“The Miserable Adventures of Burt Squire Aboard the Horn High Yo”

A report from the latest Black List Live! stage reading in Los Angeles.

I flew to L.A. a day early for the Black List Feature Writers Lab so I could attend the Black List Live! stage reading of one of my favorite annual 2016 Black List scripts: “The Miserable Adventures of Burt Squire Aboard the Horn High Yo”.

As usual, the reading took place at The Montalban Theater on Vine Street in Los Angeles and there was a big crowd on hand. The actors:

Burt Squire — Milo Ventimiglia
Captain Vernon J. Knux — Matthew Modine
Mel Squire — Janina Gavankar
Trevor Squire — Raphael Alejandro
Wyatt Squire — Brandon Scott

Narrator — Cooper Thornton

Written & Directed by Ben Bolea

Ben Bolea, Cooper Thompson, Brandon Scott, Matthew Modine, Milo Ventimiglia, Janina Gavankar, Raphael Alejandro.

The performance was both terrific and hugely funny in large part due to the interplay between Ventimiglia as Burt trapped with the foul-mouthed, opinionated, blowhard Knux played Modine. Some background on the project from Deadline from October 2016:

LD won a spec battle for a Ben Bolea spec script that has the longest title I can remember. The Miserable Adventures of Burt Squire Aboard the Horn High Yo is fact-based, and follows a family man in the midst of a midlife crisis who embarks on what he hoped would be a dream sailing vacation. He ended up shipwrecked in the Atlantic Ocean with a charming but unhinged sea captain who was off his meds.

Three writing takeaways from the stage reading:

  • Locking together two ‘strange sojourners’ is a tried and true narrative conceit, and it works for a reason: when the characters are well-drawn and come from two very different worlds and world views. It also helps if one or both of them has a way with words and is prone to act on their own self-interests, the former purely for entertainment, the latter to create conflict and twists in the plot.
  • In an era in which the major studios are addicted to branded content, now more than ever original screenplays have to work as actor bait. You need those attachments to get a film made. And the best way to do that: Write compelling, entertaining characters actors will want to play. Tonight Ventimiglia and Modine completely through themselves into their roles and you could tell they were having a hell of a good time doing it. Why? Because they were playing a pair of well-written characters in a compelling narrative circumstance and the chemistry between the two was palpable.
  • At one point late in the reading, Gavankar returned to a secondary character — Wyatt’s self-absorbed teen girlfriend — and gave those handful of lines an awesome take. To which Cooper Thornton threw out an aside: “There are no small roles.” This is how a writer needs to think. Whether a character you’re writing is a primary, secondary, or tertiary one, you need to treat them as complex individuals worthy of an actor’s attention and focus.

Oh, and one final point: The script is yet ANOTHER blast against those who ascribe to the theory that a screenwriter can only write scene description which can be seen or heard on screen. There were dozens of times in which the ‘Bert Squire’ script used scene description to editorialize on the action. Yes, we have to be judicious, but as an extension of our Narrative Voice, we have the freedom to do this. And as in the case of ‘Bert Squire’, it added greatly to the entertainment value of the read.


“The Miserable Adventures of Burt Squire Aboard the Horn High Yo” was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

‘The Walking Dead’ will finally cross over with ‘Fear,’ says Robert Kirkman

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Ever since The Walking Dead got its spinoff (aka prequel) series, Fear the Walking Dead, fans and reporters alike have been badgering the producers behind the two shows about the possibility of a crossover — and apparently said badgering has finally paid off.

“There are two Walking Dead shows, I’m not gonna name them… There is one character that is going to go from one show, that I will not name… and appear in the other show, which I will not name,” series creator Robert Kirkman revealed at the show’s New York Comic Con panel. “So what does that mean, because these timelines, how does that work? Are we going to see an interesting backstory of a Walking Dead character showing up in Fear the Walking Dead, or are we going to see a Fear the Walking Dead character show up in The Walking Dead, and see a future version of a character? What’s gonna happen? Is it going to be something completely different than that? Who knows?” Read more…

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Sitges Review: ‘The Osiris Child’ is Ultra Ambitious Sci-Fi Storytelling

