Emmy Experts Typing: Final week jitters (and changes?) over the limited categories

Welcome to Emmy Experts Typing, a weekly column in which Gold Derby editors and Experts Joyce Eng and Christopher Rosen discuss the Emmy race — via Slack, of course. This week, we look at those highly interesting limited races again.

Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! I’m back from Telluride after getting a jump start on awards season and we’re somehow still tying about the Emmys. But that’s actually good, because it affords me the chance to share a little story about my time in the Colorado mountains. While I was seated for Wes Anderson‘s “The French Dispatch,” I started chatting with Kenny Miles, a great guy who loves Gold Derby and our various podcasts and online chats. Kenny compared this year’s limited series categories to the Oscars, and it’s easy to see why: as we’ve discussed, this list of nominees is really quite strong and, I’d argue, the quality of work is better than anything this year’s Academy Awards chose to honor. (Hope springs eternal for next year’s Oscars, however, after Telluride: the movies, they are good!) Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the limited series categories remain some of the most contentious in our Expert predictions with just over a week to go before the Emmy Awards ceremony. “The Queen’s Gambit” remains a slight pick over “Mare of Easttown” and “I May Destroy” in the series category, and that still feels like the choice to me (I know you disagree). Kate Winslet is slowly becoming a safe choice for the Experts in the Best Actress category (I think I might disagree). But it’s Best Actor that affords us with our closest race: Paul Bettany is just two ahead of Hugh Grant among the Experts (15-13). I had long held firm on Hugh, but you’ve worn me down: Bettany is my pick, and I’m sticking with him — unless you decide to talk me out of him today…

joyceeng: I cannot believe you are forsaking Hugh at the 11th hour! What happened to going down with this ship? I don’t even know what I did to wear you down since we haven’t talked about this in two weeks, but go me? I will likely stick with Bettany until the bitter end since I’ve been predicting him for literally six months now, so I’m not going to talk you in or out of keeping him. But why the change of heart? And are we focusing way too much on the top two? As we’ve discussed before, this category is volatile and “Hamilton” is a wild card. The only limited change I’ve made recently is switching to “Mare” for directing after our last typefest. Try to talk me of out that.

SEE Emmy Experts Typing: Who has the, uh, write stuff to win writing and directing?

Christopher Rosen: I keep getting stuck on the fact that the academy absolutely did not like “The Undoing.” The show — which came out in 1985, I believe; don’t look that up — was a potential nominee in multiple categories, including Best Supporting Actor where Donald Sutherland was an early pick. But when the nominees were announced, “The Undoing” was undone: two nominations in total. Meanwhile, “WandaVision” over-performed and was one of the year’s biggest contenders. With that context, and what really does feel like a relatively weak category, how can Bettany lose to Grant? It seems unlikely — and feels like the kind of victory that will in hindsight seem absolutely obvious. In fact, as you suggest, if anyone is going to beat Bettany, it’s probably Lin-Manuel Miranda — but the specter of Leslie Odom Jr., who won a Tony Award against Miranda five years ago in the same lead actor category probably makes the upset null and void. As for the directing category, I just don’t see “Mare” being the choice: nothing about the show screams directorial flash and I just think the narrative around the show is more focused on Brad Ingelsby as the writer instead of Craig Zobel as the filmmaker. Scott Frank, on the other hand, is the key player in “The Queen’s Gambit” and it just feels like it’ll be easy to check him off. But you know I’m still riding or dying for Barry Jenkins, a true auteur. Give him the Emmy!

joyceeng: Maybe one day we can discuss an alt-history of “The Underground Railroad” at the Emmys. My directing pick is predicated on the series winner since those two match up more often than not unless there’s a vote-split (yes, I realize series will be announced after directing lest they pull an Oscars), so since I still have “Mare” in series, I’m staying in Easttown for directing. A mistake? Maybe, but I feel like sometimes we overestimate flashy directing in the face of a stronger overall contender. Like remember when “Barry’s “ronny/lily” lost to “Fleabag”? Or “Atlanta’s” “Teddy Perkins” falling to “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”? Granted, “Atlanta” totally flopped that year at the main ceremony. But I wanna circle back to your aside earlier about Mare herself possibly not being the safe choice in actress, which is THE limited race of the year. Are you abandoning Kate the Great now too?

SEE Emmy Experts slugfest: Our final Creative Arts predictions (and some bonus Oscar chatter)

Christopher Rosen: I’m not yet — but I’m very tempted. I had Anya Taylor-Joy winning this for months but like everyone else switched to Kate after “Mare” won hearts and minds this spring. But something tells me we might be overthinking it? Kate is still the pick and most Experts agree she’ll win. She’s Kate Winslet after all. But I really wonder if this is a case where Taylor-Joy wins and we all just think, duh, of course. It’s like that old cliche about how if you put three men accused of a crime in jail for a night, the one who falls asleep is the guilty party. He knows he’s caught so he gets a good night’s sleep. Sometimes it’s just that easy. Or something like that? Maybe the obvious pick is the person who has been talked about for 11 months as the best actress in this category. Like I typed, I still have Kate, but I’m wavering!

joyceeng: So what you’re saying is, it could be ATJ all along. If she does win, then “The Queen’s Gambit” is probably taking series (and directing). That is not exactly an earth-shattering call since, you know, it won everything over the winter, but what I mean is that I think this will be another year of series and actress lining up again, regardless of what the pair is (sorry to “The Underground Railroad” and Cynthia Erivo). A lot of people have “The Queen’s Gambit” nabbing series and Kate in actress, but I’m not really feeling a split. We do have a week to continue to overthink everything, so I’ll put off stocking up on Rolling Rock for now.

Emmy odds for Best Limited Series/TV Movie Actor
Paul Bettany is ahead

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