The Critics’ Choice Awards: Finally someone gets it
The Critics’ Choice Award nominations were released this morning, and if I were a less paranoid person I wouldn’t currently be scouring my home for bugs and other weird spy equipment since the nominees are almost 100% the people I myself would have chosen.
This is only the second year of the Critics’ Choice Awards – and while they aren’t as prestigious as Emmys or Peabodys or SAGs or even those drunk Golden Globes – they’re still awards worthy of being mentioned. Why? Because they come from a group of people that actors and writers desperately pretend they don’t actually care about, but deep down hope to impress – the critics.
I have no doubt that if television critics ran the Emmys and were the only people allowed to vote, Katey Sagal would have an Emmy right now. I would put money on ‘Friday Night Lights’ having more than just writing and acting Emmys and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ wouldn’t be topping Emmy snubs list for the rest of time. But that isn’t the case. Which is why I’m happy the critics said, “Fuck you guys, we’re starting our own team.”
So let’s check out the nominees and dissect the good, the amazing and the holy shit, yes! First up, drama!
Best Drama Series
- Breaking Bad – AMC
- Downton Abbey – PBS
- Game of Thrones – HBO
- The Good Wife – CBS
- Homeland – Showtime
- Mad Men – AMC
Last year’s winner: Mad Men
Thoughts on this year: I have absolutely no problem with these nominations. Every show is deserving and my only regret is that there isn’t room for ‘Justified’, yet another great drama from pay cable. I don’t think there’s a show I’d switch out in its place though.
My vote: Breaking Bad. Lord knows I love ‘Mad Men’ just as much as the next breathing person, and I agree that it’s one of the best shows ever created. But in my heart I know that it doesn’t deserve the four Emmys that it’s already got. Not when ‘Breaking Bad’ is still on the air. Vince Gilligan’s masterpiece about a chemistry teacher with cancer who turns to making meth as a way to provide some sort of security blanket for his family after he dies is one of the greatest and most engaging dramas of not only the last decade, but of all time. The show has not taken a misstep since its pilot and both Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are magnificent. It’s hard to argue with the four Emmys the duo have between them.
Best Actor in a Drama Series
- Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad – AMC
- Kelsey Grammer – Boss – Starz
- Jon Hamm – Mad Men – AMC
- Charlie Hunnam – Sons of Anarchy – FX
- Damian Lewis – Homeland – Showtime
- Timothy Olyphant – Justified – FX
Last year’s winner: Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Thoughts on this year: I am happily surprised by this list. While I’ve never seen ‘Boss,’ I have heard wonderful things about it. And Kelsey Grammer did pick up the Golden Globe this year for the performance, so it isn’t as if his nomination came out of nowhere. And I’m happy to see someone somewhere acknowledging the powerful work Charlie Hunnam has been turning out on FX’s ‘Sons of Anarchy’ for the last four years. But I might be a bit biased.
My vote: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad. The man has won three Emmys for the three years he has been eligible for the role. And if you’ve seen his performance for season four, you know there’s no way any of these other men stand a chance. Hamm is good, but not better than Cranston. Hunnam is my personal favorite, but there’s no way he can top Cranston. Lewis’ nomination is deserved, but again, his work on ‘Homeland’ doesn’t match or beat Cranston. Grammer? Yeah, I don’t think so. And as much as I enjoy Timothy Olyphant’s no nonsense US Marshal, I don’t think there’s any real competition there.
Best Actress in a Drama Series
- Claire Danes – Homeland – Showtime
- Michelle Dockery – Downton Abbey – PBS
- Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife – CBS
- Elisabeth Moss – Mad Men – AMC
- Emmy Rossum – Shameless – Showtime
- Katey Sagal – Sons of Anarchy – FX
Last year’s winner: Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Thoughts on this year: Another good crop of nominees that I can’t find one fault with, though a nomination for Lauren Graham would have made my life. Margulies is talented and she’s an awards show and critical darling, but I think it’s time for her to share the spotlight. Emmy Rossum’s nomination is a happy surprise, as she’s the best thing about ‘Shameless’ and her snub at last year’s Emmys was definitely a misstep. Katey Sagal has been turning in master work on ‘Sons of Anarchy’ for years, even winning the Golden Globe in 2011, but for some reason awards shows tend to ignore her.
