CHICAGO – Let’s face it, life does suck. But what can we do about that? How do we survive? Lookingglass Theatre Company’s latest stage presentation tries to answer those thorny questions through a group of fellow travelers, flung together at a cabin retreat, trying to figure out why (indeed) “Life Sucks.”
TV Feature: The 11 Biggest Emmy Snubs of 2013
CHICAGO – The 2013 Emmy nominations were announced this morning, leading to the natural hand-wringing and chest-beating over who missed the cut. Before we get to the most egregious snubs of the year, a few places where the Academy unexpectedly, happily got it right:
1. “Enlightened” — I wish it had made the cut in Comedy Series but Laura Dern and Molly Shannon being nominated at all is not something I expected. My most glorious surprise of the morning.
2. One Down — I’m not sure Eric Stonestreet was the most deserving to be the first excluded from the supporting comedy categories but at least “Modern Family” takes up less than 50% of these categories and so it’s progress.
3. Fave Nominees — Jason Bateman, Louis C.K., Laura Dern, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Adam Driver, Bill Hader, Tony Hale, Bobby Cannavale (twice), Melissa Leo, Molly Shannon, Jeff Daniels, Bryan Cranston, Vera Farmiga, Elisabeth Moss, Aaron Paul, Mandy Patinkin, Claire Danes, Emilia Clarke, Christina Hendricks, Rupert Friend, Margo Martindale — that’s a REALLY talented group of Emmy nominees. Nice work there, Academy.
4. Last Year’s Snubs — 12 months ago I railed against missing Dern, Driver, and Hale. All are in this year. Cool. Now try getting ‘em for the first year they deserve it in the future. It bodes well for this year’s snubs list getting in next year. Here’s a potential glimpse at the future…
The 11 Biggest Emmy Snubs of 2013
11. Sienna Miller, “The Girl”
Photo credit: HBO
Looking over the Movie/Mini-Series nominees, one thing’s clear. The deal with the devil that forced 17 nominations for “American Horror Story: Asylum,” a show that was more cluttered than it was creative, pushed out a number of worthwhile nominees. Just because there’s too much to choose from in Comedy and Drama, I’m going to limit myself to one choice (although fans of “The Hour” have reason to be pissed) and it’s kind of an unexpected one but it hints at the big problem with these categories — star power blinds voters. Toby Jones & Imelda Staunton were nominated for HBO’s often-frustrating “The Girl” but Sienna Miller gave the best performance in the film. Certainly more complex and engaging than Sigourney Weaver’s work on “Political Animals.” But it’s easy to nominate the guy doing the Hitch impression and an A-lister like Weaver. Look at the performances and not the names on the ballot.
10. “The Middle”
Photo credit: ABC
Comedy Series was crowded enough that I’m not surprised nor would really argue that this incredibly underrated ABC series should have been at the Big Dance but nothing for Patricia Heaton or Eden Sher? The show has grown in critical esteem every year as more and more people have discovered that this sitcom is the closest thing to the peak of “Roseanne” since that landmark program went off the air. One nomination was all I wanted — Heaton or Sher. Even if both deserved it.
9. Olivia Munn, “The Newsroom”
Photo credit: HBO
Sloan Sabbath drove the turnaround of this program in the mid-section of season one in back-to-back episodes that stood as the best of the tumultuous freshman year. The work that should have gotten her nominated for Best Supporting Actress came in the episode in which she struggled with what to do in relation to off-the-record knowledge that could impact lives in Japan but she followed it up with some great work stuck on a plane when the biggest news of the year broke. Munn found the balance of confidence & doubt that most of the show was missing (for the first four episodes, the self-righteous confidence was overwhelming) and became one of its most important dramatic anchors, pun only slightly intended. I’m very happy Jeff Daniels got in but Munn should have joined him.
8. Parker Posey, “Louie”
Photo credit: FX
Four nominations out of twelve for “Saturday Night Live” hosts? When you have a treasure trove of guest acting performances like “Louie”? I’m happy that Melissa Leo got a nod for her episode but no David Lynch? Robin Williams? Most of all, Parker Posey, who gave one of the best performances of her career in a two-part episode that stands among the best TV of 2012? If you like “Louie,” and you clearly do because you nominated the show and its brilliant creator, how does Posey miss out? She was perfect as that captivating girl who can take you on a variety of unexpected dates but they all end in a melancholy place. Sure, Kristen Wiig came back to host a show she worked on less than 12 months earlier. That’s harder. I get it. (Sarcasm intended.)
7. Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt & Adam Scott, “Parks & Recreation”
Parks and Recreation
Photo credit: NBC
The best comedy ensemble of 2012-13 was woefully underrepresented as NBC’s “Parks & Recreation” was overshadowed by “The Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family,” two shows that popped up in way too many categories and pushed out the talented performers of NBC’s beloved program. Nick Offerman makes this list every year (and it now looks likely that he’ll never be nominated) but Pratt and Scott had their best years to date as well. None got in and the series was left out of Best Comedy Series as well. Only Poehler made the cut. It has to be a little bittersweet for the talented actress to be the last woman standing.
