Without question, this category has been the one in recent years where television’s greater ambitions have been showcased, and thus, also a category that is uber-competitive. Limited Series in fact could also describe a number of contenders in the regular Drama and Comedy categories as well. Take Amazon’s Fleabag, a Comedy Series contender, or Netflix’s Bodyguard, a Drama Series contender—both have only six-episode runs this season, fewer than most of the Limited Series nominated here. The line between limited and regular series is blurring (2017’s Limited Series winner Big Little Lies will have to compete as a Drama Series next year), and the definitions of the categories will continue to change. At some point the Academy is going to have to address that issue. But nevertheless, here are the five nominees that wholly define themselves as ‘Limited’.
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This nail-biting entry is one of HBO’s two hopes for continued dominance in this area. Chronicling one of mankind’s greatest self-created disasters, this is an exceptionally well-told story, serving as a sobering reminder of lurking dangers that could erupt at any given moment. It drew widespread critical acclaim and won 19 Emmy nods—the largest total of any of this year’s Limited Series nominees, which could be a good omen for a win.
Escape at Dannemora
Director Ben Stiller proved that his chops were as strong behind the camera as in his comedy work. Taking the true story of a prison break, and the female employee who became their accomplice, and turning it into a televisual page-turner was no easy task. Aided by a principal cast, including Emmy nominees Benicio Del Toro, Paul Dano, and Patricia Arquette, Stiller produced a winner that stays in the mind months after it first aired on Showtime. Will Emmy voters remember it too?
When this limited series revolving around the professional and personal marriage of showbiz dynamos Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon was announced by FX, I was astounded that such an original idea could get made. It didn’t disappoint with its dazzling tour through the lives of these two remarkable artists, and their tumultuous union. With exceptional performances from Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell, it just doesn’t get much better than this. It has my vote at least.
The network’s second entry in the category this year is also the only one of the five nominees not based on a real-life story. It brings six-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams to television in a big way as a journalist who travels back to her hometown to ostensibly investigate a murder case, but who discovers hidden truths about herself. With Big Little Lies’ Jean-Marc Vallée behind the camera in this adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s book, Sharp Objects was a riveting way to spend a few Sundays.
When They See Us
This Ava DuVernay-directed limited series focuses on the young men known as the Central Park Five, who were accused and convicted of sexual assault. Telling the story of their unjust sentences, and ultimate exoneration, DuVernay has crafted an important, and still extremely timely, cautionary tale that demands to be seen. Its very currency, not to mention its 16 nominations—half of which went to its cast—makes this a frontrunner, especially considering the actors branch is the Academy’s largest.
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