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Emmy Predictions: Best Writing & Directing in a Drama Series

I continue my series of Emmy predictions with the people eligible in the categories for Best Writing in a Drama Series and Best Directing in a Drama Series. I’m going to take a look at the categories and make groupings: Tier One, Tier Two and Tier Three. Tier One placements are for people/programs that I fully expect to get an Emmy nomination. Tier Two are people/programs that are still in the running but could be left out. And Tier Three are people/programs that I don’t expect to be nominated, but they would be a little bit of a surprise. Let’s take a look at the categories…

BEST WRITING – DRAMA SERIES:
TIER ONE:
Game of Thrones – “The Rains of Castamere” – David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Homeland – “Q&A” – Henry Bromell
The Newsroom – “We Just Decided To” – Aaron Sorkin

*Game of Thrones is the most secure of this group. It helps that it was the only episode submitted from Game of Thrones and it was one of the most talked about episodes of the year. The Newsroom has received mixed reactions, but everyone appreciated the pilot especially the opening monologue. Aaron Sorkin is a respected writer and he should have no problem getting nominated (even if the show misses out on Drama Series). And I expect Homeland to get a nomination. It won last year but it’ll be tough to see which episodes stands out for the voters. I think “Q&A” is ahead of the other episodes because it was the most widely liked episode and it gives Henry Bromell a posthumous nomination (RIP).*

TIER TWO:
The Americans – “Pilot” – Joe Weisberg
Bates Motel – “First You Dream, Then You Die” – Anthony Cipriano, Carlton Cuse & Kerry Ehrin
Breaking Bad – “Buyout” – Gennifer Hutchison
Breaking Bad – “Dead Freight” – George Mastras
Breaking Bad – “Fifty-One” – Sam Catlin
Breaking Bad – “Gliding Over All” – Moira Walley-Beckett
Breaking Bad – “Hazard Pay” – Peter Gould
Breaking Bad – “Madrigal” – Vince Gilligan
Breaking Bad – “Say My Name” – Thomas Schnauz
Downton Abbey – “Episode 4” – Julian Fellowes
Hannibal – “Aperitif” – Bryan Fuller
Homeland – “Beirut Is Back” – Chip Johannessen
Homeland – “The Choice” – Alex Gansa & Meredith Stiehm
Homeland – “New Car Smell” – Meredith Stiehm
Homeland – “The Smile” – Alex Gansa & Howard Gordon
Homeland – “State of Independence” – Alexander Cary
House of Cards – “Chapter 1” – Beau Willimon
Mad Men – “The Better Half” – Erin Levy & Matthew Weiner
Mad Men – “The Collaborators” – Jonathan Igla & Matthew Weiner
Mad Men – “The Crash” – Jason Grote & Matthew Weiner
Mad Men – “Favors” – Semi Chellas & Matthew Weiner
Mad Men – “The Flood” – Tom Smuts & Matthew Weiner
Mad Men – “For Immediate Release” – Matthew Weiner
Mad Men – “In Care Of” – Matthew Weiner & Carly Wray
Mad Men – “The Quality of Mercy” – Andre Jacquemetton & Maria Jacquemetton
Mad Men – “A Tale of Two Cities” – Janet Leahy & Matthew Weiner

*There are a lot of episodes fighting for those last two spots. “Pilot” episodes usually do very well, which is why The Americans, Bates Motel, Hannibal and House of Cards are very much in contention. If any of them end up being bigger contenders than expected, they will most certaintly end up with a writing nomination too. Then there’s all the episodes from big contenders from Breaking Bad, Homeland and Mad Men. All of them submitted a lot of episodes, which could end up splitting the votes and hurting them in the end. Breaking Bad had never received a writing nomination before (which is CRAZY!) but that could change this year. At the WGA Awards in January, Breaking Bad got 4 out of the 6 nominations in Episodic Drama. There has to be some voting crossover and that will hopefully translate to a nomination for them. But also watch out for Mad Men. Since the first season they have never received less than 2 nominations every year. The writing branch loves them.*

TIER THREE:
Boardwalk Empire – “Bone for Tuna” – Chris Haddock
Boardwalk Empire – “Margate Sands” – Howard Korder & Terence Winter
Boardwalk Empire – “The Milkmaid’s Lot” – Rolin Jones
Boardwalk Empire – “Two Imposters” – Howard Korder
Boardwalk Empire – “You’d Be Surprised” – Diane Frolov & Andrew Schneider
Damages – “But You Don’t Do That Anymore” – Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler & Daniel Zelman
The Good Wife – “Red Team, Blue Team” – Michelle King & Robert King
Nashville – “Pilot” – Callie Khouri
Orphan Black – “Natural Selection” – Graeme Manson
Parenthood – “What to My Wondering Eyes” – Jason Katims
Scandal – “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” – Shonda Rhimes
The Walking Dead – “Clear” – Scott M. Gimple
The Walking Dead – “Killer Within” – Sang Kyu Kim
The Walking Dead – “Seed” – Glen Mazzara

*While I’m not predicting any of these shows, the Emmys do some strange things in these categories sometimes so it wouldn’t completely surprise me to see any of these names slip through the cracks and appear on the Emmy list on July 18th.*

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FINAL PREDICTIONS:
Game of Thrones – “The Rains of Castamere” – David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Homeland – “New Car Smell” – Meredith Stiehm
Homeland – “Q&A” – Henry Bromell
Mad Men – “In Care Of” – Matthew Weiner & Carly Wray
The Newsroom – “We Just Decided To” – Aaron Sorkin

