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Outstanding Drama Series: Homeland
Outstanding Director for a Drama Series: Tim Van Patten, Boardwalk Empire
Outstanding Writer for a Drama Series: Alex Ganza, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff, Homeland
Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series: Damian Lewis, Homeland
Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series: Clair Danes, Homeland
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Outstanding Comedy Series: Modern Family
Outstanding Director for a Comedy Series: Steve Levitan, Modern Family
Outstanding Writer for a Comedy Series: Louis C.K. for Louis
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series: Jon Cryer
Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Julie Bowen, Modern Family

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Well, just so you know, creating this contest form was not the most fun thing in the world. Too many categories, fairly exhausting. But one thing I will note — you can tell what they really really really REALLY like by how many nominations the thing gets in all categories, much like the Oscars. So that would mean Mad Men breaks an Emmy record and takes home the gold for best drama series and Modern Family wins again for comedy series. Downton Abbey is all over the place, too.

The only thing I’m personally rooting for is for Louis to win something. Louis CK getting Best Actor in a comedy series, or writing or directing. Beyond that, it would be nice to see Christina Hendricks get some Emmy love for Mad Men, Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson for Game Change.

Please enter our contest! The winner(s) will receive an Amazon gift card. Contest after the cut.

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Damian Lewis after the cut.

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The story that the writers for HBO’s The Newsroom had been fired, first reported on The Daily, was soon refuted by Aaron Sorkin facing the TV critics Association:

“A couple of weeks ago an unsourced and untrue story appeared in the Internet that then got picked up: The writing staff was not fired. Just seeing that in print is scaring the hell out of the writing staff,” he said. “They’re acting very strange — they’re coming to work early. … I love the writing staff — I thought that we did great this year, and it’s a fantastic group to work with. We had a ball. A couple of staffing changes were made that included promoting our two writers assistants to story editors, but the writing staff hasn’t been fired; I’m looking forward to coming back to work with them soon.” As for reports concerning Corinne Kingsbury, a staff writer on the show, Sorkin said: “She was identified as my ex-girlfriend — she is not.”

The Daily’s Soo Youn stands by her story, saying two different sources told her what went down and HBO confirmed:

The story was tossed around like soft dough before it hardened, seeming to validate Sorkin’s fear about the way news is shaped and bandied about on the fly these days.  But who is lying?  Soo Youn stands firmly behind her story and other sources have also investigated.

During the panel discussion, Sorkin was also asked repeatedly whether he thought the female characters on the show were given short shrift. He gave his answer:

 “I completely respect that opinion,” Sorkin said.  But I 100 percent disagree with it. I think the female characters are every bit the equals of the men.” He added he worked hard to establish that the women have qualities showing that they “care about others, reach high, are thoughtful, curious. …” Because “once you have those things down, you can have them slip on as many banana peels as you want.”

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There is probably nothing more frustrating than seeing a voice and a talent like Lena Dunham’s — maybe the coolest thing to happen to storytelling in a long while — being relegated to stories about how these girls’ lives are shaped and defined by the men they pursue. So you might be thinking, first it’s the racism thing, now it’s the sexism thing — why can’t Lena Dunham just be Lena Dunham? Why does she have to be “the voice of a generation”? Can’t she just create good material and leave it at that? And the answer to that, of course, is yes, she can. Her writing is witty enough, and the characters are interesting enough to keep this thing going through a second season and beyond. And who isn’t willing to follow Dunham throughout her growth as an artist? Who’s not curious to see where she’s headed next?

I certainly am. But I don’t know how long I can keep looking forward to Girls if every episode is going to revolve around this guy, that guy, this guy, that guy. In fact, I already know the answer: not long.