6. The Supporting Cast of “Arrested Development”
Photo credit: Netflix
Jason Bateman made it but no one else? David Cross? Will Arnett? Jessica Walter? I know many of you probably applaud the exclusion of “Arrested Development” from Best Comedy (I would have nominated it but I get why it was left out) but can you really deny the talent of this ensemble? One of my biggest surprises of the morning had to be the snub of Jessica Walter, a woman I was certain would represent the supporting cast of the show, possibly joined by Cross or Arnett. None of them? Really? Do we need a recount?
5. Abigail Spencer, “Rectify”
Photo credit: Sundance Channel
Dammit, no “Rectify.” It often takes time for institutions like the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to recognize drama that isn’t conforming to any sort of norm and the short season of Sundance Channel’s excellent series didn’t help it draw enough attention. Hard to believe but “Breaking Bad” wasn’t nominated for Best Drama for its first season. The Emmys OFTEN, and this is no exception, take an extra season to catch on to what they should have nominated the year before (and, in the same vein, keep nominating shows and performers past their primes). Who should have represented “Rectify”? The incredible Abigail Spencer as a woman entirely unprepared with how to deal with her brother’s return from prison but so eager to try. She’s riveting in every single scene she’s in. When she has more screen time with more episodes next year, maybe she’ll get in. And it will be partially to recognize her work this season
4. Michael Cudlitz & Regina King, “Southland”
Photo credit: TNT
“Southland” will never get an Emmy acting nomination. Shameful. Just shameful. Regina King has been the one that I’ve pointed to in the past and she would have been a delightful surprise after years of snubbing but I honestly thought that Michael Cudlitz had a serious chance this year given the incredible work he did as a man struggling more than ever with his personal demons while doing one of the most difficult jobs in the country. The only way to look at this is that not enough people saw the show, a sad commonality in Emmy nominations. Cudlitz and King join some incredibly talented performers. The cast of “The Wire” can buy them a drink.
3. Keri Russell, “The Americans”
Photo credit: FX
Connie Britton? Really? I like Britton a lot but there is no rational person who can argue that her appearance here doesn’t have as much to do with residual love for “Friday Night Lights” as it does “Nashville.” I’d go as far as to say some voted for her who hadn’t even seen the ABC drama just because they like her and “FNL.” I get the sentimentality for NBC’s great program but it pushed out some really talented people, including Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”) and, most of all, Keri Russell, who gave a fearless performance on FX’s “The Americans.” The Academy has yet to fully embrace FX, allowing shows like “Justified” and “Rescue Me” to sometimes make brief appearances but never amass multi-year streaks. And don’t get me started on “The Shield.” We hoped “The Americans” would help turn it around and give one of the most important networks on TV more of the consistent attention it deserves. Maybe next year.
2. Corey Stoll, “House of Cards”
Photo credit: Netflix
The headlines are already screaming about the inclusion of “House of Cards” in Best Dramatic Series and how it breaks ground as the first streaming-only program to join the Emmy club. I’m happy for David Fincher’s drama and it’s cool to see Kevin Spacey nominated and I get why Robin Wright made the cut but, as so often happens in awards, when they get it right they still get it wrong. Spacey and Wright were the figureheads of the Netflix show but they didn’t give the best performances on the program. That title belonged to Corey Stoll, so well-rounded and captivating as the pawn in a powerful man’s chess game. Heck, even Michael Kelly or Kate Mara would have been wonderful surprises. The Academy has an awful track record in terms of looking beyond the leads in season one of a show. Cranston but not Paul for season one of “Bad.” Morena Baccarin is better in season one of “Homeland” but gets the nod for season two. It takes them three years to nominate more than Dinklage for “GoT.” Spacey and Wright may have been the faces of “HoC” but Stoll was the MVP.
Photo credit: NBC
I knew it wouldn’t happen. Well, I had a small, tiny, amuse-bouche hope that Mads Mikkelsen could sneak in to Supporting Actor or maybe a guest nod for Gillian Anderson or Gina Torres or Eddie Izzard just to cite the show in some manner. When it was over, the official Emmys website doesn’t even have a page for “Hannibal.” (Even “Hemlock Grove” has one). No nominations. The best drama on network TV doesn’t exist. Is this the end? With six dramatic series nominations going to cable, streaming, or PBS, will they even look to the big five any more? Would they have given “Hannibal” more of a chance if it had aired on AMC or HBO? We’ll never know but I know that Bryan Fuller’s program was one of the most engaging, riveting, and consistently interesting of the last season — more than at least half of the nominees that the Academy chose as superior. I would have been happy with one measly nomination just to represent the program. A complete shutout earns it the top spot on the list. With the inability of the Academy to recognize any dramatic work on the big five (3/25 acting nominees), I wouldn’t be surprised to see this top the list next year too.