Thu. Oct 22nd, 2020

2020 Emmy Nominations: Biggest Shocks, Snubs and Surprises

As I hit on in the nominations announcement, shocks and surprises happen every year but this year seemed to ratchet that up even more. We knew we’d see a lot of new names with Game of Thrones and its 32 spots from last year up for grabs. We thought the pandemic would find many voters sitting at home, not working, and having more time for more shows. Let’s take a look at some of the morning’s biggest surprises – good and bad.

SURPRISE

Zendaya (HBO’s Euphoria) making the lead actress in a drama series cut over previous winners like Viola Davis (in her final season of How to Get Away with Murder) and Elisabeth Moss for The Handmaid’s Tale (which most definitely underperformed as it also missed out on writing and directing noms) probably gave viewers of the nominations announcement the biggest gasp.

SNUB

Rhea Seehorn from Better Call Saul. In a field of eight, it seems clear now that the show favorite was probably never close for a nomination but the bigger shock came with perennial nominees Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks didn’t show up either. Only one-time nominee Giancarlo Esposito managed a mention. It was a quiet nomination morning for the show even though it did manage a series nom and two for writing.

SNUB

Pose missed out on a drama series nomination after landing one for its freshman season. Billy Porter, last year’s history-making lead actor winner, returns but still no love for any of the women on the show, nor writing or directing.

SURPRISE

The Mandalorian from Disney+ in drama series. In the battle of the first year streamers, the mouse house beat out Apple for a series nomination when the latter’s The Morning Show failed to show up. Disney’s 40-minute Star Wars sidekick origin story scooped up a stunning 15 nominations overall including cinematography, stunts, three editing and a guest actor pickup for Giancarlo Esposito.

SNUB

As mentioned above, Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder) and Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) missing out on lead actress in a drama series as two previous winners – and Davis in her final season – came as a big surprise.

SNUB

This Is Us has managed a boatload of acting nominations in all of its seasons (including Mandy Moore last year) and has been the saving grace of basic network programming in drama series. That ended this year with a miss at the top and just three acting nominations.

SURPRISE

In the hyper-competitive lead actress in a limited series or movie category, which only had five slots, Octavia Spencer bounded over Merritt Wever and Kaitlyn Dever (Unbelievable) to grab a spot for her Madame CJ Walker bio-series Self-Made.

SURPRISE

Shira Haas and Unorthodox. Like Spencer, Haas leapt over formidable competition to land a coveted spot in lead actress in limited series or movie and the series itself packed a punch, earning top mentions in writing, directing and casting.

SNUB

Reese Witherspoon. No one had more chances to get in than Witherspoon, with lead roles in Big Little Lies, The Morning Show and Little Fires Everywhere but you didn’t hear her name announced for any of them this morning. Did she cancel herself out a bit? Maybe, but she was probably closest for Little Fires Everywhere, for which she did earn a nomination as one of the show’s creators.

SNUB

Aaron Paul is a pretty big Emmy favorite. Or at least he was when Breaking Bad was on the air. His Breaking Bad movie, El Camino, pulled in five nominations but not one for him. The third season of Westworld found its nomination total cut in half from the previous two and Paul missed out there as well.

SURPRISE

Cecily Strong for Saturday Night Live. Even with eight slots here, it seemed like Strong’s chances were weak in the face of the three women from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Marin Hinkle, Alex Borstein and Jane Lynch. In the end, only Hinkle and Borstein made it in and Strong earns her overdue first Emmy nomination.

SURPRISE

Paul Mescal (Normal People) and Jeremy Pope (Hollywood) for lead actor in a limited series or movie. Ok, so this was a surprise to many…but not to me. I predicted both because this category has trended quite young for winners and Mescal and Pope were the only major contenders to fit that bill. Take into account that the last three winners have been non-white, that bodes well for Pope.

SNUB

Defending Jacob and The Morning Show. Although Apple TV+ earned 18 nominations – a record for a first year streamer – their major limited series Defending Jacob only earned mentions for its main title design and cinematography. The Morning Show fared much better, with three acting nominations and one for directing but missed out on the big one, drama series.

SNUB

Janet McTeer and Tom Pelphrey for Ozark. These two seemed like locks if there ever were, especially Pelphrey. The Emmys love…let’s say single season performers with how season 3 ended this was the best/only chance to reward them.

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