The only thing predictable about the Golden Globes is, yes, that they will be unpredictable. The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has shown a pattern of celebrating newcomers (FX’s “Atlanta” triumphed last year in its first season) as well as international productions. (Last year, AMC’s limited series “The Night Manager” dominated the category, even against FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”) But with heavy-hitters on the awards circuit in the hunt this year, some races are impossibly close to call.
That said, here are our best guesses for who will be rewarded at the 75th Annual Golden Globes ceremony on Jan. 7.
Best Television Series: Drama
Last year’s winner, Netflix’s “The Crown” is back for another run at the top prize, but this time it faces some serious competition in reigning Emmy champion “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Hulu’s dystopian drama. Though “The Crown” is still coasting on the glowing reviews for its second season (which just bowed Dec. 8), it will be hard for voters to resist making a political statement by anointing “Handmaid’s,” and continuing the time-honored tradition of crowning shows in their first season (“The Affair,” “Mr. Robot,” “Homeland”). As for the other contenders, HFPA voters have often nominated “Game of Thrones,” but it’s never taken the top prize. (Maybe they’re waiting for the final season?) And “Stranger Things” (Netflix) and “This Is Us” (NBC) may well win the popular vote, but aren’t likely to be elected here.
Prediction: “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
Best Actor in a Drama
This is Sterling K. Brown’s race to lose. It’s his second trip to the ceremony (he lost supporting actor last year for “American Crime Story” to Hugh Laurie as part of the “Night Manager” sweep), and voters will want to make sure he doesn’t go home empty-handed this time. Bob Odenkirk (AMC’s “Better Call Saul”) and Liev Schreiber (Showtime’s “Ray Donovan”) have both been nominated multiple times for the role, but never won. And newcomers to the race Freddie Highmore (ABC’s “The Good Doctor”) and Jason Bateman (Netflix’s “Ozark”) can’t compete with Brown’s career-defining moment in time.
Prediction: Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us” (NBC)
Best Actress in a Drama
Once again, this race has a clear front-runner: Elisabeth Moss for her searing performance as Offred/June in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The Emmy winner is already well-known to HFPA voters; she has a Globe for her work in the first iteration of “Top of the Lake,” though she never won for “Mad Men.” She’ll likely follow in the footsteps of fresh(wo)man wins for the likes of Claire Foy (“The Crown”), Taraji P. Henson (Fox’s “Empire”), and Ruth Wilson (Showtime’s “The Affair”). Moss is the one woman who can dethrone the Queen (um, I mean Foy) — and the international appeal of Irish Caitriona Balfe (Starz’s “Outlander”) and surprise Aussie nominee Katherine Langford (Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why”). Maggie Gyllenhaal will have to comfort herself with those rave reviews — and her win back in 2014 for “The Honourable Woman.”
Prediction: Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
Best Television Series: Musical or Comedy
Last year’s winner “Atlanta” is out of contention this year (its second season won’t debut until next year), and with the exception of ABC’s “Black-ish,” the rest of the lineup is new to the race: “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon), “Master of None” (Netflix), “SMILF” (Showtime) and NBC’s “Will & Grace” (as a revival). Particularly in this category, the Globes have a habit of crowning first-year series (“Atlanta,” “Transparent,” “Mozart in the Jungle”), which favors both “Mrs. Maisel” and “SMILF.” Aziz Ansari’s dramedy didn’t get nominated its first season, and “Will & Grace” never won in its first incarnation, despite multiple nominations. And voters have shown an affinity for Amazon series (I’m looking at you, “Mozart in the Jungle”).
Prediction: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
Best Actor in a Comedy
Here, too, last year’s winner isn’t in contention (see you next year, Donald Glover), which leaves Anthony Anderson (ABC’s “Black-ish”) as the only holdover from the 2017 ballot. So it’s a bit of a toss-up: six-time nominee Eric McCormack, reprising as Will Truman in the NBC revival of “Will & Grace,” or second-time “Master of None” nominee Aziz Ansari, who lost the prize back in 2015 to “Mozart in the Jungle” star Gael Garcia Bernal. They’re vying against surprise nominee Kevin Bacon, for Amazon’s “I Love Dick,” and William H. Macy, who was last nominated for his “Shameless” role in 2014. The edge goes to McCormack, giving the voters a way to reward a show often-nominated, but never crowned.
