Emmys 2017: Nicole Kidman, Geoffrey Rush nominated as Westworld and SNL dominate

Nicole Kidman with her on-screen husband Alexander Skarsgard in Big Little Lies.  Photo: Supplied

Nicole Kidman with her on-screen husband Alexander Skarsgard in Big Little Lies. Photo: Supplied

Australian actors Nicole Kidman, Judy Davis, Geoffrey Rush and Ben Mendelsohn lead of a field of strong contenders at this year's Emmy Awards.

Kiwi actor - and adopted Australian - Sam Neill has also been nominated.

Kidman was nominated for her work on the critically acclaimed HBO drama Big Little Lies; Kidman's co-stars Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley and Alexander Skarsgard were also nominated.

Davis was nominated for the Ryan Murphy limited series Feud: Bette and Joan, about the legendary feud between Hollywood actresses Bette Davies and Joan Crawford; Davis played gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.

And Rush was nominated for his leading role in the series Genius, based on the book Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson; Rush played the iconic physicist Albert Einstein in the series.

Judy Davis as Hedda Hopper in the series Feud. Photo: Supplied

Judy Davis as Hedda Hopper in the series Feud. Photo: Supplied

Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn was nominated in the outstanding guest actor in a drama category for his work on the Netflix drama Bloodline; though Mendelsohn was one of the lead actors in the show's first two seasons, he did not appear in the third season regularly and was credited as a guest star.

Neill's nomination was for his narration of the documentary series Wild New Zealand.

Emmy nominee Ben Mendelsohn in Bloodline.

Emmy nominee Ben Mendelsohn in Bloodline.

Australian director Kate Dennis is also nominated, for her work on the series The Handmaid's Tale; the nomination sets Dennis among Hollywood's best television directors including Vince Gilligan (Better Call Saul) and Lesli Linka Glatter (Homeland).

Many of the nominees for the 69th annual Emmy Awards, considered the highest honour in the American television industry, were familiar faces and programs.

But there was one noticeable absence: HBO's Emmy-dominating Game of Thrones, which is not listed as a nominee in the outstanding drama category; Game of Thrones won the best drama award in 2015 and 2016.

The show's seventh, penultimate season launches this month, which means it missed the May 31 deadline to qualify for Emmy eligibility this year.

The impact, however, is significant: it opens up the field of one of the toughest categories of the last decade, which has struggled to breaking point under the weight of a larger slate of high-quality dramas and very little room for anything new to get traction.

The seven nominated programs are Better Call Saul, The Crown, The Handmaid's Tale, Stranger Things, This Is Us, Westworld and House of Cards.

In that field, Better Call Saul and House of Cards are solid players with historical form, The Crown is Netflix's flagship drama and an easy contender to win, but what of the others?

Stranger Things is a new kid on the block, but a brilliant one. The same can be said for The Handmaid's Tale, which has become the runaway critical hit of 2017. Both of them could be rookies aiming for an upset win.

HBO's Westworld, meanwhile, is a powerful performer which has emerged, almost against the odds. A remake is tough, but this remake of the 1970s sci-fi/horror masterpiece of the same name is a stunning program.

Notably, Westworld is the most nominated drama series at this year's Emmys, with 22 nominations across all of the categories. The only other program to equal that is Saturday Night Live, off the back of a stunning year.

And the last drama contender, This Is Us, is perhaps the most interesting.

As awards such as Emmys and Golden Globes, have drifted away from networks and into the hands of cable channels and streaming platforms, where less restrictions on content allow for bolder, more ambitious concepts to flourish, This Is Us is the lone network drama. And has a serious shot at the win.

The Handmaid's Tale, one of the standout dramas of the year also secured nominations for three of its stars: Elisabeth Moss, Ann Dowd and Samira Wiley.

Perhaps the least surprising inclusion is the resurgent sketch series Saturday Night Live which has had, in the wake of the troubled Donald Trump presidency, an extraordinary year.

To quote William Shakespeare's memorably quick-witted heroine Beatrice: "Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it?"

Melissa McCarthy's turn as Sean Spicer on SNL was recognised. Photo: Supplied

Melissa McCarthy's turn as Sean Spicer on SNL was recognised. Photo: Supplied

Saturday Night Live was nominated for outstanding variety sketch series, and Alec Baldwin was nominated for his performance as Trump.

Melissa McCarthy, whose stunning performance as White House spokesman Sean Spicer on SNL almost ground the internet to a halt, was also nominated, in the guest actress in a comedy category.

That category, along with others focusing on technical craft and creative arts, are given out a week before the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Mendelsohn, Dennis and Neill's categories are part of the Creative Awards Emmy Awards event.

The most nominated broadcaster or platform was HBO, with 110 nominations across all of the categories, including primetime and creative arts; Netflix, which has longed for several years to usurp that particular Iron Throne, followed with 91.

The nominations were announced at the Television Academy's Wolf Theatre in Los Angeles; the winners will be announced at the 69th annual Emmy awards on September 17.

