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Lessons in Predicting from the 2014 Emmys

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  • Riley
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    #330753

    http://www.goldderby.com/news/7165/emmys-ty-burrell-jessica-lange-matt-bomer-entertainment-14702583-story.html

    Different years have different panels.
    It is difficult not to take every win as indicative of a larger trend, but the truth is that the judging panels comprise mere dozens of voters and a few stray ballots really can make a difference.  Ty Burrell of Modern Family was far out front in Gold Derby’s odds for last year’s comedy supporting actor race, in which none of the nominees made an outstanding episode submission.  He was a sensible choice because the consensus was that he had the most passable episode and because he could fall back on his general popularity.  After all, he would go on to win the Screen Actors Guild Award for Actor in a Comedy Series against four lead performances just months later.  That Tony Hale of Veep ultimately overcame nine-to-one odds against all three Modern Family men seemed to indicate a concerted effort by the Emmys to move away from the show.  The comedy supporting actor nominees again failed to yield an outstanding submission this year and Burrell ranked fourth because he could not win last year under similar circumstances.  However, Modern Family repeated its wins for comedy series and directing, while Burrell also returned to the winners’ circle.  Chalk up his loss last year to a fluke or an anarchic panel.

    Different years have different competition.
    Despite having just won a Critics’ Choice Television Award and having won an Emmy two years ago for American Horror Story, Jessica Lange was considered an upset for movie/mini lead actress on Sunday.  This was largely because Laura Linney of The Big C had upset her last year.  After all, losing to Linney meant that Lange was incapable of winning again, right?  No, it turns out that all that it meant was that she was incapable of beating Linney, who was ineligible this year.

    Speeches do not guarantee wins.
    Drama upsets last year by lead actor Jeff Daniels for The Newsroom and supporting actor Bobby Cannavale of Boardwalk Empire sure suggested as much, as did this year’s guest actor Joe Morton of Scandal; however, 2014 offered even more instances of a character arc triumphing over grandstanding and bombast, as lead actress Kerry Washington of Scandal lost to Julianna Margulies of The Good Wife, supporting actor Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones lost to Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad and guest actress Kate Burton of Scandal lost to Allison Janney of Masters of Sex.  On the movie/mini side, lead actor Mark Ruffalo and supporting actor Joe Mantello of The Normal Heart lost to Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman of Sherlock, while supporting actress Julia Roberts of The Normal Heart lost to Kathy Bates of American Horror Story (also a loud role, but with fewer monologues).

    The movie/mini categories are no longer a wash.
    Predicting on buzz or consensus seemed to work for years, but something strange has been afoot this year and last.  Categories that were once so predictable that no one at home bothered doing any research have become the biggest wildcards of the Emmys. Performances with all the acclaim in the world (Matt Bomer in The Normal Heart) go ignored, as do performances that could not sound better on paper (Cicely Tyson in The Trip to Bountiful).  Performances that had been previously ignored when the media and other awards organizations felt that it was the appropriate time to award them are suddenly in vogue at the Emmys (Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman for Sherlock).  And that writing category has the makings of a perennial head-scratcher by overlooking the programs that go on to win miniseries and movie.

    The Emmys go their own way.
    Try as the telecast producers did to spotlight movie stars Matthew McConaughey of True Detective and Julia Roberts of The Normal Heart, but the Emmy voters courageously have no interest in fulfilling media expectations. They vary in regard for acclaim (Orange is the New   Black) and the “cool factor” (Billy Bob Thornton for Fargo) or lack thereof (The Amazing Race for the tenth time).

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    Riley
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    #330755

    http://www.goldderby.com/news/7166/emmys-creative-arts-sherlock-orange-is-the-new-black-entertainment-37485960-story.html

    Heed the Creative Arts.
    Except for a minor shift toward Sherlock in the writing category that dubiously improved its Gold Derby odds from fifty-to-one to thirty-three-to-one, the quadruple Creative Arts upset by Sherlock (cinematography, editing, music, sound editing) did not factor into predictions.  The Creative Arts had actually been a bloodbath for favoured Fargo and The Normal Heart, as they respectively claimed only casting and makeup from a combined seventeen nominations.  Despite the red flags, Fargo or The Normal Heart maintained their frontrunner positions in just about every movie/mini category for the main ceremony, usually with the other as runner-up.  Of course, Sherlock again dominated with three more massive upsets (Benedict Cumberbatch taking lead actor, Martin Freeman supporting actor and Steven Moffat writing), making it the most awarded program in any genre at the 2014 Emmys.

