Every year the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s nominations for the Golden Globe awards prove reliably unpredictable. That’s part of what makes the kudos so intriguing, but also maddening, for prognosticators.
We know the voters love honoring the new (and late arrivals like Netflix’s “Master of None” and Amazon’s “The Man In the High Castle” could be perfectly timed for honors alongside other freshmen contenders like “Better Call Saul,” “Mr. Robot,” “Narcos,” “Empire” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” which have been building buzz for months), but they also have their annual favorites (both “Downton Abbey” and “Girls” have never missed out on series noms — will history repeat this year?).
Here’s a brief rundown of the series that just might have an edge in this year’s races for top drama, comedy and limited series/movie.
Better Call Saul: An ambitious heir to the legacy of “Breaking Bad,” the prequel ably stood on its own, led by an impressive dramatic turn by Bob Odenkirk. Given the Globes’ penchant for crowning new shows, the TCA new program winner is a serious contender.
Downton Abbey: Nominated every year it’s been eligible (and a winner its first year in the miniseries category), “Downton Abbey” is a perennial favorite. The sentimentality for the final season (which has aired abroad, but not yet here) may well give the upstairs/downstairs drama a boost.
Game of Thrones: Though the HBO opus doesn’t have the best track record at the Globes — just two series noms throughout its run — its triumphant turn at the Emmys should guarantee a return trip to the Beverly Hilton, especially given its international cast and filming auspices.
Mr. Robot: USA may finally have a serious awards contender with Sam Esmail’s hypnotic hacker drama, anchored by a breakout performance by Rami Malek. Its intricate twists may seem challenging, but it will be hard to ignore the hype.
Narcos: Despite its foregone conclusion, the docudrama about the exploits of notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar proved addictive. The lack of star power may be a drawback in the awards race, but the buzz has been building.
ALTERNATE: Empire: The Globes may seek to right the wrongs done by the TV Academy, which snubbed the Fox juggernaut. It will be hard to ignore the massive cultural impact of Cookie and co., who’ve transcended broadcast to influence music, style and so much more.
Orange is the New Black: Despite the ballyhooed shift to drama contention for Emmys, the prison dramedy is still a comedy at the Globes, and its eligible third season certainly brought the laughs (along with the usual crushing drama).
Silicon Valley: Cracking the category last year in its first season, the hilarious tech comedy got even more addictive in its second. Still, as voters proved by dropping “Veep” last year, there are no sure bets, even when they come with a HBO pedigree.
Transparent: The second season of Amazon’s breakout series won’t premiere until a day after the Globe noms are announced, but count the reigning champ in for a repeat nom in any case. Like certain late December film releases, it’s still eligible even if it’s not yet available for public viewing.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Arguably the standout of new series eligible in this category (if not the freshest in voters’ minds), the cult favorite should benefit from its “30 Rock” parentage. Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s previous show nabbed four comedy series noms and a win.
Veep: Left out of the mix last year, the political satire is fresh off its first ever comedy series Emmy and the same season is eligible for Globes. It was a crackerjack batch of episodes, including cast addition and HFPA favorite Hugh Laurie, and could land the series back on the nominees ballot.
ALTERNATE: Girls: Despite voters’ well-known fondness for the new, HBO’s “Girls” has nabbed a nom in every eligible season. Even with stiff competition from its own network, Lena Dunham’s idiosyncratic series seems to have HFPA love on lockdown.
Limited Series or TV Movie
American Crime: An ambitious anthology series, Oscar winner John Ridley’s treatise on race relations earned a slew of Emmy noms, including a win for supporting actress Regina King. It should be similarly rewarded by the Globes, given those auspices and a compelling narrative.
Bessie: HBO’s biopic dutifully recounts the troubled life of famed blues singer Bessie Smith, and it was a showcase for star Queen Latifah, who delivered a knockout, gutsy performance. That impressive star power — along with the Emmy for best movie — all but guarantees “Bessie” a nom.
Fargo: With a second season even more acclaimed than the first, FX’s Coen brothers-inspired anthology has to be considered a slam dunk for a nom and a heavy favorite for a repeat win in the category (where it previously trumped season one of “True Detective” and Emmy winner “Olive Kitteridge”).
Show Me a Hero: David Simon’s “Show Me a Hero” features a stellar cast and a timely look at the racial and class divide through the prism of the city of Yonkers in the late 1980s. The challenge will be overcoming a slow pace and nuanced approach that devotes six hours to a battle over public housing.
Wolf Hall: Based on the bestsellers by Hilary Mantel about the rise of Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII’s court, there’s prestige stamped all over this edition of “Masterpiece Theater,” anchored by Mark Rylance as Cromwell and Damian Lewis as the King. With those credentials, it’s hard to imagine voters won’t crown this “Hall” with noms.
ALTERNATE: American Horror Story: Hotel: Ryan Murphy’s pioneering anthology series regularly racks up Emmy noms, but its Globes history isn’t so consistent. It missed out with “Freak Show” last year, and the Lady Gaga-led “Hotel” may similarly succumb to stiff competition.