Ryan Murphy has now been nominated a total of 28 times at the Emmys and has taken home four trophies. However, the only individual Emmy he has won so far was for directing the “Glee” pilot back in 2010. Will he now take home his second individual Emmy eight years later for directing the first episode of “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” titled “The Man Who Would Be Vogue”?
Currently, Gold Derby’s racetrack odds have Murphy in the lead to win Best Movie/Mini Directing, ahead of David Lynch (“Twin Peaks”), Scott Frank (“Godless”), David Leveaux and Alex Rudzinski (“Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert”), Edward Berger (“Patrick Melrose”), Craig Zisk (“The Looming Tower”) and Barry Levinson (“Paterno”).
Murphy’s other three career Emmy wins came as part of the production teams for “The Normal Heart” (Best Television Movie), “The People v. O. J. Simpson” (Best Limited Series) and “Inside Look: The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story“ (Best Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series). Besides directing this year he has two more nominations for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace”: Best Limited Series and Best Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series.
The last time Murphy was up for directing FX’s “American Crime Story” franchise, “The People v. O. J. Simpson,” he was nominated alongside two co-directors, Anthony Hemingway and John Singleton, so he may have split votes with them and cleared the path for Susanne Bier’s (“The Night Manager”) victory. As this year’s only director nominated for “Versace,” he will not face the same problem. What may work in his favor is that “Versace” is nominated for 18 Emmys, which tops all other limited series and TV movies, demonstrating significant support for the show.
In addition to that, for the last few years a limited series has not gone on to win the big prize without winning writing or directing. As of now, “Versace” is the frontrunner to win Best Limited Series, which could boost its chances in both the writing and directing category. For Best Writing, “USS Callister: Black Mirror” seems to be out in front after last year’s victory, so voters might just give “Versace” the edge in Best Directing. Murphy is also a familiar name in the Best Movie/Mini Directing category, with this year’s bid making it his fifth total. His other four nominations were for his directorial work on “The Normal Heart” (2014), “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (2015), “The People v. O. J. Simpson” (2016) and “Feud: Bette and Joan” (2017). Being a household name can be beneficial since unlike in the writing category, the directors’ names are listed on the ballot.
Directors love to award the “most directed” episode, and “The Man Who Would Be Vogue” heavily relies on the direction to create an atmosphere that is pivotal to the way the story is told. It has to respectfully depict real-life characters, jump back and forth between past and present and deal with one of the most shocking celebrity deaths of our time. Murphy did an amazing job introducing viewers to this new story, establishing an entirely different tone compared to its predecessor. It is difficult to come off such an acclaimed season like “O.J.” and create something entirely different that still feels truthful to the show’s DNA.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t fit into the group of winners of the last few years. The last three winners in this category were Lisa Cholodenko (“Olive Kitteridge”), Bier (“The Night Manager”), and Jean-Marc Vallee (“Big Little Lies”). What all three have in common is that they directed the entire series in contention. If voters follow this trend, then Murphy and Zisk are at a disadvantage as they are only nominated for directing a single episode while all the other directors directed the entire Limited Series or Movie. For exactly that reason, voters may just go with Lynch or Frank, who both directed the entire series, with Lynch having directed a whopping 18 episodes.
Both of those programs fit into the category of the “most directed,” because while “Twin Peaks” heavily relies on direction for creating the uniquely mysterious and creepy tone that the show is known for, “Godless” is an original Western that demands precise directorial work when creating that typical Western vibe. They are both Academy Award nominees, whom the directors branch loves to award. In the end, Frank might have the edge over Lynch because unlike “Twin Peaks,” “Godless” is nominated in the Best Limited Series category, which shows that it has more support.
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