    Pay the Creative Arts no attention.
    Orange is New Black had a great night at the Creative Arts, winning the three categories in which it was nominated: casting, editing and guest actress for Uzo Aduba.  Modern Family was shut out, even losing in categories in which it has historically performed well, like art Direction and sound mixing, which respectively went to first-time nominee House of Lies and consecutive winner Nurse Jackie.  The Creative Arts seemingly confirmed what the nominations had revealed, specifically that Orange is the New Black was coming in strong, as Modern Family was on its way out.  This proved not to be the case at the main ceremony where Modern Family was the triple winner and Orange is the New Black was the one shut out.

    Results are inconsistent.
    If the “Who Goes There” episode of True Detective with the long take won directing after cinematography, why did the “Buridan’s Ass” episode of Fargo with the snowstorm beat Sherlock in directing, but not cinematography?  Emmy voters went for the “Las Vegas” farce episode of Modern Family in directing, but not editing.  How did Sherlock win just about every award that it possibly could against The Normal Heart, shy of the most important one?  Even the Creative Arts had featured internal inconsistency, as The Square won three of its four nominations (cinematography, directing and editing) and inexplicably lost only the documentary top prize.  The victor was the “JFK” installment of American Experience and it had won no other Emmys.

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    AviChristiaans
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    #330756

    A few more:

    1. Submissions do matter. Again: SUBMISSIONS DO MATTER!

    2.Speaking of submission episodes: Watch the episode, and align them with the respective category where they belong. Comedy in Comedy. Drama in Drama. Dramatics Your Honor aint got no legs to stand on in Comedy.
    If there are cases where it worked, they are selective, and exceptions to the rule.

    3. These words (and justifying tactics) should be avoided: BUZZ. MOMENTUM. GOLDEN GLOBE. Presumed VOTER FATIGUE. Metacritic Scores.
    They LOVE him/her. They LURVVVV him/her.  They won’t give ***** another Emmy. He/She/They already won last year, they won’t win again.

    4. Do not jump on bandwagons. Repeat, DO NOT JUMP ON BANDWAGONS. You were born alone. Make up your own mind. And don’t let your dislike for shows/people/trends influence your predictions.

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    SaraR
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    #330757

    Interesting points, Riley, but I think if we learned anything at all from this year’s Emmys and last year’s, it’s that it’s ultimately fruitless to try to use rules or lessons like these in predicting. The Emmys are frustrating but fascinating that way.

    Like you point out, sometimes SPEECHES matter and sometimes they really don’t (I imagine it’s entirely dependent on who’s giving them and in what context/category). The Creative Arts awards matter and they really don’t.

    Submissions matter, but they also really don’t matter. I shared some of this theory in the reactions thread a few days ago, but this year more than most gave the indication that the actor’s submission episode should no longer be seen as the most important factor in a win. While it certainly prevented Robin Wright from winning (although, really, who knows if she could have won with “Chapter 17” anyway), it also didn’t help several actors who had the best tape in his/her respective category: Ricky Gervais, Claire Danes, Matt Bomer, etc. When the favorite wins, is it because he/she had the best tape or because of all the other factors that contributed to them being the favorite? For example, did Allison Janney’s tape help her win this year or was the Academy just so eager to reward her that the tape actually no longer mattered? In Claire Danes’ first season of Homeland, when she was basically a sure thing from the time nominations were announced, did her tape help her maintain that status, or was the push to reward her so strong that she could have won with anything? We’ll never know, because the voters aren’t polled afterward and don’t give reasons for ranking one person above the other.

    Unlike AviChristiaans, I still think that buzz, momentum, and critical opinion matter — for the show at large, at least. (Golden Globes are meaningless, though, and they shouldn’t be used to predict Emmys ever.) Julianna Margulies won with a good but not great tape but her show and performance had buzz and momentum due to TGW’s widely lauded season.

