As expected, “Game of Thrones” was the big winner at the Creative Arts Emmy competition this weekend, grabbing seven awards, including its sixth VFX Emmy and its first for composer Ramin Djawadi (who was also nominated for his “Westworld” score).
The HBO juggernaut also won for period/fantasy production design, fantasy/sci-fi costume design, sound mixing, prosthetic makeup, and stunt coordination.
FX’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” followed right behind with four craft Emmys (contemporary costumes, hairstyling, non-prosthetic makeup, and casting).
Sharing three Emmys apiece were Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” (contemporary production design, guest actress Samira Wiley, and drama series editing); HBO’s “Westworld” (non-prosthetic makeup, hairstyling, and creative achievement in interactive media); Netflix’s “The Crown” (one-hour series cinematography, period costumes, and casting); Netflix’s “Black Mirror: USS Callister” (back-to-back TV movie, editing, and sound editing); and Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (music supervision, editing, and casting for a comedy series).
Amazon Studios/Sarah Shatz
Significantly, the editing win for “The Handmaid’s Tale” is the key barometer for predicting next Monday’s outstanding drama series showdown with “Game of Thrones,” since five of the last six editing winners have gone on to win the big prize — perhaps priming the dystopian “Handmaid’s” for its second consecutive victory.
Although Netflix outpaced HBO in total craft nominations for the first time in 18 years, HBO was the top winner with 17 Emmys, followed by Netflix’s 16, and NBC’s 15.
Other noteworthy winners included NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert” for live variety special; cinematography for National Geographic’s “Genius: Picasso” (the second in a row for Mathias Herndl, following “Einstein”); production design for Netflix’s “GLOW”; supporting visual effects for Netflix’s “The Alienist” (courtesy of Milk); sound editing for Netflix’s “Stranger Things”; Carlos Rafael Rivera’s main title theme music for Netflix’s “Godless”; sound editing for FX’s”Atlanta”; and sound mixing for HBO’s “Barry.”
One of the biggest upsets, however, was “Rick and Morty” (“Pickle Rick”) beating three-time Emmy winner “Bob’s Burgers” (“V For Valentine-detta”) for outstanding animated program in its third season on Adult Swim.
“Game of Thrones,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” “The Crown,” and “USS Callister” were all defined by striking visual styles. In the penultimate Season 7 of “Game of Thrones,” for instance, Dany’s (Emilia Clarke) absolute quest for power informed both the production and costume design of four-time Emmy winner Deborah Riley and five-time winner Michele Clapton. Highlights included the brutalist Dragonstone Throne Room set and striking winter coat, which were symbolic of Dany’s confidence and strength.
Meanwhile, the VFX in “Beyond the Wall” (overseen by Steve Kullback, lead visual effects producer, and Joe Bauer, lead visual effects supervisor) was crucial to Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) impossible mission. This included the zombie polar bear (created by Weta Digital, which earned its first Emmy), the army of zombie wights, and the most complex dragon work to date (aided by Emmy-winning previs from The Third Floor).
“Fargo’s” Elisabeth Williams came in to Season 2 of “The Handmaid’s Tale” to expand the visual universe beyond Gilead with The Colonies, the deceptively warm, bucolic landscape that was actually a toxic wasteland. She went with gold, amber and light blue, inspired by Dutch paintings. Added to that were mountains of bags and a lunar look.
Miami in the ’80s and ’90s became the visual epicenter for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” and costume design spotlighted the high and low worlds of Versace (Édgar Ramírez) and hero-worshiping, spree killer Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss). Four-time Emmy-winning costume designer Lou Eyrich (who shared the award with designer Allison Leach) made the clothes reflect the difference between Versace, who transformed fashion into a glam party world, and Cunanan, who aspired to be a part of that fantasy.
Alex Bailey / Netflix
More color was introduced to Season 2 of “The Crown,” which took place in the ’60s. This allowed the Emmy-winning cinematography of Adriano Goldman and costume designer Jane Petrie to isolate Queen Elizabeth (Claire Foy) in Buckingham Palace as she struggles to become relevant, and liberate Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby), who hooks up with bohemian photographer Tony Armstrong-Jones (Matthew Goode).
With “USS Callister,” Emmy-winning cinematographer Stephan Pehrsson portrayed the dual worlds of reality and virtual reality in this “Star Trek” riff. He alternated different color combinations and aspect ratios, utilizing hand-held and dolly shots. He also conveyed different iterations, alluding to the original series, “Next Generation,” and the J.J. Abrams reboot, with anamorphic lenses and lots of flares during the wormhole finale.