Full list of nominees:

Drama Series

  • Better Call Saul
  • The Crown 
  • The Handmaid's Tale,
  • House of Cards 
  • Stranger Things 
  • This Is Us 
  • Westworld

Comedy Series

  • Atlanta, 
  • Black-ish, 
  • Master of None, 
  • Modern Family, 
  • Silicon Valley, 
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, 
  • Veep

Limited Series

  • Big Little Lies 
  • Fargo 
  • Feud: Bette and Joan 
  • Genius 
  • The Night Of

Actress in a Drama 

  • Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder) 
  • Claire Foy (The Crown) 
  • Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid's Tale)
  • Keri Russell (The Americans) 
  • Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld) 
  • Robin Wright (House of Cards)

Actor in a Drama

  • Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
  • Anthony Hopkins (Westworld) 
  • Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) 
  • Matthew Rhys (The Americans) 
  • Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan)
  • Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) 
  • Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)

Actress in a Comedy 

  • Pamela Adlon (Better Things)
  • Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie) 
  • Allison Janney (Mom) 
  • Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
  • Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) 
  • Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie)

Actor in a Comedy 

  • Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)
  • Aziz Ansari (Master of None)
  • Zack Galifinakis (Baskets)
  • Donald Glover (Atlanta)
  • William H. Macy (Shameless)
  • Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent)

Actress in a Limited Series

  • Carrie Coon (The Leftovers) 
  • Felicity Huffman (American Crime) 
  • Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies) 
  • Jessica Lange (Feud: Bette and Joan) 
  • Susan Sarandon (Feud: Bette and Joan),
  • Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies)

Actor in a Limited Series

  • Riz Ahmed (The Night Of)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock: The Lying Detective) 
  • Robert De Niro (The Wizard of Lies) 
  • Ewan McGregor (Fargo) 
  • Geoffrey Rush (Genius) 
  • John Turturro (The Night Of)

Television Movie

  • Black Mirror: San Junipero
  • Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love 
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 
  • Sherlock: The Lying Detective
  • The Wizard of Lies

Variety Sketch Series

  • Billy on the Street 
  • Documentary Now
  • Drunk History 
  • Portlandia 
  • Saturday Night Live 
  • Tracey Ullman's Show

Supporting Actress in a Drama

  • Uzo Aduba (Orange Is The New Black) 
  • Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) 
  • Ann Dowd (The Handmaid's Tale) 
  • Chrissy Metz (This Is Us) 
  • Thandie Newton (Westworld) 
  • Samira Wiley (The Handmaid's Tale)

Supporting Actor in a Drama

  • Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul)
  • David Harbour (Stranger Things) 
  • Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us) 
  • Michael Kelly (House of Cards) 
  • John Lithgow (The Crown)
  • Mandy Patinkin (Homeland)
  • Jeffrey Wright (Westworld)

Supporting Actress in a Comedy

  • Vanessa Bayer (Saturday Night Live)
  • Anna Chlumsky (Veep) 
  • Kathryn Hahn (Transparent)
  • Leslie Jones (Saturday Night Live)
  • Judith Light (Transparent) 
  • Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)

Supporting Actor in a Comedy 

  • Louie Anderson (Baskets),
  • Alec Baldwin (Saturday Night Live),
  • Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt),
  • Ty Burrell (Modern Family),
  • Tony Hale (Veep), Matt Walsh (Veep)

Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie 

  • Judy Davis (Feud: Bette and Joan),
  • Laura Dern (Big Little Lies),
  • Jackie Hoffman (Feud: Bette and Joan),
  • Regina King (American Crime),
  • Michelle Pfeiffer (The Wizard of Lies), 
  • Shailene Woodley (Big Little Lies)

Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie 

  • Bill Camp (The Night Of) 
  • Alfred Molina (Feud: Bette and Joan) 
  • Alexander Skarsgard (Big Little Lies) 
  • David Thewlis (Fargo) 
  • Stanley Tucci (Feud: Bette and Joan) 
  • Michael Kenneth Williams (The Night Of)

Variety Talk Program

  • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee 
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live 
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 
  • The Late Late Show with James Corden 
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert 
  • Real Time with Bill Maher

Reality Competition Program 

  • The Amazing Race 
  • American Ninja Warrior 
  • Project Runway
  • RuPaul's Drag Race 
  • Top Chef 
  • The Voice

Structured Reality Program 

  • Antiques Roadshow 
  • Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives 
  • Fixer Upper 
  • Lip Sync Battle 
  • Shark Tank 
  • Who Do You Think You Are

Unstructured Reality Program

  • Born This Way 
  • Deadliest Catch 
  • Gaycation with Ellen Page 
  • Intervention,
  • RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked 
  • United Shades of America: With W. Kamau Bell

Reality/Reality-Competition Program Host

  • Alec Baldwin (Match Game) 
  • W. Kamau Bell (United Shades of America With W. Kamau Bell) 
  • RuPaul Charles (RuPaul's Drag Race) 
  • Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn (Project Runway) 
  • Gordon Ramsay (MasterChef Junior) 
  • Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg (Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party)
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