The entrance of a number of newcomers could shake up long-time favorites’ odds to win at this year’s Creative Arts Emmy ceremonies.
Here, Variety takes a closer look at six of those important races.
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Main Title Design
This is one category in which the nominees get to be wholly creative when it comes to visual styles. They use live-action elements, animation, photography or some combination thereof to quickly encapsulate the themes of the show that will follow. It is no easy feat, and neither is comparing such unique pieces in order to reward one over the other. Those who like minimalism will likely gravitate toward the moving, colored dots of Apple TV Plus’ “The Morning Show,” while voters looking for metaphors about compartmentalization and the pieces that make a man will select Netflix’s “The Politician,” while those who prefer symbolic images will finally award two-time prior nominee HBO’s “Westworld.” But sequences that take things a little bit more literally are on the ballot too, from the fairies of Amazon Prime Video’s “Carnival Row” to the archival footage of Epix’s “Godfather of Harlem” and the careful construction of the actual title of HBO’s “Watchmen.” And then there is “Abstract: The Art of Design” from Netflix, which switches things up to reflect its episodic profilee. This is one race that simply seems impossible to call.
Narrative Program Production Design
With the exception of NBC’s “Will & Grace,” every nominee in this category is up for its premiere episode, which introduces the world of the show for the new season or series. (“Will & Grace,” which is now a three-time consecutive nominee here for its revival, is in the running for re-creating classic iconography in its “I Love Lucy” homage.) Netflix’s “GLOW,” which won the category in 2018, created a fictional hotel and casino, and a brand-new wrestling ring, in 1980s Las Vegas for its third season, while Netflix’s “Space Force” brought to life an army base and command center for the political administration’s newest mission and Disney Plus’ “The Mandalorian” expanded the “Star Wars” universe for a new medium. Notably, FX’s “What We Do in the Shadows” is on the ballot for a trio of episodes across its second season, including the premiere and penultimate segments. For those, the team dove into the dwellings of vampires (and in a special episode, a coven) in modern-day New York. It’s hard to bet against the world-building power of Lucasfilm and Disney with “The Mandalorian,” but the great range and detail depicted over three episodes of “What We Do in the Shadows” could see it playing spoiler.
This race is a mix of beloved favorites and newcomers: Netflix’s “The Crown” is a two-time winner (2017, 2018), while Amazon Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is a two-time nominee and the incumbent, while FX’s “Pose” was also nominated last year. On the flip side, there is Netflix’s limited series “Hollywood” and FX on Hulu’s limited series “Mrs. America” in the running. “Pose’s” second-season premiere and “The Crown’s” third-season finale pushed their respective shows into new years, incorporating fresh styles, while the fifth episode of the third season of “Maisel” took the standup comedian south to Miami and embraced corals, which meant that all three of the returning nominees raised their own bar. And “Mrs. America’s” third episode, centered on Shirley Chisholm, did not disappoint with its balance of conservative versus liberal fashions in the 1970s, either. But it was “Hollywood” that really set itself apart by re-creating the 1948 Oscars’ red carpet and ceremony in its finale.
Single Camera Cinematography (One Hour)
The previous two winners in the category are both nominated once again: M. David Mullen, who took the trophy last year for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is back for the fifth episode of the third season of the standup period piece, which moved part-time to Miami. Meanwhile, 2018 winner Adriano Goldman (“The Crown”) is nominated for the Aberfan-disaster aftermath in the third episode of the third season of that royal family drama. They are joined by “Ozark’s” Ben Kutchins (previously nominated for the dark family drama in 2018, now in the running for the second episode of the third season); “Westworld’s” Paul Cameron (a 2017 nominee for the futuristic epic up for the third-season premiere); and rookie nominees Jeff Cronenweth (“Tales From the Loop’s” premiere episode), Erik Messerschmidt (“Mindhunter’s” sixth episode of the second season) and Armando Salas (“Ozark’s” fourth episode of the second season). The majority of the nominees were tasked with shooting a distinct and new location for longer-running shows, while Cronenweth had to create the visual template that would set the tone for the series going forward. While that may have a few extra voters taking notice, the scope of what Cameron shot, introducing multiple futuristic international cities, gives him an edge.
Special Visual Effects
All the nominees are coming into this race refreshed for the new year, and it could be anyone’s to win. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is the reigning champ in the category, not only having won for the past two years, but also consecutively between 2012 and 2016, every year for which it was eligible except its first. HBO’s other epic genre series “Westworld” picked up the mantle in 2017 when “GOT” sat out, and it was also nominated in 2018 but was ineligible last year. Similarly, Netflix’s “Lost in Space” and “Stranger Things” saw freshman noms in 2018, but were ineligible last year. All but “The Mandalorian” are up for their season finales, which featured various degrees of destruction, showdowns and world-altering work. “The Mandalorian’s” second episode, subtitled “The Child,” stands out as a front-runner for its introduction to just how powerful and important the biggest sensation of 2019 would be when the titular Child used the Force to save the Mando from a creature known as the Mudhorn.
Structured Reality or Competition Program Editing
This race comes down to whether voters are looking for stories that are cut together for satisfying emotional arcs or for formats. For the past two years, that has meant Netflix’s “Queer Eye” has taken the trophy. Nominated for a third time now, it is still the one to beat. On the ballot is the second episode of the fourth season that followed a journey of redemption and forgiveness as the episode’s “hero” sought to have a conversation with the man who paralyzed him by shooting him. But not to be completely counted out is the 12th season premiere of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on VH1, also a former winner in the category (2017) and nominated last year. It introduced the world to the next batch of drag queen superstars; Bravo’s “Top Chef,” previously nominated in 2012 after a run of five consecutive noms (including a 2008 win), broke out in a big way with its Jonathan Gold tribute episode. Ballot staple “Survivor” from CBS (with 20 noms since 2001) is a long shot, as is the only newcomer, Fox’s “Lego Masters.”
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