2017 SAG Awards Viewing Guide: Part 2 – Television Drama Awards

Not that you shouldn’t watch all the performances, but it’s difficult, at best, to find the time. As a rule, I don’t sleep, so…here are my observations of the nominated performances.

PART 2: TELEVISION DRAMA

Women

Millie Bobby Brown – “Stranger Things”

As a rule (a rule that many tell me verges on idiocy) I don’t think child actors should win awards. My reasons for that would take too long to explain and I won’t bore you with it here. However, for Ms. Brown, I could be convinced to make an exception. Fascinating, earnest and so very human, this great show would merely be good if not for her performance. I hope her handlers make smart choices in the future, so we can enjoy her work without wistfully saying “remember how good she was in ‘Stranger Things’?!”
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Claire Foy – “The Crown” (SHE HAS HALF MY VOTE)

To me, the race is between Claire Foy and Robin Wright, and I have no real feel as to who should win. Ms. Foy is sensational in a sensational show that has the production value of “Downton Abbey” on steroids. As a result, you might think she would be overshadowed by all the gloss – and the incredible work of John Lithgow as Churchill. But she more than holds her own, and, further, manages to make you have deep empathy for someone who might be the most powerful person on earth. During the course of ten episodes, her Elizabeth convincingly grows in stature, understanding and power – all while maintaining human emotion, disappointment, joy and angst. Brilliant.
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Thandie Newton – “Westworld”

“Westworld” might be the most confounding and annoying show in years…how else to describe a show where nothing happens that can’t be explained as possibly not actually happening. But then there’s Thandie Newton’s character. She actually had a real arc…where stuff progressed…in a three act format…and she nailed it. Nonetheless..not the best of these performances.
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Winona Ryder – “Stranger Things”

Welcome back to the table, Ms. Ryder. You shrieked a bit too much for me, but it was a totally appropriate performance…just not at the same level of the other four nominees.
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Robin Wright – “House of Cards” (SHE HAS THE OTHER HALF)

The season streamed so long ago, I had to watch a couple episodes to remember that Ms. Wright was SPECTACULAR. “House of Cards”  was ABOUT her character this year, and her ability to calmly and coolly lose her shit…while dictating his…was about the best thing I saw from a female performer on TV this year….except maybe Ms. Foy’s performance.

Men

Sterling K. Brown – “This Is Us”

Don’t hate me, I’ve watched two episodes and just can’t get in to this show. That said, Sterling Brown is brilliant in everything…but if he wins a SAG it should not be for this performance, but for the other show which garnered him a nomination…maybe. We’ll get to that in a couple days.
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Peter Dinklage – “Game of Thrones”

Dinklage is great. Really. But this season he was not asked to do too much since the season belonged to the man who “knows nothing” and the vengeful Lion Queen (“I’ll show you shame!!”)
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John Lithgow – “The Crown” (HE GETS MY VOTE)

Episode nine of “The Crown” features the single greatest television performance I have ever seen and it belongs to Mr. Lithgow. If we don’t give him the award for his stunning, blustering, vulnerable, terrified and relate-able portrayal of Winston Churchill, then we should all hand in our Union cards.
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Rami Malek – “Mr. Robot”

Mr. Malek took a step back from the brilliance of his season one performance. Too many weeks spent inside his own head meant we didn’t get to enjoy his character’s penchant for freaking people out in the real world. Great show. Great actor. Not his best work.
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Kevin Spacey – “House of Cards”

This past season belonged to the First Lady, not him. And, for the first time, his character came across as whiny. He’s at his best when powerful & conniving. This year…not so much.

Ensemble

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“The Crown” (THIS GETS MY VOTE)

Holy crap, this is a good cast. In addition to Ms. Foy and Mr. Lithgow, we have the amazing work of Ben Miles(!), Vanessa Kirby, Alex Jennings(!), and on and on…
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“Downton Abbey”

Uh…I thought last year’s nomination was a farewell to the Abbs…but I guess not. Fitting then, that it has been replaced by the Uber-Abbey: “The Crown”. Listen, this ensemble will be with us for a long, long time…but, as was shown throughout its six seasons, time marches on and change is inevitable. Thanks for the tears and the laughs!
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“Game of Thrones”

“Thrones” came back with a vengeance after a down year, and that it remains so unmissable from week to week is a testament to it’s writing, production and cast. But quite often, the cast gets outshone by the production. That’s not a damning of the ensemble…just a fact…a fact that may be enough to give the win to another nominee.
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“Stranger Things”

There were some real winners in this cast (Ryder, Brown, David Harbour…). On the whole, the cast was quite convincing and committed. But top to bottom, it just doesn’t match “Crown”, “Thrones” or “Abbey”.
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“Westworld”

I have no idea how this show was nominated. The cast is uniformly excellent…that’s not the question. But everyone is basically playing someone with amnesia…and playing the same scene over and over…and over again….except the exceptional Jimmi Simpson…who was also a standout in the show whose season should have taken  this slot, “House of Cards” (Spacey, Wright, Mahershala Ali, Michael Kelly, Paul Sparks, Ellen Burstyn, Lars Mikkelson, etc. etc…).

To sum up…WATCH “THE CROWN” fer cryin’ out loud!

Written 1/11/2017

3 thoughts on “2017 SAG Awards Viewing Guide: Part 2 – Television Drama Awards

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