Why? Because this is the same story we women have been handed for decades now, especially BY women storytellers. The notion that a man can save you, or that you are incomplete without a man in your life is really the same ol’ same ol’. There are so many interesting voices of women out there whose lives aren’t centered solely around men. Young women, old women — it’s important to note, and to be reminded, that women have worthy narratives beyond their need for and their ability to land a man. If you watched Girls, knowing nothing about the real world, you’d think the purpose of four years at an expensive college and moving to New York is to launch a voyage of discovery narrowly mapped out to seek only one treasure — to find a man at the end of the rainbow. And if you don’t have a man, if you’re properly loved, you’re not worthy.

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The handful of reviews for HBO’s Hemingway & Gellhorn (premiering tonight) are all over the map. The Wall Street Journal says it’s “rich and impressively ambitious.”

Nothing in this film speaks for its mastery more decisively than its depiction of that war. Given all the time and detail lavished on that depiction, it’s clear that the film’s creators—director Philip Kaufman (“The Right Stuff”) and writers Jerry Stahl and Barbara Turner—were betting on its power. A very good bet it was, too. Scene after wonderfully crowded scene evokes the color and tone of this bitterly ideological struggle, as do the militant songs—the choruses of “Viva La Quince Brigada” that come rumbling along, irresistible accompaniment to the battle scenes.

The Hollywood Reporter agrees, “the film looks rich and resplendent, perhaps at times even too spiffy and pristine. Geoffrey Kirkland’s production design and Ruth Myers’ costume design are nothing if not resourceful and evocative, with Rogier Stoffers’ cinematography enhancing all their color and atmospheric detail.”

Quite apart from its dramatic and visual qualities, the first thing to be noted about this kaleidoscopic biographical study is the way Kidman looks. The first image you see is of a strikingly beautiful older woman, 70ish, smoking and cementing viewer connection with her brilliant blue eyes as she scorns love and asserts her hunger for “what’s happening on the outside. Action!” She does resemble Kidman but looks too authentically old to actually be her. The question occurs: Did they get someone of the correct age — Julie Christie, Charlotte Rampling, Vanessa Redgrave — to play these interview scenes?

[If you want to see how Kidman looks octogenarianized in the opening shot, check her out.]

There are negative reviews too. Seek them out at Metacritic. Right now the thing itself is on the screen in the room with me, so I’m going to un-pause the DVR and find out for myself.

It’s time once again to write up a piece on a subject of which we here at Awards Daily know nothing about: the Emmys.  The Emmys are one step less lame than the Grammys, in my opinion, and both make the Oscars look like the jury awards at Cannes.

So we head on over to Gold Derby to check out the current Emmy odds. So here is how it’s shaking down and how we think it might go:

Best Drama
Mad Men – Gold Derby
Boardwalk Empire – Sasha Stone, Awards Daily
Friday Night Lights
The Good Wife
Game of Thrones

It’s pretty cool that they nominated Game of Thrones, I suppose.  To give credit where credit is due.  The weird thing about the Emmys is that by the time they roll around it always feels like buzz has shifted.  We have to remember where the buzz was when they voted, not where it is now.  But I feel like Boardwalk Empire has the buzz, though Mad Men is still the best show on TV (along with Breaking Bad).
Should have been there: Treme

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Snapped these shots of Julianne Moore and Ed Harris as Palin and McCain off the screen from an HBO preview tonight. Premieres in 2012. Two more after the cut.

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This isn’t a competitive category so there will be no winner on June 20th. I’m posting for two reasons. (a) It’s interesting to hear reliable advance word about promising series on the horizon, and (b) we’ll soon see for ourselves which of these new programs are genuinely outstanding so, in a sense, this list holds the TV Critics accountable. It’ll either help verify or cast doubt on their reliability. I think there’s general agreement that last week’s nominations were solid, with few surprises and no outright groaners.  But there’s already some sniping that today’s list smacks of “Best Newcomer” a la Golden Globes snuggling up to Pia Zadora.  While Pia never lived up to the honor, these series will each have an opportunity to prove worthy in a matter of weeks.

