The fun in predicting the nominees for the best limited series is that every year, unlike the comedy and drama categories, we see wildly different contenders: akin to the films, it’s always a rather excellent mixed bag. Even returning anthology series, while retaining a similar blueprint have something exciting to offer, even if they may not be able to live up to the glory of a previously told anthology series from the same show.
This year’s potential contenders, while not many, have already made a lot of noise at the Golden Globes and SAGs, while also raking in significant audience support and cracking the numbers. HBO is still looking strong with the audience favourite, the bleakly excellent ‘Sharp Objects’ starring an amazing Amy Adams, and ‘True Detective’ returning for a third season. Apart from the two, HBO seems to have done it again with the terrifying ‘Chernobyl’ that aired last month and is currently the highest rated TV show on IMDb. While Netflix has stayed in the game previously with ‘American Crime Story’, with ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’ and ‘The People vs. O.J. Simpson’ each winning in the years they were nominated, this year they have the Cary Fukunaga directorial ‘Maniac’ and Ava Duverney’s excellent and hard hitting ‘When They See Us’. Hulu has risen to the scene like no other and this year may have the relatively well received ‘Catch-22’ starring George Clooney up for a nomination, depending on the all too well slate right now. FX too is looking to repeat its string of recent successes with the recently released Fosse/Verdon. All in all, this is going to be an interesting race, and we for one can’t wait to find out who lifts the trophy come September this year at the Emmys ceremony. Read on to find what shows I think are the strongest contenders for Outstanding Limited Series at Emmys 2019. These contenders have the best odds of getting nominated this year now that the official window of nominations is closed down.
If there is one series that has the potential to surprise everyone this awards season, it has to be ‘Maniac’. This is exactly the kind of stuff voters look for to throw a curveball your way. ‘Maniac’ was easily the best show to look at this year. Its visuals, architecture, costumes and soundtrack seemed to be stuck in the retro era, while all else is techno-futuristic making for quite a unique cocktail, and that is exactly what makes this series so rare. This trippy and wild limited series starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill is helmed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, and just the names in there, coupled with the remarkable critical reception should help it sail through the nominations blockade, or atleast build up a springing surprise.
8. Good Omens
On the outset, ‘Good Omens’ looked like the kind of show that would appeal to a general audience more than the critical circles, unless it was ridiculously well made. Well, on both those grounds, I am happy to report that it does well on both fronts. The show released just one day ahead of the Emmys nomination closure, and stars Michael Sheen and David Tennant as Aziraphale and Crowley respectively, an angel and demon who must team up to stop the end of days. I had a lot of good faith in this show beforehand, and the primary reason behind that would be the involvement of Neil Gaiman in the writing department, the name behind shows like ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Lucifer’ and ‘American Gods’, with his signature wry humour even visible from the promos. With the involvement of a few more Hollywood biggies including Frances McDormand and Benedict Cumberbatch, this one surely has an edge and a good shot at actually making the nominations, given its immensely positive reception.
A retelling and insider’s account of the romantic and creative relationship between Broadway stalwarts Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, ‘Fosse/Verdon’ is Fox’s latest offering and a potential candidate plainly from the looks of it. Despite the critical reception for the show vastly improving as the series progressed closing with an immensely well done finale, ‘Fosse/Verdon’s chances at landing a nomination have been up there ever since it even started airing first, since a lot of the times, simply how good a project looks in its individual facets, ends up improving its overall chances, especially given that the audience may not feel as strongly for the show as the critics do. One of the merits that is surely going to work in the show’s favour are the central performances that keep the show anchored: Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams are both exceedingly excellent. The chances at making the top 5 are thin considering the especially strong new contenders, but it is not completely out of the race just yet.
