“Game of Thrones” has entered the directors of five episodes for consideration at this year’s Emmy Awards. Which of them is the likeliest to prevail? To help you answer that question, you’ll find the official ballot descriptions of each episode, scores (out of 10) at both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB and the Emmy history of the directors at the bottom of this post. After reading these, be sure to vote in our poll.
Last year, “Game of Thrones” entered three episodes for Best Drama Directing consideration at the Emmys. Two of them reaped bids with the season finale “Mother’s Mercy” by David Nutter winning. Curiously, Miguel Sapochnik was snubbed for helming “Hardhome,” despite it being the most acclaimed episode of the season with a big showy battle. Nominated in its place was the only “Game of Thrones” episode from last season to be certified as “rotten” instead of “fresh” at Rotten Tomatoes: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” directed by Jeremy Podeswa.
Unlike the writing ballot, which lists only episode titles, the directing ballot lists names, so fame is a factor. Nutter and Podeswa each had previous nominations from TV careers spanning decades; Sapochnik has directed for television only since 2011. Not helping matters was the nondescript episode description on the ballot for “Hardhome,” which did not make mention of its climactic battle: “Arya makes progress in her training. Sansa confronts an old friend. Cersei struggles. Jon travels.”
Sapochnik is in contention again this year for the most acclaimed episode of the season, “Battle of the Bastards,” which also has an epic fight at its center. However, his episode’s description is again exceedingly vague; indeed, at just seven words it is the second-shortest of the 244 on the Best Drama Directing ballot. But the unambiguous title might be his saving grace as Sapochnik still comes up short opposite his rival “Game of Thrones” directors as all four have previous Emmy nominations.
“Home” (May 1)
Ballot Description: “Bran trains with the Three-Eyed Raven. In King’s Landing, Jaime advises Tommen. Tyrion demands good news, but has to make his own. At Castle Black, the Night’s Watch stands behind Thorne. Ramsay Bolton proposes a plan and Balon Greyjoy entertains other proposals.”
Acclaim: 7.8 on Rotten Tomatoes, 9.5 on IMDb
Director: Jeremy Podeswa (Drama Directing nominations for “Boardwalk Empire” in 2011 and “Game of Thrones” in 2015; Movie/Mini Directing nomination for “The Pacific” in 2010)
“Book of the Stranger” (May 15)
Ballot Description: “Tyrion strikes a deal. Jorah and Daario undertake a difficult task. Jaime and Cersei try to improve their situation.”
Acclaim: 9.0 on Rotten Tomatoes, 9.2 on IMDb
Director: Daniel Sackheim (Drama Directing win for “NYPD Blue” in 1994; Drama Series nominations for “Law & Order” in 1992 and “House” in 2007)
“The Door” (May 22)
Ballot Description: “Tyrion seeks a strange ally. Bran learns a great deal. Brienne goes on a mission. Arya is given a chance to prove herself.”
Acclaim: 9.0 on Rotten Tomatoes, 9.7 on IMDb
Director: Jack Bender (Drama Directing nominations for “Northern Exposure” in 1992 and “Lost” in 2006, 2007 and 2010; Drama Series nominations for “Lost” in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010)
“No One” (June 12)
Ballot Description: “While Jaime weighs his options, Cersei answers a request. Tyrionès plans bear fruit. Arya faces a new test.”
Acclaim: 7.1 on Rotten Tomatoes, 8.2 on IMDb
Director: Mark Mylod (Comedy Series nomination for “Entourage” in 2009)
“Battle of the Bastards” (June 19)
Ballot Description: “Terms of surrender are rejected and accepted.”
Acclaim: 9.3 on Rotten Tomatoes, 10.0 on IMDb
Director: Miguel Sapochnik (no prior Emmy nominations)
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions right here. You’ll compete to win our contest prizes for best picks — $500 (first place), $300 (second place) and $200 (third place) in Amazon gift certificates — a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s Emmy nominations). Be sure to read our contest rules.