Going for the Gold(en Globe): Who Should Be Nominated

Ah, the Golden Globes. For nominees, it’s perhaps the least relevant show of awards season: the voting body (the mysterious Hollywood Foreign Press) has no overlap with the Emmys or the Oscars. It often awards popular favorites over critical ones. But, as a viewer, it’s possibly one of the most fun. Television stars hobnob with film stars. Attendees sit at tables by production, and alcohol flows freely, wreaking havoc at the mic. And, best of all, the hosts are often looser and funnier, and therefore better at their jobs; on January 11, 2015, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will team up for their third and final hosting gig.

The nominations for the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards will be announced tomorrow (December 11th) at 5am Pacific Time and like everyone else, I’ll have plenty of opinions after the fact. However, for now, let’s take a look at some of the names and shows I hope to hear called.

Best Drama: Unlike the Emmys, the Globes have gone to great lengths to establish the criteria for drama versus limited series – criteria which prevents True Detective from competing here. So, expect to see The Good Wife and Masters of Sex to coast into competition. Mad Men should also easily earn a berth, but it will probably win all of the awards for its final season in 2015, so I’d like to see a different anti-hero drama, The Knick, be recognized for its creativity. The Globes showed a lot of love to House of Cards for its freshman season, so expect it to earn a second nod, but I think it was eclipsed by The Americans’ second season. For the final spot, I’d like to see Outlander get recognition for its stellar first season.

Best Comedy: Unfortunately, the line between comedy and drama is also one that’s becoming increasingly blurred, and no clear ruling exists to adjudicate what fits in where. Although last year Orange is the New Black showed up in the drama categories, it entered the Emmys as a comedy this year, so I think if it has a chance of getting nominated at all, it will be here. Last year’s winner, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, should get another nomination; it’s the most consistent and well-realized of any mainstream comedy on television. I like Broad City and Transparent for a different reason: they’re innovative and original as well as excellent, and that deserves recognition. Rounding out my top five is Enlisted. Yes, it got canceled. FOX cancels lots of good shows. It’s the hardest I’ve laughed all year.

Best Limited Series or TV Film: By redefining the category to include limited series, it essentially becomes the Category That HBO Built. True DetectiveOlive Kitteridge, and The Normal Heart each dug into different aspects of the human condition with skill and to devastating effect. The winner of this category at the Emmys, Fargo, should get another shot here as well. For my final pick, I’d give a spot to the SundanceTV/BBC co-production The Honorable Woman for its devastating and timely look at the human consequences of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Best Actor Drama: A trio of men leap to the mind instantly for this category: Michael Sheen for his heart-rending depiction of Bill Masters on Masters of SexMatthew Rhys for his versatility as Russian spy Phillip Jennings in The Americans, and Clive Owen as the temperamental but brilliant surgeon John Thackery on The Knick. After the debacle that is Gracepoint, it’s doubtful that David Tennant will get a nomination, but her certainly deserves one for his work as DI Alec Hardy on Broadchurch. Finally, Jon Hamm will most likely be nominated for Mad Men – and I’m fine with that, but I’d like to suggest a less conventional but equally excellent choice: Mads Mikkelsen for his chilling interpretation of Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal.

Best Actress Drama: A surfeit of brilliant dramatic performances by women in 2014 makes this category the most difficult to whittle down to just five. Julianna Margulies continues to improve her game every year as Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife, and indeed, she turned in her best performance yet in the two seasons spanning this year. Likewise, Lizzy Caplan, already brilliant in the first season of Masters of Sex, grew tremendously as her researcher Virginia Johnson faced a series of hard choices and harder truths about herself. The success of Outlander is largely due to Caitriona Balfe‘s spirited portrayal of the strong, fierce, and deeply conflicted Claire Randall. On Penny Dreadful, Eva Green turns in a haunting and brutally physical performance as Vanessa Ives, a woman trapped in the demimonde between this world and the next. In any other year, Claire Danes newly confident performance in the fourth season of Homeland would make my list, but I’ve got to give the last spot to the incredible Tatiana Maslany, because even if season two of Orphan Black was rockier than last season, she still shines as gives life and individual personalities to anywhere from three to seven different clones per episode. (Sorry, Keri Russell and Vera Farmiga – I’ll still be excited if you get nominated too.)

Best Actor Comedy: I’m certainly going to be far off here, because what I find funny and what the Hollywood Foreign Press find funny tends to diverge dramatically. However, I do agree with their recognition last year of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and its star, Andy Samberg. However, I would put Andre Braugher‘s Captain Holt up there as a lead beside Samberg’s Jake Peralta. Although its an ensemble comedy, there’s no way it would be as successful without Braugher’s deadpan line delivery, and his role has only grown since the show’s early days. The Mindy Project can be hit or miss, but there’s nothing off about the show’s ostensible male lead Dr. Danny Castellano, played to Staten Island mama’s boy perfection by the fantastic Chris Messina. If Transparent is deemed a comedy, then Jeffrey Tambor‘s fascinating portrayal of Maura Pfefferman, a trans woman at the beginning of her transition, surely deserves a spot. Lastly, my long shot pick is Andy Daly for his clever, offbeat depiction of “life reviewer” Forrest MacNeil on Review.