    Bryan Cranston may not have had the amount of buzz and momentum as McConaughey, but the critical reaction, buzz, and momentum to Breaking Bad’s final season was larger than that of True Detective, especially after the questionable category placement. In fact, I think the buzz and momentum from Breaking Bad’s last season and its wins last year carried its stars to wins — especially Aaron Paul.

    Absolutely agree that “fatigue” should be officially retired on these boards. There is no such thing for Emmy voters. “They LOVE him/her” is an absolutely viable argument though. Emmy voters LOVE Bryan Cranston, they LOVE Jim Parsons, they LOVE Allison Janney, they LOVE Modern Family, they LOVE Kathy Bates, etc. This undoubtedly helped them win in categories with very formidable competition.

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    Anonymous
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    #330758

    and apparently, NOT all moviestars can win emmy!

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    Choice Chayawat
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    #330759

    Ricky Gervais may have had the best tape, but it wasn’t the kind of purely comedic tape that Jim Parsons had. It’s worth noting that the person who prevented him from winning five years in a row is Jon Cryer who had ridiculous slapsick comedy in his winning tape. In a field with most nominees having dramatic elements in their tapes, I guess it’s easy for traditional comedy to stand out. It is different from those days when Debra Messing managed to set herself apart from her competitions with a big dramatic ending in her tape.

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    Kevin Jacobsen
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    #330760

    Yes, when predicting in comedy, it’s usually best to predict the biggest, broadly comedic performance will win. If there’s any common denominator between Jim Parsons, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ty Burrell and Allison Janney this year, it is that they were over-the-top funny in their submissions. It is very very rare that a submission with multiple dramatic moments can win. This only seems to be the case if voters really like you, such as Edie Falco or Felicity Huffman. Otherwise, I don’t think someone like Taylor Schilling or Kate Mulgrew or honestly, even Jesse Tyler Ferguson can ever win.

    And the hardest lesson, personally, for me to learn was that the voters still aren’t over Modern Family. And there needs to be a show that is very broadly comedic and ensemble-driven to come along to prevent it from winning a sixth in a row.

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    Atypical
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    #330761

    The major lesson I took from this year’s Emmys (and one that I already “knew” in some senses) is to bank on the repeat winners. I’ve always known that different panels are going to reach different conclusions each year, so wins (at least the bad ones) can feel less stinging and more arbitrary. I used to think that repeat winners year after year meant that the awards were more valid in a sense, b/c different voters were reaching the same conclusions in separate years. Now (especially after Sunday night’s results) it just seems like voter laziness and too easy comfort food. “Speechifying wins Emmys, you guys!” That is until it doesn’t. “But Joe Morton just won an Emmy for his hamfisted speeches on ‘Scandal’!” Yes, but Mark Ruffalo lost for his impassioned speeches about “important” subject matter in “The Normal Heart.” And then next year Jeff Daniels could pretty easily win for the series finale of “The Newsroom” over Jon Hamm if Sorkin gives him the type of closing speech that he had in the pilot episode. No real patterns emerge or lessons learned there. Seeing the arbitrariness of all of this makes things easier to swallow in my view, and also makes the Emmys that much more frustrating to predict correctly.

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    Robert Russaw
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    #330762

    I have learned that for someone else to win, there has to be a strong alternative.   I do feel that Claire Danes had the best tape in her category, but I had the sense that voters did not want to give her a third consecutive Emmy based on the lack of nominations and support for this past season of Homeland.    Marguiles was my runner up choice, and she had a strong subtle tape and strong buzz for The Good Wife to defend her win.

    With Jim Parsons, his strongest alternative was Ricky Gervais, but no other support for Derek and not knowing how to respond to his character could have turned voters off.  Parsons has the broad comedy that voters love and there is no one else in his category that could give him a run for the Emmy.   I do feel, however that Andy Samberg could defeat him, given the right episode.

    I could never get tired of JLD winning lead actress, comedy.   She is pure gold.  But once again, she needs a strong alternative, which does has in her competition.   However, they, their networks, or publicists need to submit their strongest comedic episodes.  McCarthy was a strong choice this year, but JLD’s “Crate” was just too good to ignore.   I do feel , however, that given the right episode, Falco could b every competitive.  Her best submissions have not been given to the judging panel for the past two years.   Same goes for Poehler, who I actually had ranked #1 last year and who may have a decent shot next year.   Sometimes, however, it just comes down to whose show has the strongest buzz as well, when talking about a strong alternative.

