Game of Thrones wins ASC and DGA awards for Battle of the Bastards


Award season continues! The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) and the Directors Guild of America (DGA) announced the winners for the 31st ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography and the DGA 69th Annual Awards, respectively. Game of Thrones was nominated in a category from each organization, and it won both thanks to the same marvellous episode: Battle of the Bastards!

In the category of Regular Series for Non-Commercial Television, the ASC nominated Anette Haellmigk for “Book of the Stranger” and Fabian Wagner for the much-acclaimed “Battle of the Bastards.” The other contenders were John Conroy for Penny Dreadful’s “The Day Tennyson Died”, David M. Dunlap for House of Cards “Chapter 45” and Neville Kidd for Outlander’s “Prestonpans.” Despite Game of Thrones being nominated twice, the vote was not split, and Wagner went home with his award for best cinematography in what is probably the show’s most impressive-looking episode yet.

In the DGA Awards, Miguel Sapochnik was among the nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series thanks to his work in “Battle of the Bastards.” The others were The Duffer Brothers for Stranger Things, “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers”; Ryan Murphy for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, “From the Ashes of Tragedy”; John Singleton for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, “The Race Card”; and Jonathan Nolan for Westworld, “The Original”. That is stiff competiton —Especially Westworld, as our sister website may attest to.

Miguel Sapochnik also won the award for Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series at the 68th Emmy Awards

Sapochnik also won a directorial award for Battle of the Bastards at the 68th Emmy Awards

In the end, Sapochnik won, as he rightly should have. Though it’s fair to say we’re a bit biased around here, the fact remains that, for a whole hour of television, this episode showcased the two most elaborate action sequences of the season, and probably in the history of television as well. And Sapochnik made that happen. The man already had us all convinced of his abilities thanks to “Hardhome” back in season five, and his directorial work is finally being recognized with “Battle of the Bastards.” All the more impressive considering this was Sapochnik’s first DGA Award nomination and win.

“Battle of the Bastards” already holds the record for most Emmys for a single episode of a television show, including David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for writing the piece and Sapochnik himself for directing it, in the same year Game of Thrones won Best Drama and broke the record for most emmys. The ASC’s and the DGA’s recognition of Wegner and Sapochnik is yet another accolade for this historic hour of television.

20 responses

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    1. Congratulations to both Miguel Sapochnik and Fabian Wagner on winning these well deserved awards.

      Sapochnik for S8!!

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    2. Such a deserving episode! Sapochnik has taken the lead in directing the two best hours in television history (well, I may be a little biased myself) and has rightly earned each and every award for BotB. Congratulations Mr. Sapochnik, and thanks for the thrills!

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    3. Supremely well deserved! Miguel and Fabian are the Dream Team, and their work on “Battle of the Bastards” – which has justly swept the awards season – is incredible. Here’s hoping that they’re already lined up to direct at least one episode (preferably more) in Season 8.

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    4. Congrats to the winners. Sorry that Anette Haellmagk didn’t win. She has been consistently brilliant in her episodes for this show and others.

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    5. I knew it!!! Congratulations Miguel Sapochnik and Fabian Wagner. Very well deserved!
      Here is hoping they’ll be back for season 8.

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    6. Nipplesonabreastplate,

      I’m with you 99% about Sapochnik “directing the two best hours in television history”, but I might increase that to three hours.

      “Hardhome” knocked my socks off, and not just because of the craziness of the battle scenes. Jon Snow’s “This isn’t about friendship: this is about survival” speech to the wildling chieftans (and Karsi’s response) were great writing and acting. The the sense of dread when the dogs started barking and that “Oh f-ck…” feeling when the rumbling sound started and everyone looked up to see the snow on the nearby mountain turn to mist, were a perfect build up to the pandemonium that followed; and the spooky silence when all of the pleading wildlings left on the “wrong” side of the locked gate suddenly went quiet was a perfect bookend to the eerie silence at the very end after the Night King reanimated his new recruits while looking right at Jon Snow with that “check THIS out” expression, and Jon Snow looked back at all the carnage with that “we just got our ass kicked” look as his boat slowly drifted away. We’ve all seen zombie flicks, gorefests, and slasher movies with knife- or chainsaw-wielding psychos killing terrified teenagers, but I can’t recall any with the kind of masterful set-up and aftermath we saw in “Hardhome.” Not to mention an ending that leaves the survivors not with a sense of relief, but the realization, “we’re really f-cked now.” (Well, the closest thing was Bill Paxton’s post-massacre defeatist freak-out in Aliens: “Game over, man!”)