The Osiris Child Review

Where did this film come from?! I finally caught up with a sci-fi feature called The Osiris Child, originally titled Science Fiction Volume One: The Osiris Child in full. This film is way, way, way better than it should be, and left me totally blown away. It’s not perfect by any means, but it is extremely impressive storytelling, with some cool ideas I have never seen before in any film. I can’t speak for others who don’t like it, but I can say this is exactly the kind of sci-fi I love. It’s remarkably ambitious storytelling on a galactic scale, created on a minimal budget, utilizing some sleek filmmaking tricks that actually make this successful. The world building (or rather, universe building) in this rivals Luc Besson’s Valerian, and in all honesty, upon first viewing I actually like this more than Valerian. I really, really enjoyed it – but I do not think everyone will. ›››

Continue reading Sitges Review: ‘The Osiris Child’ is Ultra Ambitious Sci-Fi Storytelling


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Rutger Hauer in First Full Trailer for Weird Sci-Fi Film ‘The Broken Key’

The Broken Key Trailer

“Is man ready to re-constitute it?” What the heck is this? A full trailer has debuted for a film titled The Broken Key, some sort of weird sci-fi mashup involving historical artifacts and modern technology and all kinds of wacky things. It’s set in the near future, at a time when paper has become a rare item, “a luxury possession”, and printing is now a crime. The main character is a British scholar of ancient Italian origins, who gets caught up in a series of murders taking him “on the path traced, so many centuries before, by Dante Alighieri and by the painter Hieronymus Bosch.” This stars Rutger Hauer, Michael Madsen, Christopher Lambert, Geraldine Chaplin, Franco Nero, William Baldwin, Maria de Medeiros, Kabir Bedi, and Marc Fiorini. This really looks way too weird for my tastes, another film straight from the 90s destined to find its way into VHS bargain bins. How these films are still getting made is beyond me. ›››

Continue reading Rutger Hauer in First Full Trailer for Weird Sci-Fi Film ‘The Broken Key’


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First Trailer for Netflix’s Horror ‘The Babysitter’ Starring Judah Lewis

The Babysitter Trailer

“This Friday the 13th – brush your teeth, put on your PJs, and run like hell.” Netflix has debuted the first official trailer for a new horror comedy titled The Babysitter, from director McG (who has resigned from Hollywood and moved over to Netflix, thankfully). The movie is about a young boy who has the hots for his babysitter. When she brings her friends over to his house for a night of fun, he discovers they’re actually part of a satanic cult. Then it twists into a fun survival horror, where he must fight back and figure out how to make it through the night. Starring Judah Lewis as the kid, with Samara Weaving, Bella Thorne, Leslie Bibb, Hana Mae Lee, Robbie Amell, Emily Alyn Lind, and Andrew Bachelor. This actually doesn’t look so bad, it’s bloody and violent and seemingly quite funny, who would’ve thought. Take a look. ›››

Continue reading First Trailer for Netflix’s Horror ‘The Babysitter’ Starring Judah Lewis


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The Experiment Noah Baumbach Undertook to Create Dysfunction Drama ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’

We’ll bet most of you can relate to the protagonists of ‘The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)’.

Noah Baumbach returns to a familiar familial territory with his latest movie The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), and we certainly haven’t grown bored of his work with the theme. The prolific director’s career really took off after 2005’s The Squid and the Whale, a film whose dark humor made even the legendary Mike Nichols gush.

In a talkback after Meyerowitz’s screening at the New York Film Festival last week, Baumbach recalled an interaction he had with Nichols upon their first meeting. Nichols had remarked of Squid, “It reminded me of why I got into movies to begin with, which was revenge.”

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Ever wondered how prank calling would work on ‘Game of Thrones’? ‘The Simpsons’ has the answer

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Everyone is obsessed with Game of Thrones these days — even the The Simpsons. America’s favorite TV family is paying homage to the HBO hit in the Season 29 premiere, “The Serfsons,” and we’ve got an exclusive sneak peek at the episode.

After almost 30 years on air, long-suffering bartender Moe Szyslak has had to endure countless prank calls from Bart Simpson — but how would Bart get his laughs if phones didn’t exist? Our clip has the answer, and let’s just say Samwell Tarly wouldn’t approve.