Prediction: Eric McCormack, “Will & Grace” (NBC)
Best Actress in a Comedy
The Globes love their ingenues: Witness past winners Rachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) and Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”). Which bodes well for Rachel Brosnahan (Amazon’s “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), auteur Frankie Shaw (Showtime’s “SMILF”), and Alison Brie (Netflix’s “GLOW”) — and, you could argue, Pamela Adlon, whose nod for “Better Things” (FX) marks her debut at the Globes. “Insecure” (HBO) star Issa Rae is the only returning nominee from last year’s ballot; Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”), who won last year, didn’t make the cut this time out. Critics have called Brosnahan’s performance “winning,” and chances are, it will be indeed.
Prediction: Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
Best Limited Series/TV Movie
This isn’t quite a rematch of the Emmy race in the same category: the HFPA recognized USA’s “The Sinner” and Sundance’s “Top of the Lake: China Girl” in place of NatGeo’s “Genius” and HBO’s “The Night Of” (nommed last year). But the true contest is at the top of the ticket, with three star-studded projects vying for the prize: HBO’s “Big Little Lies” (which triumphed at the Emmys) opposite FX’s “Feud: Bette and Joan” and FX’s “Fargo,” which won the category for its first season. The HBO limited series earned the most nominations at this year’s Globes, with six overall — which makes it a clear favorite here.
Prediction: “Big Little Lies” (HBO)
Best Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie
Three of the contenders — Robert De Niro (“The Wizard of Lies”), Ewan McGregor (“Fargo”), and Geoffrey Rush (“Genius”) — vied in this category at the Emmy Awards, and lost to Riz Ahmed (“The Night Of”). So who has the momentum? Voters have a tendency of rewarding movie stars for doing TV in this category: last year’s winner Tom Hiddleston (see: “The Night Manager,” above), Oscar Isaac (“Show Me a Hero”), Billy Bob Thornton (“Fargo”). Also in contention are stars Jude Law (“The Young Pope,” HBO) and Kyle MacLachlan (Showtime’s “Twin Peaks”). De Niro uncannily embodied Bernie Madoff in the HBO movie, but McGregor had the added challenge of playing twins.
Prediction: Ewan McGregor, “Fargo” (FX)
Best Actress in a Limited Series/TV Movie
Substitute Jessica Biel (for USA’s “The Sinner”) for Carrie Coon (“Fargo”) and Felicity Huffman (“American Crime”), and you have the Emmy race all over again — surely the fiercest, given the star power and indelible performances delivered by “Big Little Lies” stars and executive producers Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, alongside “Feud: Bette and Joan” leading ladies Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange. Kidman already owns three Globes (for “To Die For,” “Moulin Rouge!” and “The Hours”) — look for her to claim her fourth trophy.
Prediction: Nicole Kidman, “Big Little Lies” (HBO)
Best Supporting Actor in a Series/Limited Series/TV Movie
Just as “The Night Manager” swept the limited series categories, odds are “Big Little Lies” will do the same here. Alexander Skarsgard is the favorite to add another trophy to his collection (alongside his Emmy) for his work as the abusive husband in the HBO limited series. But he’ll have to fend off popular favorite David Harbour, the reluctant hero of Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” Christian Slater already owns a Globe for “Mr. Robot” (he won for the first season); “Fargo’s” David Thewlis and “Feud’s” Alfred Molina round out the category.
Prediction: Alexander Skarsgard, “Big Little Lies” (HBO)
Best Supporting Actress in a Series/Limited Series/TV Movie
Three words: “Big Little Lies.” But will that mean the trophy goes to Laura Dern or Shailene Woodley? Dern’s only other nod dates back to 1992’s “Rambling Rose”; Woodley was nommed for 2011’s “The Descendants.” Dern won the Emmy, but this mishmash category pits the “Lies” castmates against Ann Dowd, who won for “Handmaid’s” in the supporting actress in a drama race, while Chrissy Metz is a repeat nominee for “This Is Us” and Michelle Pfeiffer (“Wizard of Lies”) has a long Globes history, including a win in 1990 for “The Fabulous Baker Boys.”
Prediction: Laura Dern, “Big Little Lies” (HBO)