      It’s almost an embarrassment of riches: I think we could go back and forth all day trying to decide which episode out of “Hardhome”, “Battle of the Bastards”, or “The Winds of Winter” is the “best.” (I’d be curious to see the results of a WoW poll.)

      Sometimes it’s easy to overlook that for every isolated instance when a little perceived defect or ambiguity fuels so much debate (eg, the Knights of the Vale here-comes-the-cavalry to save the day when all seems lost moment in BoB), there are ninety-nine production details and directorial decisions that make an episode amazing.

      For me, in BoB it was the way Sapichnik and co. went the extra mile to amplify the craziness of the already-spectacular battle scene of two armies crashing into each other: While the camera tracks Jon Snow, in the background there’s a blink-it-or-you’ll-miss-it shot of a headless horseman galloping by; an attacker advancing on Jon sideswiped by a charging horse; and the Stark soldier virtually vaporized mid-sentence while conversing with Jon. And my favorite: with the combatants crushed so close together, Tormund tore out a chunk of SmallF–k Umber’s neck with his teeth, producing a messy and fatal spray of arterial blood.
      It was all of these extra little nuggets that could easily have been dispensed with, that made the battle so memorable.

      And I thought the Stark-Bolton battle was the “B” side of the episode. The producers had already teased in advance the huge and complex Northern battle with hundreds of horses and extras. So we knew that was coming (especially when the name of E9 was released.)
      But I was taken completely by surprise by what I considered the “A” side: the naval battle in Mereen, starting with great CGI shots of the Masters’ fleet pounding the city, and concluding with the breathtaking scenes of Dany and her three dragons’ aerial assault. As a treat, Tyrion got to be his snarky self with the three pompous Masters who’d violated their pact. I liked his line [paraphrasing] “Thank you for the armada. Our queen does love ships”, and the way he patted the traumatized surviving Master on the shoulder before walking off. Even Grey Worm got a chance to shine with his 2-for-one knife slash.
      Great TV episodes like these are always enjoyable on rewatch, because you can notice little details that were easy to overlook the first or second time around.

      I guess it’s a matter of personal taste, but for me, as between Episodes 9 and 10 of S6, it’s a close call but E10 edges E9 by a nose.

      To be cont.
      And so sorry for the length and any typos. I’ll figure out how to delete and edit on this aging cell phone, or get a new one.

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    7. I think HBO aired the Winds of Winter so that The Winds of Winter will be in next years award’s shows. Miguel Sapochnik could win another Director award for The Winds of Winter.

      Miguel Sapochnik also must direct at least two episodes of Game of Thrones Season 8.

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    8. I’d say Band of Brothers and The Pacific set the benchmark for what can be achieved in terms of extended action sequence for television. I think the single shot in particular from episode 9 matched it. And for dramatic direction I think Ozymandias from Breaking Bad set the benchmark for what can be achieved in television. And I think episode 10 matched that as well.

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    9. YOu said it about Winds of Winter. The way the visuals, the music, the editing wove together to make a satisfying whole made it my alltime fave GOT episode. Golly, but these awareds were really deserved. Keep it up, GOT.

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    10. Ten Bears: And so sorry for the length and any typos. I’ll figure out how to delete and edit on this aging cell phone, or get a new one.

