Big name nominees dominate an increasingly competitive small screen landscape, and Variety analyzes what to expect when winners’ names are read at the Golden Globes Jan. 6.
In complete contrast to last year, all but one of the nominees in this category are newcomers. Up for its sixth and final season, FX’s Soviet spy series “The Americans” is the only veteran in the race. It is joined by Netflix’s political thriller “Bodyguard,” Amazon’s psychological thriller “Homecoming,” BBC America’s cat-and-mouse drama “Killing Eve” and FX’s ballroom culture period piece “Pose.” While waiting to nominate “The Americans” until the end of its run is certainly a statement, it feels like the one to beat here is actually “Homecoming,” given the HFPA’s past love, not only for leading lady Julia Roberts but also the streamer. However, given its global appeal, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “Killing Eve” could play spoiler.
Lead Actor in a Drama
Only 40% of this category is made up of returning names: “Ozark’s” Jason Bateman, who was nommed last year, and “The Americans’” Matthew Rhys, who saw a nom in 2017. “Pose’s” Billy Porter is a veteran actor (and Tony Award winner) but seeing his first TV role, while Richard Madden was previously well-known for “Game of Thrones” but has taken a leading turn in Netflix’s “Bodyguard.” It is “Homecoming’s” Stephan James that feels like the freshest face in this race and that, along with his complex portrayal of a soldier learning to reintegrate into daily life in the Amazon series, puts him at the top of the conversation — though it may be hard to ignore recent Emmy-winner Rhys, given it’s the last chance to celebrate his nuanced work as Soviet spy Philip Jennings.
Lead Actress in a Drama
Last year’s winner Elisabeth Moss is back on the ballot for the second season of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” alongside fellow returnees Caitriona Balfe (“Outlander”) and Keri Russell (“The Americans”), as well as newcomers Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”) and Julia Roberts (“Homecoming”). While Oh only continues to gain heat, especially as her profile rises with the Golden Globes co-hosting gig, Roberts is a long-time favorite of the HFPA, having been nominated eight times (she won three) on the film side, and is the frontrunner to achieve her first statue for a small-screen role.
Musical or Comedy Series
Back on the ballot for the second consecutive year, Amazon’s standup period comedy “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is the lone vet in the race. NBC’s afterlife series “The Good Place” may be longer running, but it is seeing its first nomination this year. Joining them are HBO’s hitman-turned-actor show “Barry,” Showtime’s “kind man in a cruel world” show “Kidding” and Netflix’s twilight years buddy comedy “The Kominsky Method.” While the second season of “Maisel” certainly raised the bar for its ensemble and is the lone female-centric series, the HFPA may not want to award a repeat winner, which could allow “Barry” or “Kidding” to sneak through.
Lead Actor in a Musical or Comedy
After having to sit out last year’s race due to not airing a new season in the eligibility window, the 2017 winner in the category, “Atlanta’s” Donald Glover, is back in the running. But competition is stiff this time around, from “Who Is America’s” Sacha Baron Cohen, “Kidding’s” Jim Carrey, “The Kominsky Method’s” Michael Douglas and “Barry’s” Bill Hader. This is one race that may be too close to call, though Carrey, previously nominated six times on the film side (he won twice), and Douglas, a Cecil B. DeMille award winner who also won the last time he was nominated for a small screen role (“Behind the Candelabra” in 2014), have strong shots.
Lead Actress in a Musical or Comedy
The HFPA usually likes to celebrate fresh faces here, but this year all of the nominees are vets in the genre. “Murphy Brown” star Candice Bergen was nommed 12 times across film and TV in the past (she won twice); Debra Messing was nommed eight times, six of which were for her role on “Will & Grace” during its original run; “GLOW’s” Alison Brie and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s” Rachel Brosnahan are nommed for their second consecutive times. Only “The Good Place’s” Kristen Bell is seeing her first-ever nom. A rare repeat winner is likely to be crowned: Brosnahan fine-tuned her standup and juggled complicated relationships, all while still speaking at a breakneck clip.
Limited Series or TV Movie
What a difference a year makes. Last year the HFPA focused on female-centric storytelling in this category, but this year only two nominees (HBO’s adaptation of “Sharp Objects” and Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora,” based on a real-life prison break) fit that description. Instead, the focus is on period pieces, including TNT’s adaptation of “The Alienist,” FX’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” and Amazon’s “A Very English Scandal.” “Assassination” is the obvious pick, but after it nabbed the limited series Emmy in September, voters may be looking to diversify. “Sharp Objects,” “Escape at Dannemora” and “A Very English Scandal” all boast small-screen moves by big-name movie stars, which makes them appealing wildcards, with “A Very English Scandal” having the edge.
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie
All five of the actors nominated this year are being celebrated for limited series turns in period pieces, but the similarity in style does not mean a stale category. Antonio Banderas (“Genius: Picasso”) and Benedict Cumberbatch (“Patrick Melrose”) both portrayed titular roles through multiple years of the characters’ lives, while Darren Criss (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”) and Hugh Grant (“A Very English Scandal”) saw the bulk of their work focused on a shorter but more salacious point in their characters’ lives. And Daniel Bruhl (“The Alienist”) took on turn-of-the-century police work. Historically, the HFPA has favored big names and international talent in this category, so although the race is tight, that could lead Grant to take the trophy.
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie
What an embarrassment of riches this category has proven to be. Boasting small screen returns from Amy Adams (“Sharp Objects”) and Patricia Arquette (“Escape at Dannemora”), it is rounded out by beloved TV stars Connie Britton (“Dirty John”) and Regina King (“Seven Seconds”), as well as Laura Dern (“The Tale”), whose popularity with awards voters straddles film and TV. King won the Emmy in September, but Adams, Arquette and Britton’s shows had not premiered in time to be eligible for that race. If the voters want to be trendsetters, they’ll crown a new name, likely Adams, who portrayed the fragile psyche of a woman struggling with alcoholism and self-harm in the HBO series. Arquette, who is literally unrecognizable in her Showtime turn as a prison worker who aids in the escape of two inmates after getting sexually involved with both of them is also in the mix.
Actor in a Supporting Role
Mingling men from three of the four formats eligible for this category, comedic players Alan Arkin (“The Kominsky Method”) and Henry Winkler (“Barry”) are pitted against drama’s Kieran Culkin (“Succession”) and limited series contenders Edgar Ramirez (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”) and Ben Whishaw (“A Very English Scandal”). Since the scope of what they had to deliver was so diverse from a performance perspective, it may come down to star power here and, like last year when an Emmy winner (Alexander Skarsgard) also nabbed the Globe, it is likely to be Winkler.
Actress in a Supporting Role
This is one category where the HFPA seems to have taken a lot of cues from the Television Academy. Supporting comedy actress winner Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) scored a nom here, as did supporting drama actress winner Thandie Newton (“Westworld”), fellow Emmy supporting drama actress nominee Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and supporting limited series/TV movie actress Penelope Cruz (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”). However, the HFPA is the first to recognize Patricia Clarkson for “Sharp Objects” since that series launched just after the Emmy eligibility window closed. That reason, coupled with her compelling performance of a woman living with mental illness, makes her the frontrunner.