TV has always been a writer’s medium, a place where the director keeps a keen eye on the vision of the scribe rather than slapping a distinctive stamp that threatens continuity.
But in the area of the made-fors, TV and film become as one — a place where the director’s vision can be fully realized.
The diverse offerings in this year’s category range from a director taking on a project with material already presented as a documentary and a stage play, to a stark film relying on the emotional impact of a collection of heartbreaking scenes.
Michael Sucsy claims both writing and directing credits for “Grey Gardens,” ensuring the vision of the writer melds perfectly with that of the director. “Grey Gardens’ grabbed the most nominations — 17 — of all movie contenders. Sucsy’s directing skills are buoyed by the acting nominations for his leads Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, and for supporting thesps Ken Howard and Jeanne Tripplehorn.
Oscar- and Emmy-nominated producer Ross Katz (“Laramie Project,” “Lost in Translation,” “In the Bedroom”) makes his directorial debut in “Taking Chance.” The film, about an officer escorting the remains of a Marine killed in Iraq, relies heavily on Katz’s visual style and a minimalist performance by Emmy-nominated Kevin Bacon.
Critics consider both “Grey Gardens” and “Taking Chance” as the front-runners in this category. “Into the Storm” — a sequel to the 2002 Emmy winner “A Gathering Storm,” about Winston Churchill — could provide an upset, with Thaddeus O’Sullivan shepherding lead actor Brendan Gleeson and supporting actors Janet McTeer and Len Cariou to Emmy noms.
Susanna White worked with both actors and non-actors in “Generation Kill,” about an embedded journalist covering the Iraqi War, coaxing intense, believable performances from even the untrained.
Rounding out the noms are two BBC offerings: the sprawling costume drama “Little Dorrit,” which had three directors (including Emmy-nominated lead Dearbhla Walsh) and the crisp, contemporary miniseries “Wallender: One Step Beyond,” a riveting whodunit neatly brought together by Emmy winner Philip Martin.