  • Alcatraz – Fox – Warner Bros.
  • Apartment 23 – ABC – 20th Century Fox
  • Awake – NBC – 20th Century Fox
  • Falling Skies – TNT – DreamWorks
  • New Girl – Fox – 20th Century Fox
  • Ringer – CW – Warner Bros
  • Smash – NBC – DreamWorks/Universal Media
  • Terra Nova – Fox – 20th Century Fox

The Critics Choice list is based on the pilots and any other subsequent episodes already available.

Sight unseen, which of these looks the most exciting to you?  We’ll be able to measure their eventual critical success by comparing Metacritic ratings in a couple of months.   Now’s your chance to go on record for bragging rights if you guess correctly which one scores highest.


First look provided by Patrick Heidmann (who sourced it here). Moore plays Palin in the upcoming Game Change.

(Thanks Jon Pace for the insider tip) Coming in May from HBO, Too Big To Fail recounts the catastrophic fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and the global aftermath. An all-star cast including William Hurt, James Wood, Topher Grace, Cynthia Nixon, Tony Shalhoub, Billy Crudup, Ed Asner, Bill Pullman and Paul Giamatti re-enact the worst financial disaster of our lifetime (thus far, at least.) Directed by Curtis Hansen (LA Confidential) the film is based on NY Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book of the same name.

Having the tome adapted for the premium cable network is an important part of educating the public, says Sorkin… Like the book on which it is based, the film will attempt to take viewers inside the room to see the choices that needed to be made as the economy went into a tailspin fueled by toxic mortgages two-plus years ago. ‚ÄúPeople don‚Äôt really appreciate how close to the edge we really were,‚Äù he says. ‚ÄúI think that this project puts that into perspective.‚Äù

It will also show the complexities of many of the period’s leading men. As Sorkin sees it, none of the crisis’ characters are quite as black and white as they’re often portrayed in the media. “There are moments where you want to take them up by the collar and say, ‘What the heck are you doing? You’re really screwing this up,’” he says. “And there are moments where you actually want to give them a pat on the back in a way probably that you wouldn’t have ever expected.” It is these kind of surprises that Sorkin believes make the 2008 period, as well as his work depicting it, so fascinating.

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This highbrow excerpt from a review at Cineme-Scope.com is adorned with vocabulary Veda Pierce herself might like to affect. Obscure enough to avoid spoilers for those on the West Coast where HBO’s Mildred Pierce is just beginning, but rousing enough to inspire our East Coast readers who’ve already seen tonight’s installments to offer their own impressions.

Claiming to be influenced by the ‚Äúlong-lens naturalism‚Äù of ‚Äò70s films such as The Godfather (1972) and Chinatown (1974), Haynes‚Äô style, augmented by cinematographer Ed Lachman‚Äôs muted colour scheme, is relatively restrained… But Haynes‚Äô talent for balancing intimacy with a distancing mise en sc√®ne in which the actors are viewed through windows, bars, or mirrors is gloriously Fassbinderian. Mildred may be less calculating than Maria Braun, or less of a victim than Martha in the Fassbinder film of the same name. Nevertheless, Mildred Pierce manages to balance operatic intensity with analytical prowess‚Äîit captures our current anxieties without falling prey to a Mad Men-like tendency to treat the past with blithe condescension.

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Growing up, there was only one Lizzie Borden — Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery who showed she could be troubling and crazy in addition to perky and full of mischief. But Sevigny is the perfect person to play the character — although I wonder what version of Lizzie we’re going to see. The real Lizzie was a puzzle. She held all of her emotions in. No one really knew for sure if she did it or not. No one could imagine she could be capable of wielding that ax in that manner — with extreme force. Yet there was no way anyone else could get in there to do the crime. It is a great mystery. So I’m hoping they will treat it as such and not just film it assuming Borden was guilty. No one ever proved it and she was never charged with the crime.

