2018 Emmy predictions slugfest: Will vote-splitting cost ‘Game of Thrones’ a win for Best Drama Directing? [WATCH]

Our odds peg “The Handmaid’s Tale” as the Emmy front-runner for Best Drama Directing for the episode “After” (by Kari Skogland), followed by “Game of Thrones” for “Beyond the Wall” (by Alan Taylor). But the five Gold Derby contributors who debated the category in a recent slugfest (watch above) agree that “The Dragon and the Wolf” (by Jeremy Podeswa) is the “Thrones” episode with the better shot, though we don’t all think it will win.

Tony Ruiz explains about “Dragon,” “Just by sheer fact that it is the finale, the fact that so much of the show’s lore comes to fruition … and then that final magical shot of the dragon and the wall, I actually don’t think it’s as close as some other people do; I actually think this one’s winning pretty handily.” Tom O’Brien adds, “The other series that are in the mix — ‘The Crown,’ ‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘Stranger Things’ — they’re not quite as splashy.”

“The Dragon and the Wolf” is the fourth nomination for director Jeremy Podeswa, following bids in 2015 for “Game of Thrones” (for “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”), 2011 for “Boardwalk Empire” (for “Anastasia”), and 2010 for the limited series “The Pacific” (for part eight). He hasn’t won yet, so “it’s kind of his turn,” Amanda Spears argues. “He’s worked with so many people. He’s done enough where he’s probably got enough goodwill.”

“Beyond the Wall” is the third directing nomination for Alan Taylor, following 2008 for “Mad Men” (for the pilot, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”) and a win in 2007 for “The Sopranos” (for “Kennedy and Heidi”). Given that track record and the action-packed “Beyond the Wall” being reminiscent of “Battle of the Bastards,” which won “Game of Thrones” this award in 2016, Zach Laws and I actually predict that vote-splitting between the two “Thrones” episodes will prevent a third win for the show in this category this year. So who do we think will win instead?

Laws is betting on the Emmy front-runner: “I’m going with ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ for right now just because it’s what I’m predicting to win Drama Series, and for the last three years in a row we’ve seen that translate,” including last year when “Handmaid’s” won Drama Series as well as Drama Directing for its pilot, “Offred.”

I’m betting on an upset by “The Crown” for the episode “Paterfamilias” (by Oscar nominee and Tony winner Stephen Daldry). “I’m not so sure that ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is actually the one that would benefit the most from [a ‘Game of Thrones’ vote-split],” I explain, “I find it very concerning that they couldn’t get that second episode nominated.” Last year they submitted three episodes for consideration and they got two nominated. This time around the Hulu drama submitted only two episodes for Best Drama Directing, but they received just one nomination, which is especially curious because the show increased its nominations this year in so many other categories.

So will “The Dragon” get beyond “The Wall,” or will the winner be “The Handmaid’s Tale” “After” all?

Make your Emmy predictions, so that Hollywood insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before the ceremony on September 17. And join in the fun debate taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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