As is always the case with awards, every nominations’ day brings many joys, but more sorrow. The surprises are welcome and warming, especially when a long-waiting actor gets his or her time in the sun. Yet there are always more deserving candidates than there are slots (at least in some fields), meaning the so-called "snubs" repeatedly outnumber the pleasant surprises. Below we’ve compiled a list of the best and worst of both:
Not all surprises are welcome, and seeing the BBC’s soap opera repeatedly pop up Thursday morning was one of the worst kind of surprises. How in the name of Lord Grantham did this snag 12 nods? That’s more than "Modern Family," and it’s won the Best Comedy race four years in a row. Many viewers bailed on the earls and ladies after Season 2 and even more called it quits after Season 3. Yet Season 4 somehow persevered with Emmy voters, snagging nods for Outstanding Drama Series, Actress (Michelle Dockery), Supporting Actress (Maggie Smith, the only deserving nominee, and Joanne Froggott, inexplicably), and Guest Actor (Paul Giamatti). Whether or not its enough to snag a win remains doubtful, so sage Emmy viewers can take some comfort there.
Mike Judge is back with a vengeance. With only eight episodes of "Silicon Valley," the "King of the Hill" creator still managed to snag the final slot in Outstanding Comedy Series as well as writing and directing nods. The show walked away with five total nominations, and notably, none for any of the outstanding actors. Considering the passing of Christopher Evan Welch — paired with his immense talent and hysterical performance — it seems surprising the man was overlooked. Still, HBO flexed its Emmys muscle once again, ensuring some industry respect for the freshman series.
Ricky Gervais – "Derek"
Far and away the most joyous nominee had to be Ricky Gervais. In a statement on Twitter, the actor said "I honestly nearly cried," and that he’d "never been more excited & proud of a nomination." Hear hear. We called on the Television Academy to pay attention to the foul-mouthed stand-up after he turned in a touching, heartfelt performance as the titular "Derek" on Netflix’s dramedy. They listened, and we couldn’t be happier.
Woody Harrelson – "True Detective"
There was much doubt out there over whether HBO’s gamble would pay off — and not just in submitting their freshman drama as a series rather than a miniseries. Many worried Woody Harrelson would be turned away from the Best Actor race due to stiff competition. It’s not that he was any less impressive than his Oscar-hot costar, but McConaughey seemed like a lock whereas Woody was the question mark. But he made the cut, edging out some top tier competitors (see below), and proving that sometimes talent trumps politics.
Fred Armisen – "Portlandia"
Reasons we’re ecstatic for Fred Armisen: 1) It’s about damn time. The "SNL" vet has never been nominated for acting, despite his many guest appearances and obvious talent. 2) It means a member of "Modern Family" didn’t make the cut. Not that we’re anti-ABC’s family smash, but the show’s domination of this category in particular has made the race pretty boring. 3) The race is no longer boring.
Kate McKinnon – "Saturday Night Live"
Honestly, it’s just shocking anyone from "Saturday Night Live" broke into the pack (outside of hosts, who usually get Guest Acting nods). McKinnon beat out Merritt Weaver, who won last year for "Nurse Jackie," as well as Sofia Vergara, another cast member of "Modern Family." Is this the year "Modern Family" finally loses its comedy crown? It’s starting to look like it.
Kristen Wiig – "Spoils of Babylon"
While Will Ferrell’s IFC series "Spoils of Babylon" was just picked up for a second season, it didn’t leave much of a dent in its first run. Hence the surprise seeing Wiig’s name pop up Thursday morning. It marks her sixth nomination, and so far, she’s yet to win. Could she shock people again come August 25th? We’ll have to wait and see.
"The Good Wife"
CBS started a debate to kick off the Emmys season, calling out their drama competitors for producing significantly less work than was expected from the broadcast networks. Should it matter that "The Good Wife" produces upwards of 20 episodes a season whereas "True Detective" pushed out only eight? I guess they’ve got their answer.
"Masters of Sex"
While Lizzy Caplan did score a nod for drama actress, the series was shut out of the overall race despite our pleas for consideration. Michael Sheen didn’t make the cut either, being edged out by Woody Harrelson most likely (though Jeff Daniels wasn’t a lock, despite winning last year). Overall, it was a so-so day for the much-loved Showtime series, but one that certainly could’ve been better.
We all saw it coming, but it didn’t keep it from stinging any less. FX’s critically-hailed spy thriller was again shut out of the major categories, yielding no nominations for Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys or for Outstanding Drama Series. It doesn’t appear the excellent period piece with veteran thespians is the Television Academy’s cup of tea — though I can’t tell you why.
Lena Dunham is still in contention for Best Actress, but the once-hailed HBO program was beat out by the freshmen boys of "Silicon Valley" in the series race. Does it speak to the Academy’s gender bias, or has the "Girls" craze finally ended? It’s hard to write it off for good considering the force it’s been in years past, but things certainly aren’t looking up for these ladies.
What was supposed to be the freshman comedy frontrunner turned out taking a back seat to "Silicon Valely." Despite its Golden Globe wins for Best Comedy and star Andy Samberg, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" only got a nod for Andre Braugher in the top categories, again proving the Globes aren’t always the best gauge for Emmy love.
"Parks and Recreation"
A long shot, but a worthy contender, "Parks and Recreation" failed to net any supporting actor nods or the coveted Outstanding Comedy nod. Amy Poehler was the only person honored by the Television Academy, despite sporting the best ensemble cast in the business. Her recognition is well deserved, but not enough. One bright spot: There’s one more season, so the good folks of Pawnee’s fortunes may still shift.
Dean Norris – "Breaking Bad"
Another long shot, Dean Norris still should’ve earned some votes for playing the only pure of heart character on "Breaking Bad" for its final season (his wife was pretty vengeful). Maybe he can grab one for "Under the Dome" next year…
Damian Lewis – "Homeland"
Lewis marked another past winner to be turned away by the Academy, and an even more notable exclusion due to his (spoiler alert!) character’s exit from the show after Season 3. This was Brody’s last shot at Emmy love, but it turns out his awards fate parallels that of his character: D.O.A.
Vera Farmiga – "Bates Motel"
Farmiga scored an Emmy nod for her first year as the malicious mother of Norman Bates, but this year proved too tight for the Oscar nominee, replaced by Lizzy Caplan for "Masters of Sex." It’s a fair trade in many eyes, though A&E certainly isn’t happy about it.
Tatiana Masiany – "Orphan Black"
The BBC’s Season 3 renewal announcement yesterday will have to suffice for fans of the sci-fi thriller. "Orphan Black" couldn’t shed the trapping of its genre, even though Masiany’s role has awards bait written all over it — accents! multiple characters!
Elisabeth Moss – "Mad Men"
Just when things are looking up for Peggy, real life events took a downward turn for the person playing her. "Mad Men" fatigue seemed to set in here and not elsewhere, as Jon Hamm, Christina Hendricks, and the show all earned nominations. Poor Ms. Moss didn’t fare so well.
Rob Lowe – "Killing Kennedy" (and "Parks and Recreation")
Sigh. I wanted Rob Lowe to be nominated so badly, I actually read his name when it wasn’t there on the nominations sheet this morning (granted, it was 5:45am, so I could have seen anything). Deleting the incorrect listing from our nominations page was one of the hardest tasks of a long morning, and one of the most disappointing snubs considering he was eligible not only for his role as JFK, but also his remarkable performance on "Parks and Rec." Next year better be the year (and I say that as a very self-aware Cubs fan).