Best Actress Comedy: While I like to champion underdogs, perennial favorite Julia Louis-Dreyfus turned in a hysterical and often, well, hysterical performance as VP-turned-POTUS Selina Meyer on Veep last season, and she deserves another nom. As anesthesiologist and mom Rainbow Johnson on black-ishTracee Ellis Ross takes a role that could easily descend into the harried-and-exasperated mother trope, and elevates it to a place of both lightness and warmth. On her sketch show Inside Amy SchumerAmy Schumer manages to create as series of characters that manage to be both incisive social critiques and dependably funny. You’re the Worst may have flown under the radar on FX, but Aya Cash deserves special praise for making the outwardly despicable Gretchen Cutler somebody you still want to root for. And finally, Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez imbues pregnant virgin Jane Villanueva with heart and compassion without being saccharine or saintly.

Best Actor Limited Series/Miniseries/TV Film: Four spots are as close to a lock as you can get. True Detective‘s Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson were electric as detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart, roles that gave the actors to showcase both dry humor and their darkest sides. On Fargo, Billy Bob Thornton‘s ice-cold assassin-for-hire Lorne Malvo and Martin Freeman‘s bumbling but lethal Lester Nygaard shone as examples of the moral turpitude of the criminal underground. For the final spot, I like Mark Ruffalo in The Normal Heart. As Ned Weeks, he gives a varied performance equally convincing in its outrage and despair.

Best Actress Limited Series/Miniseries/TV Film: I’m unsure if, under the new rules, The Comeback counts as limited series or a comedy series; I’m assuming the former. Therefore, I would love to see Lisa Kudrow get some long-overdue kudos for her spot-on performance of Valerie Cherish, a shallow and vain actress clinging to the C-list who is at the same time startlingly human and relatable. Maggie Gyllenhaal turned in a chilling performance as the emotionally shattered but steel-willed Nessa Stein in The Honorable Woman. The titular role in Olive Kitteridge was a project near and dear to Frances McDormand‘s heart, so much so that she fought to get it made, and her performance as the prickly lead character is rich with nuance. In The Trip to BountifulCicely Tyson uses a lifetime work of acting experience to bring a subtle strength to the spirited, fragile Carrie Watts. And finally, while I didn’t love her work in The White QueenRebecca Ferguson does an excellent job bringing life to Dinah, the Biblical daughter of Leah and Jacob and the magnetic lead of the miniseries The Red Tent.

Best Supporting Actor: Only one supporting category for all the men on television? Fine (*huffs*). My first pick for this impossible task is André Holland for his stellar work as Dr. Algernon Edwards on The Knick, where he brings grace, humor, and grit to the hospital’s lone black surgeon. Next has to be Matt Bomer, an actor best known for lighter fare until he took on the task of playing the doomed Felix Turner on The Normal Heart, where he excelled at showing the man’s devastating decline from AIDS. Everyone around here knows I’m a huge fan of Tobias Menzies, but he earned his spot for his dual roles of the villainous Black Jack Randall and the mild but passionate Frank Randall on Outlander. Matt Czuchry has quietly been turning in career-best work on this season of The Good Wife as lawyer Cary Agos, who sinks deeper into despair as he becomes a pawn in a much larger game. Lastly, Cory Michael Smith is electrifying in a small but pivotal role as the suicidal and possibly schizophrenic Kevin Coulson in Olive Kitteridge.

Best Supporting Actress: I could easily name four or five women from the phenomenal ensemble cast of Orange is the New Black to fill this category, but I’ll constrain myself to Lorraine Toussaint, who played the manipulative mothering of antagonist Vee Parker to perfection. As wheelchair-bound scientist and AIDS researcher Dr. Emma Brookner, Julia Roberts added a shot of bitter and frantic energy into The Normal Heart to cut through the moments of more morose sentiment. Like Roberts, Alison Tolman also received an Emmy nomination this year for Fargo‘s most dedicated deputy, Mollly Solverson, and she deserves another chance at the prize here. Out of all the characters on The Walking DeadMelissa McBride‘s Carol Peletier has changed the most, from abused wife to badass warrior who can make the hard decisions, but McBride manages to keep in touch with the humanity under her hardened exterior. Last but not least, much of the acting praise for Masters of Sex is directed toward the two outstanding leads, but don’t forget Annaleigh Ashford as Betty DiMello, a closeted lesbian former prostitute turned society wife who loses it all when she realizes that she can’t deny who she is.

There you have it – the television performances that, if I were the sole voter for the Hollywood Foreign Press, would show up on the ballot. Remember, these aren’t predictions; we’ll save those for when we actually know who’s in the running.

Did I miss your favorite performance or show? Let me know in the comments how wrong I am.