though season 4 marked a slight step down (the Tom and Anne subplot), Parks and Recreation was once again my favorite comedy. The characters are so well drawn and so fun, and the show knows how to be hilarious and still break out moments that are genuinely touching. Bonus points for excellent guest stars Kathryn Hahn and Paul Rudd.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Steve Buscemi - Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad
Jon Hamm - Mad Men
Jason Isaacs - Awake
Damian Lewis - Homeland
Timothy Olyphant - Justified

Another insanely difficult showdown between Breaking Bad and Homeland, and once again I find myself picking the freshman show. There was so much strong work in this category (even from Buscemi, who's show I have here almost as filler), but it really boiled down to Cranston and Lewis. The tipping point? Lewis' scene in the bunker in Homeland's season finale, which is such a tightly-coiled, emotional tour-de-force that it might be some of the best acting I've ever seen on TV.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes - Homeland
Michelle Dockery - Downton Abbey
Kelly Macdonald - Boardwalk Empire
Elisabeth Moss - Mad Men

As the other half of Homeland's dynamite leading duo, Danes was on fire from episode one. Carrie wasn't always likable or sympathetic, but Danes made sure we always knew where she was coming from. Even when scenes called for BIG emotions (the green pen, watching her work dismantled, etc...), Danes ensured that it never felt over the top or forced, and in turn gave us one of the most powerful performances of the past season.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin - 30Rock
H. Jon Benjamin - Archer
Louis C.K. - Louie
Neil Flynn - The Middle
Joel McHale - Community
Adam Scott - Parks and Recreation

Since joining Parks and Recreation at the end of its second season, Adam Scott has become one of the ensemble's most valuable assets. And as he relationship with Leslie developed even further in the show's fourth season, the actor only got more and more room to shine. Scott is, to a point, the show's straight man, yet he's never dull or the weak point. His facial expressions remain a joy to watch, and I'm often reminded of a less goofy/personable Jim Halpert. Well, before The Office started to collapse like a dying star.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Laura Dern - Enlightened
Lena Dunham - Girls
Patricia Heaton - The Middle
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep
Martha Plimpton - Raising Hope
Amy Poehler - Parks and Recreation

Poehler has been on fire ever since Parks and Recreation's second season (when they stopped trying to make her a female Michael Scott). While the show's third season remains my favorite (for now), the fourth season gave us Poehler's best work to date. Funny and goofy, yet still completely human, Leslie Knope comes out on top in a season filled with strong work, from established shows and promising new ones (had it not been for Poehler, this would have gone to Louis-Dreyfus' outstanding comedic exasperation on Veep).

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Peter Dinklage - Game of Thrones
Giancarlo Esposito - Breaking Bad
Walton Goggins - Justified
Vincent Kartheiser - Mad Men
Aaron Paul - Breaking Bad
John Slattery - Mad Men

While I've had a little trouble filling out the leading categories, in supporting there's simply too much good work, this category included (Game of Thrones' Charles Dance is among the many not listed here). All of the work here is outstanding, and I gained a new found love for Slattery's work on Mad Men this year, but ultimately I have to go with Esposito, who created a cold, calculating figure of menace who was capable of making the room feel 10 degrees cooler. It's the sort of chilling work that calls to mind Javier Bardem's work in No Country for Old Men...if Anton Chigurh had been involved in meth dealing and fast food chain restaurants.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Anna Gunn - Breaking Bad
Lena Heady - Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks - Mad Men
Jessica Pare - Mad Men
Fiona Shaw - True Blood
Maisie Williams - Game of Thrones

Another year, another wonderful season of Joan moments on Mad Men. Despite not having as much to do in Mad Men's fifth season, when the show brought out moments for her, Hendricks seized them and made her mark. In a season where so many new performances came forward and impressed me (especially Heady, who was so good in Game of Thrones' "Blackwater" episode), I've ended up going back to an old favorite. 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell - Modern Family
Donald Glover - Community
Nick Offerman - Parks and Recreation
Adam Pally - Happy Endings
Chris Pratt - Parks and Recreation
Damon Wayans Jr. - Happy Endings

Though I remain a loyal devotee of Ron Swanson (Offerman should have won for one of his show's previous two seasons), it was Glover who really won me over this year. Though Community as a show can sometimes strive too hard simply to be different at the expense of humor, Glover remains one of the show's consistent bright spots. His mix of awkward non sequiturs and full-throttle hysterics remain one of the show's best sources of humor, even when the show is having an off day.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Alison Brie - Community
Eliza Coupe - Happy Endings
Jane Krakowski - 30Rock
Aubrey Plaza - Parks and Recreation
Eden Sher - The Middle
Jessica Walter - Archer
Casey Wilson - Happy Endings

Possibly the most jam-packed category this year (I'm sorry, Aisha Tyler, Julie Bowen, Anna Chlumsky, Zosia Mamet, etc...), and yet Eliza Coupe's type-A neurotics on Happy Endings still stand tall. In a year that saw Jane Krakowski do some of her best work on 30Rock to date, along with so many new performances and returning players, Coupe remains one of the funniest women on TV right now. Look no further than "The Kerkovich Way" for a demonstration of the actress' completely spot-on comedic timing, which possesses a nearly laser-like precision.

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series
"Box Cutter" - Breaking Bad
"Crawl Space" - Breaking Bad
"Blackwater" - Game of Thrones
"Marine One" - Homeland
"At the Codfish Ball" - Mad Men
"Commissions and Fees" - Mad Men

Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series
"Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" - Community
"She Did" - Girls
"The Kerkovich Way" - Happy Endings
"Ron and Tammys" - Parks and Recreation
"Win, Lose, or Draw" - Parks and Recreation
"Catherine" - Veep

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series
"Crawl Space" - Breaking Bad
"Salud" - Breaking Bad
"Valar Morghulis" - Game of Thrones
"Marine One" - Homeland
"At the Codfish Ball" - Mad Men
"Signal 30" - Mad Men

Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series
"Heart of Archness: Part 3" - Archer
"She Did" - Girls
"Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" - Community
"Subway; Pamela" - Louie
"The Debate" - Parks and Recreation
"Ron and Tammys" - Parks and Recreation
"Catherine" - Veep

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