The Game of Thrones-themed premiere also features the vocal talents of one of fantasy series’ stars, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jaime Lannister), in a role that Simpsons executive producer Matt Selman describes as “a character not unlike Jaime. He has a surprising and sexy connection to one of the main characters.” Read more…

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First Trailer for Quirky Romantic Comedy Film ‘The Truth About Lies’

The Truth About Lies Trailer

“So you lied to me about everything?” Blue Fox Entertainment has debuted the first official trailer for an indie romantic comedy titled The Truth About Lies, made by writer/director Phil Allocco. This quirky comedy is about a guy who starts coming up with a series of lies in order to impress a girl. Fairly simple premise. Fran Kranz stars and Gilby Smalls, and the girl he falls for is played by Odette Annable, who you’ll recognize from Cloverfield or The Unborn. The cast includes Colleen Camp, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Chris Diamantopoulos, Oakes Fegley, and Laura Kightlinger. This doesn’t look that unique, almost like every other quirky indie romantic comedy. And I’m pretty sure he’s going to get the girl in the end, too. ›››

Continue reading First Trailer for Quirky Romantic Comedy Film ‘The Truth About Lies’


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Scene Description Spotlight: “The Deer Hunter”

During the Vietnam War, two American prisoners are forced to play Russian roulette.

I can still remember seeing The Deer Hunter for the first time. I was living in Aspen, Colorado. Had a rare night off from playing music. Came out of the theater just gutted by the movie — and in particular the two Russian roulette scenes. Michael (Robert DeNiro), Steven (John Savage), and Nick (Christopher Walken) are three long-time buddies and factory workers from Pennsylvania. They enlist in the Army and find themselves fighting in Vietnam. Captured by the Viet Cong, they have been abused and beaten. Steven (named Sal in the script) is in bad shape. Michael (named Merle in the script) has to convince Nick to do something seemingly insane, as you will see as the scene unfolds:

EXT. CLEARING IN THE JUNGLE — THE “PITS” — DAY

SAL has absolutely no comprehension of what is about to
happen to him. His eyes are dreamy, far away, as if he had
mentally transported himself to some distant place. There are
great gashes in his head from the blows he has received and
as he stands waiting in the pouring rain he looks exactly
like a very small child who has experienced some terrible
confusion.

Suddenly the GUARD standing beside SAL wrenches him around.

We see the pit now, CLOSE UP. There are four bloated CORPSES
floating in the muck.

We SAL’S FACE, CLOSE UP. He gives a CRY and tries to turn
away.

We see the GUARDS pick SAL up, SCREAMING. We see the SPLASH
as SAL hits the water and then we see him surface between the
bloated CORPSES, STILL SCREAMING, paddling desperately and
trying to find something solid to hod him up.
EXT. CLEARING IN THE JUNGLE — WAITING PRISONERS — DAY

NICK stands motionless, stunned, listening to SAL’S SCREAMS.
MERLE has his attention focused on the GUARD IN CHARGE and
when he glances in their direction MERLE slugs NICK in the
stomach and begins beating him furiously to the ground. NICK
struggles to his feet. MERLE attacks him again and now, as
the GUARD IN CHARGE comes over to see what’s going on, MERLE
begins hopping up and down, pointing at NICK, pointing at the
revolver in the GUARD’S hand and screaming.

MERLE
Him and me!!! Him and me!!!

The GUARDS look at each other, interested.

MERLE (CONT’D)
Him and me, goddamn it! Him and me!

INT. THATCHED HUT — HEAVY RAIN — DAY

MERLE and NICK sit facing one another across the rose
patterned kitchen table. The GUARDS are all grinning and even
the SOUTH VIETNAMESE are watching with grim fascination. NICK
has the revolver. He is trembling visibly. Already MERLE has
managed to draw the GUARDS in closer and as NICK spins the
cylinder and cocks the hammer MERLE jumps up and begins
pounding on the table.

MERLE
This is it, motherfuckers! Now he’s
going to do it! Watch! You watch!

NICK almost loses what little control is left and his hand
begins shaking violently.

MERLE (CONT’D)
Look at him! See! This is it and he
knows it!

Side bets begin changing hands.

MERLE (CONT’D)
Last chance to lose your money
there, guys. Goodbye money! Hurry,
hurry. Here he goes!

NICK puts the revolver against his temple and pulls the
trigger. There is a dull CLICK.

NICK puts the revolver back on the table. His hand is shaking
so badly it falls with a clunk. MERLE grabs it, spins it,
sticks it to his temple and CLICKS OUT, talking all the time:

MERLE (CONT’D)
This is stupid! You understand
stupid? On and on! At this rate
we’ll still be here tomorrow!
(throws the revolver on
the table)
Wait a minute. I know! Hey, I got
it. More! Put in more! You
understand more? More! More
bullets!
(he mimes with his
fingers)
Three bullets! You understand
three? That way BLAM! BOOM!

MERLE hops up and down, laughing maniacally.

