The big categories might have gone as expected, with favorites Game of Thrones, Veep and The People v. O.J. Simpson taking gold, but there still were plenty of pleasant surprises — and surprising snubs — among tonight’s Emmy winners.
- In the drama acting categories, Tatiana Maslany‘s long-overdue recognition for Orphan Black in the Lead Actress race was one of the night’s most pleasant surprises, especially coupled with Rami Malek‘s win for Lead Actor in Mr. Robot. That’s two awards to two supremely talented young actors in distinctly genre shows, beating heavy competition from the likes of Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell. No wonder Malek started his acceptance speech with, “Please tell me you’re seeing this too.”
- Kate McKinnon‘s win for Supporting Actress in a Comedy for her various roles on Saturday Night Live was very well-deserved, and she thanked Ellen DeGeneres and Hillary Clinton — two people she spoofs on the show. But remarkably it’s the first time the show has won for front-of-camera talent in this category. And consider the legendary comedy names that have come through that show, now in its fifth decade… Previous nominees for SNL in these two categories include Eddie Murphy, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader; Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner and Dana Carvey are the only previous cast members to have won for the show, in defunct categories; many more talents were never even nominated. But the favorite in this category was surely Alison Janney, who would have taken home a record-tying eighth trophy in this category tonight.
- Susanne Bier‘s win for directing The Night Manager, along with D.V. DeVincentis’ trophy for the “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson, set up a fierce battle in the main Limited Series category. Bier’s competition included heavyweights of the American industry, like Ryan Murphy, Anthony Hemingway and Jay Roach. But, in the end, The People v. O.J. Simpson prevailed, taking home five trophies including the Limited Series crown.
- Perhaps one of the night’s biggest snubs was reserved for All the Way, which failed to prevail in either of the two categories in which it was a favorite: Bryan Cranston lost out to Courtney B. Vance in Lead Actor, and Jay Roach’s film lost to Sherlock in the TV Movie category.
- Sherlock‘s win was, in itself, a surprise: the particulars of the way the show is produced mean it has only been eligible three times in the last five years, and it had especially heavyweight competition. Though it prevailed at its last Emmy appearance in 2014, winning TV Movie and a Lead Actor trophy for Benedict Cumberbatch.
- Ben Mendelsohn‘s win for Bloodline in the Supporting Actor, Drama category kept Game of Thrones from a record-breaking 13 wins in a year, with frontrunner Peter Dinklage passed over. In the end, the show tied its series record set last year, with 12 wins. Mendelsohn is an actors’ favorite, and has been due a big trophy for a string of impressive work since his international breakthrough in Animal Kingdom. He was absent tonight, but it’s fine recognition for a show that only has one more season left to play out.
- And then there was the night’s very first victor: Louie Anderson. Many predicted a win for Anderson’s hilarious turn in Baskets, but with the show otherwise an outlier, he certainly had his work cut out. As with Mendelsohn’s Game of Thrones shut-out, Anderson was able to keep a lid on not one but two candidates from the Comedy winner, Veep; Tony Hale and Matt Walsh were both passed over.
- Over in Variety Talk, perhaps The Late Late Show with James Corden might have had an edge after his show picked up two awards at the Creative Arts Emmys. But then, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver took the critical writing prize. This result sure demonstrates the tight competition in the late-night category.