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Filling the ‘Game of Thrones’ Emmys Void: The ‘Westworld’ vs. ‘Stranger Things’ Crafts Smackdown

With HBO's juggernaut out of the running, the crafts races are wide open. Will "Westworld" become the new "Thrones"?

“Game of Thrones”



Without “Game of Thrones” in the running, this year’s Emmy crafts fields are wide open. And that could provide a trophy tally windfall for one – or several  – freshman series.

Last year, “Thrones” dominated the Creative Arts Emmys, winning nine awards for its sixth season – including contemporary/fantasy production design, period/fantasy costume design, single-camera drama editing, non-prosthetic and prosthetic makeup, sound mixing, special visual effects, and stunt coordination.

This season, the fantasy drama didn’t premiere in time to be eligible, opening the door for such newcomers as the HBO sci-fi western, “Westworld,” and Netflix’s period thriller, “Stranger Things.”



John P. Johnson/HBO

Also in the mix are Netflix’s royalty drama “The Crown” (filling the “Downton Abbey” void), which competes for costume design with FX’s “Feud: Bette and Joan,” Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” (also in the running for production design), and “Genius,” National Geographic’s take on Albert Einstein.

Plus, there’s “The Young Pope” (production design), “American Gods” (special visual effects), “This Is Us” (non-prosthetic makeup), and the “Saturday Night Live” episode hosted by Alec Baldwin as Trump (prosthetic makeup).

The Sci-Fi Battle Between “Westworld” and “Stranger Things”

In terms of domination, it’s definitely a sci-fi battle between Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s zeitgeist-grabbing “Westworld” and the Duffer Brothers’ nostalgic and nightmarish “Stranger Things.”

“Westworld,” which alternated between the sleek western town and the cold programming center, was nominated for contemporary/fantasy production design (twice), costume design, editing, non-prosthetic makeup, sound mixing, and special visual effects.

Shannon Purser as Barb, "Stranger Things"

“Stranger Things”


“Stranger Things,” which was a trippy ’80s journey through parallel worlds, was nominated for editing (twice), non-prosthetic makeup, hairstyle, and sound mixing.

But “Westworld” holds the obvious prestige advantage here. Nolan and Joy ambitiously took a graphic and philosophical approach to A.I., and the show’s brutal sex and violence definitely tapped a cultural nerve, proving that “Westworld” shows the promise of being HBO’s successor to “Thrones.”

The Best of the Rest

Meanwhile, there are several returning shows looking for an opportunity to win before “Game of Thrones” returns next season: “Better Call Saul” (twice for editing and sound mixing), “Penny Dreadful” (production design, non-prosthetic and prosthetic makeup), “House of Cards” (sound mixing), “Mr. Robot” (sound mixing), “The Man in the High Castle” (special visual effects), “Vikings” (special visual effects, non-prosthetic makeup), “Black Sails” (special visual effects), “The Waking Dead” (prosthetic makeup), “American Horror Story” (prosthetic makeup for “Roanoke”), “The Blacklist” (stunts), and “Gotham” (stunts).

Don’t be surprised if there’s a judicious spreading of the wealth in many of the categories.

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