MERLE (CONT’D)
KA-POWIE!!! BA-ROOM!!!… ’Cause I
want that bastard! Him I want boom!
Him or me!!!

The GUARD IN CHARGE looks at his COMPANIONS. They all begin
shouting for him to go ahead. The GUARD IN CHARGE purses his
lips, as if imitating a general coming to a decision, and
then nods his assent. The GUARDS all howl. MERLE joins right
in.

MERLE (CONT’D)
He’s terrific! Great fucking guy!

The GUARD IN CHARGE takes the revolver, opens the cylinder
and begins sticking in two more cartridges.

MERLE (CONT’D)
KA-POW!!! BA-ROOMIE!!!

MERLE hops up and down again, then screams at NICK, jabbing
his finger at him, as if in fury.

MERLE (CONT’D)
Both of us may have to pull on
this, so get your shit in fuckin’
shape!!!
(to the GUARDS)
Him or me!!! Now we got it, him or
me!!!
(he rubs his hands and
sits back down)
Place your bets, motherfuckers! Now
we’re going! Now we got a game!

The GUARD IN CHARGE places the revolver on the table, spins
it.

MERLE (CONT’D)
Watch! Now watch! He’s going to get
it. And then KA-POW! BA-ROOMIE!!!

The muzzle stops pointing at MERLE. MERLE scowls, looks over
at the GUARD IN CHARGE. The GUARD IN CHARGE has lifted the
barrel of his AK 47 and is watching him with caution. The
OTHER GUARDS, who are totally caught up in the game, are
yelling and shouting.

MERLE
You guys think I’m in trouble,
right?

MERLE picks up the revolver, spins the cylinder, cocks it…

MERLE (CONT’D)
No way! Never!!!
(he begins to chant)
MERLE IS MIGHTY! — HA!
MERLE IS STRONG! — HA!
MERLE IS MAGIC! — HA!
MERLE LIVES LONG!
Lemme hear it. Come on,
motherfuckers, lemme hear it!

MERLE starts it again. The GUARDS who are bett ing on him
JOIN IN:

MERLE (CONT’D)
(with GUARDS)
MERLE IS MIGHTY! — HA!
MERLE IS STRONG! — HA!
MERLE IS MAGIC! — HA!
MERLE LIVES LONG!

MERLE takes a glance at the GUARD IN CHARGE again. The GUARD
IN CHARGE is still eyeing him with caution.

MERLE places the revolver to his temple… and CLICKS into an
empty chamber.

MERLE (CONT’D)
See! Nothing to it.

He pushes the gun across to NICK. Then he stabs his finger at
him, screaming again, as if in a fit of rage.

MERLE (CONT’D)
You got an empty chamber and it’s
in your mind! Just put that empty
chamber in the gun!

NICK looks down at the revolver and picks it up. He stares at
MERLE for a moment. Then he spins the cylinder, cocks the
hammer, Puts it to his head… and CLICKS into an empty
chamber.

The GUARDS let out expressions of disbelief. Those betting on
NICK begin taunting those betting on MERLE.

MERLE sits motionless, as if stunned, as if utterly defeated,
his brow furrowed in a mighty frown.

NICK pushes the revolver across the table. His face is
twitching but he gives the gesture a certain flair, as if
throwing back a challenge.

MERLE stares at the revolver — stares at it with an
expression of utter gloom. Then he reaches out, takes the
revolver in his hand and pulls it toward him, as if he no
longer possessed the strength to pick it up.

MERLE (CONT’D)
(gloom)
Who’s for Merle?
(he thumps his fist on the
table)
Is anyone for Merle???

MERLE roams a glowering eve over the watching GUARDS, as if
suddenly discovering himself among traitors. Slowly, he
pushes himself to his feet. The gun is still on the table,
still in his right hand, and as he gets up he lets his body
sag over it.

MERLE (CONT’D)
Who here is for Merle…?

There is absolute silence now except for the drumming of the
rain. It is as if the war had disappeared, vanished. The
GUARDS stand motionless, hardly breathing, so captivated by
MERLE’S performance that they suddenly resemble little
children.

MERLE (CONT’D)
Who… here… is for Merle…?

MERLE begins his chant again. His voice is low, very
dramatic, and the GUARD IN CHARGE joins right in.

MERLE (CONT’D)
(with GUARDS)
MERLE IS MIGHTY! — HA!
MERLE IS STRONG! — HA!
MERLE IS MAGIC — HA!