My vote: Claire Danes, Homeland. Please stop throwing things at me. In a perfect world, you know I’d choose Katey Sagal. In fact, if this was 2011 there’s no doubt about it that I’d be voting for Katey with about one million exclamation points. But the truth of the matter is, Claire Danes is a an awards show darling and she plays crazy really, really well. She’s already won the Golden Globe and a Satellite for the role, and as much as I worship at the feet of the gods of motorcycles and gun running, I don’t think Katey will be able to win in a category where Claire is also a nominee. Unless it’s a contest of who plays the more badass, take no prisoners bitch in charge. I think Katey’s Gemma has her there.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
- Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones – HBO
- Giancarlo Esposito – Breaking Bad – AMC
- Neal McDonough – Justified – FX
- John Noble – Fringe – FOX
- Aaron Paul – Breaking Bad – AMC
- John Slattery – Mad Men – AMC
Last year’s winner: John Noble, Fringe
Thoughts on this year: There is literally absolutely nothing wrong with this list. In fact, this list is so perfect I want to marry it and have little list babies with it. That is how much I agree with every single nominee. I’m happy to see Giancarlo Esposito’s name amongst the nominees as he turned in phenomenal work last season on ‘Breaking Bad.’
My vote: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad. He won the Emmy in 2010 and I think this win will only serve to remind voters that he’s the most deserving guy for the award come Emmy season. Paul’s performance over the course of four seasons has been a pleasure to watch. Burning under a subdued, slacker persona is a man bubbling with emotion and rage and he doesn’t even have to speak to convey those thoughts. He brings an intensity to Jesse Pinkman that I don’t think can be challenged by any of the other nominees.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
- Christine Baranski – The Good Wife – CBS
- Anna Gunn – Breaking Bad – AMC
- Christina Hendricks – Mad Men – AMC
- Regina King – Southland – TNT
- Kelly Macdonald – Boardwalk Empire – HBO
- Maggie Siff – Sons of Anarchy – FX
Last year’s winner: Christina Hendricks, Mad Men and Margo Martindale, Justified
Thoughts on this year: Once again, no qualms with this list. I love that the critics recognized the outstanding work Christina Hendricks quietly creates as Joan on ‘Mad Men’, and I’m sad that Margo Martindale wasn’t eligible again as Mags Bennett (RIP). It’s a very happy surprise to see Maggie Siff’s name listed as a nominee, and not just because she’s another ‘Sons of Anarchy’ representative, but because I think she’s one of the most underrated women out there. The same goes for Anna Gunn.
My Vote: Maggie Siff, Sons of Anarchy. Season four of ‘SOA’ really made Tara a more integrated part of the show. She wasn’t just Jax’s Old Lady, she was more fully involved in the life of the club – something made even more clear by her decision to stand by Jax in the season finale – and because of that increased importance Maggie had the chance to shine and to show the world her real dramatic chops. I know she’s a talented stage actor, so it’s nice to see the recognition come for TV too – even if it came at the expense of intense personal pain for her character.
Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series
- Dylan Baker – Damages – DirecTV
- Jere Burns – Justified – FX
- Loretta Devine – Grey’s Anatomy – ABC
- Lucy Liu – Southland – TNT
- Carrie Preston – The Good Wife – CBS
- Chloe Webb – Shameless – Showtime
Last year’s winner: N/A
Thoughts on this year: I can’t say much because I only personally witnessed the work of Jere Burns and Chloe Webb. But I know Carrie Preston and I know the kind of work she’s capable of turning in. Loretta Devine is also a great actress. I don’t know what to say regarding Dylan Baker and Lucy Liu, so I think I’ll just stop here.