*For the last two spots I went with “New Car Smell” from Homeland. It got an individual nomination from WGA and it had the memorable final moments between Carrie & Brody (which sets up “Q&A”). Mad Men has to be nominated (just based on previous years) and the fact that the finale aired during the final week of voting should help it out. Either way, I would be shocked not to see Mad Men represented here even if it isn’t for that specific episode. Unfortunately I think the submission of almost every episode is going to be the downfall of Breaking Bad.*

BEST DIRECTING – DRAMA SERIES:
TIER ONE:
Breaking Bad – “Fifty-One” – Rian Johnson
Game of Thrones – “The Rains of Castamere” – David Nutter
Homeland – “The Choice” – Michael Cuesta

*The Game of Thrones episode is pretty much almost a sure thing to win the category. I would be surprised if it wasn’t even nominated. Breaking Bad may miss out on a Writing nomination but it won’t in Directing. Rian Johnson won the DGA and I think that shows which episode voters are going to support. Michael Cuesta was nominated last year for Homeland and I think he’ll do it again for the season finale episode.*

TIER TWO:
The Americans – “Pilot” – Gavin O’Connor
Bates Motel – “First You Dream, Then You Die” – Tucker Gates
Boardwalk Empire – “Bone for Tuna” – Jeremy Podeswa
Boardwalk Empire – “Margate Sands” – Tim Van Patten
Boardwalk Empire – “Two Imposters” – Allen Coulter
Breaking Bad – “Buyout” – Colin Bucksey
Breaking Bad – “Dead Freight” – George Mastras
Breaking Bad – “Gliding Over All” – Michelle MacLaren
Breaking Bad – “Hazard Pay” – Adam Bernstein
Breaking Bad – “Live Free or Die” – Michael Slovis
Breaking Bad – “Say My Name” – Thomas Schnauz
Downton Abbey – “Episode 4” – Jeremy Webb
Game of Thrones – “And Now His Watch Is Ended” – Alex Graves
Game of Thrones – “Valar Dohaeris” – Dan Minahan
Game of Thrones – “Walk of Punishment” – David Benioff
Hannibal – “Aperitif” – David Slade
Homeland – “New Car Smell” – David Semel
Homeland – “Q&A” – Lesli Linka Glatter
Homeland – “Two Hats” – Daniel Attias
House of Cards – “Chapter 1” – David Fincher
Mad Men – “The Better Half” – Phil Abraham
Mad Men – “The Collaborators” – Jon Hamm
Mad Men – “The Crash” – Michael Uppendahl
Mad Men – “The Doorway” – Scott Hornbacher
Mad Men – “Favors” – Jennifer Getzinger
Mad Men – “The Flood” – Christopher Manley
Mad Men – “In Care Of” – Matthew Weiner
Mad Men – “A Tale of Two Cities” – John Slattery
The Newsroom – “We Just Decided To” – Greg Mottola

*I probably could’ve narrowed done this list of contenders, but I genuinely believe that all of these shows/episodes have a decent shot of being nominated. I could see any of them making the final list of nominations next Thursday. Once again: pilots doing very well in this category so The Americans, Bates Motel, Hannibal, House of Cards and The Newsroom stand a decent chance of getting nominated. Downton Abbey was nominated last year and could receive another one. I already have Breaking Bad getting one nomination but I can see it getting multiple ones (especially with “Dead Freight”). Game of Thrones and Homeland could also get multiple nominations. Mad Men isn’t as lucky in this category as it is in Writing, but it still gets a nomination almost every year. And Boardwalk Empire has won this category for the past two years. Will the Emmys will forget the show after that?*

TIER THREE:
The Americans – “Gregory” – Thomas Schlamme
Boardwalk Empire – “Blue Bell Boy” – Kari Skogland
Boardwalk Empire – “The Milkmaid’s Lot” – Ed Bianchi
Damages – “But You Don’t Do That Anymore” – Glenn Kessler
Dexter – “Surprise, Motherfucker!” – Steve Shill
The Good Wife – “Death of a Client” – Robert King
Nashville – “Pilot” – R.J. Cutler
The Newsroom – “I’ll Try to Fix You” – Alan Poul
Southland – “Chaos” – Christopher Chulack
The Walking Dead – “Clear” – Tricia Brock
The Walking Dead – “Killer Within” – Guy Ferland
The Walking Dead – “Made to Suffer” – Billy Gierhart
The Walking Dead – “Seed” – Ernest Dickerson

*While I’m not predicting any of these shows, the Emmys do some strange things in these categories sometimes so it wouldn’t completely surprise me to see any of these names slip through the cracks and appear on the Emmy list on July 18th.*

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FINAL PREDICTIONS:
Boardwalk Empire – “Margate Sands” – Tim Van Patten
Breaking Bad – “Fifty-One” – Rian Johnson
Game of Thrones – “The Rains of Castamere” – David Nutter
Homeland – “The Choice” – Michael Cuesta
House of Cards – “Chapter 1” – David Fincher

*I still don’t think Boardwalk Empire is going to miss out after winning the category two years in a row. Tim Van Patten won last year for the finale and I think he’ll be nominated again for this year’s finale. And I’m going with House of Cards. It was directed by a respected filmmaker, David Fincher, and it had a nice look that Emmy voters will probably appreciate. In terms of winning, I would be surprised if Game of Thrones doesn’t pick up the trophy.*

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