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Before Emmy Gold: Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series

We’re taking a look at this year’s Emmy nominees and digging into their past work and credits that may have influenced their Emmy-nominated work this year.

Since 2000 there’s only four ways to win this category: series/season premier, series/season finale; be the biggest episode in the category and/or have an episode directed by an Oscar winner/nominee. This doesn’t really help eliminate too much of the competition in this category. Vote splitting looms as a possibility as Game of Thrones had three nominations and went home without the trophy for their final season.

**** We’ve limited the nominees “Emmy History” to only their history as directors.

Ozark  for the episode:  “A Hard Way To Go” directed by Jason Bateman

Synopsis: The series finale. Every desperate deal. Every broken promise. Every bloody murder. Eager to leave their murky past behind, the Byrdes make a final bid for freedom.

Emmy History: Won Best Drama Directing for the episode: “Martin ‘Marty’ Byrde” (2019) Nominated Best Drama Directing for the episode: “The Toll” (2018)

For three of the four seasons of Ozark (2018, 2019, and 2022) Bateman has been nominated for both directing and acting. And this is the third time he’s been triple nominated for acting, directing and for series (2018, 2019 and 2022). 

Hidden Gem: Arrested Development, the episode: “Afternoon Delight” (2004)

Severance for the episode: “The We We Are” directed by Ben Stiller

Synopsis: In the season finale, the team discovers troubling revelations.

Emmy History: Nomination for Best Limited Series Directing for Escape at Dannemora (2018)

Hidden Gem: Tropic Thunder (2008)

Stiller’s, acting career made him a household name but he’s been directing since the beginning of his career. One of his first directorial outings was the film Reality Bites (1994). Stiller is Hollywood royalty his father Jerry Stiller is a past Emmy nominee and his mother Anne Meara is a past four time Emmy nominees. But he’s already bested his parents by winning Best Writing in a Variety or Music Program for The Ben Stiller Show (1993). 

Stiller is a past DGA Award winner for Best Limited Series Directing for Escape at Dannemora (2018) starring Patricia Arquette who also happens to star in Severance. Maybe this time they’ll take home Emmy gold. Stiller, will have two opportunities as he’s also up for Best Drama Series.

Squid Game for the episode: “Red Light, Green Light” directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk

Synopsis: In the series premier, hoping to win easy money, a broke and desperate Gi-hun agrees to take part in an enigmatic game. Not long into the first round, unforeseen horrors unfold.

Emmy History: N/A

Hidden Gem: N/A

Dong-hyuk, is nominated for writing, directing and producing Squid Game giving him three opportunities at Emmy glory. Dong-hyuk, previously won the DGA Student Award for Best Asian American Student Filmmaker – West Coast for the film Miracle Mile (2004) while studying at University of Southern California. 

Succession for the episode: “All The Bells Say” directed by Mark Mylod 

Synopsis: In the third season finale, Matsson’s vision for the business leads Shiv and Roman to manage the fallout, while Logan weighs his options.

Emmy History: Nominated for Best Drama Directing for the episode: “This is not for Tears” 

Hidden Gem: “This is not for Tears,” gets so much credit for its writing that it deserves some recognition for its masterful direction. 

Mylod, has directed both the British and American Shameless series, also for the comedy Entourage (2006-2009). He’s also directed some of the more memorable episodes of Game of Thrones (2015-2017). 

Most of Mylod’s prior Emmy nominations have come from producing. He previously won Best Drama Series for Succession (2020) and will once again be triumphant should the series repeat. Earlier in this year, Mylod, won the DGA Award for Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series besting four other Succession directors.

Succession for the episode “The Disruption” directed by Cathy Yan

Synopsis: In the third episode, With the DOJ at the door, Logan summons his arsenal, while Tom makes a potentially life changing offer. Kendall becomes obsessed with his own takedown.

Emmy History: N/A

Hidden Gem: Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Yan, was a journalist before becoming a filmmaker. Yan’s first feature was Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020). 

Earlier in the year, Yan, received her first DGA Award nomination for directing this episode.

Succession for the episode: “Too Much Birthday” directed by Lorene Scafaria

Synopsis: In the seventh episode, At Kendall’s lavish birthday bash, Shiv and Roman try to arrange a meeting with Lukas Matsson, a tech mogul who recently snubbed Logan.

Emmy History: N/A

Hidden Gem: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Scarfia made her directorial debut with the indie film Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012). Scafaria, received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Director for her next film Hustlers (2019). On television, she’s previously directed episodes of New Girl (2013-2014).

Earlier in the year, Scafaria, received her first DGA Award nomination for directing this episode.

Yellowjackets for the episode: “Pilot” directed by  Karyn Kusama

Synopsis: In the series opener, On the eve of a fateful flight, a championship high school girls soccer team celebrates by betraying one another. 25 years later, the survivors do their best imitations of well-adjusted people.

Emmy History: N/A

Hidden Gem: Girlfight

Kusama’s first feature film was Girlfight (2000). Next, she turned her attention towards television directing episodes of: Casual (2016), Masters of Sex (2016), The Man in the High Castle (2015-2016), and In Treatment (2021). Kusama is also a producer on Yellowjackets which givers her two chances to win her first Emmy.


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Written by @msamandaspears

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