My vote: Jere Burns, Justified. Jere’s character on ‘Justified’ has never really been an integral character, he’s been a recurring lowlife who basically existed to be a pain in Raylan’s ass. But his association with Neal McDonough’s Robert Quarles this past season meant that Burns had a lot of screen time. And he used it well. His character was never a real serious man, he basically called a lot of the shots, but his reactions to the insane Quarles and the subsequent reaction to Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens made this an easy choice. However it should be mentioned I’m fairly certain this nomination came solely as a reaction to this moment.
And now the comedy…
Best Comedy Series
- The Big Bang Theory – CBS
- Community – NBC
- Girls – HBO
- Modern Family – ABC
- New Girl – FOX
- Parks and Recreation – NBC
Last year’s winner: Modern Family
Thoughts on this year: When I first looked at this list and didn’t see ’30 Rock’ I thought that I was dreaming. Well, actually I’m not entirely certain I’m not still dreaming on account of how perfect the nominees are as a whole for this awards show. But I have not been a fan of ’30 Rock’ for awhile now, and since it was shut out of this category, I don’t feel the least big scared to admit that now. It is the happiest of surprises to see a nod for ‘Community’ and a nod for ‘Parks and Recreation’ as I think they are the two funniest shows currently on TV.
My vote: Community. I get that it might not be the normal comedy. It’s not a sitcom. It’s a study in television. It took a ballsy man to bring this show to life and I think the only reason it worked was because of Dan Harmon and his vision and voice. I won’t say any more on the subject, but I can only hope that season four of ‘Community’ is as perfectly and insanely brilliant as the three previous.
Best Actor in a Comedy Series
- Don Cheadle – House of Lies – Showtime
- Louis C.K. – Louie – FX
- Larry David – Curb Your Enthusiasm – HBO
- Garret Dillahunt – Raising Hope – FOX
- Joel McHale – Community – NBC
- Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory – CBS
Last year’s winner: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Thoughts on this year: Once again, I’m just happy to see that the reign of Alec Baldwin is seemingly coming to an end. I’m just not that in to you, dude. I love seeing Jim Parsons’ name amongst the nominees, but I think I’m more excited about Joel McHale being recognized for his comedic chops. The man is talented, y’all. Oh yeah, and Louis C.K. is an unsurprising pleasant surprise.
My vote: Joel McHale, Community. I like Louis CK on ‘Louie’ and I think he’s deserving of the nomination. But did you see Joel McHale’s abs this season? Just kidding. Kind of. Joel’s been a man of comedy for awhile now, mostly known for being host of ‘The Soup’ on E!, but he’s the man who holds the Greendale Seven together. There’s a reason the other characters turn to Jeff when they need a pep talk, it’s because he’s the man who gets shit done. And Joel McHale deserves to be recognized for the dry, salty Jeff Winger who stole my heart.
Best Actress in a Comedy Series
- Zooey Deschanel – New Girl – FOX
- Lena Dunham – Girls – HBO
- Julia Louis Dreyfus – Veep – HBO
- Martha Plimpton – Raising Hope – FOX
- Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation – NBC
- Ashley Rickards – Awkward – MTV
Last year’s winner: Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Thoughts on this year: It’s nothing against Tina, in fact I think she might agree with me, but I’m kind of over her dominating shit. So, for the third time in this post, I’m glad ’30 Rock’ was not nominated. That being said, Martha Plimpton is a deserving actress, as is Amy Poehler. I will admit that the only reason I was even remotely interested in ‘New Girl’ at first was because of Zooey’s involvement. And I think she has done a fine job on the show.