MERLE snaps the revolver level in his hand and BLASTS the
GUARD IN CHARGE, hitting him full in the face. At the same
time NICK throws himself into the GUARD who is standing
behind him, spins and slams the GUARD’S AK 47 into his chin.
TWO MORE SHOTS BLAST OUT FROM MERLE’S .45 and we see TWO
GUARDS crash over the kitchen table. NICK now opens up with
AK 47, and as MERLE backs off beside him, also with an AK 47,
they GUN the remaining GUARDS to the floor.

It is over in an instant. The BODIES lie in a bloody, tangled
mess under a pathetic paper lantern. The rain drones on — 
uninterrupted, undiminished, eternal…

Notice how the sequence begins in crisis, describing Sal (Steven’s) deteriorating condition:

SAL has absolutely no comprehension of what is about to
happen to him. His eyes are dreamy, far away, as if he had
mentally transported himself to some distant place. There are
great gashes in his head from the blows he has received and
as he stands waiting in the pouring rain he looks exactly
like a very small child who has experienced some terrible
confusion.

This description drives home the reality to Nick — that in order to have any
chance to save Steven and themselves, they have to act now: First step is to get the captors to allow Nick and Michael to face each other, not an American and Vietnamese prisoner as before. Crazy move, but necessary for what Michael has in store.

With both Americans participating, the odds of one of them dying increase
exponentially. And see how the scene description infuses the moment with that threat:

NICK almost loses what little control is left and his hand
begins shaking violently.

NICK puts the revolver against his temple and pulls the
trigger. There is a dull CLICK.

NICK puts the revolver back on the table. His hand is shaking
so badly it falls with a clunk.

The shaking of his hand reflecting the tension, even insanity of the moment. But then the second part of Michael’s plan: Coax their captors to put three bullets in the pistol, thereby almost ensuring somebody’s death in the first go-round. Worried that the Viet Cong will catch on, Michael does his best to distract them by acting crazy:

MERLE hops up and down again, then screams at NICK, jabbing
his finger at him, as if in fury.

Then amazingly, two rounds of roulette — no gunshot. Which means that it’s virtually certain there’s a live round loaded and ready to go — and it’s Michael’s turn. Then this description:

MERLE stares at the revolver — stares at it with an
expression of utter gloom. Then he reaches out, takes the
revolver in his hand and pulls it toward him, as if he no
longer possessed the strength to pick it up.

MERLE (CONT’D)
(gloom)
Who’s for Merle?
(he thumps his fist on the
table)
Is anyone for Merle???

MERLE roams a glowering eve over the watching GUARDS, as if
suddenly discovering himself among traitors. Slowly, he
pushes himself to his feet. The gun is still on the table,
still in his right hand, and as he gets up he lets his body
sag over it.

MERLE (CONT’D)
Who here is for Merle…?

There is absolute silence now except for the drumming of the
rain. It is as if the war had disappeared, vanished. The
GUARDS stand motionless, hardly breathing, so captivated by
MERLE’S performance that they suddenly resemble little
children.

MERLE (CONT’D)
Who… here… is for Merle…?

MERLE begins his chant again. His voice is low, very
dramatic, and the GUARD IN CHARGE joins right in.

Michael’s performance “captivated” the men, an ironic choice of words because these are the captors. Then the pay-off:

MERLE snaps the revolver level in his hand and BLASTS the
GUARD IN CHARGE, hitting him full in the face. At the same
time NICK throws himself into the GUARD who is standing
behind him, spins and slams the GUARD’S AK 47 into his chin.
TWO MORE SHOTS BLAST OUT FROM MERLE’S .45 and we see TWO
GUARDS crash over the kitchen table. NICK now opens up with
AK 47, and as MERLE backs off beside him, also with an AK 47,
they GUN the remaining GUARDS to the floor.

It is over in an instant. The BODIES lie in a bloody, tangled
mess under a pathetic paper lantern. The rain drones on — 
uninterrupted, undiminished, eternal…

What a scene. What an ending. And its own denouement: “…BODIES lie in a bloody, tangled mess… rain drones on — uninterrupted, undiminished, eternal…”

It’s almost as if in this incredible twist pulled off by Michael and Nick — including somehow willing away two bullets which by all rights should have been loaded to go — they have taken this ‘profane’ moment and transformed it into a ‘sacred’ event through the blood sacrifice they make by slaughtering their captors.

This is a terrific example of using scene description to help build the tension in a scene to a powerful climax.

Here is the movie version of the scene:

For more Scene Description Spotlight posts, go here.