    I do feel that McCounaughey had the strongest buzz, but with regards to a strong alternative, “Ozymandias” was just too strong a tape to ignore with regards to a strong performance.   

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    vinny
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    #330763

    I learned four lessons:

    1) Repitition is loved by the Emmys
    2) Read the Creative Arts winners becuase they are good predictors for others (Sherlock anyone)
    3) Amy will lose
    4) JLD will steal the show     

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    espnfan
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    #330764

    Interesting points, Riley, but I think if we learned anything at all from this year’s Emmys and last year’s, it’s that it’s ultimately fruitless to try to use rules or lessons like these in predicting. The Emmys are frustrating but fascinating that way.

    SaraR, I wanted to compliment you as this might be one of the smartest things I have seen here in a long time.  Trying to use a general set of rules for each year is ultimetely useless as each year is different and each year the panels are different for each category.

    The only thing I know about the Emmy’s every year are:

    1.) There is usually one major upset (a la Martin Freeman).

    2.) There is usually one undeserving winner (a la Ty Burrell)

    3.) There is usually a repeat winner, with multiple this year (Parsons, JLD, Margulies, the Breaking Bad cast, etc.)

    The hard part is just figuring out where those things are going to happen.

    Ultimately, right or wrong, I usually go with my gut, no matter what people here or elsewhere may be saying.  Sometimes my gut is right (I have been saying Bomer would lose for weeks) and sometimes it’s wrong (I thought Woody Harrelson would win for a long time).

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    Riley
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    #330765

    I still think that buzz, momentum, and critical
    opinion matter — for the show at large, at least. (Golden Globes are
    meaningless, though, and they shouldn’t be used to predict Emmys ever.)
    Julianna Margulies won with a good but not great tape but her show and
    performance had buzz and momentum due to TGW’s widely lauded season.

    Absolutely agree that “fatigue” should be officially retired on these boards. There is no such thing for Emmy voters.

    What about Claire Danes?  That is my theory as to how Julianna Margulies won.  I think that Claire Danes either ranked first or last on ballots, allowing the person with the second-best tape to have the best average. 

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    vonmar
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    #330766

    1) Just because someone won before, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t win again.  Serously, “spread the wealth” is a terrible (and childish) argument as to why someone shouldn’t win.  Never rule out prior winners.

    2) Don’t choose shows that commit category fraud. Just because they can’t win in the category they started out in doesn’t mean they deserve to win in different category.  They won’t win by pretending that they are something that they are not.  They may have a terrific product, but if it isn’t what it claims to be, it will not win.  Don’t be blinded by love.

    3) Look for nominees with great PR.  Look at Comedy Actor:  Gervais, Cheadle, Macy, Louis CK..nada PR.  Parsons was everywhere all spring and summer.  Promoting The Normal Heart, magazine covers, went to Wimbledon and got insane coverage.  Who was in the panel’s line of sight during the voting period?  Who was out there?

    4) Remember who the voters are, try to think like them, they are not you. 

    My two cents, thank you. 

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    Paul Vargo
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    #330767

    with the ranking system of voting Dramaly and Dramtic performance in comedy races are dead. It seems that a centain number of voters will off the back rank them 5th or 6th and kill their chances.

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    montana82
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    #330768

    I learned a lot of things about the Emmys this year.  None of them good.

    Most offensive to me is that good “comedy” now is considered to be acting as raunchy, childish, and frivilous as possible.  Gervais, Mulgrew, and Ferguson were not Laura Dern in Enlightened.  They had comedy, drama, range, and the best overall character arcs.  But they lost out to people basically acting like they have ADD for 20 minutes.

    Everything else is totally random and as long as the voters are secret we can only guess.  They simply have a rolodex of people/characters they will vote for as long as they submit good work.  Others don’t pass the test for some reason.  I mean Marguiles is so subtle and monotone that the Mad Men actors actually seem alive and scenery chewy yet she wins?  If Jon Hamm sent in a similiar performance he’d lose to someone screaming.   Some people are welcome to the club others are not. 

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