What do Creative Arts wins mean for Emmy’s Best Drama Series race?

After winning six awards last and after reaping series-high 17 nominations this year, “”Game of Thrones”” was poised for a big night at the Creative Arts Emmys. It was expected to repeat all of its wins from last year year (art direction, costumes, makeup, sound editing, sound mixing, visual effects)  and possibly add cinematography. Instead, the HBO fantasy epic only won makeup and visual effects. This disappointing haul effectively disqualifies it from winning Best Drama Series race, Theoretically, it should be a major contender, given that it registered in key categories like picture editing for the first time ever and writing for the first time since its first season.

The surprise winner among dramas on Sunday was “Boardwalk Empire,” which previously exploded onto the Emmy scene in 2011 with 18 nominations including eight wins, seven of which were handed out at the Creative Arts. It seemingly has been on a steady decline since and was dropped from the drama series and lead actor categories this year, racking up a series-low nine nominations in 2013.

On Sunday, it won four Creative Arts Awards, continuing its perfect track record for art direction, having tied “Game of Thrones” last year. It also repeated its first-season win for sound editing, despite stiff competition from the dragons of “Game of Thrones” and the train heist episode of AMC’s “Breaking Bad.” It contended against both of these for sound mixing, as well as Showtime’s “Homeland,” which was recently awarded by the Cinema Audio Society sound mixers guild. Given the competition and the fact that it lost sound mixing to Fox ‘s “House” in 2011 when it won just about everything else, it was discounted, but ultimately managed to upset.

Finally, “Boardwalk Empire” won hairstyling over last year ‘s winner “Downton Abbey” and four-time winner “Mad Men” on AMC, which gave most of its cast brand new haircuts this season and prevented “Boardwalk Empire” from sweeping up the award in 2011. Of course, “Boardwalk Empire” ended up losing where it should have been safest: supporting visual effects. “Boardwalk Empire” won the newly created category last year and even prevailed over obviously effects-driven fantasy and science-fiction productions in 2011. Supporting visual effects this year became a historic first win for tepidly received “Banshee” and its young and pulpy network Cinemax.

Last year’s Best Drama Series winner “Homeland” went home without a single Emmy, losing in the aforementioned sound mixing category and not expected to heavily contend in the two Creative Arts categories that it won last year. The last drama to repeat in casting was HBO’s “Six Feet Under” in 2002, so the winner this year was predictably a new drama: Netflix’s “House of Cards.” “Homeland” also won editing last year, but was not even nominated this year. Guest actor Rupert Friend was seen as a major contender, but the guest categories are infamous for surprising winners. As such, “Homeland” may seem weak with zero wins, but it did not lose many categories, nor was it truly competitive enough that Sunday’s results can be seen as too disappointing, so the psychological thriller remains a force to be reckoned with next week.

Breaking Bad” won its third Emmy for editing and its first since 2009. The winning episode “Gliding Over All” was also nominated for cinematography, which it lost; that episode contends for directing next week. The episode “Dead Freight” was also nominated for editing and contended in both sound categories, but “Breaking Bad” has never won a sound category before. It was vulnerable in editing to “House of Cards” because that show had an Oscar-winning editor behind it and because the category loves pilots. The win keeps “Breaking Bad” in the conversation for best drama, but that it could not win anything else does not seal the deal for it.

The first season of political thriller “House of Cards” won for casting and cinematography, but it missed editing, as well as both music categories that three-time Emmy winner Jeff Beal was nominated. That the series was snubbed for writing suggested a lack of support, so these craft losses do not bode well for its chances to win best drama.

“Mad Men” and “Downton Abbey” remain longshots to win best drama. “House of Cards” and “Game of Thrones” might have proved formidable with enough support at the Creative Arts Awards, but this year’s best drama race seems now to be down to “Homeland” and “Breaking Bad.” “Boardwalk Empire” could lead all scripted series among wins, especially if wins a third consecutive Emmy for directing.

BELOW: Make your prediction for Best Drama Series now.


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