With the revolution in how television is created, produced, and consumed, a lot can happen in a year. And indeed, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” returns to the Emmy race this year in a dramatically changed landscape. After all, with “Thrones” out of contention last year, that allowed Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” to take the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy — and with it, make history as the first streaming service to land one of the top series prizes.
This year, “Game of Thrones” will face off with an entirely different back of nominees (except one, “The Americans”) than it did in 2016, when the HBO drama won the Emmy. That includes last year’s winner (“Handmaid’s Tale”), another HBO tentpole (“Westworld”), two Netflix favorites (“The Crown” and “Stranger Things”), and a broadcast success story (“This Is Us”).
Can “Game of Thrones” recapture the Emmy? One anonymous director who filled out an Emmy ballot for IndieWire thinks so. “Nothing else matches it, and the show gets bolder and richer every season,” this person wrote.
IndieWire reached out to creatives across the industry this year to share their own Emmy ballots, anonymously, and explain why they made their choices. Performers, writers, producers, publicists, executives, and craftspeople from across the industry offered up their answers, and IndieWire has been posting some of those ballots.
In this year’s final edition, a director explains their picks in this year’s Emmy race. Read on below:
Outstanding Drama Series
☑ Game Of Thrones
The Handmaid’s Tale
This Is Us
Sets the bar for ambition and execution. Nothing else matches it, and the show gets bolder and richer every season… This season as the stories converge, the show feels that it’s building to an inevitable but still wide-open dramatic conclusion.
Outstanding Comedy Series
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Takes more chances artistically than almost any show on television. It’s truly a singular vision, perfectly pitched.
Outstanding Limited Series
☑ The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
It’s wildly inconsistent in tone and execution, but it takes a lot of risks and mainly makes it work. A few episodes are particularly affecting and original.
Outstanding Television Movie
☑ USS Callister (Black Mirror)
A tricky combination of retro geek fan re-creation and cautionary tale. Feels fresh and original.
Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Foy/The Crown
Tatiana Maslany/Orphan Black
☑ Elisabeth Moss/The Handmaid’s Tale
Sandra Oh/Killing Eve
Keri Russell/The Americans
Evan Rachel Wood/Westworld
It’s a brilliant performance. Utterly transparent, often wordless, wry, intelligent, rangey, full of unexpected moments, and hugely emotional.
Lead Actor in a Drama Series
☑ Sterling K. Brown/This Is Us
Matthew Rhys/The Americans
Milo Ventimiglia/This Is Us
This is an incredibly subtle performance, finely nuanced, deeply felt and complex but also with touches of humor.
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Pamela Adlon/Better Things
Rachel Brosnahan/The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
☑ Issa Rae/Insecure
Tracee Ellis Ross/black-ish
Lily Tomlin/Grace And Frankie
She is fresh, wildly funny and always relatably human. She is also intensely watchable.
Read More: Full IndieWire Awards Coverage
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Ted Danson/The Good Place
Larry David/Curb Your Enthusiasm
☑ Bill Hader/Barry
William H. Macy/Shameless
The year’s biggest surprise. Hader disappears into this off-center, sad/funny character that is surprisingly touching.
Cara Howe / Netflix
Lead Actress in a Limited Series/Movie
Jessica Biel/The Sinner
Laura Dern/The Tale
Edie Falco/Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders
☑ Regina King/Seven Seconds
Sarah Paulson/American Horror Story: Cult
She is always great, and here too believable and grounded and authentic.
Lead Actor in a Limited Series/Movie
Antonio Banderas/Genius: Picasso
Darren Criss/The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
☑ Benedict Cumberbatch/Patrick Melrose
Jeff Daniels/The Looming Tower
John Legend/Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert
Jesse Plemons/USS Callister (Black Mirror)
It’s a flamboyant performance but it’s also daring and a bit of a high wire act that he somehow manages to make believable, funny and sympathetic.
