Emmy Predictions: Directing for a Limited Series – Can Barry Jenkins Pull Off an Upset for ‘Underground Railroad’?

·4-min read

Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Emmys ceremonies from film awards editor Clayton Davis. Following history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Emmy predictions are updated regularly with the current year's list of contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. The eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and is subject to change.

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DRAFT>>>PRE-SEASON>>>REGULAR SEASON>>>POST SEASON

2021 EMMYS PREDICTIONS:
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A LIMITED SERIES OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE

UPDATED: Aug 19, 2021

AWARDS PREDICTION COMMENTARY: Enjoying his very first Emmy nomination for directing, only Barry Jenkins could make the most grotesque and hurtful time of American history look so beautiful. Those who gave it the proper time loved the Amazon Prime Video series, but the show missed multiple critical mentions, including acting and writing. However, those disgusted by its omissions could find solace in gathering around Jenkins in this category. From his first feature, “Medicine for Melancholy,” to the Oscar best picture winner “Moonlight” and the criminally underrated “If Beale Street Could Talk,” the filmmaker hasn’t missed yet and shows no signs that he’s even able to do so. With the passionate team he assembles, this could be too laborious to pick up, but if done, he would be just the second Black director ever to win this race behind Charles S. Dutton for “The Corner” in 2000.

Michaela Coel and Sam Miller picked up multiple nominations at the Emmys this year for the HBO series, “I May Destroy You.” Miller landed two directing noms – “Eyes Eyes Eyes Eyes” and shared with Coel, “Ego Death.” For Coel, she became the first Black woman to be nominated for producing, writing, directing and acting in the same year by the Television Academy. She’s just the second Black person overall, following Donald Glover, who did it twice for the first and second seasons of “Atlanta.” He ended up winning lead actor comedy and directing for season one. Miller was previously nominated in 2012 for directing the BBC series “Luther.” Depending on how many of the Academy-at-large makes time to watch the entire series, Miller’s sole episode mention might be the best shot at gold but still might prove too challenging to overcome.

The writer and director Scott Frank has been a staple in the business for decades. On top of two Oscar nominations for writing “Out of Sight” and “Logan,” he’s managed five nominations in total, including two this year for “The Queen’s Gambit.” His previous noms were for the limited series “Godless,” for producing, directing and writing. Besides having the power of Netflix backing him in this next phase of the competition, he’s walking in with a lot of momentum, including the prestigious DGA award. The show has also been a critical favorite on the circuit, and it’ll be hard to unseat it at the top of the throne.

A two-time Emmy winner for 2016’s “Grease Live!” the musical genre is Kail’s forte, and after winning the Tony for the Broadway production, he could put one more statue on his mantle. His obstacles will be overcoming the perception that “Hamilton” is not a movie nor a limited series. As the evolution of cinema continues, and the lines continue to blur between film and television, a win for Kail will signal progress, where voters see the industry moving and if they’re ready to accept a new type of entertainment experience.

Shakman crashed the Emmys last year with his first nomination for “The Great” in comedy director, and helming the entire “WandaVision” was pun intended, visionary. It’s hard to exist in today’s television climate without a one-day dump of content. The Disney Plus series had buzz growing week-to-week and digital cooler-like conversations on the latest developments. Shakman’s execution gets the credit for those moments. As the race winds down in the television awards season, he could be a dark horse to some of the presumed frontrunners, especially with being the leading nominated limited series.

The viewing platform for Emmy nominees opens on Aug. 13, with final-round voting, beginning on Aug. 19 at 9:00 am PT until Aug. 30 at 10:00 pm PT.

Check out the full rankings of the category’s nominees in the chart below.

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (L to R) BILL CAMP as MR. SHAIBEL in episode 101 of THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020 - Credit: Courtesy of Netflix
THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (L to R) BILL CAMP as MR. SHAIBEL in episode 101 of THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020 - Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

ALL SUBMISSIONS & RANKINGS:

About the Primetime Emmy Awards (Emmys)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known as the Emmys, is given out by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Since 1949, the awards recognize excellence in American primetime television programming. They are divided into three classes - Primetime Emmy Awards, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards (honors artisan achievements) and the Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards (recognizes significant engineering and technological contributions). The typical eligibility period is between June 1 and May 31 of any given year. The Television Academy comprises over 25,000 members, representing 30 professional peer groups, including performers, directors, producers, art directors and various artisans and executives.

The 73rd Emmy Awards are scheduled to air on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8:00 pm est on CBS and on-demand on sister streamer Paramount Plus.

2021 Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

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