6. True Detective
‘True Detective’, following a first season that took home mostly all major awards, had a second season that was for the lack of a better word, disappointing, the same being reciprocated in the awards circuit as well. Its third season, however, saw a bit of a resurgence and proved to be better than the second by miles, however nowhere close to the glory of the first one. With Mahershala Ali playing the troubled detective, this may not be a very conventional choice, but the third season has mostly been able to correct the wrongs of Season 2, and in doing so has won back a lot of its audiences’ approval and appreciation. Ali too adds a lot of cred when it comes to critical circles, so the show is bound to do well there as well. Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s nominated. Wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t either. Could go one of two ways.
Reigning in for Hulu, we have ‘Catch-22’ that had already caught a lot of eyeballs before its release and kicked off its six-episode limited run in May with great momentum, courtesy of those very eyeballs. Based on the classic 1961 novel of the same name by Joseph Heller. The series is being headlined by George Clooney who has also served as director for two episodes. Hulu has been notable in the entertainment arena for delivering quality stuff, with more and more entrants pouring into the award-winning category as well, and from the looks of it, ‘Catch-22’ looks like another win for the streaming service. Its setting in the World War II era and historical significance, coupled with its adapted screenplay based off of an influential novel should help it score some brownie points.
4. Escape at Dannemora
‘Escape at Dannemora’ was nominated in its category at the Golden Globes, and had Patricia Arquette picking up the trophy for her outstanding act. Helmed by the incredibly talented and multifarious Ben Stiller, ‘Escape at Dannemora’ is the story of a prison employee who becomes romantically involved with a pair of inmates and helps them in plotting their escape from the prison. The incredibly talented cast including Arquette, Benicio Del Toro and Paul Dano seriously push its chances up at being an overall well rounded series. While Arquette has been picking up every major award for her visibly moving performance that in turn adds to the show’s chances, its true story premise and Ben Stiller’s credibility as a director following few successful stints should see it through the nominations line at least.
3. When They See Us
An absolute tear jerker this one. Ava DuVernay’s ‘When They See Us’ was released by Netflix just one day short of the nominations closure, and looks at the infamous Central Park jogger’s case wherein five young men of colour were accused of a crime they never committed, which was the brutal rape of a jogger from the NYC Central Park. They were arrested almost immediately in yet another case of wrongful judgment against people of colour and jailed for several years until finally being acquitted of all charges and being exonerated, but not until they lost several years of their life fighting a battle that they didn’t court, and Duverney painfully and masterfully brings out especially the last part of it in this hard hitting four episode miniseries. Even before it aired, I predicted this to be television’s very own ‘Fruitvale Station’, and it absolutely is. A serious gut punch.
2. Sharp Objects
The prediction of a nomination for ‘Sharp Objects’ doesn’t require a lot of head scratching, and given how well made this series was, and inversely how well it was received too. I would have earlier gone on to predict its win in the here and now, before HBO let another one of its contestants, the next entry on the list, completely take all the limelight. It’s true, ‘Chernobyl’ has seriously hurt the chances of an earlier sure shot winner. Bolstered by strong performances from an ensemble headed by three incredibly talented ladies, Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson and Eliza Scanlen, ‘Sharp Objects’ is one hell of a show, also my personal favourite from 2018. It is dark, almost bleak, and psychologically disturbing at so many levels, often unforgiving in its dramatic repealing of the many secrets the human brain is capable of housing under. It’s crafty and exceedingly well made as well, with visible meticulousness put into crafting each shot. If it doesn’t win, it will be a close second, and an honourable fall. This show is excellent, but sometimes even that is trumped.
There is little that I can say that the chatter on the internet about this show mustn’t have already told you. If not, you are doing yourself a huge disservice by not watching it. Yes, it’s the highest rated show on IMDb currently, but that is little more than an advertising gimmick, since I would simply shun IMDb when it comes to a show like ‘Chernobyl’: so gritty, so well made, so real, and so hard hitting. It’s a reality that all of us are aware of and have read about in our school books, but the makers here do an excellent job of humanising the incident and showing the adverse effects of one of the worst man-made disasters on ground zero. A 10/10 in every single department, ‘Chernobyl’ is easily among the best five odd hours or so I have spent in front of a television. Take a bow!
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