My vote: Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation. She’s been looked over for years in favor of Tina Fey. She’s been the most deserving person for a best actress award since this show hit its stride in season two. She’s responsible for making me almost pee my pants with laughter more times than even I think is socially acceptable to admit. Even on the Internet. She’s genuinely funny and I’m tired of her always playing second fiddle. It’s about time someone stood up and gave this woman the crown she deserves. Also, this: “It’s true. I no longer have highly trained, professional campaign managers. So what? Are most murders committed by highly trained, professional assassins? No, they’re committed by friends and coworkers! That analogy was way better in my head.” – Leslie Knope
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
- Ty Burrell – Modern Family – ABC
- Max Greenfield – New Girl – FOX
- Nick Offerman – Parks and Recreation – NBC
- Danny Pudi – Community – NBC
- Jim Rash – Community – NBC
- Damon Wayans Jr. – Happy Endings – ABC
Last year’s winner: Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Thoughts on this year: I should be angry that NPH wasn’t nominated. He’s basically my favorite human being on the planet. But I cannot be angry when Nick Offerman, Dany Pudi, Jim Rash and Max Greenfield earned nods. My only change would be adding NPH in Damon Wayan’s Jr’s place.
My vote: Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation. Ron Swanson dancing.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
- Julie Bowen – Modern Family – ABC
- Alison Brie – Community – NBC
- Cheryl Hines – Suburgatory – ABC
- Gillian Jacobs – Community – NBC
- Eden Sher – The Middle – ABC
- Casey Wilson – Happy Endings – ABC
Last year’s winner: Busy Phillips, Cougar Town
Thoughts on this year: I am loving the continued love for ‘Community’ nods, and I think Cheryl Hines is amazing on ‘Suburgatory.’ As for the rest? I’m over ‘Modern Family,’ could care less about ‘The Middle,’ and am ashamed to admit that I’ve seen only 3 episodes of ‘Happy Endings.’
My vote: Alison Brie, Community. She’s got the comedic chops to pull off a lot of different situations and a show as insane and ambitious as ‘Community’ asks that of her quite a bit. She’s always done it with grace, humor and the right amount of sexiness required by the role. She’s my choice. I hope the critics don’t Britta this one.
Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series
- Becky Ann Baker – Girls – HBO
- Bobby Cannavale – Modern Family – ABC
- Kathryn Hahn – Parks and Recreation – NBC
- Justin Long – New Girl – FOX
- Paul Rudd – Parks and Recreation – NBC
- Peter Scolari – Girls – HBO
Last year’s winner: N/A
Thoughts on this year: To me this list is all over the place. I like the nods for ‘Girls’ and I’ve been a fan of Paul Rudd since he was just Cher’s stepbrother Josh. Kathryn Hhyn and Justin Long are just fine, but I don’t know really how the critics came up with these nominees. And that’s OK. Because I don’t actually know how I myself would compile a list for comedy guest stars.
My vote: Kathryn Hahn, Parks and Recreation. She was a sneaky character on this season’s ‘Parks and Rec’ but she was still funny about it. Mostly in her superior campaign managing skills but also in the way where she didn’t even care about the race itself. She’s a great comedic actress, it’s just a shame she’s not recognized the way she should be.
Other things to mention:
- I love the mini Wire reunion going on in the best actor in a miniseries race. Idris Elba beat Dominic West at the Golden Globes and my heart burst with happiness when I saw McNulty and Stringer Bell hug afterwards.
- Benedict Cumberbatch will win the best actor in a miniseries. If not for his cheekbones, than at least for having the greatest name of anyone living or dead.
- ‘American Horror Story’ is apparently considered a miniseries now? Someone please explain to me this logic. It’s not even a British import (as ‘Luther’ and ‘The Hour’ are – which is the only reason I can think that they’re considered miniseries despite the fact they have multiple seasons – well ‘Luther’ does anyway). I don’t get it. ‘Downton Abbey’ is a regular series, but the rest are not? HELP ME, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD BEFORE MY HEAD EXPLODES. I’m sure it has something to do with how they submit themselves, but there have to be rules, right?