At the 2019 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, “Game of Thrones'” craft dominance was a testament to both its cultural impact and cumulative excellence. The HBO juggernaut grabbed 10 awards (out of 18 nominations) for its final season. The series won for casting, fantasy/sci-fi costumes, editing, main title design, music composition, makeup (non-prosthetic), sound editing, sound mixing, special visual effects, and stunt coordination — but significantly, the editing victory for “The Long Night” is the key predictor for next Sunday’s outstanding drama Emmy win, since five of the last seven winners have gone on to take the big prize.
The series’ final season was capped by the extraordinary work of costume designer Michele Clapton and the VFX team led by supervisor Joe Bauer. Clapton earned her fifth Emmy, concluding with Sansa’s (Sophie Turner) wolfish coronation gown with metal bodice, wielding both power and respect. And the VFX dwarfed all previous annihilation with the destruction of King’s Landing in winning its seventh consecutive Emmy (with the help of Scanline, Image Engine, and Weta Digital).
“Thrones” was joined by the impressive showing of HBO’s gripping nuclear disaster miniseries, “Chernobyl,” which earned seven Emmys for production design (breaking Deborah Riley’s five-year reign from “Thrones”), cinematography, editing, music composition (by Hildur Guðnadóttir), sound editing, sound mixing, and supporting visual effects.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Amy Sherman-Palladino’s hilarious ’50s ode to New York stand-up and female empowerment, made a great showing for Amazon Prime Video, taking four craft Emmys: cinematography (upsetting “Thrones”), period costumes, hairstyling, and music supervision. In addition, Natasha Lyonne’s “Russian Doll” time-warp comedy from Netflix earned three Emmys for cinematography, contemporary costumes, and half-hour production design. And Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Amazon Prime Video wicked comedy, “Fleabag,” took home two Emmys for casting and editing (the painfully awkward family dinner encounter in Episode 1). Plus, composer Nicholas Britell grabbed the Main Title Theme (a mashup of classical and hip-hop) for Adam McKay’s HBO global media satire, “Succession.”
FX’s “Fosse/Verdon,” the biopic about the remarkable collaboration between choreographer/director Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell) and his dancer/wife Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams), picked up three Emmys for hairstyling, music direction, and non-prosthetic makeup. Speaking of makeup, “Star Trek: Discovery” earned its first Emmy for prosthetic makeup (for the original series callout, “If Memory Serves”).
Faring well Saturday night was the Oscar-winning NatGeo documentary, “Free Solo,” which earned seven non-fiction Emmys for directing, cinematography, editing, the new doc music composition category (for composers Marco Beltrami and Brandon Roberts), sound editing, sound mixing, and interactive media.
There were a few minor surprises, such as last year’s Season 2 of “The Handmaid’s Tale” beating Ben Stiller’s real-life prison break drama, “Escape at Dannemora,” for the contemporary production design Emmy. Mark Ricker, the production designer, did wonderful work accurately recreating the castle-like Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York, with its signature cell block structure.
In fact, “Escape at Dannemora” was shut out, as were HBO’s “True Detective” and “Sharp Objects” and FX’s “Pose.”
Ava DuVernay’s powerful Netflix limited series, “When They See Us,” managed a single casting Emmy for its inspired Central Park 5 ensemble. And Netflix also scored for its boldly experimental, Interactive Media sensation, “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.”