7 Emmy contenders to catch up on if you missed them the first time around

A woman in a winter coat holding a styrofoam cup and leaning on the railing beside a river
Kate Winslet in “Mare of Easttown.”
(Michele K. Short / HBO)

Just because the Oscars are over doesn’t mean the awards train stops rolling. The Emmys are not until September, but with so much eligible TV to take in, there’s no time to wait. And we at “The Envelope” podcast have been hard at work helping you make sense of it all.

So far this season, we’ve had guests from shows that should be serious Emmy contenders, including Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” and “The Crown,” HBO’s “The Undoing” and “Mare of Easttown,” HBO Max’s “The Flight Attendant,” Amazon’s “Small Axe” and FX on Hulu’s “A Teacher.”

Actor Anya Taylor-Joy has picked up numerous awards for her role in “The Queen’s Gambit” as troubled chess prodigy Beth Harmon. She spoke about how a show about chess became an unlikely hit.

“When I was in Beth’s head, when I was living with her, she found chess fun and easy and exhilarating, and I, by proxy, found it fun and easy and exhilarating,” Taylor-Joy said.


“And I find it really interesting when people ask me, ‘How did you think a show about people playing chess was going to be interesting in that way?’ And I’m like, there’s so much going on between these two people. It is so intense. If you stick a camera between them, it’s going to be exciting. Like, of course it is.”

People have long had an idea of who Hugh Grant is based on his persona as a floppy-haired charmer stammering through a legendary run of rom-coms. More recently, however, he has purposefully smudged up that image with performances in projects such as “A Very English Scandal” and “Paddington 2.” In “The Undoing,” he gives his darkest performance yet. As he put it, “I think I’m trying to destroy my previous existence.”

As Grant added, “But also they’re just more fun. I mean, even in my earlier life pre-‘Four Weddings,’ I was doing darker parts and they were more fun. Any actor will tell you the same thing. You know, playing Mr. Nice Guys is really hard. It’s hard not to make them boring and too good to be true.”

A man in glasses wearing a jacket over a T-shirt
“Small Axe” director Steve McQueen photographed in Los Angeles in 2018.
(Los Angeles Times)

“Small Axe” is an anthology of five films set among London’s West Indian immigrant community in the 1970s and ‘80s directed and co-written by Steve McQueen.


McQueen talked about creating the dance party vibes in the film “Lovers Rock,” in which a house party erupts to the music of Janet Kay’s “Silly Games”:

“Directing for me is almost like it’s Tai chi. You have to allow things to happen, you have to go with it and it’s almost like you try to sort of form yourself to the energy which is in the room and try to redirect it slightly, gently and divine. What is the vibe to bring it up — to get people to be in a mood like I told you, like an electricity.”

Our highlights episode also includes moments with Kaley Cuoco on “The Flight Attendant” and Kate Winslet on “Mare of Easttown.”

Upcoming guests include actress Elizabeth Olsen for “WandaVision,” director and showrunner Barry Jenkins for “The Underground Railroad” and actor John Boyega for the “Small Axe” film “Red, White and Blue.”

Can't get enough about awards season?

For more, follow us on Twitter at @villarrealy and @IndieFocus, and for a deeper dive into the best new movies, get Mark’s weekly Indie Focus newsletter.

If you’re enjoying this newsletter, please consider subscribing to The Times.

Feedback? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at