Does the survival thriller have what it takes to land the nominations that separate Emmy darlings from Emmy juggernauts? Bill Desowitz intervenes.
“Squid Game” was a massive global phenomenon in 2021: The Korean-language survival drama is Netflix’s most-watched series, reaching over 140 million households and racking up 1.2 billion hours of viewing during its premiere. months on the streamer. The violent satire of capitalist greed and economic inequality is built around a survival game show run by wealthy elites, pitting desperate competitors against each other in a deadly struggle for a jackpot worth $38 million. dollars. Each episodic competition revolves around a child’s game or other forms of nostalgia: red light, green light; Dalgona, a popular Korean street snack from the 80s; tug of war; and marbles.
The show has definitely hit a nerve during the pandemic, resulting in a slew of Halloween costumes and “Squid Game” cosplay pieces; a “Saturday Night Live” musical parody featuring Rami Malek and Pete Davidson; and “Real Life $456,000 Squid Game” from YouTuber MrBeast! video. Meanwhile, director Hwang Dong-hyuk and the cast of “Squid Game” have already turned that popularity into awards season success, with 22 voting bodies acknowledging the series and major, historic wins for stars Lee Jung. -jae, Jung Ho-yeon, and O Yeong-su.
With all that momentum, “Squid Game” is poised to become the first Korean-language series to make an impact at the Emmys, with Netflix highlighting the show as part of its FYSEE installation space at Raleigh Studios. “Squid Game” was also spotlighted at the streamer’s Pan-Asian Emmy contenders event on May 16, with the director and stars appearing in a panel discussion. This was in conjunction with Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
In addition to the acting and drama series categories where “Squid Game” racked up most of its pre-Emmy wins, Netflix will submit the series for 13 craft awards — the kind of table push that could potentially put in 456, 218, and company in league with recent behemoths such as “Game Of Thrones”, “The Mandalorian”, “Watchmen” and “The Crown”.
What crafting categories does “Squid Game” compete in?
According to the Netflix Awards FYC site, “Squid Game” will be submitted for the following Craft Emmys:
- Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) (“Stick to the Team”)
- Outstanding Contemporary Costumes (“VIPS”)
- Outstanding Single-Camera Editing for a Drama Series (“Gganbu”);
- Outstanding Contemporary Hairstyle (“A Lucky Day”);
- Outstanding Main Title Design
- Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) (composer Jung Jae-Il, “Red Light, Green Light”)
- Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music (Jung Jae-Il, “Way Back Then”)
- Outstanding Production Design for a Contemporary Narrative Program (One Hour or More) (“Gganbu”)
- Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) (“VIPS”)
- Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) (“VIPS”)
- Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Single Episode (“VIPS”)
- Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series, or Anthology Series or Film
- Outstanding Stunt Performance (“Stick to the Team”)
Let’s take a closer look at some of these categories, with an eye on where “Squid Game” has the surest path to victory – and where its position is a little less secure.
Production design and costumes: the advantage of being contemporary
The production design and wardrobes of “Squid Game” are colorfully retro for the game (highlighted by circle, triangle, and square symbols) in contrast to the sadness of the show’s dystopian society. Production designer Chae Kyoung-sun has previously won the ADG Contemporary Series Award for her massive bespoke space that can accommodate six full-scale play sets. The language of forms and the color palettes are inspired by fairy tales and the decorations are built around the notion of chaos and confusion. The submissive episode, “Gganbu,” which is about all the marbles surviving, is notable for its recreations of a suburban neighborhood that evoke childhood nostalgia.
Additionally, Cho Sang-kyung’s costume design for the lavish “VIPS” episode is another surefire contender. She went beyond the teal tracksuits of the contestants and the pink jumpsuits and mesh masks of the guards to explore the more glamorous wardrobes of the distinguished party guests, which included silk costumes and animal masks. golden.
The benefit of being contemporary, of course, avoids the splashier period or fantasy/sci-fi competition of “Bridgerton” (Netflix), “Pachinko” (Apple TV+), “Severance” (Apple TV+), “Stranger Things” (Netflix), “The Book of Boba Fett” (Disney+), “The Gilded Age” (HBO), “The Great” (Hulu), and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon Prime Video), among others. However, there is still plenty of contemporary competition this season from high-profile contenders such as “Emily in Paris” (this year’s CDG winner from Netflix), “Euphoria” (HBO), “Hacks” (HBO Max ), “Ozark” (Netflix), and “The Air Hostess” (HBO Max).
Visual effects: a recent rule change
The “VIPS” episode also offers good opportunities for visual effects, sound editing, and sound mixing. South Korea’s Gulliver Studios did the impressive VFX work on the glass bridge in “VIPs,” working with reflections and colored lighting to evoke a deadly Vegas circus act. Added to this is the decisive explosion of flying glass shards after players have skillfully reached the other side of the bridge and shattered the remaining glass tiles. This is accompanied by the sound team’s extensive use of percussion and the high-pitched scream of shattered glass.
Working to “Squid Game’s” advantage is the fact that it features in the new single-episode special visual effects category (launched last season as a replacement for special visual effects in a supporting role, the inaugural award being awarded to “Star Trek: Discovery”). As the title suggests, the VFX only covers one episode and excludes TV movies. It is also considered a non-competitive area award, which means that the episode is judged solely on its own terms and not against the other nominees, with the goal of achieving at least 90% approval.
By entering the single episode category, “Squid Game” avoids direct competition from heavy hitters such as “Foundation” (Apple TV+), “Loki” (Disney+) and “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” (Paramount+), ” Boba Fett” and “Stranger Things”.
Cinematography and editing: facing fierce competition
“Squid Game” also excels in cinematography and editing. Cinematographer Lee Hyeong-deok has been submitted for “Stick to the Team,” in which players plot against each other, resulting in a murder for a food shortage, an uprising, and the start of the shootout. rope. The episode is graphic, intense, and memorable for the flickering lights during the nightmarish, bloody uprising.
Meanwhile, editor Nam Na-young stands out for the dramatic undertones of “Gganbu,” in which players are paired up for the deadly game of marbles. It’s a slow burn of suspense and despair, set against a retro neighborhood backdrop that deceptively evokes warm childhood memories.
“Squid Game,” however, faces some uphill battles given the fierce competition among major contenders for drama series. For cinematography, there are former “Bridgerton”, “Euphoria”, “Ozark” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” nominees, as well as newcomers such as “Pachinko”, “Severance”, “The Gilded Age ” and “Winning Time”. : The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” (HBO). “Pachinko” cinematographers Florian Hoffmeister and Ante Cheng deliver sprawling visual opulence as they follow four generations of a Korean family emigrating to Japan, jumping back and forth without differentiating between time periods. Still, “Euphoria” stepped up its game for Season 2, with cinematographer Marcell Rév switching to film and experimenting with Kodak’s new Ektachrome format to conjure up faded memories.
In terms of editing, the competition includes the blockbuster “Succession” (which won for season 2 in 2019), the finales of “Killing Eve” (BBC America) and “Ozark”, the return of “Better Call Saul” ( AMC) and “Stranger Things”, as well as newcomers “Pachinko”, “Winning Time” and “Yellowjackets” (Showtime). “Succession” is the favorite, of course, for digging ominously into psychological and mythological territory, but “Pachinko”, “Winning Time” and “Yellowjackets” all play ambitiously with time to explore their intricate psychological dramas earned: the Korean immigrant experience, the cultural impact of the Showtime Lakers and a nightmarish descent into barbarism for a high school girls’ soccer team.