‘Game of Thrones’ series finale is last chance for first Emmy win for Best Cinematography

At the recent 36th Vancouver International Film Festival, “Game of Thrones” cinematographer Gregory Middleton revealed that he is not returning for the upcoming final season. Middleton has always worked with Jeremy Podeswa, a fellow Canadian, on “Game of Thrones,” and the latter does not number among the directors for this eighth season.

It was recently announced that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would be directing the series finale, while Jonathan Freeman will handle its cinematography. He likely represents the show’s best chance at finally winning Best One-Hour Cinematography at the Emmys. Ironically, he was the reason that “Game of Thrones” lost this race in 2015 despite four bids times, as he prevailed for a third time for HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”

It is surprising that “Game of Thrones” has never won for its cinematography, given that HBO has won for “Carnivale,” “Deadwood, “Rome” and “True Detective.” Snubbed for its first two seasons, the show has since been nominated eight times for seasons three through six.

Middleton, who reaped bids for his work on seasons five and six, lensed the premiere and finale of the seventh season, which will be eligible at next year’s Emmys. Although Middleton will not be an official director of photography for the final season, he will be returning to the set to oversee some “additional photography,” especially related to visual effects-related footage, as he did for various episodes in the last few seasons. Emmy winner David Franco has also confirmed his return.

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Direction of the episodes of season eight before the finale of “Game of Thrones” will be split between David Nutter and Miguel Sapochnik. Neither worked on the season that aired in 2017, but they are the only two directors to have won Emmys for “Game of Thrones.” Nutter won in 2015 for the fifth season finale “Mother’s Mercy” while Sapochnik prevailed in 2016 for the sixth season’s “Battle of the Bastards.” Director of photography Fabian Wagner won at the American Society of Cinematographers awards for his work on the latter and is set to work with Sapochnik once again on his upcoming episodes.

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