Emmy nominations: Daniel Montgomery’s good, bad and ugly

Emmy voters are usually prone to repeating themselves, but not so this year, where a number of new contenders were recognized and several perennial nominees were shown the door. A healthy embrace of the new is always a good thing, and the nominations overall were satisfying, though I may quibble in places over certain inclusions and exclusions.

Certainly the best returning contender was “Breaking Bad,” which not only received repeat nominations for Best Drama Series and actors Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Anna Gunn, but also picked up new nominations for supporting actor Jonathan Banks and a pair of first-ever writing nominations, for the episodes “Dead Freight” and “Say My Name.”

The best new nominee — though not a new series — is “Louie,” nominated for the first time for Best Comedy Series, and returning to the races for Comedy Writing, Comedy Directing, and Comedy Actor (Louis C.K.). It also earned Melissa Leo a well-deserved bid for Comedy Guest Actress. However, not everyone who deserved a nomination for “Louie” got one. (See below.)

Top of the Lake,” the best movie or miniseries I saw from last season, also made a strong impression with eight nominations, including bids for actors Elisabeth Moss and Peter Mullan.

The Hour,” vastly underrated during its two seasons on BBC America, probably didn’t have a realistic shot at Best Movie/Miniseries, so I’m thrilled to see that it at least returned to the Movie/Miniseries Writing category, and added to that a nomination for Movie/Miniseries Casting.

John Krasinski was shockingly never nominated for an acting award for playing Jim Halpert on “The Office,” so it is some vindication to see him sneak into a Special Class category as a producer of “The Office: The Farewells.”

The late Henry Bromell earned a well-deserved nomination for penning the “Homeland” episode “Q&A.” Given that slate of nominees, he deserves to win the posthumous honor.

I’m also happy to see deserved breakthrough nominations for Vera Farmiga (“Bates Motel“), Laura Dern (“Enlightened“), Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones“), and Mandy Patinkin (“Homeland“).

While “House of Cards” is a worthy choice for Best Drama, I don’t think it matched FX’s “The Americans,” which was almost entirely snubbed, only receiving nominations for Best Drama Guest Actress (Margo Martindale) and Best Original Main Title Theme Music. Competing against another espionage drama, “Homeland,” probably hurt it, but between them I think “The Americans” was the better show last season, and Keri Russell deserved to win Drama Actress.

It continues FX’s bad luck in the drama field. After “Damages” was nominated for Best Drama in 2008 and 2009, no other series from the network has contended in that race, despite critical acclaim (see also: “Sons of Anarchy,” “Justified“).

Downton Abbey” deserved acting nominations this year, but I think it got the wrong ones. Though Jim Carter had a greater presence on the show compared to last season, for which he was also nominated, I’m not sure why he was singled out ahead of Rob James-Collier, who had a much more prominent storyline dealing with a public outing that threatened both his livelihood and his life.

Also, though Maggie Smith is always a welcome presence as the Dowager Countess, she wasn’t the equal of Elizabeth McGovern this year, whose character mourned the loss of a child.

American Horror Story: Asylum” was well-represented elsewhere, so why was Lily Rabe, one of the season’s highlights, snubbed for her standout portrayal of a virtuous nun possessed by an evil spirit?

I wasn’t sure Jake Johnson could break into the Comedy Actor race for “New Girl,” but I certainly didn’t imagine both Zooey Deschanel and Max Greenfield would miss out on nominations as well. All three deserved to be included.

It’s hard to muster much excitement for Best Reality-Competition Series and Best Variety Series. Those categories seem to have less turnover than any other at the Emmys, and true to form the same 12 nominees from last year are back this year, leaving out deserving programs like “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and “Portlandia.”

And though they were never really on the radar, both “Southland” and “Treme” are far better shows than their Emmy track records would indicate. “Southland” in particular, though it was recently cancelled, had by far its strongest season and deserved nominations for Best Drama as well as acting bids for Michael Cudlitz and Regina King and a directing nod for the episode “Chaos.” At least it managed to return to the race for Best Stunt Coordination, which it has won twice in a row.

Lindsay Lohan‘s “Liz and Dick” earned two nominations. “Justified” earned zero. Nuff said.

Robert Morse is nominated for the fourth time for his annual walk-on appearance on “Mad Men.” Emmy voters deemed him more deserving than, to name a few, a slew of outstanding “Justified” guest stars — including Jim BeaverMike O’MalleyPatton Oswalt, and Raymond J. Barry.

Also, the across-the-board snub of “Arrested Development” especially stings. Though its new Netflix episodes weren’t quite as outstanding as the show’s original FOX run, they were certainly good enough to merit a Comedy Series nomination. And the disregard for outstanding actors like Will Arnett and Jessica Walter suggests voters may not have given the new episodes a fair chance.

Where’s Parker Posey? Though voters finally recognized “Louie” in a guest acting category, they ignored Posey, whose performance in the “Daddy’s Girlfriend” two-parter was the single best comedy performance of the year.

Just as disappointing was the absence of Monica Potter, whose “Parenthood” performance seemed poised to finally bring the underappreciated show to the Emmys main event. The NBC family drama has one of TV’s very best ensembles, but only one nomination to show for it (Drama Guest Actor for Jason Ritter last year).


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