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HBO’s The Last of Us makes history as the first live-action video game adaptation nominated for major awards

The best game-to-screen adaptation yet? The Emmys might agree

HBO’s The Last of Us is an outstanding adaptation of Naughty Dog’s grim zombie-survival action game, and a rare exception to the rule that most video game movies and TV shows are pretty terrible. That’s not really news to anyone by now, but what is news is that The Last of Us’ excellence has helped it make history as the first live-action adaptation of a video game to be nominated for any major awards. In this case, the Emmys, where it’s up for no less than two dozen awards.

The Last of Us’ Emmy nominations span from biggies like Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series - for which co-creator Craig Mazin is in the running - and Outstanding Lead Actor/Actress nods for both Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as Joel and Ellie, through to less headline-making but just as important recognition for things like production design, hairstyling, makeup, editing, costumes, visual effects and main title design. Alongside Pascal and Ramsey, four more actors and three actresses are nominated for their guest appearances.

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The two dozen awards for the main show are accompanied by one more nomination for its Inside The Episode behind-the-scenes short, which is up for Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction Or Reality Series.

The impressive haul makes The Last of Us the second-most-nominated series at this year’s Emmys, behind only the critically-lauded Succession - another HBO drama series - with 27 nominations. (Succession previously scooped 25 noms at last year’s awards.)

More importantly, it cements The Last of Us’ as easily the best live-action adaptation of any video game to date, marking the first time a live-action adaptation has been awarded for any major Hollywood awards. (1993’s Super Mario Bros. movie sadly missed out on an Oscar.)

A shot of Bella Ramsey as Ellie in The Last Of Us TV show, kneeling

Whether The Last of Us is the best adaptation of any video game full-stop is another matter for discussion, as it’s not the first video game adaptation in any format to be nominated for big awards; animated League of Legends series Arcane won an Emmy last year. Not to mention, that recent Super Mario movie made a whole lot of money, so maybe it’ll wind up with some silverware too.

The debate of whether The Last of Us is the best-ever video game adaptation may be settled on September 18th, when the Emmys will announce their 2023 winners. A second season of the series is already greenlight for an expected broadcast next year or early 2025, and will move into the events of the even more harrowing Part II. Mazin, for his part, also hopes for a third season - you can only imagine this record-breaking awards success makes that even more likely.

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