I’ll be honest: Prognosticating about the Golden Globes is a fruitless exercise. Trying to logically consider possible winners and losers for the Globes is even more difficult than it is for the Emmys. Because, despite our general frustration with the Emmys, there’s a lot of predictability in the Emmy voter process that makes thinking about outcomes much easier. When I think about the Globes—both in terms of picking winners and the whole enterprise—I mostly just laugh to myself. But here is what we do know about the Globes and the television awards:
There are always random nominees.
Piper Perabo in 2011, Callie Thorne in 2012, and Danny Huston this year make you wonder exactly how much television the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association watch or how much money they’re willing to accept for nominations.
The categories are quite wonky.
The two large “genre” fields are "Drama" and "Musical or Comedy," and in the supporting acting races, there are no separate categories for the "Drama," "Musical or Comedy" and "Miniseries" fields. Instead, there are just five available slots, open to performers across all different kinds of television. This helps make the telecast shorter (and keeps the focus on the IMPORTANT FILM AWARDS), but makes guessing who might win even more challenging.
Quality might not necessarily matter.
It’s truly unclear whether these voters actually watch television, so if they’ve seen trade publications buzzing about a show or are familiar with the big names in it, that's a plus. Case in point in this year’s field: There’s a lot of love for The Newsroom and Smash, perhaps the two most anticipated, yet consistently derided new shows of the year. Similarly, Mad Men wasn’t nominated in the drama series category, but Downton Abbey, with a second season most critics didn’t care for, is.
Bright and shiny is more likely to prevail at the Golden Globes than at the Emmys.
Few of the big categories feature winning streaks like Modern Family’s Emmy run. Lots of minor upheaval.
Armed with those thoughts, let’s make some predictions for this year’s race, shall we? Don’t forget to come back to this on Monday and laugh. I know that I will.
The Favorite: Downton Abbey
Downton won last year in the miniseries category and while it doesn’t seem like the HFPA enjoys repeat winners in this category (Homeland and Boardwalk Empire won the past two years in their respective first seasons), the move over to the big-boy race might invalidate that crack-pot theory I just came up with. If my theory holds true, The Newsroom looks to be the beneficiary. It feels like a Golden Globes show, doesn’t it?
MUSICAL OR COMEDY SERIES
The Favorite: Smash
Despite its dominance at the Emmys and really everywhere, Modern Family didn’t break through at the Globes until last year. In its first two years of eligibility, the popular ABC sitcom lost to Glee. There’s a reason that “musical” falls into this category title after all! With this in mind, I can easily picture a world where Smash dethrones Modern Family. It should appeal to voters even more than Glee, thanks to the more recognizable cast, high-profile producers, and major marketing campaign.
MINISERIES OR TELEVISION FILM
The Favorite: Game Change
Also in contention: Hatfields & McCoys
With Downton out of this category, it's a lot easier to predict; it’s between Julianne Moore’s bad accent work and Kevin Costner’s beard. Game Change won the Emmy, which isn’t necessarily a concrete indictor of Globes success, but means something. I’m expecting a big night for the film, and this will likely be the capper to that night.
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A DRAMA - ACTOR
The Favorite: Jeff Daniels
For whatever dumb reason, people don’t like giving Jon Hamm awards. Like at the Emmys, Hamm’s been shut out at the Globes, only here, he’s also joined by Bryan Cranston in perpetual defeat. And even though Homeland and Claire Danes were successful last year, Damian Lewis lost to a much showier performance from Kelsey Grammer on Boss. There’s a chance that voters will come around on Lewis after his Emmy win and increased buzz for Homeland (it’s in a much bigger field of view than it was at this time last year), and I guess it’s possible that the newfound series nomination for Breaking Bad suggests Cranston has a shot this year. Still though, when in doubt, go bright, shiny and populist. Daniels is my pick.
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A DRAMA - ACTRESS
The Favorite: Claire Danes
Although Danes won last year and therefore undercuts one of my rules and this category’s general instability, her performance was so wonderful that it’s tough for me to pick against her. Dockery and Britton have the newness factor working for them, which makes me think they have a better shot at knocking Danes off than Close and Margulies, two former winners in this category. Would it be amazing if Connie B. won a major award like this? Duh. Can she do it? Probably not, but the singing might help.
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL OR COMEDY - ACTOR
The Favorite: Don Cheadle
Another category, another trend of new winners. In the previous three years, Alec Baldwin, Jim Parsons and Matt LeBlanc have all won this award, so there’s precedent for voters liking them. But Don Cheadle is a movie star doing TV on Showtime, a network the HFPA seems to like. It’s Globes kismet. Cool for C.K. to get nominated, I guess.
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL OR COMEDY - ACTRESS
The Favorite: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Also in contention: Lena Dunham
This category has been dominated by women on cable shows in recent years (Laura Dern, Laura Linney, and Toni Collette), so that makes Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Lena Dunham the major threats. JLD feels like the better option considering her Emmy win for Veep and past Globe victory. It’d be kind of cool if Zooey made some noise here though, right?
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MINISERIES OR TELEVISION FILM - ACTOR
The Favorite: Kevin Costner
Movie stars, movie stars, movie stars. Recent winners in this category include Kevin Bacon and Al Pacino, so apologies to The Cumberbatch and Toby Jones. Costner won the Emmy for Hatfields & McCoys and previously took home two Globes for film work. I liked Harrelson’s work better (I won’t even pretend that I saw Hemingway & Gellhorn and you shouldn’t either), but doesn’t it seem like he and Julianne Moore have been collecting nominations and awards for that film for like three years now?
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MINISERIES OR TELEVISION FILM - ACTRESS
The Favorite: Julianne Moore
Okay, this movie star thing is just getting silly. Recent winners in this category: Kate Winslet, Claire Danes (who wasn’t a STAR but more known for movies by 2010) and Drew Barrymore. Thus, common sense and a hundred other victories tells us that Julianne Moore is a shoo-in, yet Sigourney Weaver and Nicole Kidman are threats thanks to their movie connections and Jessica Lange won in the supporting category last year. I still think Moore walks away with yet another trophy, but it wouldn’t surprise me if one of these other women won.
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE IN A SERIES, MINISERIES, OR TELEVISION FILM - ACTOR
The Favorite: Mandy Patinkin
Because all the larger categories are mashed into one race, this is tough one to guess. The movie star rule isn’t as sturdy here. Last year, Peter Dinklage won over Paul Giamatti, Guy Pearce, and Tim Robins, and in 2011 (Chris Colfer) and 2010 (John Lithgow), the winners came from TV actors in TV roles. Like I said before, it’s quite possible that Homeland keeps the good vibes going and actually rolls through all the big categories. That’s good news for Patinkin, who also happens to be the most deserving nominee here. If the TV streak continues and voters are over Homeland, you’d think Max Greenfield would be the beneficiary, but it’s crazy enough that Danny Huston is nominated, so maybe he’s a serious contender. But people know Ed Harris and Game Change debuted a decade ago, so can’t rule him out.
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE IN A SERIES, MINISERIES, OR TELEVISION FILM - ACTRESS
The Favorite: Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith lost to Jessica Lange last year, but benefits from Lange moving up to a more prominent category. I rarely pick against Smith because you don’t just do that to Professor McGonagall and this category isn’t as stacked as it could be. Still, Game Change could run roughshod all over this ceremony, which makes me lean toward Paulson even a little. Vergara, like her co-star Eric Stonestreet, has been nominated multiple times now, but I don’t see her winning.