Patty Jenkins
“The Killing”
Episode: “Pilot”
Highlight: Two stark images: 1) The sight of the car containing Rosie Larsen’s body being pulled out of a lake, 2) Det. Sarah Linden standing silently in the grasslands, pondering where this case might take her.
Why she might win: Seldom has a pilot been such a commanding tone-setter for a series, spurring a flurry of Internet chatter.
Maybe not: It could simply be too early for AMC’s new series, especially when we all learned that a second season (at least) is coming.

Neil Jordan
“The Borgias”
Episode: “The Poisoned Chalice/The Assassin”
Highlight: At the climax of this two-parter that begins the series, Jeremy Irons as Rodrigo Borgia delivers his first full-throated speech of the season to the cowed council of cardinals, telling them in no uncertain terms who’s in charge and what kind of ruthless pope he will be.
Why he might win: Jordan mounted a show that oozes with the kind of high-production value, sex appeal and full-throttle acting that the Emmys have begun to award more and more. Plus, if voters are in the mood to spread the love around various high-end cable skeins, they may want to give it to this show’s creator.
Maybe not: For many, “The Borgias” disappointed as a companion to the better-received “The Tudors,” and Jordan is about as outside of Hollywood as you can get.

Jeremy Podeswa
“Boardwalk Empire”
Episode: “Anastasia”
Highlight: Having brought Kelly Macdonald’s unfortunate Margaret under his wing, Steve Buscemi’s Nucky appears struck and transformed by her when he sees her at a grand surprise party he’s throwing. It turns the central narrative of the first season in a totally new direction.
Why he might win: Podeswa has made an impressive transition from being a fairly obscure Canadian feature film director to one of the key go-to guys in HBO’s brilliant roster of filmmakers. (He’s also working on “Game of Thrones.”) Industry folks might want to acknowledge his hard work.
Maybe not: He’s up against fellow “Boardwalk” director Scorsese … and as “Boardwalk” taught us, there might be room for only one big boss.

Martin Scorsese
“Boardwalk Empire”
Episode: “Pilot”
Highlight: Scenes and sequences introducing the political and social scene in Atlantic City, showing off Scorsese at his grandest since “The Age of Innocence.” As he has done in the past for Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, Scorsese gives moments and set pieces for Buscemi to strut his stuff.
Why he might win: The Academy would likely take great pride in awarding a filmmaker of the stature of Scorsese, and maybe get one over on the motion picture Academy, which has been reluctant to give Scorsese Oscars.
Maybe not: Some would also argue that “Boardwalk” improved after the pilot, and the Emmy director vote could reflect that.

Tim Van Patten
“Game of Thrones”
Episode: “Winter Is Coming (Pilot)”
Highlight: The dazzling landscapes and sepulchral interiors, suggesting an immense movie-for-TV unfolding, capped with that incredible forest battle with the wild creatures on the other side of the Wall.
Why he might win: Van Patten has a great Emmy track record, buttressed by a rep he established with “The Sopranos” for exceptional cable drama.
Maybe not: The big-name competition is steep, with the other four nominees known best for their feature film work.

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