If Battle of the Bastards taking home last year’s awards for Best Writing and Best Direction and Game of Thrones as overall Best Series wasn’t enough to show a complete lack of understanding of television, The Emmy Academy last night trumped its own incompetency by not nominating The Leftovers for a single, serious award.
Six weeks or so have passed and I’m still trying to resolve my cognitive dissonance surrounding the final episode of The Leftovers but the world is in agreement – those that watched the show, unlike those who didn’t watch Lost but saw fit to comment – agree The Leftovers is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the finest and most ambitious spectacles to have graced the small screen.
Yes, I’m biased because Damon Lindelof’s writing speaks to me on a deeply spiritual, one-to-one level but more than that; I can recognise brilliant writing, acting, directing and production when I see it. The Academy cannot… or have an agenda.
But don’t take my word for it; The Guardian called it the TV event of the year, The Independent called it life-changing television and one of the century’s best dramas… need more evidence? Try this for size:
Remember how season three’s first episode The Book of Kevin’s opening seven minutes left you a blubbing wreck? Remember how episode five It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World saw Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston) meet God during a Sodom and Gomorrah-esque lion orgy on a ferry before witnesssing God being eaten by said lion?
If it sounds crazy, it was one of the most mind-blowing, beguiling hours of television ever made had me equalp parts laughing and crying and scratching my head saying “what the fuck just happened?”, all in a good way…
The fact that a show this beautifully made received one single nomination (Ann Dowd for Guest Actress in a Drama Series – depsite only appearing in one season three episode) suggests, if not a conspiracy, then purposeful oversight.
Perhaps Lindelof is as disliked in the industry as he is by the internet fanboy Lost pedants… or maybe it was his shameless, tongue-in-cheek efforts to garner Emmy votes by promising a glimpse of Justin Theroux’s ball-junk if nominated.
This prejudice, for that’s the only word I can think for it, extends not only to Lindelof but, by association, also Mimi Leder’s unsurpassed direction. She directed three out of eight of the final season episodes and I’ve not seen such consistently high-quality, unmatched, inventive direction in a TV series. Ever. As I mentioned here, every frame of Mimi’s mise-en-scène is a painting.
Furthermore, while a metteur-en-scene director could do a competent job, Mimi’s distinct style lends The Leftovers’ more depth and unique visual world-building, whereas Craig Zobel constructs his The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother) and Internatioal Assassin’s worlds in a wholly different way.
IF THE EMMYS WERE A FOOTBALL REFEREE…
How Amy Brennerman and Scott Glenn were overlooked for their roles as Laurie and Kevin Garvey Senior is an embarrassment. Lindsay Duncan’s brief appearances, too for that matter.
Check out this single nine-minute scene from episode three for a directing masterclass in where to place the camera to create an emotional wrecking ball Then sit back and marvel at two maestros with a century of acting experience between them raise each other’s game under the tutelege of a sixty-five-year-old director who’s been script supervising and directing film and TV for 40 years… then award Best Writing in a Drama Series to a show that spends half its time discussing dwarf cock and is seemingly directed by toddlers.
THE CROWD WOULD BE SINGING…
But how Carrie Coon and Justin Theroux (especially the former) didn’t receive Best Actress and Actor nominations as Nora Durst and Kevin Garvey Jr is a crime against the arts. Miss Coon’s performances over three seasons are some of the finest performances I’ve ever seen in a television series, and yes… I’m including Bryan Cranston’s Walter White in that list.
“YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING!”
Carrie Coon did receive a Best Supporting Actress nom for Fargo, in which the script required her to use about one fifth of the acting chops she did in The Leftovers.
The academy not recognising Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s great performance as Nikki Swango in Fargo is another shameful oversight. Ewan McGregor and David Thewlis were nominated though, the latter particularly deserving of a nod as he was the glue that held the series together.
Speaking of snubs, how Michael McKean wasn’t nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of long-suffering Charles McGill in Better Call Saul is baffling – I’ve never hated a character so much in all my life. And that, my friends… is acting.
David Harbour’s nomination for wandering around after being hit in the head multiple times in Stranger Things speaks volumes. I haven’t seen This is Us yet but last time I saw Milo Ventimiglia in Heroes, he couldn’t act. Thandie Newton deserves recognition for her game-changer as Maeve in Westworld, but the series as a whole does not.
In summary, there has never been a series like The Leftovers before and there never will be again, it’s just a shame the world wasn’t ready for it but that’s fine. The public aren’t neccesarily supposed to recognise exceptional, ground-breaking, phenomenal television when it sees it.
The Emmy Academy is.
There is one silver lining this year. Due to the fact that its season seven was delayed, Game of Thrones is not eligible this year, so the academy cannot award it every single category because it spunked a load of money on one, single lavish episode.