This morning was like Christmas for TV and Emmy fanatics, and among the nominees this year, as usual, were a slew of former Oscar winners.
In the acting categories this year, it was no surprise to see Matthew McConaughey chalked up for his work in HBO's “True Detective” just four months after completing a near run of the movie awards season table that culminated in a Best Actor Oscar win for “Dallas Buyers Club.” Will HBO's decision to put the show in the drama series category rather than miniseries hold him back from an Emmy, given the potential bounty of goodwill for Bryan Cranston and the final season of “Breaking Bad?” We'll soon find out.
Joining McConaughey in the category was “Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty” star Kevin Spacey, nominated a second-straight year for Netflix's “House of Cards.
In the supporting actor ranks, Jon Voight, Oscar winner for 1978's “Coming Home,” was nominated for his work in Showtime's “Ray Donovan.” And speaking of “Coming Home,” Jane Fonda also won one of her two Oscars for that film, and she was again cited today for her guest stint on HBO's “The Newsroom.” And in the lead actor in a mini-series or movie category, Billy Bob Thornton popped up for his work in FX's “Fargo.” He's never won an Academy Award for acting but he did claim an Oscar back in 1996 for writing “Sling Blade.”
FX's “American Horror Story: Coven” provided plenty of opportunities for a number of people this year, and one of them was Kathy Bates, nominated in the supporting actress/mini-series or movie category. Who can forget her chilling Oscar-winning turn in 1990's “Misery?” In the same category, “Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore” star Ellen Burstyn was nominated for Lifetime's “Flowers in the Attic,” while “Erin Brockovich's” Julia Roberts was chalked up for HBO's “The Normal Heart.” Bates' “Coven” co-star, two-time Oscar winner Jessica Lange (“Tootise,” “Blue Sky”), was nominated in the lead actress/mini-series or movie category as well, an annual expectation in the Emmy announcement.
And let's not forget another two-time Academy Award winner, Maggie Smith (“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” “California Suite”), who was nominated once again for PBS' “Downton Abbey.”
Stepping behind the camera, Netflix's “Orange is the New Black” had a great day, including a directing nomination for “Accused” and “Silence of the Lambs” star Jodie Foster. Legendary documentarian and two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple (“American Dream,” “Harlan County U.S.A.”) was nominated in the Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special category for her deep dive into the troubled Hemingway family with “Running from Crazy.” “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump” star Tom Hanks was chalked up alongside her for producing “The Sixties: The Assassination of President Kennedy.”
Oh, and remember the emotional Best Documentary Short Oscar winner “Inocente” from a couple of years back? Well that film's talented husband/wife directing duo – Sean Fine and Andrea Nix – was nominated in the Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking category for the compelling and heartbreaking “Life According to Sam.” The film made the longlist cut with the Academy last year and also received a Producers Guild of America (PGA) nomination.
Moving below the line, T Bone Burnett came back around this morning with an original dramatic score nomination for “True Detective.” He was unfortunately ruled ineligible at the Oscars last year for the brilliant track “Please Mr. Kennedy” from the Coen brothers' “Inside Llewyn Davis,” but he won the Best Original Song Oscar alongside singer Ryan Bingham four years ago for “The Weary Kind” from Scott Cooper's “Crazy Heart.” Meanwhile, Ludovic Bource, Oscar-winning composer of 2011's “The Artist” (remember that?) was nominated for his work on Greg Mottola's HBO comedy film “Clear History.”
Elsewhere, in the narrator category, Jeremy Irons (Oscar winner for “Reversal of Fortune”) was nominated for “Game of Lions,” while “Ghost” star Whoopi Goldberg was nominated for her passion project, “Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley.” And “The Descendants” screenwriter Jim Rash was nominated as producer and host of “The Writer's Room” in the outstanding informational series or special category.
And of course, plenty of former Oscar nominees were in the mix this morning, from actors Woody Harrelson and Helena Bonham Carter and director Stephen Frears to writer Armando Iannucci and composer Alan Silvestri. But the names listed above are those looking to at an “E” to their steadily assembling EGOTs. (And I'm sure I missed one or two, so chime in if so.)
The 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be held on Monday, Aug. 25 on NBC.