I was just starting to watch "The Last Movie Stars," the extraordinary documentary about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, the greatest power couple in Hollywood history, when I saw the briefest, blink-and-you'll-miss-it glimpse of the second season of HBO Max's "The White Lotus" in a preview reel.
Behold: A Champagne toast with Aubrey Plaza, Theo James, Meghann Fahy and Will Sharpe! (Or maybe that's an Aperol spritz. It's hard to tell.) Jennifer Coolidge is cruising down the Italian coast on the back of a Vespa! Sicily awaits! But where are Michael Imperioli and F. Murray Abraham? Surely, they've earned a drink. And, more important, when does this premiere again? (We don't know? OK. Fiiiiiiiine. I guess I can wait.)
The first season of the Mike White limited series — next time around at the Emmys, it'll likely compete in the drama categories — earned a whopping 20 Emmy nominations, including nods for pretty much anyone who had a line in the show. Safe to say, it's going to win a few, though the lead acting Emmys are up for grabs, as the "White Lotus" ensemble all submitted their work in the supporting categories. That means an Emmy night Champagne celebration for Michael Keaton and ... well ... read on to see who's winning in the prime limited series categories.
(categories ranked in order of preference)
"The White Lotus"
"Pam & Tommy"
Likely winner: Yes, Emmy night is going to be one long Pineapple Suite plunge pool of an evening for "The White Lotus" gang. Can we hope for a group canoe trip into the Santa Monica surf on the morning after the ceremony?
Deserving alternate: The ambitious drug drama "Dopesick" went eight episodes, and, unlike most other limited series this season, it could have been longer, given its scope in detailing how Purdue Pharma turned America into a "pill-popping zombie nation." But given how harrowing and infuriating the series was, I don't know that audiences could have withstood another hour or two. "Dopesick" wasn't perfect — the scrambled timeline could be difficult and distracting — but it was urgent, vital and eye-opening.
LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIE ACTRESS
Amanda Seyfried, "The Dropout"
Margaret Qualley, "Maid"
Toni Collette, "The Staircase"
Lily James, "Pam & Tommy"
Julia Garner, "Inventing Anna"
Sarah Paulson, "Impeachment"
Likely winner: This is between Seyfried, eerie and (a little) empathetic as Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, and James, unrecognizable and raw playing "Baywatch" actress Pamela Anderson. Before the nominations, I thought Seyfried had this in the bag. But "Pam & Tommy" earned more nominations than "The Dropout" — though none for writing and directing — and now I'm not so sure. Voters are stupid for physically transformative performances; just ask newly minted Oscar winner Jessica Chastain ("The Eyes of Tammy Faye").
Deserving alternate: Qualley was phenomenal as the young woman fighting for survival — and her daughter — in "Maid." She appeared in practically every scene in the 10-part series and kept viewers invested throughout.
LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIE ACTOR
Michael Keaton, "Dopesick"
Colin Firth, "The Staircase"
Andrew Garfield, "Under the Banner of Heaven"
Himesh Patel, "Station Eleven"
Sebastian Stan, "Pam & Tommy"
Oscar Isaac, "Scenes From a Marriage"
Likely winner: Keaton essentially played three characters in "Dopesick" — the kind, decent doctor who gets duped by Big Pharma, then a desperate, hopeless, broken addict and, finally, a man in recovery trying to do some good for others. It's a profoundly moving turn, deserving of all the accolades that have come his way.
Deserving alternate: I'm never going to watch "Pride and Prejudice" the same way again after seeing Firth dive into the creepy, detached (but grieving!) sociopath in "The Staircase." It's the anti-Firth performance and utterly brilliant.
LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIE SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Coolidge, "The White Lotus"
Kaitlyn Dever, "Dopesick"
Natasha Rothwell, "The White Lotus"
Mare Winningham, "Dopesick"
Alexandra Daddario, "The White Lotus"
Connie Britton, "The White Lotus"
Sydney Sweeney, "The White Lotus"
Likely winner: Yes, there are five women from "The White Lotus" nominated ... but only one's on the back of a scooter, her beaming smile lighting up Sicily in that Season 2 teaser for the series. Coolidge for the win.
Deserving alternate: Dever just broke your heart as the young mineworker who hurts her back, takes doctor-prescribed Oxycontin and, as a result, has her life taken from her. As with Keaton, you see her character in a number of different states. And, like Keaton, Dever makes every one of them grounded and believable.
LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIE SUPPORTING ACTOR
Murray Bartlett, "The White Lotus"
Jake Lacy, "The White Lotus"
Steve Zahn, "The White Lotus"
Seth Rogen, "Pam & Tommy"
Peter Sarsgaard, "Dopesick"
Michael Stuhlbarg, "Dopesick"
Will Poulter, "Dopesick"
Likely winner: Bartlett's grimly enthusiastic, fussy, put-upon resort manager was the lead of "The White Lotus," constantly interacting with staff and guests and providing his singular brand of turn-down service. But isn't it nice that he and Keaton can both win Emmys? If you've got a problem with that, lodge your complaint with the front desk. I'm sure they'll do their utmost to help.
Deserving alternate: Lacy has made a career playing nice, charming guys, so it was a surprise and, it turns out, a great pleasure to see him as Shane, the privileged jerk in "The White Lotus." The beauty of the performance came from the self-awareness that the occasionally affable Shane had about his ugliness. He's trying not to be that guy, but he can't help it! He's shameless. And selfish. And he'd like a word with the manager ... now!
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.