Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Predicting The 2021 Emmy Award Winners: Limited Series/TV Movie Writing & Directing

By Amanda Spears 

If you remember from last year’s Emmys and my Golden Globe, SAG Awards, and Oscars predictions, I try my best to leave emotion out of making my predictions. I’m going to take you television fans through how to make your Emmy predictions and win your pool methodically. Next up in this series of articles is Outstanding Limited Series/TV Movie Writing and Directing.


Six years ago, the Emmys moved to a plurality vote replacing the more level playing field of 80 to 100-person panels ranking the nominees. Since we spend more time watching television than a film, it’s easier to let our personal preferences affect our predictions as we try to manifest a win for our favorites.

Let’s take a look at how to predict the winners for Outstanding Limited Series/TV Movie Directing and Writing based on recent trends.

Outstanding Limited Series/TV Movie Directing Nominees
Hamilton” directed by Thomas Kail
“I May Destroy You” – “Ego Death” directed by Sam Miller and Michaela Coel
“I May Destroy You” – “Eyes Eyes Eyes Eyes” directed by Sam Miller
Mare of Easttown” directed by Craig Zobel
The Queen’s Gambit” directed by Scott Frank
The Underground Railroad” directed by Barry Jenkins 
WandaVision” directed by Matt Shakman

Outstanding Limited Series/TV Movie Writing Nominees
“I May Destroy You” written by Michaela Coel
Mare of Easttown” written by Brad Ingelsby
The Queen’s Gambit” written by Scott Frank
WandaVision” – “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” written by Chuck Hayward and Peter Cameron
WandaVision” – “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience” written by Jac Schaeffer
WandaVision” – “Previously On” written by Laura Donney

This category may combine Limited Series and Television Movies, but it’s hard to see a television film or special winning. While we’re at it, let’s eliminate all the series with multiple nominations for each of these categories. This leaves us with…

Outstanding Limited Series/TV Movie Directing Predictions
Mare of Easttown” directed by Craig Zobel
The Queen’s Gambit” directed by Scott Frank
The Underground Railroad” directed by Barry Jenkins 
WandaVision” directed by Matt Shakman

Outstanding Limited Series/TV Movie Writing Predictions
“I May Destroy You” written by Michaela Coel
Mare of Easttown” written by Brad Ingelsby
The Queen’s Gambit” written by Scott Frank

Now let’s eliminate the nominees that, unfortunately, do not appear to have the momentum to win their respective races (a matter of perspective but still). This narrows the field to…

Outstanding Limited Series/TV Movie Directing Predictions
Mare of Easttown” directed by Craig Zobel
The Queen’s Gambit” directed by Scott Frank
WandaVision” directed by Matt Shakman

Outstanding Limited Series/TV Movie Writing Predictions
“I May Destroy You” written by Michaela Coel
The Queen’s Gambit” written by Scott Frank

Unfortunately, Barry Jenkins and “The Underground Railroad” do not have the momentum or widespread support to prove that it is a threat to win one of the top seven prizes after it failed to garner nominations it was expected to pick up. By contrast, “Mare of Easttown” has a ton of momentum on its side, but that momentum is likelier to pop up in the Directing field than in the Writing category.

Final Outstanding Limited Series/TV Movie Directing Predictions
1. “The Queen’s Gambit” directed by Scott Frank
2. “WandaVision” directed by Matt Shakman
3. “Mare of Easttown” directed by Craig Zobel
4. “The Underground Railroad” directed by Barry Jenkins 
5. “I May Destroy You” – “Ego Death” directed by Sam Miller and Michaela Coel
6. “Hamilton” directed by Thomas Kail
7. “I May Destroy You” – “Eyes Eyes Eyes Eyes” directed by Sam Miller

Final Outstanding Limited Series/TV Movie Writing Predictions
1. “The Queen’s Gambit” written by Scott Frank
2. “I May Destroy You” written by Michaela Coel
3. “Mare of Easttown” written by Brad Ingelsby
4. WandaVision” – “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience” written by Jac Schaeffer
5. WandaVision” – “Previously On” written by Laura Donney
6. WandaVision” – “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” written by Chuck Hayward and Peter Cameron

It’s rare for a Limited Series to sweep through the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, PGA, DGA, SAG, and WGA Awards the way “The Queen’s Gambit” has. It’s in the company of Mike Nichols’ “Angels in America” (2003), which also swept every precursor on its way to making Emmy history as the first series of any kind to win the top seven awards. Also, “John Adams” (2008), even though it started at the Emmys with a record-making 13 wins, still went on to sweep all of the awards above except for the Outstanding Limited Series/TV Movie Directing Emmy and DGA Awards. And since this series of articles is about making predictions based on strategy and past trends, “The Queen’s Gambit” should give Scott Frank his first one (or two) significant awards after previously being nominated in the same categories for “Godless” (2018). Frank has the distinction of penning the first superhero film to receive an Oscar nomination, “Logan” (shared with James Mangold and Michael Green in 2017). If not the “The Queen’s Gambit,” who’s most likely to upset? 

In the Limited Series/TV Movie lineup, look no further than Matt Shakman and his work on “WandaVision.” It’s essential to keep in mind that only the directors pick the Directing winners, and “WandaVision” with its multiple different television styles from the classics all the way up to “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Modern Family” could prove to be catnip to Shakman’s fellow directors. There could also be the feeling that Shakman is overdue after being snubbed for his work on “Game of Thrones” (“The Spoils of War” in Season 7) and losing out to “The Great” last year. On the writing side, look out for Michaela Coel and “I May Destroy You” and its powerful subject of sexual consent while dating in London. We’ve seen the triple threat of writer/director/performer embraced on the Comedy side. Still, it’s unclear if the television academy is willing to embrace it on the Limited Series side. Not helping matters is that “I May Destroy You” is a tough watch that could prove challenging for voters to rally around. Should Coel win, she would make history as the first Black woman to do so.

Do you agree or disagree with my logic? What are you predicting to win the Emmys for Limited Series/TV Movie Writing/Directing categories? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Twitter account. Stay tuned for more articles on the Emmys as I finalize my predictions for the 2021 Emmy Awards taking place on September 19th.

You can follow Amanda and hear more of her thoughts on the Emmys and TV on Twitter at @msamandaspears

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