The Remote: Weird is status quo for Emmy-nominated miniseries and movies

Ryan Pait

Good TV can be weird, but this year’s crop of Emmy-nominated miniseries and movies is way out there.

Aliens, Liberace, Jesus Christ, a music mogul, a ball-busting politico and a pregnant child make up the subject matter of this year’s nominees.

One thing that’s decidedly not weird: all six nominees are cable projects. The trend of cable having dominance over network TV is ever apparent in this category.

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Not all weirdness is created equal, however.

Three of this year’s nominees are riding high in the rankings, while the other three are riding ridiculously low.

The top three are “American Horror Story: Asylum,” “Behind the Candelabra,” and “Top of the Lake.”

“American Horror Story: Asylum” is nominated for five major awards.

Critics liked the first installment of the series, which walked away with two Emmys in 2012.

It didn’t walk away with the top prize, but reaction to the anthology’s second installment was stronger than last year.

“American Horror Story: Asylum” played with some controversial elements in its second season: religion, torture and yes, aliens.

It’s one of the biggest contenders this year.

“Behind the Candelabra” has the biggest shot at winning.

It’s a TV movie that focuses on the last ten years of excessive and flamboyant pianist Liberace’s life.

Steven Soderbergh (“Erin Brockovich,” “Magic Mike”) directed it, and Michael Douglas and Matt Damon star. It’s hard to get names bigger or more recognizable than that.

“Behind the Candelabra” has all the makings of a winner: larger-than-life subject matter, involvement of big-name stars and exceptionally positive industry buzz.

It also has the most major nominations in the miniseries categories.

It’ll more than likely take home the top prize on Emmy night, and either Damon or Douglas will win the Best Actor in a Miniseries or Movie award. Count on it.

The only other major contender is “Top of the Lake,” a Sundance Channel original that focuses on the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old.

The involvement of Oscar-nominated director Jane Campion and talent like Elisabeth Moss and Holly Hunter help its chances.

And like “American Horror Story: Asylum,” it’s got five major nominations in the miniseries categories.

Critical reaction to Campion’s miniseries has been overwhelmingly positive — by those who have seen it.

Even for cable, the Sundance Channel is considered out there. Many voters may not have seen any or all of “Top of the Lake,” which may end up crippling it.

As annoying as that sounds, sometimes that’s just how it works with awards voting. Voters won’t watch what they don’t want to watch.

That brings us to the last three nominees: “The Bible,” “Phil Spector” and “Political Animals.”

I’d call them dark horses, but they have no chance of winning.

“The Bible” was a mainstream hit for the History Channel, but ratings don’t mean awards.

Critical reaction was mixed, and its divisive subject matter doesn’t help its chances.

“Phil Spector” premiered to almost nonexistent buzz, despite the involvement of David Mamet, Al Pacino, and Helen Mirren.

It hasn’t built any buzz in the meantime either, so it won’t win.

And then there’s “Political Animals,” which feels like a default nominee.

Its main attraction is Sigourney Weaver, but reception to the miniseries as a whole was lukewarm to negative.

It looks like Liberace will have his day at this year’s Emmys.

That is, unless a pregnant child or alien steals his sequined spotlight.