'Game of Thrones' battles with 'Handmaid's Tale' for Emmys glory
LOS ANGELES, USA – Hollywood's top television stars hit the red carpet Monday, September 17 (Tuesday, September 18 in the Philippines) for the glittering 70th Emmy Awards – a duel between record-breaker Game of Thrones and last year's big winner The Handmaid's Tale.
Both shows have already picked up Emmys hardware: HBO's blood-spattered smash hit won seven statuettes in technical categories at the Creative Arts Emmys a week ago, while Hulu's Handmaid scooped up three.
And both are likely to add to that haul at the Primetime Emmys, television's answer to the Oscars, at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
But will GoT (Game of Thrones) – which was ineligible last year – reclaim the best drama series throne, or will Handmaid – the first streaming series to take the coveted prize be a repeat winner?
For Tim Gray, the awards editor for top entertainment news outlet Variety, Handmaid – a bleak portrait of a future dystopian America where women are brutally oppressed – has the edge.
"I just feel like 'Handmaid's Tale' is, kind of, of the moment as it addresses a lot of concerns that people have now," Gray told AFP. "I just think it's their year."
The show, based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel of the same name, seems especially timely in the age of #MeToo, a movement that erupted shortly after last year's Emmys.
But Sasha Stone, founder of entertainment site Awards Daily, said Thrones should not be dismissed.
"It is more beloved across the board. It, too, has put its power center in the hands of women and is, in its own way, about oppression of the rights of theirs and others," Stone said in an interview.
Others in the best drama race include dark horse pick The Americans – the gripping FX thriller about Soviet sleeper agents in the United States that has been a favorite of critics and fans, but not the 22,000-plus Emmy voters, for years.
HBO's futuristic western Westworld, Netflix favorites The Crown and retro sci-fi mystery Stranger Things, and NBC family saga This is Us round out the field.
On the comedy side, FX's Atlanta – a quirky look at the rap scene in the Georgia capital – is squaring off with Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs Maisel for top honors.
Hours before the main event begins at 5:00 pm (0000 GMT Tuesday), stars including comedian Trevor Noah were already making their way into the venue.
TV history in making
In 2016, Game of Thrones – the tale of noble families vying for the Iron Throne – made history, picking up 12 awards and becoming the most decorated fictional show since the Television Academy first handed out prizes in 1949.
With its seven Creative Arts Emmy statuettes this year, GoT – which will return in 2019 for an abbreviated eighth and final season – now has 45 Emmys overall.
"Wishing the @GameofThrones cast and crew an epic night at the #Emmys," HBO said on Twitter.
In the acting races, Handmaid's Tale is well placed, with last year's winners Elisabeth Moss and Ann Dowd again in the running.
Other major contenders include FX's The Assassination of Gianni Versace, which racked up 18 nominations.
Darren Criss is the favorite to win the star-studded race for best actor in a limited series or movie for his searing portrayal of Versace's killer Andrew Cunanan.
Oscar winner Penelope Cruz – a first-time Emmy nominee for her performance as Versace's sister Donatella – told AFP at a Hollywood screening that her TV experience was an eye-opener.
"It's very different because everything goes very quickly -- they give you new material, you get the script the night before... in film, you might do one or two scenes in a day. In TV, you can do five," Cruz said.
Politics and ratings
In the emerging battle of traditional networks vs new platforms, streaming giant Netflix ended HBO's 17-year streak of leading the Emmy nominations, with 112 to the premium cable network's 108.
After last week's Creative Arts Emmys, HBO has won 17 statuettes to Netflix's 16.
Another major contender on Monday is veteran comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live, just behind GoT with 21 nominations.
Show regulars Michael Che and Colin Jost will host the Emmys, to be broadcast on NBC, and series creator Lorne Michaels will produce the event for the first time in 30 years.
With awards show audiences dwindling in the age of Twitter, can the SNL team breathe new life into the format?
Jost has said he wants the Emmys to be "less political than normal" – but that seems unlikely only a week after CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves left in a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations. – Rappler.com