2018 Emmy race for Best Drama Directing: Last chance for ‘The Americans’

The Emmy Awards ballot for Best Drama Directing lists 251 episodes from 119 series. There were 284 episodes from 100 series submitted last year, when a tie resulted in seven instead of six nominees:

  • “Better Call Saul” season 3: “Witness” (Vince Gilligan)
  • “The Crown” season 1: “Hyde Park Corner” (Stephen Daldry)
  • “The Handmaid’s Tale” season 1: “The Bridge” (Kate Dennis)
  • Winner — “The Handmaid’s Tale” season 1: “Offred” (Reed Morano)
  • “Homeland” season 6: “America First” (Lesli Linka Glatter)
  • “Stranger Things” season 1: “The Vanishing of Will Byers” (The Duffer Brothers)
  • “Westworld” season 1: “The Bicameral Mind” (Jonathan Nolan)

“Better Call Saul” did not air this season. It was nominated last year after being snubbed for its first two seasons. If an older show breaks through this year, it might be “The Americans” for its final season. Five series finales have been nominated for Best Drama Directing this decade, but they all came from series that had been previously nominated: “Downton Abbey” and “The Knick” (2016), “Boardwalk Empire” (2015), “Breaking Bad” (2014) and “Lost” (2010). The series finale by lead director Chris Long might seem like the obvious episode of “The Americans” if one is to be nominated here, but do not be surprised if the show’s other submission is nominated instead. Guest director Thomas Schlamme has more name recognition as a past winner for directing “The West Wing” in 2001 and 2000, as well as “Sports Night” in 1999. He has more recently been nominated for “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” in 2007 and received an honorary achievement award from the Directors Guild of America in 2017.

Even more pilots have been nominated this decade for Best Drama Directing than series finales: “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Stranger Things” (2017), “The Knick” (2015), “House of Cards” (2013), “Homeland” (2012), “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Borgias” and “The Killing” (2011) and “Treme” (2010). The last three in that list were never nominated again in this category, which bodes well for “The Deuce.” It boasts the highest-profile pilot in contention and was co-created by David Simon, like “Treme.” Director Michelle MacLaren was nominated in this category for “Breaking Bad” in 2013 and 2010.

David Fincher won for the “House of Cards” pilot, but has foregone the only pilot that he has directed since, for “Mindhunter,” in favor of its first season finale. This strategy paid off for Jonathan Nolan of “Westworld” last year; he did not direct the second season that contends now. Directing duo John Requa and Glenn Ficarra forewent the “This is Us” pilot last year and contend again — this time with the Super Bowl special — to be the first since “Lost” ended eight years ago to be nominated in this category for an episode that aired on a commercial broadcast network.

“The Crown” and “The Deuce” each strategically kept to single submissions to avoid vote-splitting, while “The Americans,” “Stranger Things” and “This is Us” went with two apiece. “The Handmaid’s Tale” also submitted two episodes, but that was all for which it was eligible, as its ten eligible episodes were shared by Mike Barker and Kari Skogland. “The Handmaid’s Tale” submitted three directors last year, with Barker being the one snubbed. Skogland directed the finale of “The Handmaid’s Tale” last year and went on to receive a BAFTA nomination for it, but submitted at the Emmys instead for “The Walking Dead.”

Never having occupied more than one slot at the Directors Guild of America Awards, “Game of Thronesreceived three nominations this year, bumping Lesli Linka Glatter, who had been nominated for all four past seasons of “Homeland” that she had directed. Glatter is also four for five at the Emmys for “Homeland,” missing in 2014. “Game of Thrones” has been double-nominated for its last two seasons in this category, although it was ineligible for consideration last year during an extended hiatus.

Submissions from top contenders:

“The Americans” season 6
“The Great Patriotic War” (Thomas Schlamme)
“START” (Chris Long)

“The Crown” season 2
“Paterfamilias” (Stephen Daldry)

“The Deuce” season 1
“Pilot” (Michelle MacLaren)

“Game of Thrones” season 6
“Beyond the Wall” (Alan Taylor)
“The Dragon and the Wolf” (Jeremy Podeswa)
“The Queen’s Justice” (Mark Mylod)
“The Spoils of War” (Matt Shakman)

“The Handmaid’s Tale” season 2
“After” (Kari Skogland)
“Unwomen” (Mike Barker)

“Homeland” season 7
“All In” (Alex Graves)
“Clarity” (Dan Attias)
“Paean to the People” (Lesli Linka Glatter)
“Species Jump” (Michael Offer)
“Standoff” (Michael Klick)
“Useful Idiot” (Nelson McCormick)

“Mindhunter” season 1
“Episode 4” (Asif Kapadia)
“Episode 5” (Tobias Lindholm)
“Episode 7” (Andrew Douglas)
“Episode 10” (David Fincher)

“Stranger Things” season 2
“The Gate” (The Duffer Brothers)
“Will the Wise” (Shawn Levy)

“This is Us” season 2
“The Car” (Ken Olin)
“Super Bowl Sunday” (John Requa & Glenn Ficarra)

“Westworld” season 2
“Akane No Mai” (Craig Zobel)
“Journey into Night” (Richard J. Lewis)
“The Passenger” (Frederick E.O. Toye)
“The Riddle of the Sphinx” (Lisa Joy)

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