Maybe we’re over-thinking things, but handicapping the Golden Globes is a trickier task than predicting the outcome of other showbiz-y awards galas. That’s because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association remains a singular beast among trophy-givers, not as reliant on public sentiment, inside-Industry wind-blowing or prevailing wisdom.
Instead, it’s dependent on the unpredictable tastes of about 80 international journalists, as well as the group’s collective agendas, which often lean toward a) being the first to anoint shows and stars previously unheralded by other awards; b) ensuring future loyalty – and access – by gifting glamorous celebrities with the enduring – and somewhat marketable – title of “Golden Globe winner”; and c) singling out foreign-born talent and projects that might otherwise go unhonored at other ceremonies.
Unlike the often head-scratching crop of 2010 film nominees, this year’s TV crowd is a fairly safe and familiar one, with only a few dark horses in the race. We’ve put who we think will win in italics and who we think should win in bold.
U.S. & World
“The Good Wife”
“The Walking Dead”
“Boardwalk Empire” is a fine and deserving series, and the HFPA won’t be able to resist having first crack at delivering its first major honors. But even in its fourth season “Mad Men” stood head and square shoulders above anything else on television: deep, complex, risk-taking, unpredictable and indelibly memorable, with characters that often feel more real to us than the folks we share actual office space with.
Last year’s winner “Glee” doesn’t have the seeming came-out-of-nowhere Cinderella status it previously enjoyed, but we expect it to be glass-slippered at the Globes once again, with its glam factor outweighing the dark horse appeal of “The Big C” or “Nurse Jackie.” We suspect that “Modern Family,” genuinely the funniest comedy of the crop, will be bypassed only because it already collected so much love at last fall’s Emmys.
Best Actor in a Drama
Steve Buscemi – “Boardwalk Empire”
Bryan Cranston – “Breaking Bad”
Michael C. Hall – “Dexter”
Jon Hamm – “Mad Men”
Hugh Laurie – “House”
As much as we admire Hamm’s bravura turn as the midlife-crisis-ing Don Draper, this is one category where “should win” and “will win” dovetail nicely for Buscemi, previously a respected big screen character actor who (a la James Gandolfini) has marvelously reinvented himself as a multifaceted TV leading man, complete with unexpected sex appeal.
Best Actress Drama
Julianna Margulies – “The Good Wife”
Elisabeth Moss – “Mad Men”
Piper Perabu – “Covert Affairs”
Katy Segal – “Sons of Anarchy”
Kyra Sedgwick – “The Closer”
Tough call in a tough category (minus Piper Who in “Covert” What, now?): Segal’s always terrific but unlike her former “Married With Children” co-sar Ed O’Neill, her show doesn’t deliver on the popularity scale. Sedgwick’s gotten her Globe, as has Margulies, but we just don’t think Elisabeth Moss’ always nuanced portrayal of glass ceiling-thumping Peggy will smash through with the HFPA this year. Thus count on a repeat win for Margulies.
Best Actor in a Comedy
Alec Baldwin – “30 Rock”
Steve Carell – “The Office”
Thomas Jane – “Hung”
Matthew Morrison – “Glee”
Jim Parsons – “The Big Bang Theory”
Among this mostly familiar roster, Baldwin remains riotously remarkable in our eyes (though we think Tracy Morgan delivered the best work on “30 Rock” this season). As a fresh face, Jane’s a promising dark horse despite his not-so-watercooler-ish show, but we think the singular Sheldon Cooper has more Bang behind him, even if his Emmy win makes the HFPA feel a little like they’re coming late to Parson’s party. Bazinga!
Best Actress in a Comedy
Toni Collette – “United States of Tara”
Edie Falco – “Nurse Jackie”
Tina Fey – “30 Rock”
Laura Linney – “The Big C”
Lea Michele – “Glee”
Frankly, Fey phoned it in this season and Michele wasn’t soloing front and center as often on her show. It’s like Sophie’s Choice picking between Collette and Falco – our personal props lean slightly toward the actress with more personalities to play. But something about the inclusion of Linney (and “The Big C” in the comedy category) despite her show’s lower profile prompts this diagnosis: the HFPA simply wants to give her another Globe, and she’ll get one.
Best Miniseries or Motion Picture
“Pillars of the Earth”
“You Don’t Know Jack”
All extremely worthy contenders, but the international pedigree of “Carlos” – a wildly ambitious, intensely compelling and hotly controversial German-French production centering on a real-life international terrorist – almost guarantees a Globe win.
Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture
Idris Elba – “Luther”
Ian McShane – “Pillars of the Earth”
Al Pacino – “You Don’t Know Jack”
Dennis Quaid – “The Special Relationship”
Edgar Ramirez – “Carlos”
Despite the allure of putting Edgar Ramirez, a Venezuelan actor with superstar potential, firmly on the mainstream map, we predict the HFPA won’t be able to resist inviting Pacino back to the Globe podium, if only to hear what sort of rambling, free-form acceptance speech he’ll give this time. Can we get a Hooah?
Best Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture
Hayley Atwell – “Pillars of the Earth”
Claire Danes – “Temple Grandin”
Judi Dench – “Return to Cranford”
Ramola Garai – “Emma”
Jennifer Love Hewitt – “The Client List”
Danes’ awards-bait performance has already reeled in trophies, so we’re counting on the glam factor Hewitt – who has been delivering unexpectedly good performances of late – to carry her to the stage for no compelling other reason than for viewers to see a pretty, popular star collecting a Globe.
Best Supporting Actor
Scott Caan – “Hawaii Five-O"
Chris Colfur – “Glee”
Chris Noth – “The Good Wife”
Eric Stonestreet – “Modern Family”
David Straithairn – “Temple Grandin”
We’ve been thinking that someone should hand the impossible-not-to-be-impressed-by Colfur some kind of trophy for his tremendously moving performances this season, even without the singing and dancing. Should win. Will win.
Best Supporting Actress
Hope Davis – “The Special Relationship”
Jane Lynch – “Glee”
Kelly McDonald – “Boardwalk Empire”
Julia Stiles – “Dexter”
Sofia Vergara – “Modern Family”
You’d think now would be the ideal time for the HFPA to correct last year’s surprising oversight in honoring Lynch for her always-show-elevating performances. You’d be wrong. Vergara offers a perfect storm of glamorous appeal, international flavor, star-making opportunity and just plain good work – not to mention the chance for journalists to dust off all kinds of Golden Globes-related entendres if she wears the right gown. We, of course, are above that sort of thing.