The end (of the year) is nigh and that means only one thing: we’re one more year closer to extinction–and after the apocalypse, A Dream of Spring will finally be released. Oh, and I guess the end of the year also means it’s award season! The final year of Game of Thrones may have been controversial to say the least, but it was also a monumental achievement of television and the various filmmaking guilds are acknowledging that hard work, including the Art Directors Guild, Costume Designers Guild and Screen Actors Guild.
This past Monday the Art Directors Guild nominated production Deborah Riley for her magnificent work in the final season, specifically for “The Bells,” in the category of “One Hour Period or Fantasy Single-Camera Series.” The explosive episode’s (also explosive) production design goes up against Bo Welch’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Martin Childs’ The Crown, Andrew L Jones’s The Mandalorian, and Bill Groom’s The Marvelous Mrs. Meisel. The winner will be revealed on February 1, 2020.
I probably don’t need to remind you this penultimate episode included the Red Keep’s crumbling stairway where the Clegane brothers battle it out and, most prominently, an immense recreation of the streets of King’s Landing in the midst of fire and blood, based on the architecture of Dubrovnik, the Croatian city most commonly used to depict the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. The work of Riley and her team was so good, in fact, that so many watchers at home understandably didn’t realize the streets we saw were a built set, but I assure you it was a thing to behold:
Riley is nominated alongside her team: supervising art director Paul Ghirardani; art directors Philip Elton, Hauke Richter, Nick Wilkinson, and Harry Pain; standby art Directors Mark Lowry and Rachel Aulton; senior draughtsman Brendan Rankin; draughtsmen Owen Black and Jamie Shakespeare; junior draughtsman Grace-Anna Hay; concept artists Kieran Belshaw, Philipp Scherer, Daniel Blackmore, Ulrich Zeidler, and Jessica Sinclair; graphic designers Jim Stanes and Rhiannon Fraser; scenic artists David Packard and Thomas Kirkwood; and set decorator Rob Cameron.
Interestingly, the nomination is accompanied by a design presentation document that shows not only their extensive King’s Landing work on “The Bells” but the major expansions of Winterfell for the final season, in pretty great detail:
When one sees what went into designing and buildings these gigantic, modular sets, one begins to appreciate a fraction of the work that goes into this job. I closely followed the construction of the new Winterfell and King’s Landing sets since their inception during the eighth season’s production, and even I was amazed by the end result–or perhaps I was so amazed precisely because I saw the kind of time and resources it took to make it all real. Whatever the case may be, and whatever you think of the final season, I hope you can appreciate Deborah Riley’s and her team’s hard work and we can all together hope for them to win this Art Directors Guild award.
Next day–yesterday, that is– the Costume Designers Guild presented, as per Deadline, their own award nominees, which of course included Game of Thrones‘ perennial costume designer Michele Clapton and her work on the series finale in particular, “The Iron Throne.” Nominated for the “Excellence in Sci-Fi / Fantasy Television” CDG award, she is competing with Joyce Schure for Carnival Row’s “Aisling”, Natalie Bronfman for The Handmaid’s Tale’s “Household”, Cynthia Summers for A Series of Unfortunate Events’ “Penultimate Peril: Part 2”, and Sharen Davis for Watchmen’s “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice.”
There is little doubt why “The Iron Throne” was chosen to stand for Clapton’s work in season eight. All of it had marvelous work, especially in regards to Daenerys and Sansa’s amazing costumes, but “The Iron Throne” featured Sansa’s coronation dress (for which you can still vote –amongst others– in our own Best Costume award.)
I would say it’s the perfect costume for Sansa’s coronation as Queen in the North–with the quintessential Northern design mixed with all the people who inspired her, all of it with Sansa’s own flair–, but don’t let a costuming ignoramous like me explain it to you; instead, go read professional fashion designer Hogan McLaughlin’s final “Game of Threads” piece here at Watchers on the Wall. It truly is a work of art, and it holds a special place in the show’s history (and in Michele Clapton’s heart, reportedly) as her own hands are seen on-screen helping Sansa put it on, in one of the show’s final scenes.
Last but not least, today the Screen Actors Guild released their nominees for their 26th annual awards, and Peter Dinklage was among them in the ‘Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series’ category. The other nominees were Sterling K. Brown for This Is Us, Steve Carell and Billy Crudup for The Morning Show, and David Harbour for Stranger Things.
Dinklage has always been an awards-favorite, especially compared to his sometimes undervalued Thrones co-stars, as it’s so difficult to stand out in such an ensemble show. Nevertheless, Dinklage’s Tyrion gets to shine on awards season one last time, adding this SAGA nomination to his long list of nominations and wins. He may not have been the standout protagonist of season eight, as he was in seasons two and four especially (for which he didn’t get so many awards, funnily enough), but Dinklage still delivered an excellent performance, particularly in the series finale.
Remember what I mentioned about standing out in an ensemble? Thankfully, the SAG Awards account for that with the ‘Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series’ award, for which Game of Thrones‘s entire main and recurring cast was nominated: Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Pilou Asbæk (Euron Greyjoy), Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Ben Crompton (Dolorous Edd), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Joe Dempsie (Gendry Baratheon), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Richard Dormer (Beric Dondarrion), Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei), Jerome Flynn (Bronn of the Blackwater), Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark), Conleth Hill (Varys), Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane), Rory McCann (Sandor ‘the Hound’ Clegane), Hannah Murray (Gilly), Staz Nair (Qhono), Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne), Bella Ramsey (Lyanna Mormont), Richard Rycroft (Maester Wolkan), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Rupert Vansittart (Yohn Royce), and Maisie Williams (Arya Stark.)
When competing for a lead actor award, it’s easy to see how Game of Thrones may lag behind, as it just doesn’t have the time to dedicate to a single actor or character that other shows do, but this kind of ensemble cast award appears to be tailor-made for this show, so I really hope it wins. The cast did magnificent work this final season, and it deserves to be rewarded. The other nominees are no slouches, though, with the ensemble casts of Big Little Lies, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Stranger Things all competing for the big shared prize.
Finally, there is the ‘Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series’, in which Game of Thrones is up against Glow, Stranger Things, The Walking Dead, and Watchmen. I’ve watched all of these shows, and there’s some incredible stunt acting in all of them, but–pardon my bias–I can’t see how the Game of Thrones stunt team doesn’t go home with this award. Some truly remarkable (and record-breaking) stunts were performed in this final season.
While we’re in this awards spirit: TVLine included Jaime and Brienne’s sex scene in its list of sexiest TV scenes of 2019, pointing out they are “happy to pretend that Jaime and Brienne’s story ended after Ser Jaime introduced his Oathkeeper to her maidenhead, and they lived happily ever after”. Jorah’s death in defense of his queen also made the cut in their list of the year’s best TV deaths. Here I Stand!
Before you go–this time really last but probably also least–The Wrap reports that Game of Thrones was the most tweeted TV show of 2019. A dubious honor, to put it mildly, but it does reflect how much of a cultural juggernaut the show had become by its final season.