      As far as I’m concerned, don’t worry about either the length or typos; you worded everything well and brought up high moments of the episodes in a way that made it a pleasure for me to remember them. I’ve been off here for a while, at least to reply to anything, and you seem to be a new name. Welcome, Ten Bears, I look forward to reading your point of view when the season starts. 🙂

      One thing that amazed me so much about Hardhome, in addition to the eternally memorable effects, was the tightness of the writing – how within a quick few scenes, they were able to show Tormund as the “Trusted One,” (is it wrong of me to have enjoyed his beat-down of Rattleshirt as much as I did?) have Jon earn the Wildings’ trust in a believable way, and have us fall in love with Karsi (then tear her away from us 15 minutes later.)

      I agree with everything you wrote about BotB. The Mereen sea battle was an unexpected gift to us – I expected the entire episode to be near Winterfell. Watching Dany and the dragons decimate those ships had me cheering madly. As far as the Battle, I was mesmerized. And I was always the one who turned my head away from battle scenes. I couldn’t possibly turn away. To me, each facet of the battle was it’s own work of art – and my appreciation of Kit’s acting skills increased exponentially. The scene of him drawing his sword with equal parts of resignation and determination as the army charged at him, became an iconic demonstration of bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. Oddly, one of my favorite parts was when Tormund and Jon met up mid-battle and Tormund says “Hey.” So totally human and caring, amid all that carnage. It gave me hope for humanity.

      Ok, now I ask for pardon for running on, but I’m glad to participate even a little in the off-season, leaks or not.

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    11. So Stranger Things aired a teaser during Super Bowl for a season that’s going to air next Halloween and HBO still keeps us waiting. Gah!

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    12. Well deserved ?
      BoB was for me the best episode of the season. The main event was more about acting and direction more so than the cgi main event in WoW. Both excelled at storytelling but to me BoB was a notch above because of the intricacies of the shoot and cinematography. Just my opinion ?

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    13. Star Director

      Hardhome, BoB and the destruction of the Sept of Baelor all fantastic

      Give him all season 8 episodes to direct lol

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    14. Thronetender,

      Well, thanks for the kind words.

      Your descriptions of the scenes in “Hardhome” and “BoB” with Jon and Tormund (and Tormund becoming “The Trusted “One”) reminded me of great Jon-Tormund scenes in preceding episodes that really helped illustrate their evolution from adversaries to allies to friends. With all of the action and insanity in the episodes that followed, I had kind of forgotten about some of these “quieter” scenes until rewatching S5 and S6:

      • Before “Hardhome”, Jon meets one on one with a shackled (and understandably suspicious) Tormund, and delivers a great speech explaining why he wants Tormund to help him locate and rescue the surviving wildlings, something like: “Because you’re not my enemy and I’m not your enemy. … For 8,000 years the NW has sworn to guard the realms of men, and for 8,000 years we’ve failed.” Tormund’s still not buying it, and then Jon challenges him to have the courage to make peace not to save his own skin but to save his people…. “or maybe you’re just a coward.” Tormund stands up, towers over him, and grumbles how it’s easy to talk big like that to a man in chains.
      With that, Jon unlocks the handcuffs, the chains fall to the floor, and a bromance starts to bloom. To me, it’s also a great scene because it carries forward the theme of “courage” to make peace with old enemies instead of continuing to fight them: one of Jon Snow’s “big picture” qualities. Oh, and near the beginning, the scene features Tormund, in a mocking tone, addressing Jon as [phonetically]: “Load Commandah!”

      • Before BoB, Jon tries to recruit the Wildlings to fight with him against the Boltons, admitting that wasn’t part of their deal. With so few free folk left as it is, they’re not too thrilled with the idea. Then Tormund delivers that great speech to them, reminding them Jon gave his life for them, and if they’re not willing to do the same, maybe they deserve to be the last of the free folk.
      It was really good stuff, with Tormund moving around and pointing his finger like a defense attorney giving his closing argument to the jury. (And then Foreman WunWun stands up to deliver the verdict: “Snowww”).

      I just hope Tormund makes it to the end. My thinking is that even if there are massive casualties in S7 and S8, there ought to be at least one “representative” of each of the human factions left, including wildlings and Dothraki. And Arya no matter what.

      (I meant to list my E10 > E9 reasons here too… Maybe later…)

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