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Alexis Bledel/The Handmaid’s Tale
Millie Bobby Brown/Stranger Things
Ann Dowd/The Handmaid’s Tale
Lena Headey/Game Of Thrones
Vanessa Kirby/The Crown
☑ Yvonne Strahovski/The Handmaid’s Tale
This is her year, showing new dimension and depth to a character that could so easily be a monster. You hate her and you love her… or at least you feel sympathy for her, which is no small achievement.
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
☑ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau/Game Of Thrones
Peter Dinklage/Game Of Thrones
Joseph Fiennes/The Handmaid’s Tale
David Harbour/Stranger Things
Matt Smith/The Crown
This was a good season for NC-W… He brought a lot complexity to the role which has found him transitioning from a despicable character to one who has earned the audience’s understanding and sympathy. His work with Lena H and Peter D has been especially strong this season.
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
☑ Zazie Beetz/Atlanta
Alex Borstein/The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Aidy Bryant/Saturday Night Live
Leslie Jones/Saturday Night Live
Kate McKinnon/Saturday Night Live
Megan Mullally/Will & Grace
Always grounded, real, funny, sexy and touching.
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin/Saturday Night Live
Tituss Burgess/Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
☑ Brian Tyree Henry/Atlanta
Tony Shalhoub/The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Kenan Thompson/Saturday Night Live
Sharp and funny and brings a lot of dimension to a role that could be slight… but isn’t in this case.
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Sara Bareilles/Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert
☑ Penélope Cruz/The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Judith Light/The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Adina Porter/American Horror Story: Cult
Letitia Wright/Black Museum (Black Mirror)
Walks the line between camp, caricature and realism… capturing the essence of Donatella as we would imagine it, while adding a surprising dose of empathy.
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Brandon Victor Dixon/Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert
Ricky Martin/The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Edgar Ramírez/The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Michael Stuhlbarg/The Looming Tower
☑ Finn Wittrock/The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
A surprisingly rangey and affecting performance.
Outstanding Reality/Competition Program
The Amazing Race
American Ninja Warrior
☑ RuPaul’s Drag Race
A mixture of progressive politics and artistry, with a lot of heart.
Outstanding Structured Reality Program
Lip Sync Battle
☑ Queer Eye
Who Do You Think You Are?
In its best episode,s the message of tolerance and understanding elevates the makeover show to something weirdly unifying and uplifting.
Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program
Born This Way
Naked And Afraid
RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked
☑ United Shades Of America With W. Kamau Bell
It’s a quick, clever, personal and insightful look at race relations.
Host for a Reality or Reality/Competition Program
W. Kamau Bell/United Shades Of America With W. Kamau Bell
Ellen Degeneres/Ellen’s Game Of Games
☑ RuPaul/RuPaul’s Drag Race
Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn/Project Runway
Jane Lynch/Hollywood Game Night
Makes every show a party, while making a strong message about inclusion and self acceptance for all.
Outstanding Variety Talk Series
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah
☑ Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
The Late Late Show With James Corden
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert
Expertly written and argued, and delivered with great passion and humor.
Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
At Home With Amy Sedaris
I Love You, America With Sarah Silverman
Saturday Night Live
☑ Tracey Ullman’s Show
More political and pointed in its social commentary this past season, and all the better for it.
Outstanding Variety Special (Live)
The 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards
60th Annual Grammy Awards
☑ Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert
Night Of Too Many Stars: America Unites For Autism Programs
An unlikely success, helped by strong casting and unexpected (and generally successful) directorial choices.
Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded)
Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special
Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2018
Dave Chappelle: Equanimity
☑ Full Frontal With Samantha Bee Presents: The Great American* Puerto Rico (*It’s Complicated)
Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Life
[No reason given.]
Outstanding Informational Series or Special
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Leah Remini: Scientology And The Aftermath
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman
StarTalk With Neil deGrasse Tyson
Bold takes on the stories that no one else is covering.
[Production assistance by Liz Shannon Miller.]