Comment Archive


Scene Description Spotlight: “The Deer Hunter” was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

2017 Emmy Winners: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Big Little Lies’ Win Big, ‘Veep’ Wasn’t Far Behind

69th Emmy Awards - 2017 Emmy Winners

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards aired on CBS Sunday night with The Late Show host Stephen Colbert serving as master of ceremonies for the prestigious night out with some of television’s finest talents.

The winners were announced live on television, and below we have the full list of those lucky enough to take home an Emmy during the broadcast last night, as well as offering some commentary on the awards from the night of the show. So without further adieu, let’s get to the 2017 Emmy winners.

Winners appear in bold.

Outstanding Drama Series:

Better Call Saul
The Crown
The Handmaid’s Tale
House of Cards
Stranger Things
This Is Us
Westworld

Commentary: While I’m disappointed that the shows I loved the most didn’t take home this award, The Handmaid’s Tale is relevant, timely and perfectly executed. It’s undoubtedly deserving of this award and every trophy it received this evening. Congrats to Hulu and everyone involved.

Outstanding Comedy Series:

Atlanta
Black-ish
Master of None
Modern Family
Silicon Valley
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Veep

Commentary: I’m not sure that Veep deserved this win over Master of None and Atlanta, but it’s been consistently great for a long time, and it’s hard to argue with their success.

Outstanding Limited Series:

Big Little Lies
Fargo
Feud
Genius
The Night Of

Commentary: And there it is. Strong actresses doing incredible work and creating an Emmy-winning limited series that took home a bunch of trophies tonight. HBO has a lot to celebrate.

Outstanding Television Movie:

Black Mirror: San  Junipero
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love
Sherlock: The Lying Detective
Wizard of Lies

Commentary: Black Mirror beat out HBO’s big TV movie players, making Netflix a huge player at the Emmys. There will only be more of these kind of upsets to come.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series:

Viola Davis – How to Get Away with Murder
Claire Foy – The Crown
Elisabeth Moss – The Handmaid’s Tale
Keri Russell – The Americans
Evan Rachel Wood – Westworld
Robin Wright – House of Cards

Commentary: Much like Big Little Lies, I can’t imagine The Handmaid’s Tale not winning the overall Outstanding Drama Series category. It’s a big night for Hulu. We’ll find out shortly.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series:

Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us
Anthony Hopkins – Westworld
Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys – The Americans
Liev Schreiber – Ray Donovan
Kevin Spacey – House of Cards
Milo Ventimiglia – This Is Us

Commentary: I never would have thought that a seemingly melodramatic but touching show like This Is Us would be a key contender at the Emmys, let alone actually winning a major award.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:

Pamela Adlon – Better Things
Jane Fonda –  Grace and Frankie
Allison Janney – Mom
Ellie Kemper – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep
Tracee Ellis Ross – Black-ish
Lily Tomlin – Grace and Frankie

Commentary: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a force of comedic nature on this show, and she deserves every single award that comes her way for playing Selina Meyer.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:

Anthony Anderson – Black-ish
Aziz Ansari – Master of None
Zach Galifianakis – Baskets
Donald Glover – Atlanta
William H. Macy – Shameless
Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent

Commentary: After winning directing for a comedy series, this was a great win to add to Atlanta‘s record. Donald Glover is just getting started.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie:

Carrie Coon – Fargo
Felicity Huffman – American Crime
Nicole Kidman – Big Little Lies
Jessica Lange – Feud: Bette and Joan
Susan Sarandon – Feud: Bette and Joan
Reese Witherspoon – Big Little Lies

Commentary: Big Little Lies is clearly a big winner throughout the whole night, and it would be an upset if it didn’t win the overall Limited Series category.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie:

Riz Ahmed – The Night Of
Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock
Robert De Niro – Wizard of Lies
Ewan McGregor – Fargo
Geoffrey Rush – Genius
John Turturro – The Night Of

Commentary: Riz Ahmed beat out some pretty heavy hitters, including the legendary Robert De Niro. That’s a huge win for the actor and his career has a promising future to be sure.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:

Ann Dowd – The Handmaid’s Tale
Samira Wiley – The Handmaid’s Tale
Uzo Aduba – Orange Is The New Black
Millie Bobby Brown – Stranger Things
Chrissy Mets – This Is Us
Thandie Newton – Westworld

Commentary: Ann Dowd was so touchingly emotional during her speech. The Handmaid’s Tale is another series led by strong female talent that is making big waves at the Emmys this year. I wonder if it will end up with the big prize.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:

Jonathan Banks – Better Call Saul
John Lithgow – The Crown
Mandy Patinkin – Homeland
Michael Kelly – House of Cards
David Harbour – Stranger Things
Ron Cephas Jones – This Is Us
Jeffrey Wright – Westworld

Commentary: I’ve yet to see The Crown, and while John Lithgow’s performance looks to be astounding, there’s something about this TV show that feels like the television version of Oscar bait. Still, probably worth watching just for John Lithgow’s performance.

Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series:

Vince Gilligan – Better Call Saul, “Witness”
Stephen Daldry – The Crown, “Hyde Park Center”
Reed Morano – The Handmaid’s Tale, “Offred (Pilot)”
Kate Dennis – The Handmaid’s Tale, “The Bridge”
Leslie Linka Glatter – Homeland, “America First”
The Duffer Brothers – Stranger Things, “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers”
Jonathan Nolan – Westworld, “The Bicameral Mind”

Commentary: Wow, The Handmaid’s Tale is cleaning up this year. The chances of the show winning Outstanding Drama Series appear to be really good if the track record so far is any indicator.

Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series:

John Fields and Joe Weisberg – The Americans, “The Soviet Division”
Gordon Smith – Better Call Saul, “Chicanery”
Peter Morgan – The Crown, “Assassins”
Bruce Miller – The Handmaid’s Tale, “Offred (Pilot)”
The Duffer Brothers – Stranger Things, “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers”
Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan – Westworld, “The Bicameral Mind”

Commentary: A timely win for a timely show that has more significance than many shows on television. This is a big win for Hulu.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:

Vanessa Bayer – Saturday Night Live
Leslie Jones – Saturday Night Live
Kate McKinnon – Saturday Night Live
Kathryn Hahn – Transparent
Judith Light – Transparent
Anna Chlumsky – Veep

Commentary: Yes! Easily the best cast member on Saturday Night Live, this was a much deserved award for her. She’s consistently hilarious and crafts incredible characters. Love it.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:

Louie Anderson – Baskets
Ty Burrell – Modern Family
Alec Baldwin – Saturday Night Live
Tituss Burgess – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tony Hale – Veep
Matt Walsh – Veep

Commentary: Alec Baldwin’s performance as Donald Trump on SNL has been a big draw for the series and one of the many reasons the show deserved its Outstanding Variety Sketch Series win. Kudos to Baldwin for starting his speech with a savage blow by saying, “Mr. President, at long last, here’s your Emmy.”

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series:

Donald Glover – Atlanta
Jamie Babbit – Silicon Valley
Mike Judge – Silicon Valley
Morgan Sackett – Veep
David Mandel – Veep
Dale Stern – Veep

Commentary: Atlanta is an outstanding show, and I’m so glad that Donald Glover’s hard work on the FX series got recognized by the Emmys. Looking forward to the second season.

Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series:

Donald Glover – Atlanta, “B.A.N.”
Stephen Glover – Atlanta, “Streets on Lock”
Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe – Master of None, “Thanksgiving”
Alec Berg – Silicon Valley, “Success Failure”
Billy Kimball – Veep, “Georgia”
David Mandel – Veep, “Groundbreaking”

Commentary: You’d be hard-pressed to find a better comedy today than Master of None (though Atlanta comes close), and this win by Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe is undoubtedly worth it. The duo even got a standing ovation.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie:

Regina Kind – American Crime
Laura Dern – Big Little Lies
Shailene Woodley – Big Little Lies
Judy Davis – Feud: Bette and Joan
Jackie Hoffman – Feud: Bette and Joan
Michelle Pfeiffer – Wizard of Lies

Commentary: You just can’t go wrong with Laura Dern. She’s fantastic in everything she does, but she was especially great in this HBO series. I can’t wait to see what she brings to Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie:

Alexander Skarsgard – Big Little Lies
David Thewlis – Fargo
Alfred Molina – Feud: Bette and Joan
Stanley Tucci – Feud: Bette and Joan
Bill Camp – The Night Of
Michael K. Williams – The Night Of

Commentary: Another win for Big Little Lies, which is good news for HBO. Though they had a 50/50 chance of winning this category since they split the nominees with FX.