Meanwhie, Sevigny has really done exceptional work on Big Love, which ends this coming Sunday. Last week’s episode had Nicky going as dark as she’s ever gone before having a psychological break as she realizes what she has done, and what she has become. This story was originally reported on Deadline. TV Line offered up a video of Sevigny talking about the project.

Brilliant Todd Haynes – can’t wait for this.

Strong reveiws for tonight’s HBO premiere of Cormac McCarthy’s Sunset Limited starring Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson, and directed by Tommy Lee himself.

Subject matter doesn’t get more profound than life and death, but, thanks to McCarthy’s writing and the two veteran actors, we’re completely drawn into the discussion, so much so that we’re taken by surprise as McCarthy careful injects another possible interpretation of the play’s set-up.

Both performances are terrific… Jones looks and acts appropriately tired. It would be easy to give in to the temptation to make White simply bitter and empty, but by keeping the character human, Jones makes his despair even more profound… Jackson may have the slightly more difficult job in that he has to avoid self-righteousness playing the “good guy,” but he more than meets that challenge. His is that TV rarity, a tour de force performance, rippling with energy, nuance, humor and passion. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Watching TCM’s tribute to 1939 today and noticing Thomas Mitchell played a key supporting role in every single movie that year. Struck by the fact that — as formidable as they are — both Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson shine brightest when they energize supporting characters. Check out the 2 polls after the cut to choose your favorites.

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With Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain wrote two classic hard-boiled novels that Hollywood turned into two of the best films noir ever made. After Paramount and MGM snatched up the rights to those two, it left Warners scrambling for whatever Cain adaptation they could lay they hands on. Turning to another Cain bestseller, they might have been told: But there’s no crime story, there’s no murder in Mildred Pierce. To which screenwriters Ranald MacDougall, Catherine Turney and William Faulkner (!) might have replied: Don’t worry. We’ll fix that.

While the film added a tidy flashback structure, murder and mystery, the screen version of Mildred Pierce lost the background setting, social conscience and scathing cultural implications. The Great Depression and prohibition are gone from the film, and the movie had to sanitize the substantial sexuality of the novel. Todd Haynes 5-hour miniseries goes back to the source and restores all that juice. The novel was scandalous at the time of its publication, but as a psychological snapshot of the culture’s stickier moral questions of the early 20th century, it has much more in common Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy than with anything written by Hammett or Chandler.

The most important difference you’ll find is between the two interpretations of Mildred’s ungrateful daughter Veda. The movie turned Veda into a finishing school femme fatale debutante. In the book she’s a Bad Seed to the core. As bad as they come. Lolita with fangs and claws. All this is meant to reassure the doubters who wonder what’s the point of remaking a classic. This isn’t a remake of the Joan Crawford movie, because the 1946 noir is nowhere near as psychosexually intense as the HBO film will be. To call it a twisted slant on Electra complex is not far off, and a handy way to hint at how much the original story resembles Greek Tragedy.


PUBLIC SPEAKING, directed by Scorsese and produced by Graydon Carter, about legendary New York writer Fran Lebowitz will preeem on Monday.

Directed in the style of Scorsese’s early documentaries “Italian American” and “American Boy,” PUBLIC SPEAKING showcases Lebowitz’s worldview and experiences. Spotlighting her trademark humor, the film weaves together extemporaneous monologues with archival footage.

Scorsese is one of those who can easily transition in and out of filmmaking, teaching film and making non-fiction films quite well. Is there anything he can’t do? Set your DVRs. If I had my way, Shutter Island would also be heavy in this year’s Oscar race.

Halloween weekend we can choose between tween vampires (Let Me In), alien invasions (Monsters), evil spirits (Paranormal Activity 2), or sick minds (Saw 3D). I’m crazy over the first choice, excited to see the 2nd, curious about the 3rd, and wish the 4th option would go away. Or we can stay home October 31 and watch the premiere of AMC’s new zombie series, Walking Dead, directed by Frank Darabont.

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