Movies, Miniseries Make Way for HBO's 'Mildred Pierce'

Drama could well dominate in the newly combined category

Why This Matters

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie

HBO’s Cinema Verite

Nine nominations, including one for lead actress Diane Lane

Strengths: HBO revisited the original reality show, PBS’ American Family, in a surprisingly original telefilm.

Weaknesses: Even though the cast was stellar—Lane, Tim Robbins and HBO favorite James Gandolfini—this show remained mostly off the radar.

PBS’ Downtown Abbey

Stats: 11 nominations, including acting nods for Elizabeth McGovern and Maggie Smith

Strengths: ITV’s serialized version ofGosford Park. All Anglophile TV critics, which is most of them, fell immediately in love with this British import.

Weaknesses: British plus PBS might make this miniseries too upper crust even for Emmy voters.

ReelzChannel’s The Kennedys

Stats: 10 nominations, including nods for lead actors Greg Kinnear and Barry Pepper

Strengths: Surprising the heck out of everyone after being controversially dropped by The History Channel.

Weaknesses: That controversy could cause voters to not see it as a serious contender.

HBO’s Mildred Pierce

Stats: 21 nominations, the most of any single show this year. Acting noms for Kate Winslet, Mare Winningham, Evan Rachel Wood, Melissa Leo, Guy Pierce and Brian F. O’Byrne, and a directing nod for Todd Haynes.

Strengths: After notching the most nominations of any program, Mildred Pierce should own Emmy night.

Weaknesses: It’s possible, but unlikely, that being such the strong favorite will work against it.

Starz’ The Pillars of the Earth

Stats: Seven nominations

Strengths: Most of this show’s nominations came in the technical categories, such as hairstyling and costumes.

Weaknesses: Nowhere near as good as the book, making this miniseries a disappointment for fans of Ken Follett’s epic novel.

HBO’s Too Big to Fail

Stats: 11 nominations, including acting nods for Paul Giamatti, William Hurt and James Woods; a directing nod for Curtis Hanson; and a writing nod for Peter Gould.

Strengths: A well-done scripted examination of a very recent national crisis.

Weaknesses: May hit a little too close to home.

This year, the TV Academy finally merged movies and miniseries so the two programming formats are competing against each other. The change makes sense. Last year, only two miniseries—HBO’s dominant The Pacific and PBS’ Return to Cranston —were even eligible to compete. This year, the category was robust enough to include six programs: four miniseries and two movies.

The movie and minis categories are packed with talent. Oscar nominee Todd Haynes directed Oscar winners Kate Winslet and Melissa Leo and Oscar nominee Mare Winningham in HBO’s most-nominated Mildred Pierce. Another Oscar winner, William Hurt, starred in HBO’s Too Big to Fail, while the legendary Maggie Smith is nominated for her role in PBS’ Downtown Abbey. Many of this year’s nominated actors also are Oscar nominees, including Cinema Verite’s Diane Lane, Thurgood’s Laurence Fishburne, The Kennedys’ Greg Kinnear and Tom Wilkinson, Too Big to Fail’s Paul Giamatti, Downtown Abbey’s Elizabeth McGovern and Taken From Me’s Taraji P. Henson.