Outstanding Directing For A Limited Series, TV Movie Or Dramatic Special:

Jean-Marc Vallée – Big Little Lies
Noah Hawley – Fargo, “The Law of Vacant Places”
Ryan Murphy – Feud: Bette and Joan, “And the Winner Is… (The Oscars of 1963)
Ron Howard – Genius, “Einstein: Chapter One”
James Marsh – The Night Of, “The Art of War”
Steven Zaillian – The Night Of, “The Beach”

Commentary: I wasn’t expecting Big Little Lies to have such a big presence in the winners circle, but maybe I underestimated it. The series is undoubtedly good, but I just wasn’t expecting such a presence.

Outstanding Writing For A Limited Series, TV Movie Or Dramatic Special:

David E. Kelley – Big Little Lies
Charlie Brooker – Black Mirror, “San Junipero”
Noah Hawley – Fargo, “The Law of Vacant Places”
Ryan Murhpy – Feud: Bette and Joan, “And the Winner Is… (The Oscars of 1963)”
Ryan Murphy, Jaffe Cohen and Michael Zam – Feud: Bette and Joan, “Pilot”
Richard Price and Steven Zaillian – The Night Of, “The Call of the Wild”

Commentary: There’s a win for Netflix, adding the long list of awards being won by streaming services this evening.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series:

Ben Mendelsohn – Bloodline
B.D. Wong – Mr. Robot
Hank Azaria – Ray Donovan
Denis O’Hare – This Is Us
Brian Tyree Henry – This Is Us
Gerald McRaney – This Is Us

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series:

Alison Wright – The Americans
Alexis Bledel – The Handmaid’s Tale
Cicely Tyson – How to Get Away with Murder
Ann Dowd – The Leftovers
Laverne Cox – Orange Is the New Black
Shannon Purser – Stranger Things

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series:

Billy on the Street
Documentary Now!
Drunk History
Portlandia
Saturday Night Live
Tracey Ullman’s Show

Commentary: Anyone who reads this site knows how much I love SNL, and that’s why I review every new episode. This past season was a high point for the sketch show in recent years as they lampooned the current administration, and this is a well-deserved victory.

Outstanding Variety Talk Series:

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
The Late Late Show with James Corden
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Real Time with Bill Maher

Commentary: You can pick any episode from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and it would be worthy of an Emmy. They may not be produced as often as some of the other nominees, but the work they do is not only funny but poignant.

Outstanding Directing For a Variety Series:

Jeremy Konner – Drunk History, “Hamilton”
Andy Fisher – Jimmy Kimmel Live, “The (RED) Show”
Paul Pennolino – Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, “Multi-Level Marketing”
Jim Hoskinson – The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, “Episode 0179”
Don Roy King – Saturday Night Live, “Jimmy Fallon”

Commentary: Don Roy King is a directing legend and he takes on the Herculean task of bringing this crazy, difficult show together. It’s a huge, heaping responsibility, and Don Roy King does an amazing job with it.

Outstanding Writing For a Variety Series:

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Late Night with Seth Meyers
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Saturday Night Live

Commentary: Every episode of Last Week Tonight is an eye-opening revelation, and it’s because of the brilliant writing staff who investigates thoroughly and brings us the most important details in a satirical fashion, never afraid to call anyone out.

Outstanding Reality – Competition Program:

The Amazing Race
American Ninja Warrior
Project Runway
Ru Paul’s Drag Race
Top Chef
The Voice

Commentary: With the exception of American Ninja Warrior clips here and there, I haven’t watched any of these shows, and it’s just not a category that I care about at all. But I would have liked Ru Paul’s Drag Race to win just for the sake of diversity and inclusion.

Meanwhile, the Creative Arts Emmys were handed out last weekend, and here are some of the notable winners:

Outstanding Children’s ProgramOnce Upon a Sesame Street Christmas (HBO)

Outstanding Animated ProgramBob’s Burgers (FOX)

Outstanding Short Form Animated Program Adventure Time (Cartoon Network)

Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction SpecialThe 13th (Netflix)

Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction SeriesPlanet Earth II (BBC)

Outstanding Variety SpecialCarpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2017 (CBS)

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series – Melissa McCarthy – Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series – Dave Chappelle – Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance – Seth MacFarlane – Family Guy (FOX)

Outstanding Main Title DesignStranger Things (Netflix)

Outstanding Original Main Title Theme MusicStranger Things (Netflix)

Outstanding Special Visual EffectsWestworld (HBO)

***

That’s all for the 2017 Emmy winners. How do you feel about the shows that won this year?

The post 2017 Emmy Winners: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Big Little Lies’ Win Big, ‘Veep’ Wasn’t Far Behind appeared first on /Film.


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