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This story first appeared in a special Emmy issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
American Horror Story: Coven (FX)
The third installment in Ryan Murphy‘s hit anthology franchise centers on a coven of New Orleans witches. The category’s only nominee with Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice and TCA noms, it also landed 17 Emmy nominations — only one fewer than the category’s most lauded contender, Fargo.
Bonnie & Clyde (A&E)
This retelling of the classic 1967 film was unveiled simultaneously on three A&E networks, resulting in the highest ratings for a miniseries in years apart from Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible. A Critics’ Choice nominee, it also is up for hair, makeup and sound editing but received no acting noms.
Fargo (FX) — LIKELY WINNER!
Inspired by the 1996 Coen brothers film of the same name, this dark drama about a menacing outsider who shakes up a quiet Minnesota town was met with great reviews and ratings, a TCA nom and a Critics’ Choice win plus 18 Emmy noms — second only to Game of Thrones, which has one more.
Luther (BBC America)
The third installment in this British series about a Sherlock Holmes-esque detective is the second to land a nom in this category (following a snub in 2013). A Critics’ Choice finalist, it goes into the Emmys with the fewest noms of any show in the category (its other two are for star Idris Elba and for writing).
The fourth and final season of the Peabody Award winner about post-Katrina New Orleans from The Wire‘s David Simon was only five episodes instead of 10 and is competing in this category for the first time. It also received writing, casting and sound mixing noms but never broke through as a drama series contender.
The White Queen (Starz)
This 10-part British import revolves around three power-hungry women in 15th century England during the Wars of the Roses to determine the rightful king. A Golden Globe nominee, it scored no acting Emmy nominations but also is up for costumes, hair and music.
Killing Kennedy (Nat Geo)
Based on a best-selling book co-authored by Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly, it’s the latest in a long line of films to dramatize the lives of John F. Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald before they collided on November 22, 1963. A Critics’ Choice nominee, it landed three Emmy noms — but Rob Lowe‘s snub for lead actor doesn’t bode well for its chances here.
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight (HBO)
A re-creation of the legal battle that arose after America’s greatest athlete refused to fight in Vietnam, the movie was directed by Oscar nominee Stephen Frears (who landed its only other Emmy nom), stars Oscar winner Christopher Plummer and debuted at Cannes. But it definitely is HBO’s redheaded stepchild in this race.
The Normal Heart (HBO) — LIKELY WINNER!
Ryan Murphy‘s adaptation of Larry Kramer’s play about early AIDS activism was greeted with rave reviews, high ratings, a Critics’ Choice win and a category-high 16 Emmy noms, including directing, writing and six for lead and supporting actors. HBO productions have won the TV movie category nine of the past 10 years, including 2013’s Behind the Candelabra.
Sherlock: His Last Vow (PBS)
The third installment in this cult favorite, which imagines the eponymous fabled crime-solver in modern London, is the second to earn a nom in this category (following a snub in 2013). A Critics’ Choice nominee, it landed 12 Emmy noms, among them directing, writing and mentions for lead actor Benedict Cumberbatch and co-star (and Fargo nominee) Martin Freeman.
The Trip to Bountiful (Lifetime)
Adapted from Horton Foote’s poignant play about an old woman who wants to revisit her roots, this production, like the 2013 Broadway incarnation that also starred Cicely Tyson, stars an all-black cast. A Critics’ Choice nominee, its two total Emmy noms are tied for the fewest total among these nominees.
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